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Fatwah / January 14, 2009

British imperial forces kept the Raj “relatively quiet” by firing cannons directly into the backs of uppity locals.

Boot approves of this because it means that America will have finally played imperial Britain. He even offers a list of some fine examples of imperial Britain’s triumphs, including the destruction of Egypt’s rebel forces in 1882, and the wholesale slaughter of the Sudanese rebels in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. While Boot praises the results of these military campaigns–“Both Sudan and Egypt remained relatively quiet thereafter,” he writes–what he fails to mention is how they were kept “relatively quiet”: by brutality, famine and slaughter. An American journalist writing for the New York Herald in 1877 observed in Egypt that “The Englishman looks upon these people as his hewers of wood and drawers of water, whose duty is to work and to thank the Lord when they are not flogged.” And Omdurman was nothing more than a mass slaughter: the British, armed with new machine guns and artillery, killed some 12,000 Sudanese rebels armed with spears and flintlocks from a distance of a few kilometers away. As war analyst Gary Brecher recently observed, for the Brits, Omdurman was “a sort of geometry exercise, with Brit field officers mainly trying to arrange the Maxims’ fields of fire the way you’d set up sprinklers to get maximum coverage of a football field.”

Boot ignores these unpleasant details because he’s not trying to debate anyone; he’s just working this like a character actor: the armchair conquistador, the Max von Sydow of print pundits.

It’s a schtick whose silliness knows no bounds, as evidenced in his bizarre fetish for pith helmets.

Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.

At least this explains why so many Brits have been getting shot and killed in Helmand province: if only they’d worn their pith helmets…

At every key moment in America’s disastrously run “global war on terror”, Boot shows up dressed up in his pith helmet and rhino-hide whip. In the summer of 2003, when the Iraq occupation started going bad, Boot one-upped himself in a Financial Times op-ed, “Washington Needs a Colonial Office”:

We need to create a colonial office–fast.

…[I]t should take its inspiration, if not its name, from the old British Colonial Office and India Office. Together, these two institutions ran large swaths of the world with a handful of bright, honest, industrious civil servants. They had an enormous impact, given the small numbers involved; there were seldom more than 1,000 members of the Indian civil service to administer hundreds of millions of Indians.

…America needs to create one of its own, before its hard-won military gains turn to dust.

Since his editors and peers on the Council on Foreign Relations might be too worried to tell Max Boot what’s wrong with his ideas, I’ll say it. Max, here’s why we won’t create a British Colonial Office: we’re not nineteenth-century Brits. We don’t look like them, live like them, and most important, we don’t think like them. For one thing, twenty-first-century Americans tend to be squeamish about genocide; Victorian Brits were not. That’s the real reason a few hundred English overlords were able to rule and exploit hundreds of millions of Indians: tens of millions of them died in the Raj, and huge numbers were brutalized and exploited to feed London’s coffers. The Brits were able to stomach this because back then, popular thinking justified this sort of imperial behavior embodied by imperial mavericks like Cecil Rhodes (“I prefer land to niggers”).

The history of imperial Britain’s domination is one of genocide and brutal subjugation, of holodomor after holodomor, all across the empire, all sanctioned by the fashionable Social Darwinism and racial superiority theories of the day.

Boot relies on the historical ignorance and macho gullibility of his American audience. He calculated correctly; his inane imperial fantasies went from pundit schtick to White House policy, as evidenced in that famous quote from a senior Bush aide who told Ron Suskind in 2004: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality–judiciously, as you will–we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.”

I’ve been out of this country for much of the past fifteen years, most of that time working in Russia, where fascist pundits regularly spout this sort of garbage, a trend that grew much more popular after Putin took control of the TV airwaves. But I didn’t know that all this time, back in my home country, we were mirroring the same trend–quite literally, in the case of Max Boot. I didn’t know that you could publish this kind of gibberish in mainstream news outlets–I would have assumed that if you went around in public promoting a historical solution that was marked by genocide and racism, and then the establishment found out about it, that you’d be lucky to get a job at a White Castle.

Uber-twerp Max Boot giddily posing next to a former Green Beret, absorbing his manliness.

Yet here we are, at the dawn of a supposedly new era, and Boot and his warmongering comrades are still in the center of establishment debate. With the war in Afghanistan getting worse by the week, having spread into Pakistan and beyond, Boot sees his chance to finally persuade America to put on a British pith helmet and start flogging the natives into submission. And with Obama’s team looking likely to feature some ardent liberal interventionist hawks like Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke, Boot’s crowd is feeling very optimistic.

Which brings me back to my original point: if the neocons are so dead, why do Boot, Robert Kagan, William Kristol and all the others still have so many top media gigs, particularly as those spots are getting more and more scarce, and as the ax is falling on more and more journalists and columnists? Are the neocons’ ideas really so dead? It doesn’t look that way so far, not to me, and certainly not to Boot and his crowd.

This article first appeared in The Nation. Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

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Add your own

  • 1. Wozzi  |  January 14th, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    You make it sound stupidly obvious, but as Brecher points out repeatedly, no one really realizes just how barbaric the British were, especially in India due to famine, beating, mass slaughter, etc.

    Great article.

  • 2. coldequation  |  January 14th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    How ironic that you should publish this a few days after you published a War Nerd article essentially saying that 19th century-style tactics as advocated by Boot work, and modern counter-insurgency warfare doesn’t.

    Brecher could have done a little more analysis about WHY we “can’t” do it the old-fashioned, effective way now. Here’s a hypothesis: Boot is right, but we’ll never implement his policies because people like you (the media in general, that is, the Exile is hardly unique here) won’t let us. They will sabotage it by turning public opinion against it.

    You did catch Boot trying to sugarcoat his medicine by saying that the British Raj was so great for the natives, which is obviously BS. But you try to draw an analogy to racists who believe that blacks were better off under apartheid. Well, that’s undoubtedly true in the case of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, and South Africa looks like it’s headed in that direction. What’s the take home message here? Liars get prestigious and influential jobs shaping public opinion, while truth-tellers are ostracized and ignored? Sounds about right.

  • 3. Pujete  |  January 14th, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    I understand that the largest foreign investors in American media are the British. This may explain the nostalgia for Imperialism and Max Boots longevity in print.

  • 4. Fissile  |  January 14th, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    The party occupying the White House may have changed, but the regime remains. I’ve been telling people for years that the Republocrats are just different sides of the same debased coin. Voting in the US is nothing more than theater used to convince the average Douchebagus Americanus that he’s free, and his opinion matters. Chumps.

  • 5. Carpenter  |  January 14th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    You gotta love Max Boot’s definition of a neocon here: throw overboard any domestic policies conservatives care about, like fiscal responsibility, and devote all your energy to invading Israel’s enemies and turn them into “liberal democracies.” Sounds very right-wing, right? Also, apparently support for Israel is “a key tenet of neoconservatism.” How about support for Britain? Support for Sweden? Support for Germany? Support for Italy or Russia or Hungaria or any other country in Europe, where most Americans have their roots? Who decides it has to be Israel? Oh, wait – 7 out of 10 neocons are Chosenites. And that is why they want American power in the Middle East, as long as they are in charge. Would the oil lobby be in charge instead that power would be pro-Muslim, since that is good for business – American business. And in that case, if Max Boot would have been on the outside instead of on the inside, he would have been the first to decry American imperialism. It all depends on what the power is used for.

  • 6. Carpenter  |  January 14th, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    coldequation, relax. The War Nerd simply showed how the Christian/Marxist morality always clashes with reality. That it is Izzies this time is not the main point; the point is that real and successful war has always been about swimming in innocent blood, and that’s what has created most nations in the world. Or did the neanderthals just hand over Europe to the Old Europeans when they came knocking? Seen any Neanderthals in Amsterdam lately? And when the younger homo sapiens came around, the Old Europeans were reduced to the Basques. It is not pretty, it doesn’t make Jesus’ angels smile, but it is the real face of the world, always has been. But where it turns real ugly, is when a country like Israel bombs helpless cities to dust and then still claim to follow modern morality, as in the phrase, “We have a right to defend ourselves!” It takes a Netanyahu or a Max Boot to pull off that number.

  • 7. geo8rge  |  January 14th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    “The real mystery of our age is this: why do all the media warmongers still have jobs”

    Jealous Jealous Jealous.

  • 8. goofud  |  January 14th, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    I don’t understand Ames. He’s always whining about how America is too safe and too nice, and Russia’s better because everyone has guns, then he whines about wars?

  • 9. General Foods  |  January 15th, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Best smackdown since your legendary Klosterman review. A masterpiece.

  • 10. wengler  |  January 15th, 2009 at 4:51 am

    I think the funniest thing is that Max Boot is what people on the right consider a ‘scholar’. He and Victor Davis Hansen are the intellectual geniuses behind the “oh noes Mohammedean invasion!!!!!!!!” mindset that stalks the crazed rightwingers who believe the US is one week away from Muslim domination.

    We really dodged a bullet in McCain not getting elected. Thank god for Sarah Palin scaring the shit out of the DC establishment Republicans, because none of our overlords seemed too concerned when McCain wanted to start World War III over South Ossetia.

    Funny how Max Boot doesn’t seem to grasp that the natives have nuclear weapons now. It’s like he is an al Qaeda sleeper agent sent into the US to give the absolute worst and most destructive advice possible vis-a-vis our continuing security and survival. But then again I shouldn’t be terribly surprised considering Bush’s close personal relationship with the Saudi Royal Family and business dealings with the bin Laden family.

  • 11. Joe Blow  |  January 15th, 2009 at 10:16 am

    If only we didn’t have any morals or scruples….the world would be a much better place…if we coldly calculated and killed anyone in our way, or even jssut standing next to us…

    if only..if only we were more like Henry Kissinger!

  • 12. Plamen Petkov  |  January 15th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I REALLY WISH USA will go into another major war. That will REALLY help their failing economy, NOT! China is the number 3 economy in the world, passing Germany now. Soon they will be in the position to write their own ticket and NOT in the need of buying US Treasure Bonds. Gee, wonder what will happen then? SO go ahead USA, make my day! Start another war!

  • 13. Aussie mongrel  |  January 15th, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    It’s funny how they call Indians, Afghans etc. natives, implying ‘savages’, ‘barbarians’ etc. but it’s always been civilisaed people who have dropped the nukes, started the wars, starved millions to death, overseen holocausts and so on. Sure tribal life isn’t a tea party but it beats bloody civilisation if you ask me.

  • 14. Craig  |  January 15th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Why does Max Boot still have a job ? Why is Richard Perle still a respected Washington insider ? Why did Marc Rich get pardoned ? Why will Scooter Libby et al never see a day in jail…nor Larry Franklin, nor Douglas Feith ? Probably for the same reason the New York Times ran the lead story on the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in 1967 (during which 34 U.S. naval personnel were killed and 174 wounded)on page 24.

  • 15. Mahmood  |  January 16th, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Max Boot is Russian – born in Moscow in 1969 according to his Wikipedia bio!

    Wikipedia also states that Boot was an advisor to McCain in the 2008 elections. So, America could easily have had its 21st century foreign policy determined by 19th century British imperialist ideology. That’s a scary thought (on the other hand, the VP could have been someone who could not mention which newspapers and magazines she regularly read…)

  • 16. fajensen  |  January 16th, 2009 at 5:42 am

    The question is: What if anything can outside powers do to bring the rule of law to these troubled lands?

    If find it more galling that the question of “Why?” is never raised. I don’t care about these people in the first instance and, secondly, I think that everyone can be as crazy as they like in their own homes.

    As far as “terrism” is concerned it easily solved by not letting people from terrorist countries onto airplanes or across borders. Thats what borders are FOR: Keeping the barbarians, invaders and crazies the hell out!


    Did Pakistan ever exist under any sort of British rule? Pakistan was created in 1947, India became independent in 1950.

    One suspects Pakistan was Britains special going-away-gift to Ghandi.

  • 17. swa11ow  |  January 16th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I never could understand why the Tony Blair stood by Bush and goaded him on. Were the Brits living out their past glories through the behavior of an unruly child? Or were they simply egging us on so we’d get our comeuppance the way they did? Because let’s face it, Her Majesty’s Britannic Empire is a pale ghost of what it used to be, thanks in part to the cost of maintaining her colonial designs. That’s another part of history these warmongers gloss over and ignore.

  • 18. pakk  |  January 16th, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    If colonialism didn’t eventually work out back then, why should it work out now?

    What this shows is that America is tired of its superpower status and the need to look for complex solutions to increasingly complex problems which such status implies. The general public is exhausted. They don’t want analysts, they want cheerleaders. In this case, what could be better than good ol’ British colonialism? That “British colonial headgear” looks so sexy to the American neo-colonial post-onanists!

    Even Niall Ferguson who kinda loves the British Empire has rightly noted that INDIA is not among those countries which benefited from the British rule. The story of how India’s growing textile industry was eliminated by the British to feed the Lancashire mills with cheap Indian cotton is particularly telling.

    Maybe these American imperialists need to listen to their British colleagues sometimes. Because another thing which Ferguson has right is that the American Empire simply doesn’t have the manpower to fulfill Boot’s dreams. And that’s not only about being unable to replace US Army black and latino enlisted personnel at the same rate as arabs and africans are replacing their cannon fodder (even with a a kill rate adjustment). It’s also about the people who will run these “colonies”. Can anyone seriously imagine Boot going to Somalia to arbiter disputes among numerous local clans? And staying their for 20 years doing the same? Because that’s what a good colonialist has to do. How many Harvard and Yale graduates can speak Somali? Arabic? Urdu? Bengali? Uzbek? Pushtu? Swahili? Lingala? Shona?

    One bad thing with Omdurman-style debacles is that they DON’T GENERATE PROFIT. And colonialism cannot be sustainable unless it has a positive return on investment. Iraq, for example, with all its oil riches, would be bankrupt without $100bn-odd annual American support, and nobody has told us how that would change. Nobody even thinks in such categories. Running Somalia or Congo on US Federal budget won’t be cheaper – and with zero chances to see light at the end of the tunnel.

    And with no manpower to manage these funds efficiently, the money will disappear in a sort of a huge black hole – at a truly astronomic speed.

    And lastly, Omdurmans are not possible anymore. Because the Revolution in Military Affairs has little in store for COIN operations. Ok, modern C4ISR does help (Blue Force Trackers are said to be quite useful for urban combat, for instance), but that does not change the way small wars are fought. Network-centric warfare is not the way you can handle Taliban. For the British, they also had some manpower problems, but they had a huge advantage in firepower. Today, there’s no modern equivalent of Maxim. The Minuteman maybe, but I’m not sure the thing would help.

    So basically a half-dozen Iraqs would run the US into ground both militarily and economically. People who think that the massive new spending will be financed by the “US taxpayer” are just out of sync with time. This spending will have to be financed by new US governmnet debt (already huge) which will either be bought by Asians and oil Arabs or (if these guys are not interested) monetized by the Fed, resulting in hyperinflation. In any case, the US will end up being run by a board of trustees headed by the main creditor – the Chinese. Those barking at American “hegemonism” would have to think seriously whether they’d prefer to live in a world run by Mr. Hu, the Chief Global Official Receiver. For myself, I’d prefer a world leader you can laugh at, as we’ve all been doing over the last 8 years..

    There ain’t no reason to fear what Boot & Co. are proposing because they can’t do it. But the problem is that their failed efforts can produce extremely worrisome unintended consequences.

  • 19. Josephus P. Franks  |  January 16th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    I was so very happy to see this thorough trashing of Max Boot, a man whose name I first heard within an article bemoaning Obama’s conservative Cabinet picks. Boot, the article explained, had written a short “think” piece explaining how he was “gobsmacked” by Obama’s picks who just as easily could have been made by a McCain administration. Towards the end of the piece, Boot gave a stunning illustration of ignorance: to him, the political liberal Hillary Clinton is a “neo-liberal”, and “‘neo-liberalism’ […] is not so different in many respects from ‘neo-conservativism.'”

    This being the sole instance of Boot’s writing I had been subjected to until that point, I imagined the man to be a writer sharing the intellectual caliber and institutional credentials of a Rush Limbaugh or the unattractive tall blonde woman on Fox News. The evidence was clear: Boot clearly did not know what neoliberalism – certainly the most influential intellectual trend of the past half century – is. Yet he felt qualified to write about it as if he did know; clearly, I thought, Max Boot is the name of a second-rate bullshitter and perhaps an aspiring New York Post columnist.

    Turns out, Boot is a “senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, columnist at the Los Angeles Times, contributing editor at Weekly Standard, regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and former top adviser to John McCain’s campaign.”

    Now, the average person who is not interested in flimsy rationalizations of worldwide exploitation and mass-murder-by-economics (one million killed in the Soviet Union alone, by the application of just one precept of the theory!) has good reason to know nothing about neoliberalism. But an intellectual – or “intellectual” – who receives paychecks from the New York Times, a Republican presidential campaign, the Wall Street Journal, Council on Foreign Relations, etc., either knows what neoliberalism is, or is a peerless (one would hope) ass.

    Neoliberalism is not a political but an economic ideology. It is not a branch from the tree of Unitedstatesian political liberalism, but a branch from the tree of economic liberalism: the theory that economies work best when liberated from government control. Economic liberalism was definitively destroyed by the Great Depression, the cause of which economic liberals were entirely unable to explain; nor could they formulate a cure. Economic liberalism laid in a grave for nearly a half-century before stagflation provided the crisis that destroyed its successor: the Keynesian version of capitalism (which had embraced one form of government control of the economy). During the 1970s and ’80s, liberalism climbed out of its grave in its new form: neoliberalism. Neoliberalism was a zombie variant of economic liberalism, which terrorized the world’s people by immiserating and exploiting the vast majority of the world’s population, while showering kingly wealth upon a vanishingly small minority. The only countries to escape the ravages of the neoliberal zombie were those, like China, that retained a significant role in their economies for government control.

    Neoconservatives are neoliberal in economic outlook: part of the freedom agenda they so love includes the (neoliberal) freedom of the economically powerful to do whatever they like with their power. Which is ironic in itself, because the other part of neoconservatives’ freedom agenda is the freedom of citizens to share equal power in government through democratic voting.

    But the most ironic – hypocritical actually – aspect of Max Boot’s thought, such as it is, is that he adores the idol of efficiency: the idea that everything on the planet should be put to its most efficient use. (This is what neoliberals believe that unregulated capitalism ensures.) Yet, while idolizing efficiency, Max Boot has chosen to keep the nitrogen and phosphorus in his brain within his skull, rather than putting it to an unarguably more efficient use: organic fertilizer for one of the United States’ booming organic farms. Rather than free the elements comprising his body from the stultifying regulation and heavy-handed control of the human body’s organizational scheme, he has chosen to keep them so enslaved. This hypocrisy reeks more than Boot’s decomposing corpse would in a tropical organic mango plantation.

    Hopefully, a neoconservative with a commitment to a true freedom agenda will one day (soon) liberate the molecular constituents of Max Boot from their currently highly inefficient use, and, with the help perhaps of a deli meat slicer, set them free slice by slice to serve the neoliberal goal of their most efficient use: fertilizer.

    Lest this strike you as a uniquely violent sentiment, I suggest you read about Boot’s opinions on how to treat the world’s unpeople by following the imperial British example. Violent, yes – unique, no.

  • 20. Anonymous  |  January 16th, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    #2, your blog is hilariously out of touch with reality, and so is saying that anti-genocide sentiment is a forced media idea and not a genuinely grassroots ideal.

    Again, it is not by any means certain that blacks were better off in Rhodesia under colonial rule. This depends on whether “better off” is about war, famine, plague, and death, or about everyone being part of a single society instead of a rigidly defined over class and under class. Overwhelming historical evidence shows that people are willing to risk or withstand enormous hardship, including war, famine, plague, and death, to escape that kind of rigid, unfair discrimination. Who is judging whether they were “better off”? Them? Their descendants? Or people like Boot, rich whites like the over class who were kicked out? Are you a white guy yourself? You’re obviously rich enough to have internet access. Would you have different sympathies if we were talking about white, middle-class wars, like the French Revolution, or the US Civil War, or the creation of the USA, Israel, or the Republic of Ireland?

    #4, are you seriously claiming that Gore would have invaded Iraq?! The two US parties both make many of the same mistakes, and we might be better served by a system more like the one in Germany, but it’s blatantly obvious that the two parties are not the same.

    #7, yeah, but he sounds like he’s right, as well as jealous.

    #8, good point. Could be he wants a nice slow simmer of violence, and thinks open war is too much and suburbia too little. But in fact I’m thinking Ames just likes being on the winning team.

    #13, I like not waging wars, but I like technology too. The Sweden lifestyle, as it were.

    #16, I’m all in favor of allowing in smart, hard-working, secular immigrants who are going to improve the place. Academic conferences, for example, rely on international travel. And although Pakistan did not exist until the British left, as a part of India, it was governed by Brits until then. It’s really a fascinating story about how the Muslim/Hindu negotiations led to the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh, and what followed, and what the British had to do with it all. If you had a worldwide information network at your fingertips, you could spend 10 minutes and learn about it before you interject lame “One suspects” comments while the grown-ups are talking.

    #18, hm, well said.

  • 21. Tam  |  January 17th, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Oh come on. Presumably Obama’s aware the reason his predeccesor is the most unpopular president ever is because he took fuckwads like this seriously.
    Boot will probably coninue to make a nice living as a pundit but I doubt he or any of the other neocons are going to be having any more influence on the president in the near future than, say, Clinton’s advisor and hangers-on did on Dubya.

    There’s some nice invective here but otherwise this article is the standard ‘incoming media courtesans trashing outgoing media courtesans’ you always get at the time of the presidential changing of the guard.

  • 22. five to one  |  January 17th, 2009 at 3:12 am


    “Yet, while idolizing efficiency, Max Boot has chosen to keep the nitrogen and phosphorus in his brain within his skull, rather than putting it to an unarguably more efficient use: organic fertilizer for one of the United States’ booming organic farms.”


  • 23. Jim T.  |  January 17th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Hell, the comments here are as good as the article! What would I do without the Exile? Well, the Exile is no more, but you know what I mean.

  • 24. Carpenter  |  January 18th, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Anonymous says, “Again, it is not by any means certain that blacks were better off in Rhodesia under colonial rule.”

    You realize that when the Brits came to Rhodesia, there were only 200,000 Blacks living there? The Brits invited Africans from other parts of Africa – and they came. So they jumped right into oppression with a happy smile? Or did they realize that living in a functioning society with medicines and food is better than digging for grubs under a rock with a pointy stick? What was the life expectancy among these tribal men? Thirty years? I am being optimistic here. Their lives were greatly prolonged by living among Brits who brought new-fangled stuff like soap and the wheel.

    And on a related note, South African Blacks – also most of which immigrated from the north after the Europeans – had the highest purchasing power of all Blacks in Africa. Now? Half of all women in South Africa are raped.

    That is not to say that Max Boot is anything but a bastard, to return to the article. He is the worst kind of imperialist: he doesn’t do it either for the occupier or those occupied, but to neutralize the only three countries in the Middle East (Iraq, Iran, Syria) to support the Palestinian resistance financially and diplomatically. And he does it with arguments about the British Empire? Let us keep our own history, Max Boot. You stick to Israel’s.

  • 25. Boot Max  |  January 18th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Max Boot and Niall Ferguson have definite similarities with their my (as in their pro-Anglo-American imperialism) shit doesn’t stink as bad as others.

    This makes sense for those who see the US as the successor of the British Empire.

    The lunancy of the necon and neolib axis makes the paleocons a more desired force on a good number of foreign policy issues.

  • 26. Mycos  |  January 27th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Until we all recognize the existence of a subgroup within mankind whose cognitive “style” compels them to over-simplify issues of peace and war into easily understandable “black and white” components, then there is no hope of our ever learning from the lessons of history. These people, variously called right-wing conservatives, authoritarians or the social dominance oriented, are compelled to over-simplify. In doing so they ignore any facts that do not resonate with their preconceived notions as to good and evil, hence who is right, who is justified, what really happened, and what others are thinking. Fear and aggresion dominate their thinking in a way that allows them to transform small, stateless actors who they denigrate as weak and cowardly one minute into a terror threat that should command every resource available into wiping them out befpre they take over the world..this despite the combined USSR and Red Chinese Armies being unsuccessful at it.

    In short, these people are so divorced from the real world that any attempt to account for man’s behavior in the future is doomed to failure if it doesn’t take into account the insanity of this one small group. In fact, our failure to recognize them as an identifiable and separate subgroup is probably the greatest single reason for most wars in the past, and what now keeps the rest of us talking about when and how the next war will be fought.

    Intellectuals have long known of their existence, but their presence is still thought of by mainstream societies as being just another ideaological sector — one that has as much legitimacy as any other.

    The problem with that is they are not at all like the rest of us. They actually think differently at the most basic cognitive level. Test after test shows them to behave in ways similar to the rest of when we are pressed for time or feel the need to make decisions hastily and without all the facts being integrated into the whole neccesary for making a correct decision. It resembles the decision making process of people with high mortality salience or who are in fear of being found out for something they did wrong and can expect to be punished for it.

    Even DHS’s terror and counter-terrorism center warns that right-wing conservatives are the primary group from which politically motivated violence is most likely to arise. After all, Saddam Hussein, OBL, GWBush, Hamas, Likud, Zionism and Nazism are all right-wing conservative leaders and movements.

    Examples of the way they are capable of torturing history or known facts are revealed by the attempts to recast Nazism as a left-wing movement. This, as well as Islam and any other group that is embarrassing to their own self-image by virtue of their being on the right. Just look how they now belive media has been taken over by “libruls” despite the overwhelming presence of conservatives in every sector of the news media. But because that’s the source of embarrassing newscasts eg. dead Pali kids, they tell themselves that these are lies or exaggerations from a hostile (to them) media. Conveniently, so too are the universities and scholars themselves similarly hostile liars. How else can they handle the fact that scholars are the ones who have all the records showing the truth of historical massacres or other events they prefer to recast as defensive or “accidental” events. Above are several displaying this unique ability (outside of a recognized psychopathy) to recreate reality in a way that is consistent with their own beliefs and prejudices.

    Oh..yes. Empathy is another trait that humanity evolved in order to allow the socialization neccesary for implementing the “group” approach as an adaptiion to the environment. But RWCs seem largely unable to extend it beyond their own small in-group. It’s this factor (among others) that suggests some kind of evolutionary dead-end may be responsible for their violence. In a world that now contains nuclear weapons and the ability to change the environment globally, such behavior is clearly dysfunctional and should be “selected out” artificailly since technology now runs far ahead of nature’s ability to self-correct.


    From DHS:
    “A meta-analysis by J. T. Jost, J. Glaser, A. W. Kruglanski, and F. J. Sulloway (2003) concluded that political conservatism is partially motivated by the management of uncertainty and threat. Medium to large effect sizes describe relations between political conservatism and dogmatism and
    intolerance of ambiguity; lack of openness to experience; uncertainty avoidance; personal needs for order, structure, and closure; fear of death; and system threat.”

    “We now take it for granted in the United States that political conservatives tend to be for law and order but not gun control,
    against welfare but generous to corporations, protective of cultural traditions but antagonistic toward contemporary art and music, and wary of government but eager to weaken the separation of church and state. They are committed to freedom and individualism but
    perennially opposed to extending rights and liberties to disadvantaged minorities and others who blur traditional boundaries. There is no obvious political thread that runs through these diverse positions and no logical principle that renders them all con-
    sistent. Their cooccurrence may be explained just as well with psychological theory as with political theory. Conservative opin-
    ions acquire coherence only by virtue of the fact that they minimize uncertainty and threat while pursuing continuity with the past (i.e., the status quo) and rationalizing inequality in society. Basic social, cognitive, and motivational differences may also explain why extreme right-wing movements are typically obsessed with purity, cleanliness, hygiene, structure, and order — things that would oth-
    erwise have little to do with political positions per se — and why religious fundamentalism is so attractive to right-wing parties and their followers in just about every nation stretching from North
    America to the Middle East.”

  • 27. Salim  |  February 4th, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    You are a nutcase Mark. The British Empire was definitely beneficial for the subcontinent. Before the British came, Indians were butchering each other, Marathas fought Rajputs who fought Sikhs and so on. Before the British came the Hindus were terrorised by Muslims, their women raped, their temples destroyed. Before the British came lower caste Indians were treated worse than American black slaves by upper caste hindus. Before the British came there was no modern hygiene, no modern medicine, no justice as we know it. The British banned barbaric practices like Sati (where the wife of a dead man would jump into the funeral pyre of her husnband), they increased the age of marriage for girls to 16 from 12 when they received complaints of sexual injuries to small Indian girls. They put an end to the Thugees who killed unsuspecting travellers and who were nearly impossible to eradicate because of the corruption in the land.
    Famines have occurred in India before the British came. It was not the first time. Similarly many traditional British weavers suffered due to the Indian revolution just as the weavers of Bengal. No, ames, the British empire with all its flaws was definitely beneficial to its colonies. I think India and Africa would have been far better off had the empire continued in its original state. The work was half done.

  • 28. anka  |  February 5th, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Notions about how to dominante the world as expressed by Brecher and Boot flawed, mistaken and no longer work. the 19th C. Brit imperial tactics worked then, but now (1) the technology gap has shrunk and (2) the culture gap has shrunk so that no one wants to be colonized anymore and they will fight like hell to resist colonial domination. Also the idea that liberal media squimishness has been an obstacle to U.S. imperialism is a farce. Laptop humanitarian bombardiers are a dime a dozen in the U.S. media. U.S. imperialism is failing because of the politics of imperialism not because of poor technique or lack of will power on the part of the imperialist.

  • 29. Jack Boot  |  March 19th, 2009 at 11:26 am

    There you go again, bullying my kid brother Max!

    Please bear in mind that, until the 20th Century, it was universally taken for granted that the strong had every right to rule the weak. Do you doubt that, say, the Aztecs would have invaded and despoiled Spain, had they possessed the wherewithal?

    To be sure, the British Empire did some nasty shit in its time – and which empire didn’t?
    But, at least it left behind something of value: Railways, a relatively honest legal system, the English language, the USA, India – essentially the modern world.

    And what is the Soviet Empire’s legacy? The AK-47, spectacular pollution and mass graves…

    But, Max hasn’t quite grasped that pith-helmet imperialism is, like, totally last year.
    A squeamish West, combined with a well-armed Third World, has pretty much put paid to it.

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