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Hail Caesar! We Who Are Now Subjects Salute You! (Part II)

The Imperial President Decider is not content merely to reign during his actual tenure in office, for such temporal limitations impugn the majesty of his office and the grandeur of his vision. To the contrary, so refulgent is the splendor of his geopolitical idea, executed with such transcendent mastery, that any possible successor must bathe in the light of its glory and perpetuate the legacy. Thus, Arnaud de Borchgrave, mentioning in a recent edition of the Washington Times a rather telling Bush remark:

Pity President Bush's successor. He or she will inherit a mess on all fronts — national security, economy, defense, trade, health. Huge interest costs should also be factored in as combat is funded with borrowed money.

The full impact of Mr. Bush's answer to a question put to him by a European author in a private Oval office meeting a year ago leaves no room for doubt. After an optimistic briefing on Iraq, the author asked the president, "What about your successor?" Mr. Bush replied: "Don't worry about him. We'll fix it so he'll be locked in."

It is a neat encapsulation of the imperial idea in American politics: not simply the open-ended commitment to foreign misadventures, but the idea of stasis, of timelessness, often a pretense of the imperial form. We may change our leadership as we desire, though we may not change the policies; and we may have any political arrangements we wish, so long as they are interventionist and imperial. We can do it our own way, if we do it how they say. "We'll fix it so he'll be locked in." Distressingly, I don't believe that he need have troubled himself; what differences the candidates have permitted themselves are scarcely even trifles.

The 44th President of the United States will not be the only one who is 'locked in'.

Comments (12)

quote: "We'll fix it so he'll be locked in."

Are Dubya and his Neocon buddies a threat to the basic constitutional order of our republic?

There are days when I get really nervous and begin to wonder.

I wasn't aware that you had jumped the shark, but now I see that you have, Jeff. Unless this post is more ironic than my detector will register, you have taken the simple notion that our foreign policy ought to have some kind of constancy and turned it into a thirst for dynastic permanence. Do we have a spotting of plecotus maximos here?

Bush could have expressed the more credible idea that our foreign policy ought to possess some constancy, though he did not; he chose to express the idea that things would be brought to such a pass that his successor would have no choice but to perpetuate his sorry policy. It is the difference between a disinterested approach to the national interest, even if sincerely misguided, and an egophanic insistence on dictating, via circumstances, to a successor.

I'm fully cognizant of the imperatives of consistency in foreign policy, even across administrations, though I'm also cognizant of the fact that this principle is often in tension with the fundamental workings of republican government, even laying aside my judgment that the war was unjust and catastrophically executed, to boot. If the American people wish for a policy to be revisited, and the establishment has purposed that, no matter what, it will not, that is scarcely to their credit, and to that of our republican institutions. If any person or group of persons has jumped the shark, or is at risk of doing so, it is our leadership caste, who openly mock the deliberate sense of the people.

Distressing to say the least. Thank you for posting this.

Bush is not a dullard. I realize that this is a prominent meme on the left, and, on occasion, members of the dissident right are delighted to repeat it as it suits them. As Steve Sailer has demonstrated, however, Bush possesses an IQ north of 120, probably around a standard deviation-and-a-half above the American average. Though Bush is renowned as a tormentor of the English language, he capable of conveying his thoughts and intentions, even if through garbled syntax. What his statement above indicates is less a concern for the national interest than a personal identification with a specific policy, all the more passionate on account of its negligible popular support in the waning days of his administration, not to mention the failure of even the modest forecasts of success, let alone the grandiose, "We will be greeted as liberators!" bong-hits neocons were taking in early 2003.

And I am obligated to observe that this sort of intransigence-cum-personal-identification on/with specific policies is deleterious to republican governance. Throw in the heads-you-can-have-an-empire, tails-we-build-an-empire-anyway attitude, and this is more revealing than most statements from this administration.

I don't fault your disagreement with the step of arrangement of foreign policy such that successors have difficulty changing it, nor with your assessment that he could have claimed constancy as his only objective.

However, to imply that the will of the people, of the majority, should be the only rubric by which we engage in foreign affairs is to deny the need for an executive entirely. We may as well treat with our enemies and allies by referendum. Whether or not this would lead to greater manipulation of our electorate by foreign actors or domestic media I leave as an exercise.

Mainly, you lost me with hyperbole.

I assuredly do not intend to imply that the will of the people should be the sole criterion according to which foreign policy is conducted. Too litter deference to the deliberate sense, however, is ruinous to republican government, and only precipitates debilitating embitterments among the population. It is unhealthy for the Republic that the politico-economic establishment remains obdurate on the national question, in the teeth of supermajority opposition; analogously, it is unhealthy when such defiance of popular opinion in the conduct of foreign policy not only persists, but is openly defended. The Vietnam era holds more than one lesson for policymakers.

There is a deeper question here, and that is the status of American foreign policy itself. American foreign policy is traditionally an admixture of ideological, realpolitik, and nakedly mammonist impulses. Regardless of the precise ratios one perceives in the Iraq policy, that policy is an integral element in a strategy for the geopolitical domination of Eurasia, the lineaments of which are sketched in Brzezinski's truly dreadful primer, The Grand Chessboard There are no voices in the foreign policy establishment interrogating these assumptions, which are at once morally dubious - entailing as they do that America is entitled to deny to others what she asserts for herself, namely, patriotic virtues and goods, even if she distorts them in the process - and often enormously destructive in implementation. How is the establishment to be encouraged to reconsider, given that the unwisdom and iniquity of the policies are essentially irrelevant to their deliberations, either flatly ignored, since the concern is with interests, which is often to say, passions elevated to national significance, or not even perceived in the first instance? When, in other words, the establishment refuses to contemplate whether it ought to be doing these things at all, on any grounds, how else other than by appeal to the deliberate sense of the people can they conceivably be moved to actually reason, as opposed to merely thinking instrumentally, about the means by which their unquestioned ends are to be realized?

In sum, appealing to the people is scarcely ideal; even a resolutely republican society, often trending toward naked majoritarian democracy, requires calm, dispassionate deliberation, of the sort that only elites can provide (though, God grant us, not always the ones we currently possess). It is, however, virtually the only weapon left in the arsenal of republican governance. An executive cannot conduct foreign policy as though his own people were not there.

"However, to imply that the will of the people, of the majority, should be the only rubric by which we engage in foreign affairs is to deny the need for an executive entirely."

Right now,"the will of the people" is hardly a factor guiding our foreign policy. Look at how many undeclared wars, police actions and pre-emptive strikes the Executive branch has waged in the last 60 plus years.

A major impediment to military adventurism was removed with the advent of the volunteer military. As long as a very small part of the population is bearing the sacrifice associated with combat, the Executive will have a free hand. Former Chief of Staff Creighton Abrams, quite familiar with the horrors of combat, foresaw the potential danger of this arrangement and established the doctrine of integrating the National Guard and Reserves into the total forward deployment of our military. Obviously, this attempt to link public support with foreign policy decisions and to check against repeats of the Vietnam debacle failed.

The so-called, "bi-partisan consensus" directing our foreign policy runs contrary to the desires of most Americans. I think a majority would like to close most of our 700 military bases around the world, bring home a couple of hundred thousand troops in Europe and Asia and basically tend our own garden. None of this is not likely any time soon. Worries of popular referendum guiding our foreign policy seems misplaced.

Reminds me of a film scene in Mikalkov's "Anna" where the very same printing presses dutifully pump out portraits of successors, Gorbachev next, Yeltsin next, Putin next . . .

Although, forgive me, I've heard this complaint of dynastic permanence leveled at the hierarchy of the Catholic church.

Although, forgive me, I've heard this complaint of dynastic permanence leveled at the hierarchy of the Catholic church.

Didn't you know that the first one who said, "Don't worry about him. We'll fix it so he'll be locked in." was St. Peter himself!

Bush gets bashed so much, he is very much like Christ these days.

Quote: "Bush gets bashed so much, he is very much like Christ these days."

Godwin's Law states that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

From Godwin's Law, I adduce Moonbones' Corollary:

For any online discussion involving criticism of the GOP or Neoconism, as the discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving George Duyba Bush and Christ approaches one.

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