Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Hegemony of "Common Sense"

Glenn Greenwald:

The Number One Rule of the bi-partisan Foreign Policy Community is that America has the right to invade and attack other countries at will because American power is inherently good and our role in the world is to rule it though the use of superior military force. Paying homage to that imperialistic orthodoxy is a non-negotiable pre-requisite to maintaining Good Standing and Seriousness Credentials within the Foreign Policy Community.

Conversely, one who denies that premise reveals oneself to be deeply unserious and unworthy of meaningful discourse. While differences on the "when" and "how" are permitted, there is virtually no debate within the foreign policy establishment about whether the U.S. has the right to continue to intervene and attack and invade and occupy other countries in the absence of those countries attacking us. Hence, to Cohen and his colleagues, it sounds perfectly normal and natural to say that the U.S. has "good reasons" to start wars against a whole host of countries because -- as bizarre and abnormal and unfathomable that idea is for most of the world -- it is an implicit, unexamined belief among our foreign policy elites that the U.S. is entitled, more or less, to use military force even in the absence of being attacked or threatened with attack.

This orthodoxy is not merely passively accepted, but actively enforced. The principal goal is to ensure that it remains a bi-partisan view so that, in turn, the question of America's role in the world is never subject to any real debate. The three "crazy, insane, wacko, fringe" presidential candidates are Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, and Dennis Kucinich. Yet the only thing they have in common (other than having been elected multiple times to the U.S. Congress) is a belief that the U.S. has been using its military force illegitimately by using it against other countries that are not attacking us. But that belief, standing alone, is enough to eject one from the mainstream, because it violates the central consensus of the establishment.

I heartily recommend the whole article.

It reminds me, also, of my all-time favorite quote from Thomas Friedman, that doyen of nonsensical common sense: "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps." (NYT, March 28, 1999)

That pretty much says it all right there.