Americans have doubts about Bush administration handling of the Iraq war, but they do not want to lose. Democratic Party leaders know this and also understand that setting a timetable for withdrawal would be irresponsible but are pulled in a defeatist direction by the very vocal left-wing of their political base.
The left wants a retreat from Iraq to be the prelude to a larger collapse of American pre-eminence world wide. It attacks U.S. policy everywhere, denounces America’s allies and, most alarming, embraces foreign powers it hopes will be strong enough to confront Washington.
The “American Empire Project”(AEP) is just one of several leftist campaigns that bring these themes of desired national decline together. The AEP has churned out more than a dozen books by career critics of the United States, including Noam Chomsky, Michael Klare, James Carroll and others.
Chalmers Johnson has written two AEP books. “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic,” argues that since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has “undergone a transformation from republic to empire that may well prove irreversible.” He claims “a revolution would be required to bring the Pentagon back under democratic control.”
His first book, “Blowback : The Costs and Consequences of American Empire,” is a polemic history of U.S. imperialism in Asia, where Washington’s misguided opposition to communism in China, Korea and Vietnam blends with stories of crimes committed by U.S. Marines against civilians on Okinawa.
Mr. Johnson heads the Japan Policy Research Institute (JPRI), which he founded in 1994 with Steve Clemons, another foe of American empire. Mr. Clemons also is director of the American Strategy program at the New America Foundation, whose model for a “new” America seems to be the Old Europe of decadent, socialist, has-been powers.
The purpose of the JPRI is to bash Japan for being a U.S. ally. In a March 2005, JPRI Working Paper “No Longer the ‘Lone’ Superpower: Coming to Terms with China,” Mr. Johnson attacks the Bush administration for “doing everything in its power to encourage and even accelerate Japanese rearmament.” He argued, “Such a development promotes hostility between China and Japan … and lays the foundation for a possible future Sino-American conflict that the United States would almost surely lose.”
Leftists focus more on Japan since Tokyo sent warships to the Indian Ocean to support operations in Afghanistan, and ground troops to perform humanitarian missions in Iraq. Last year, Japan joined the U.S. in declaring that “peace” in and around Taiwan is a “common security goal.” This is based on the assumption Taiwan can only be united with China against its will by military aggression.
Peace maintains the status quo of Taiwan as a self-governing democracy. In contrast, Mr. Johnson echoes Beijing’s propaganda that the attempt to deter an attack on Taiwan is the threat to peace. “The American government and Japanese followers of George W. Bush insult China in every way they can,” says Mr. Johnson, who warns, “in light of the Bush administration’s ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ war in Iraq … it seems possible that the U.S. and Japan might actually precipitate a war with China over Taiwan.”
An objective of Chinese policy is to keep Japan from gaining a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. On this issue, Mr. Clemons blogged, “Japan is a real toss-up case. It has a powerful military and a huge economy, but at this point — it behaves too much like a supplicant of the United States. … A more empowered Japan remains too destabilizing in the Asia Pacific region.”
In a widely circulated May 30 column, Noam Chomsky embraced a rising China containing a fading America. “Unlike Europe, China refuses to be intimidated by Washington, a primary reason for the growing fear of China on the part of U.S. planners. Much of Iran’s oil already goes to China, and China is providing Iran with weapons, presumably considered a deterrent to U.S. threats,” wrote Mr. Chomsky, who hopes China, Iran and Russia will create a new “energy grid” in Central Asia, “breaking Western control of the world’s energy supplies and securing the great industrial revolution of Asia.”
The prospects for such a development took a step forward at the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting . Mr. Chomsky also hailed Venezuela, for having “forged probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American country.” The provocative titled of his op-ed: “Why It’s Over for America.”
Those of us who do not want it to be over for America need to be aware of the larger leftist agenda of U.S. defeat worldwide. Their willingness to embrace foreign powers to help bring down America raises fundamental questions about the proper limits of partisan debate.
Our fate, and that of our children, depend upon our country remaining strong, successful and able to shape world events to our advantage. How best to provide for our security raises a legitimate set of complex issues. But rooting against the home team is not acceptable behavior.
William Hawkins is senior fellow for national security studies at the U.S. Business and Industry Council.