I often make reference to “the War Party” in this space: it’s a convenient shorthand, one that evokes an image of something sinister, even Satanic, and this serves my rhetorical purposes well. But if we unpack the concept, and look for examples in real life, what we find is a little more prosaic than Satan with a sword.
Speaking of real life, I’ve been on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Freedom Watch show twice, of late (the second show has yet to be aired), and in both cases I was matched up with someone we might reasonably describe as a charter member of the War Party.
The first was Wayne Simmons, who argued that WikiLeaks is a “terrorist organization,” that only “our leaders” have the right to information about the war in Afghanistan – or any other war – and that the legal ruling that freed Daniel Ellsberg from the clutches of the federal government was a “bad decision.” Simmons is a former CIA analyst whose heroics supposedly include “fighting cyberterrorists” and “narco-terrorists,” and whose biography [.pdf] includes a stint as “President and CEO of WSS International, Ltd, a Maryland company formed to arrange loans for multinational companies in Europe, Hong Kong, and Macau. He was also involved in working with American Fortune 500 companies and providing introductions to the various foreign ministers of Kazakhstan.”
In short, Senor Simmons is using his government connections to profit from “introductions” to the kleptocrats of Kazakhstan, an oil-rich Central Asian country where the Absolute Ruler, Nursultan Nazarbayev, presides over one of the most repressive and corrupt regimes in the world. In Nazarbayev, Simmons – who claims waterboarding isn’t torture – has found a kindred soul.
The second was retired USN Captain Chuck Nash, whose tales of derring do are duly recorded on his Fox News biography. He’s also CEO of something called “Emerging Technologies International Inc,” described in his bio on the web site of the Iran Policy Committee – a group that has been agitating for war with Iran for many years – as follows:
“The company’s focus is to understand military requirements and then actively search out and identify high leverage, emerging technologies that can be inserted quickly and inexpensively into tools for the U.S. military.”
In short, Captain Nash is profiting from America’s wars, and it’s only natural that he would be eager to expand their scope. Like Simmons, Nash is a charter member of the rising class of militarists who make their living from the Empire. Also like Simmons, Nash was a member of the circle of “independent” military analysts who appeared on television touting the War Party’s talking points in the run up to the invasion of Iraq: while coordinating their activities with Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, they posed as “objective” analysts of military science for the benefit of television audiences nationwide. From NBC to ABC to the cable channels, these guys were all over the place making the case for war.
Which brings us to the question of: what do these people really believe? Is it all about cash for Nash and Simmons, or are they ideologues pursing their natural inclinations? This is a question, for me, because there was a curious lack of fervor in their arguments, at least insofar as I could see, a certain listlessness and an inability to mount a serious argument. It was as if they simply assumed imperialism and war as a self-evident premise, the way any predator assumes the law of the jungle: there was a kind of innocence in their bafflement at my and Judge Napolitano’s arguments, as if they genuinely could not conceive of a world where brute force did not reign supreme, and the rule of law trumped the law of the jungle.
I don’t know about you, but I find this frightening: that some men can be so unreflective, so immersed in their own ideological and economic bubble, that rational arguments simply bounce off of them. They are immune to argument, unable and unwilling to understand how militarism and imperialism are killing us and dragging us down into financial and moral bankruptcy. Sprung from the nexus of economics and foreign interventionism, they personify a growing sector of American society, one that derives both its income and its very identity from our ever-expanding Empire.
These men and women are the enemies of our republic: they pose a deadly danger to the survival of the republican tradition. When I heard Simmons state – without emotion – that only “our leaders” have the right to know what WikiLeaks has revealed about the Afghan conflict, I shuddered from head to foot, as if hearing the death knell of all that America was, and, to some extent, still is.
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