Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Wingnuts Want

The following quote, from an older piece by Rick Perlstein, refers to a rightwing position on America's Indo-Chinese adventures of a previous generation. But it might as well refer to the rightwing position on war and foreign policy in general, at least since the era of Robert Taft:

A National Review blogger turned Moyar's Wall Street Journal op-ed into an occasion to endorse Triumph Forsaken's invocation of the destruction of the Indonesian left in 1965 as an object lesson for how America should have succeeded in Vietnam.

Here's how Moyar tells that story: "The nation's leader, the eccentric Sukarno, was flirting with the Communists.... Bolstered by quiet financial and moral support from the Americans, anti-Communist generals under the leadership of General Suharto ultimately took over the government. With a brutality that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, the anti-Communists wiped out the huge Indonesian Communist Party," the PKI. "A new and long friendship between Indonesia and the United States thus took form.... This vital domino, tipping precariously, was transformed into a huge boulder standing squarely in the path of Chinese and North Vietnamese expansionism."

Here, on the other hand, is how the CIA summarized these events--in which possibly 1 million people died, most having nothing to do with Communism, some whose only crime was being ethnically Chinese: "In terms of the numbers killed the anti-PKI massacres in Indonesia rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century."

It was a genocide. Moyar is wistful for it, and right-wing intellectuals have embraced him. Finally someone has told the truth.

Moyar, in short, occupies a moral black hole, and conservatives are glad to join him there. And yet, in his own confused way, Moyar is also onto something. Americans, even "neoconservative" ones, are prone to liberal sentimentalizing about the possibility of "good" wars. But war is not good. War is the attempt of one group to violently impose its will on another. Fields of blood and fire are no kind of workshop for Jeffersonian democracy.

Question: What does the rightwing love so much that it doesn't even mind using leftwing rhetoric and argument (as long as such tactics produce the result intended: more of what they want)?

Answer: Not racism, not Jesus, not Israel, not fetuses, not even top-down class warfare. These things are important to the rightwing, but at the top of their hierarchy of values is war -- specifically, ideological, nation-transforming and -mobilizing total war, a "long war."