Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Republican Militarism

Lew Rockwell shared a commentary on the most recent Republican Presidential Primary debate from David Franke.  His comment on Ron Paul was perhaps the best insight into the state of the Republican party that I've seen.  He writes:

The small loser was Ron Paul.  Since he has never risen consistently above 15% (and more often 10%), he doesn’t have that far to fall.  I don’t think he fell tonight, but it was very clear that he will not be able to break that 15% barrier—not in the Republican Party primaries.  If by some miracle he could get the GOP nomination, Gallup and other polls show he would be competitive with Obama.  But the Republican Party is a militarist party, which puts a ceiling on how far he can go.  He probably got as many cheers as boos when he talked about foreign policy, but the boos were what you noticed.  They served as a reminder of just how militarist the Republicans are.  They want to cut spending, but not the military budget—impossible!  And this is why I think the Republicans would be basically as hopeless as the Democrats at handling the crises ahead.

Franke understands perhaps the primary deficiency in the Republican Party.  The Republicans, at their core, are militarists.  They are not defined by social policies, fiscal conservatism, or constitutionalism, but by their militaristic theology.

Every person I've spoken with regarding Ron Paul says something to this effect: "Ron Paul is great on the Constitution and money, but he's terrible on foreign policy."  I said the very same thing myself in 2008 before finally agreeing with Paul.

Republicans have embraced the rhetoric of Woodrow Wilson's doctrine of democracy.  Democracy has become an idol--the new gospel for all nations to embrace.  We claim to want to bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq (and others), but in reality, this is hollow rhetoric, for American foreign policy has been propping up dictators in countless countries across the globe in the name of "American interests."  Our government would be content with whatever form of government Afghanistan or Iraq chooses, as long as they follow our dictates.

The Republican Party's doctrine of "American Exceptionalism" is the national manifestation of Friedrich Nietzsche's "Übermensch" or  "Superman."  Nietzsche argued that the "Übermensch" was above the rules of the rest of humanity--he makes his own rules. Indeed, America does play by its own rules.  When Ron Paul asks what would we think if China were to dictate to us what we could or couldn't do, we too, would be indignant.  Yet the very question is ignored, as though it is incoherent.  Paul's question simply defies the categories of the "Übermensch" theology.  It is akin to asking, "What if a bird dictated what you could or couldn't do?"

Without a change in theology, America will never be able to truly embrace a statesman such as Ron Paul.  Nor will America ever come to terms with its deficit spending.  Militarism is the true third rail in Republican politics.  Franke is right, the Republican Party, as it is currently constituted, could never embrace Paul. America does not deserve someone of Paul's caliber.  Paul is as a pearl, and we are the swine.
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