War in the Age of 'Poodle-ism'
July 30, 2006
Editor's Note: Since we live in an age of careerism where those who speak the truth can expect reprisals, it is perhaps not surprising that America's politics and journalism are dominated by a combination of bullies who punish dissenters and timid souls who maneuver endlessly to avoid offending the powerful.
In this guest essay, political analyst Brent Budowsky notes that British Prime Minister Tony Blair may deserve his nickname "the poodle" for acting as George W. Bush's lapdog, but that Blair is not alone. There are plenty of American accommodators and facilitators who have helped enable the loss of democratic values in the United States and the bloody disasters unfolding in the Middle East.
In this guest essay (which originally appeared at HuffingtonPost), Budowsky suggests that this culture of timidity deserves its own label, "poodle-ism."
To understand the causes and consequences of the crises of our times, Americans should read carefully the manifestos of the Project For The New American Century and their deadly wrong view of the role of America, and the movement of history.
The key point is this: Mr. Fukiyama was wrong when he wrote of "The End Of History"; what was happening with the fall of communism was the End Of Empire. When the battle of the two great powers was won by the side that stood for freedom, the world was not yearning for a one-power dominated geopolitics, the core vision of the neoconservative catastrophe.
The world was yearning for freedom and democracy where America would be the leader and role model that respected and empowered, but did not dominate, others who shared our values.
The poisonous premise of the neoconservative was the arrogant, overbearing and historically catastrophic notion that the end of the Cold War meant that instead of two powers that compete to run the world, the victorious power would stand alone at the throne of world power.
With a premise so historically wrong, the result was inevitable disaster that not only discredited its advocates, but violated principles of our democracy, alienated the worldwide opinion of democratic peoples, destabilized our military, divided our nation and endangered our security.
This was well understood by two Presidents who understood history and war. John F. Kennedy ran for President while opposing the colonial war of his time, the French in Algeria, warning in a famous essay that great powers can attract but great powers also repel.
Dwight Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex, whose incarnation today involves secret energy policy meetings at the White House, corrupt crony deals, war profiteering abuses run rampant, campaign contributions run amok, and attacks against a recipient of the Bronze and Silver Stars financed in large measure by oil money.
If there is responsibility for the current crisis in the stained hands of the neoconservatives and their partisans who disrespect dissent and who demean the checks and balances of our democracy, there is also responsibility in the hands of those who failed to speak out for their own lesser reasons.
Who ever thought that a Prime Minister of Britain would be nicknamed after a French dog? A word in defense of the poodle. My favorite breeds are the Labs and Retrievers but I grew up with a poodle as a pet, and he was great. Smart, loving, loyal, his only fault, and this is true, was that he was a little kinky, and would occasionally masturbate on the legs of guests, which nowadays is qualification for high office.
Let's understand the strategy of the gentleman who is called by his country "Bush's poodle". The Blair vision is that Britain, having lost its Empire, will now be the intermediary between the United States and continental Europe, not the voice of conscience or experience.
With Blairism, it is immaterial who the American President is; Tony Blair views Britain's role as a supplicant more than a true partner, which deprives the world of Britain's conscience and experience, shames the once great Labour Party, and surrenders one more check and balance that should have restrained the neoconservative obsession, but didn't.
If neoconservatism is the deadly danger to our security, the spread of "poodle-ism" is an equally deadly danger to our democracy. The checks and balances essential to our freedom were not only demeaned by the partisans; they were surrendered by Blair and by countless others who failed to do their duty.
Far too often, Democratic leaders embodied the politics of poodle-ism and at the decisive moment were indistinguishable from the neoconservatives pursuing their decade-long obsession of war in Iraq.
Far too often the entire Congress surrendered its historic role in war powers and for oversight, in one of the most damaging demonstrations of Constitutional poodle-ism in our history.
Far too often, the major media embodied the spirit of poodle-ism, and at the decisive moment became cheerleaders for their sources and courtiers to power.
For too often, officials such as Colin Powell, a good man whose contribution to America is not yet finished, fell victim to poodle-ism and at the decisive moment looked like Khrushchev, pounding his shoe at the United Nations, for a war he privately despised and opposed. [For Consortiumnews.com's coverage of "Behind Colin Powell's Legend," click here.]
Contrast this rampant poodle-ism with the profiles in courage of those who honored the tradition of JFK and Eisenhower, such as General Tony Zinni, who was reprimanded for warning about war in Iraq while we was on active duty. Or General Eric Shinseki, who was professional and courageous in warning of the danger of disaster, and was slapped down by the neocon Wolfowitz and demeaned by Rumsfeld and Bush.
Or the six retired generals who spoke out with conscience and honor and by doing so, gave up many millions of dollars of income, that lesser men took while they maintained their silence with poodle-ism for profit.
If the crisis of our times is largely caused by the Faustian marriage of the obsessive mirage of the neoconservative ideologue and the dirt politics of the smearing partisans, it is enabled by the feebleness and amoral opportunism of poodle-ism.
Those of us, who truly believe in freedom and democracy, should always ask: isn't there something terribly dangerous and wrong when the policies being pursued are opposed and even feared by the overwhelming majority of friends of freedom and democracy around the world?
Shouldn't we align ourselves with the overwhelming majority of the friends of freedom and democracy around the world, rather than demeaning their opinion and disrespecting their viewpoint and advice?
The answer to neoconservatism is not the way of the poodle, but the way of Jefferson, who valued the decent opinion of mankind; of Eisenhower, who understood the danger of the military industrial complex; of Kennedy, who spoke out against colonialism by the French and challenged us to combine the power of our force, with the force of our ideas; of Walesa, Havel, Mandela, and John Paul II who knew that the history of our times is not a matter of which empire dominates the world, but which spirit liberates the energies of people, in a world that hungers for freedom, and self-determination, without the arrogance of empire, or the cowardice of the poodle.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen on intelligence issues, and served as Legislative Director to Rep. Bill Alexander when he was Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Leadership. Budowsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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