Thursday, 12 August 2010

US Military, Gen. James Mattis and Liberalism (Jon Kofas, Greece)

Posted on July 15th, 2010 

If Gen. Mattis acted in the name of liberal democracy that he obviously serves, how can anyone accuse him of employing “undemocratic” language while exercising his duty to boost troop morale as part of a NATO mission to bring liberalism to Afghanistan–at gunpoint, of course, and for the duration? I understand that it is difficult to defend general Mattis’s morale-boosting speech, so we must figure out in the name of our ideological convictions and perhaps our self-interest to explain how the General is really a servant of Western liberalism. Liberalism triumphed over Soviet-style Communism, aspects of liberalism American-style have spread all over the world with the triumph of globalization (the current recession notwithstanding); liberal democracy seems to satisfy what the middle class in Western nations desire, perhaps since the French Revolution that popularized bourgeois liberalism. However, from Locke, its ideological founder, to Mill and down to present-day Western intellectuals, politicians, and ordinary citizens clinging to this ideology, liberalism as an ideology provides the “socio-politically acceptable” shield behind which rests the reality of how it translates in society. Liberalism is not social democracy and it does not entail social justice at home or abroad. On the contrary, liberalism is predicated and thrives on inequality at all levels–social, political, economic, and geographic. History has demonstrated that Western liberals conveniently employ the ideology to justify immoral and unjust acts, especially in foreign affairs when dealing with non-white societies, and domestically when dealing with minorities, women and the poor. Liberalism in foreign policy and military operations often masks the ugly reality of imperialism, racism, and militarism.
Nazis used the “I was following orders” defense, but they did not invent that line of defense nor were they the last to employ it as we have seen in many cases of US covert and overt military operations since the Spanish-American War. The exact same pretext was used from Vietnam to Iraq by people operating under the “liberal” regime and policy label, therefore, the immoral acts are justified because God is on the side of liberals.
Liberals want to separate liberalism from authoritarianism, and that is appropriate. But we must not lose track that just as deeds through history define authoritarians, so must be the case with liberals. Every undergraduate who has enrolled in a Western Civ course knows that European and American liberals have made policy decisions that have resulted in mass destruction, territorial occupation, exploitation by violent and other means, and above all the struggle for global hegemony–all in the name of liberalism!

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