Saturday, 28 May 2011


On 1 February 2005, Gen. James Mattis addressed the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association in San Diego and provided his view of war in Afghanistan:
Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot… It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling… You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.
The audience applauded, but the US Council on American-Islamic Relations replied that: "We do not need generals who treat the grim business of war as a sporting event. These disturbing remarks are indicative of an apparent indifference to the value of human life." Because the general's remarks are indicative of the mainstream in the Judeo-Christian West and not at all the exception to the rule, the deeper question is to what degree has militarism integrated into the culture is now an acceptable part of Western democracy, such as it is. 

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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