What the Obama Scandals Reveal About Progressive Ideology

gty_barack_obama_irs_mad_speech_thg_130515_wblogBy Bruce Thornton:

The three scandals dominating the news this week all reveal the moral and intellectual corruption at the heart of progressive ideology. Whether are not these revelations gain enough traction to halt the country’s downward spiral is the more important question.

Benghazi

The moment it came into office the Obama administration bought into the delusional narrative that Islamic jihadist terror is a response to Western historical crimes against Muslims, rather than an expression of Islamic theology. The Israeli “occupation” of Palestine, the depredations of colonialism and imperialism, the resulting dysfunctional economies and oppressive governments in Muslim countries, the arrogant xenophobia and intolerance of American culture, the invasions of Muslim countries after 9/11––all were identified as the “root causes” of terrorism.

Obama’s foreign policy, based on the assumptions of American guilt and the malign consequences of George Bush’s arrogant, unilateralist foreign policy, thus was an attempt to correct the bad policies and behaviors that instigated terror. Thus Obama apologized in his Cairo speech, eagerly extended a diplomatic “hand” to the genocidal mullahs in Iraq, rushed for the exits in Iraq and Afghanistan, supported the dubious “Arab Spring” uprisings and their Islamist prime movers like the Muslim Brothers, and distanced America from Israel.

The intervention in Libya seemed to be an easy way to validate these beliefs, at the same time avoiding the charge of retreat and withdrawal from America’s global responsibilities to advance human rights and protect the victims of tyranny. The overthrow of Gaddafi was sanctioned by the U.N. and engineered by NATO, thus confirming the progressive belief that unilaterally pursuing national interests was, like nationalism itself, immoral, and that only transnational collective action sanctioned by international institutions was legitimate.

For a while the optics were good. A creepy psychopath was eliminated, no casualties were suffered, and a seemingly secular democracy was aborning. The idealism of democracy promotion, one bungled by the unilateral, trigger-happy George Bush, was indulged at little political cost, while the “legitimate” war, against al Qaeda, was being pursued just as cheaply with out-of-sight, out-of-mind drone killings, proving that Obama was no crypto-pacifist squish. Hence the foreign policy narrative peddled during the presidential campaign that al Qaeda was on the ropes and democracy was on the march.

The attack on Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11, eight weeks before the election, exploded that narrative. Al Qaeda and its affiliates were not on the ropes, but were growing and expanding, and could swiftly organize the sack of an embassy office and the murder of four Americans, including an ambassador, humiliating the infidel superpower. Libya was not a democracy-in-the-making, but a Darwinian tribal and sectarian jungle dominated by jihadists armed with the weapons we put in their hands when we destroyed the Gaddafi regime. The refusal to beef up security in Benghazi, which would have been an admission that things weren’t so rosy in the fledgling democracy, now looked like a political calculation that cost American lives. Worse yet, once more the idea that terrorism is a response to our bad behavior was exploded, as many of those Libyans we had liberated turned against us, just as thousands of Afghans and Iraqis have.

So of course the attack had to be spun into something closer to Obama’s foreign policy narrative: the attack was caused by a “spontaneous” protest against an Internet video insulting Mohammed. The administration knew this was a lie the day of the attack, but could not admit this repudiation of Obama’s foreign policy claims so close to the election, and so kept repeating the lie for two weeks, trusting the media spaniels to spin the attack and collude in the still on-going cover-up.

IRS Political Harassment

The IRS’s targeting of groups associated with conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status is a predictable consequence of the progressive narrative that conservatism is a form of neurosis, the lashing out of ignorant, violent “bitter clingers” against a changing world that challenges their racial privilege, economic power, and religious superstitions. The fondness of groups like the Tea Party for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution reflects this psychopathology, the desire to “turn back the clock” and restore their once exalted social and political position. As such, they are dangerous––and armed to boot––and so require monitoring by all right-thinking people who are progressing towards the utopia of “social justice.”

So it’s no surprise that IRS functionaries would create investigative rubrics like “Tea Party” or “patriot” that reflect these assumptions in order to guide them in their scrutiny of groups seeking tax-exempt status. These bureaucrats have absorbed the narrative from the mainstream media and popular culture, both of which are steeped in the two-bit pop psychologizing that passes for wisdom among those who fancy themselves the enlightened “anointed,” as Thomas Sowell calls them. Nor are they troubled at using the coercive power of the state to pursue these political agendas, for one of the most important progressive principles is that righteous ends can justify a whole range of brutal means.

Whether or not someone in the Obama administration directly ordered the IRS to pursue this partisan harassment is irrelevant. Like the Corleone family, the administration has a lot of “buffers.” No one had to be told, just as the progressives don’t have to tell anyone in Hollywood to make yet another movie or television show denigrating and demonizing corporations, conservatives, Christians, or the CIA. That is what’s so insidious about this ideology: it has permeated the minds of people to the point that unsavory actions advancing the cause are never questioned or doubted. In the progressive mind, dogma rules, not principle. Hence the righteous act to advance ideologically sanctioned political ends without bothering about coherent or consistent principle.

Read more at Front Page

 

American Foreign Policy and the Tyranny of Old Ideas

aap_3281_MAR04_egyptker2_800x600-450x337By :

The French call it “professional deformation,”  the way institutions filter and shape information and events to fit institutional orthodoxy, interests, and ideology. Professional knowledge then becomes a stencil applied to reality, hiding information that doesn’t fit the institution’s received wisdom, and leaving a neat pattern that is then taken for the whole of reality. In foreign policy, this bad habit abets the failure of imagination that leads to disaster.

Our decades-long bungling in the Middle East is a good example of this phenomenon. For years our foreign-policy establishment has looked on disorder and conflict in this region through a Western paradigm that has downplayed or ignored other motives and beliefs, and failed to imagine worldviews radically alien from our own. Thus this paradigm is based on questionable assumptions, such as economic development, anti-colonialism, and nationalist self-determination as the prime movers of social and political unrest. Western colonial empires and then post-colonial interference, so the story goes, had brutally suppressed nationalist aspirations for autonomy and freedom. Economic development had likewise been thwarted to serve the colonizers’ own interests, leading to poverty and lack of opportunity that feed despair and drive the oppressed to violence. Get the neo-imperialists out, create democratic institutions, aid economic development, and all will be well. Peace, prosperity, international cooperation, and global order will follow.

Read more at Front Page

 

The Absurdity of Treating a Terrorist Gang Like a State

By Bruce Thornton

The currently suspended missile duel between Israel and Hamas exposes yet again the surreal absurdity of the way the international community handles this conflict between a democratic state and a terrorist gang. Yesterday’s cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas is another example of the folly of treating a bunch of murderers like a legitimate government.

Consider, for example, the way a terrorist outfit like Hamas, self-defined in its charter by its genocidal goals, is treated as if it were a legitimate state. But Hamas is not a government that rules over a sovereign territory defined by international borders. If you want a recent graphic illustration of Hamas’ true nature, peruse this video of the aftermath of the summary execution of 6 accused “collaborators.” Or consider Hamas’ official television coverage of this week’s terrorist bombing of a bus in Israel. Or contemplate the barbarity of using its own “citizens” as human shields for its munitions dumps and rocket launchers. Calling Hamas honcho Ismail Haniyeh a “Prime Minister,” as virtually every world government and news organization does, doesn’t mean he is actually a prime minister, no matter how many elections are held. These titles and voting procedures do not constitute a legitimate government that should be recognized as such by the world community as though it respects international laws and treaties like the Geneva Conventions. Let alone should this façade of political legitimacy rationalize the millions of dollars Western governments give to Hamas under the guise of U.N. aid for social services, freeing up funds for purchasing weapons and munitions.

The same pretence of state legitimacy is equally absurd in the case of Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas, the holocaust-denying head of the Palestinian Authority, which is recognized as the sole representative of the Palestinians instead of the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization ever since the cosmetic makeover brought about by the 1993 Oslo Accords. The PA is still just another terrorist gang, as demonstrated by its frequent honoring of terrorist murderers by naming streets and parks after them, and its clinging to the goal of destroying Israel through demands for territorial concessions and the “right of return” for an endlessly growing number of “refugees.” As such, the PA’s main functions include peddling to the international community the “two-state” and “nationalist aspirations” canard in order to delegitimize Israel and obtain money, and to distribute to its people whatever international financial aid is left over after PA fatcats have skimmed their take. Yet today as in the past, the U.S. is intervening in the current conflict to ensure that Abbas rather than Hamas is the “primary interlocutor with the international community,” as the Wall Street Journal reported, because it allegedly is more “legitimate” and “moderate”––the only sign of its moderation being that it believes Israel should be destroyed later rather than sooner.

Of course, totalitarian regimes for decades have appropriated the government titles and offices of legitimate governments, but at least a state like the laughably named Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea actually controls a recognized territory defined by international borders (except for the armistice line in the south). That hypocrisy is bad enough, but extending it to terrorists whose sole foundation for existence is the destruction of a neighboring legitimate nation compounds hypocrisy with delusion. It demands that superficial nomenclature substitute for reality. After all, as Plato pointed out, a gang of thieves behaves “democratically” when it divvies up the loot. But that machinery does not signify the presence of the principles and beliefs that constitute legitimate government.

Read more at Front Page