Saturday, July 5, 2008

Review: Dennis Perrin's Savage Mules

As I have written here, here, and here, the Republicans do not possess a monopoly on nationalistic, imperialistic foreign policy. Quite to the contrary, Democrats have a long tradition of engaging in nation-building (read: nation destroying), propping up military juntas, and just plain old bombing in general. It was Truman who was responsible for the only use of atomic weapons in history and who oversaw the blood-drenched Korean Peninsula. It was LBJ who saw Kennedy's plans to fruition in Vietnam. Even Bill Clinton, that model of progressive idealism, saw to continuous bombing and destructive sanctions on Iraq, substituted one source of death for another in Kosovo, and from whose administration--not Bush's--sprang the extraordinary rendition program.

Dennis Perrin
provides one of the few voices in America today not blinded by the false pragmatism of the Democratic Party and beholden to party loyalty above general ideals. In a political spectrum divided by blind homage to party above all else, and denigration of the only other politically-viable alternative, Perrin is a rare breed, indeed, not content to merely elect "better" Democrats, he sees the need for a real alternative. A tearing down of the system which pits citizens against each other merely to distract them from the fact that both parties are running away with the money and the country.

Although this could be extended to all facets of American political theater, Savage Mules deals with foreign policy, breezing through successive Democratic Presidents and candidates in a succinct 120 pages. He touches on all the things I mentioned above and more, detailing at each juncture how each was met will willful glee by liberals ostensibly opposed to war. The same Daily Kos bloggers now feigning abhorrence of Bush's foreign policy were just 10 years ago happily justifying Clinton's incursion into Kosovo, ignoring its clear intent of extending NATOs reach in Europe. Just the same, although they now raise alarms about Bush's assault on the Constitution, liberals have spent the last century accepting similar attacks on speech and democracy by Democratic Presidents in times of Democrat wars.

What makes Perrin an anomaly in today's arena is that his counter-point does not come under the umbrella of the false opposition party. All too often, brief moments of clarity, such as Sean Hannity decrying Clinton's use of Executive power, come only as a vehicle for arguing for the speaker's own party, rather than to advance a consistent idea. Once the Republicans took power, Hannity's tune changed, cementing his place as a Republican stooge.

Perrin, on the contrary, opposes America's interventionalist foreign policy without regard to party allegiance. That this comes off as a radical position is particularly infuriating, as clearly the country would be better off were it the norm. Democrats only become opposed to wars when it becomes politically expedient, but are more than happy to join in the next foray as if the last century never happened, as if there is no recorded history from which to cull opposition to such policy making.

Rather than seeing Democratic supporters of American hegemony and dwindling civil liberties as simply a defective version of a good product, Perrin sees them for what they are: predictable products of the corporate, two-party American political system. Democracy in America can only go so far, and at no time is it allowed to call the system itself into question.

In that regard, neither party is exempt from employing an army of useful idiots dedicated to upholding the system no matter how many times it kicks them in the teeth. Democrats in particular seem fond of blows to the jaw, as they have sat by approvingly as 'progressive' after 'progressive' has done their part to continue the long American tradition of imposing itself on the world's citizens, one administration at a time.

One need only look at Barack Obama's recent hard right turn, and the shocked liberals left in his wake, to see Perrin's thesis in full bloom. Be it his commitment to the status quo ante on FISA, his willingness to leave residual forces in Iraq, walking his timeline back, his pledge to bomb Pakistan, or his commitment to transferring the failed Iraq policies to its Eastern neighbor, Obama has shown himself to be the same product in a shinier package. And what is the Kossacks' response? Withholding a campaign donation for a few days until placated and assured all is well in the Matrix.

Here, we should all share Perrin's attitude. In American politics, the public is pitted against each other in a contest of faux poles while the corporate system continues unabated. When we dedicate ourselves blindly to Party above self, we all lose.


Obama's Hard Right Turn
, July 2
Obama Would Keep Extra-judicial Contractors in Iraq, March 3
The False Bi-Polar Appearances of American Foreign Policy, June 25

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