Sunday, October 18, 2009
Why Liberals Kill
...What too few Americans realize—especially the president’s anti-war supporters, who accuse him of betraying liberal or "progressive" values—is that if he accedes to General Stanley McChrystal's request for more troops in Afghanistan and intensifies the drone attacks in Pakistan, he will follow squarely in the footsteps of the great liberal statesmen he has cited as his role models. Though opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cheered loudly when Obama spoke reverentially in his campaign speeches of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy, those heroes of the president promoted and oversaw U.S. involvement in wars that killed, by great magnitudes, more Americans and foreign civilians than all the modern Republican military operations combined.
What should be even more troubling to those who call themselves progressives but oppose the current wars: Obama's motivations for pursuing them are rooted in the central tenet of progressivism, enunciated by his idols, that the American national government is responsible for the reform and uplift of those "we" deem to be living below "our" standards, and that "they" must be protected from their oppressors. Obama's role models followed the logic of that moral calling to the ends of the earth.
And though liberals are routinely chastised for their "secular relativism," as Bill O'Reilly puts it, liberal statesmen who waged the largest wars were driven by the Christian doctrine of "good works," often enunciated in Obama's speeches as the duty to be "our brother's keeper." Whereas the traditional conservative notion of Christian communal obligation is limited to one’s family or nation, Obama’s political ancestors extended it to the world.
Both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson declared that God had given American leaders—"Christ's Army," according to Wilson—the divine duty to "improve" the backward peoples of America and the world. Roosevelt and Wilson used that rationale to establish modern progressivism and American imperialism, both of which were part of what Roosevelt called "the long struggle for the uplift of humanity." They argued that greater government intervention, through social welfare and regulatory programs at home and military incursions abroad, would remake American slums and all the countries of the world into the Puritan ideal of a "city on a hill."
To fulfill this mission, Roosevelt championed many social-welfare measures, including pure-food and worker-safety regulations, but he also pushed the United States to attack Spain and occupy Cuba and the Philippines—the so-called Spanish-American War, which historians characterize as America's "first imperial war.” The assault and subsequent occupations resulted in the deaths of more than 10,000 Cubans, several hundred thousand Filipino civilians, and 4,541 American soldiers.
Wilson believed that to "Christianize the world" required the radical expansion of government power. Along with fellow progressives in Congress, Wilson established three classic progressive institutions: the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve Board, and the federal income tax. But Wilson's self-appointed obligation to rescue and “redeem” all the world's people compelled him, beginning in 1916, to push the country toward intervention in Europe with what many historians call a "missionary zeal." The United States, he said, "must assume the messianic mantle" and had "the right and duty to intervene whenever and wherever" its leaders thought necessary. Some 116,000 U.S. servicemen were killed and more than 200,000 wounded in World War I, which ended in a virtual stalemate....