Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

America’s Crusaders

Ideology and faith are stirring new calls to arms among influential political factions in the United States. At a time when the U.S. public is...

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Ideology and faith are stirring new calls to arms among influential political factions in the United States. At a time when the U.S. public is questioning the interventionism and unilateralism of the Bush administration, leading social conservatives and neoconservatives insist that the United States needs to militarily confront the purported threats facing the Judeo-Christian world order.

Leading far-right social conservative Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic and former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, is heading up a new initiative, called the "America’s Enemies" program at the neoconservative-aligned Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), to awaken the slumbering public to what he sees as a "gathering storm" of adversaries. At the same time, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), a devout Jew who co-chairs the Committee on the Present Danger, is calling for a global political and military alliance to defeat the threat of "Islamic extremism."

Ironically, while the ideology and faith-based politics of "America’s enemies" routinely come under attack by U.S. social conservatives and neoconservatives as dangerous manifestations of radicalism, the ideology and faith-based politics of America’s would-be defenders are presented as redemptive forces in world affairs.

Perhaps nowhere does this merger of ideology and faith come together so clearly than at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where Santorum is a program director. A strong supporter of the war in Iraq and the Bush administration’s war on terror, the EPPC has since the mid-1990s sought to mix religion and politics—or more specifically, to conjoin the Religious Right with a hawkish foreign policy. In its own words, the center aims to "clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition" and the public policy debate.

Immediately after his electoral defeat in November 2006, Santorum announced his plans to carry his crusading politics into private life, which resulted in the creation of EPPC’s "America’s Enemies" program. The program focuses on "identifying, studying, and heightening awareness of the threats posed to America and the West from a growing array of anti-Western forces that are increasingly casting a shadow over our future and violating religious liberty around the world."

Rather than regarding his overwhelming electoral defeat last November as an indicator that his own extreme notions about domestic and foreign policy were misguided, Santorum concluded that Americans are slumbering while at the gates gather barbarians such as "Islamic fascism."

"Iraq is only one front in a larger war waged against the Western world," Santorum says. It is a war of ideas, according to him, waged by Islamic fascists—whose tentacles extend beyond Iraq and Afghanistan and into Iran and Venezuela. "We are under siege by a people with an ideology, a plan, hundreds of millions of dollars, and an ever-increasing presence on virtually every continent" (Santorum, "Knowing Our Enemies," National Review Online, December 12, 2006).

Topping the list of priorities is the need "to confront Iran," says Santorum, who was once described by the New York Times Magazine as the "country’s preeminent faith-based politician," after President George W. Bush. War, said Santorum in a major speech on the Senate floor, "is at our doorstep, and it is fueled, figuratively and literally, by Islamic fascism, nurtured and bred in Iran" (December 6, 2006).

Likening the current array of countries that oppose the United States to what Winston Churchill called the "gathering storm" before World War II, Santorum paints a picture of enemies closing in on the United States. "With the exception of the state of Israel, we are fighting this battle alone, and I suspect we will for quite some time," laments Santorum.

Along with Islamic fascists, Santorum points to supposed threats to U.S. national interests and security coming from Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Russia, and China. To support his alarmist rhetoric, Santorum claims, apparently without evidence, that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela "plans to spend $30 billion to build 20 military bases in neighboring [sic] Bolivia," where Bolivian soldiers will answer to Venezuelan and Cuban officers. In a speech last December, Santorum warned that the "Sandinista revolution" in Nicaragua and the "Bolivarian revolution" are constructing a 21st-century socialism in the U.S. backyard.

Although Santorum played an important role in the Senate in building support for confrontational resolutions on Iraq and Iran, he was mainly known for his aggressive leadership in legislative efforts against abortion, in favor of intelligent design, against gay rights, and in favor of faith-based government social initiatives—working closely on the latter with Lieberman.

While Santorum concentrates on waking America to the danger of newly emboldened enemies, Lieberman recently took to the world stage to advocate stepping up the ideological campaign against Islamic extremism and to organize a new global alliance to confront that threat. At the Munich Conference on Security Policy in mid-February, Lieberman said: "What we are fighting is an ideology—the totalitarian ideology of radical Islam, as brutal and hostile to personal freedom as the communism we fought and defeated in the last century."

Lieberman described NATO—the transatlantic military alliance founded in 1949 as part of the Cold War—as "the gold standard for the security of free nations." To confront the supposed global threat of Islamic extremism, Lieberman called for "a global NATO" that "would profoundly reshape the ideological 21st century" and that would be "capable of acting globally."

The previous day President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had warned the conference that the United States "has overstepped its national borders, and in every area." The world, said Putin, was dominated by a country whose military actions were "illegitimate" and "unilateral." It is a world, warned Putin, of "one single center of power. One single center of force. One single center of decision-making. This is the world of one master, one sovereign."

Lieberman criticized Putin’s address as "confrontational," saying, "some of the rhetoric takes us back to the Cold War." Although Lieberman described the United States as "the indispensable nation in the fight for freedom throughout the world," he disputed Putin’s notion that the United States is the "single center of power in the world." Rather, he said, "power is freedom," and he called for a "global war of ideas" because "freedom does not belong to one nation alone" and "totalitarianism cannot defeat it."

Perhaps the most tragic development in U.S. foreign policy during the Bush presidency has been the reinstitution of a Manichean, Cold-War-like worldview, which has been promoted ably by social conservatives of the Religious Right and the neoconservatives in and outside the administration. Instead of working to reap the long-lost peace dividends that were supposed to emerge after the end of the bipolar confrontation, institutes like the EPPC, the Committee on the Present Danger, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, along with their influential spokespersons, are intent on propagating an imperial foreign policy that envisions the United States forever at war.

Tom Barry is the Policy Director of the International Relations Center (www.irc-online.org) and a contributor to Right Web (rightweb.irc-online.org).

 

 

Citations

Tom Barry, "America's Crusaders," Right Web Analysis (Somerville, MA: International Relations Center, February 23, 2007).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Rudolph Giuliani is a lawyer and Republican politician who was mayor of New York City from 1994-2001. A foreign policy hawk and vocal supporter of Donald Trump, Giuliani recently joined Trump’s legal team to add pressure on the special council to wrap up the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia in U.S. elections.


Bernard Marcus, the billionaire co-founder of The Home Depot, is a major funder of neoconservative, anti-Iran and pro-Likud causes and public figures.


David Makovsky, a fellow at the “pro-Israel” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has been hawk on Iran, but largely quiet since Trump took office.


Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is an important financial backer of conservative politicians and right-wing “pro-Israel” groups. Although at one time a Donald Trump skeptic, Adelson has seen his investment in Trump pay off as the president has made highly controversial moves on two issues that are priorities for Adelson, withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.


Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is an outspoken promoter of aggressive U.S. foreign policies whose comments often combine right-wing Republican populism and neoconservativism.


I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a key neoconservative figure and former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted as part of the investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s and later pardoned by Donald Trump.


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The US is suffering from the delusions of a hegemonic power that can no longer impose its will on other nations yet refuses to acknowledge the new reality. It has now manufactured another unnecessary, destructive, and imprudent crisis with Iran, which is bound to bring a future clash between US and Iran to the detriment of world peace.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Significant numbers of military combat operations across the globe are being outsourced to the private sector with little accountability, including in Syria where both Russia and the United States have put contractors to war.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Among the many disturbing images from the ceremony redesignating a U.S. consulate building in Jerusalem as the new U.S. embassy was the participation of two bigoted American preachers, Robert Jeffress and John Hagee, which reveals just how far removed the issue has become from any presumed effort to provide succor or shelter to a historically persecuted religious minority. Only dogma and raw power remain.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The costs of America’s “war on terror,” still spreading in the Trump era, are incalculable. Just look at photos of the cities of Ramadi or Mosul in Iraq, Raqqa or Aleppo in Syria, Sirte in Libya, or Marawi in the southern Philippines, all in ruins in the wake of the conflicts Washington set off in the post–9/11 years, and try to put a price on them. That number is not included in the $5.6 trillion that the “Costs of War Project” at Brown University’s Watson Institute estimates has been spent since September 12, 2001.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

President Trump is a very powerful boat with no rudder. Unfortunately, John Bolton is now his rudder. Which effectively means, when it comes to foreign policy, that it’s Bolton’s administration now.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Given the chaotic policymaking process in the White House, Iran policy will likely be implemented in an ad hoc fashion subject to the interplay between President Trump’s continued incoherence and a drive toward confrontation pushed primarily by John Bolton.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Donald Trump and the GOP are deeply indebted to anti-Iran deal billionaires who aren’t afraid to advocate for policies that push the country closer to another war in the Middle East.


RightWeb
share