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November 03, —— The debate over Syria will be no different. Call my obsession an artifact of family history, both recent and old. My grandfather, an antiwar socialist and college professor at the University of Illinois, was a target of the Broyles Billsa set of Red Scare-era Illinois state bills designed to cleanse the state government of subversives.
All manner of radicals and sympathizers were targeted by the legislation, whether they were actual socialists like my grandfather or merely suspected of Communist sympathies. Much of this legislation was defeated, with liberal Democratic governor Adlai Stevenson vetoing several measures.
Not that he was some sort of virile champion of rights for radicals. Many of those targeted lost their jobs and saw their careers destroyed. My grandfather enjoyed the protection of tenure, and thus kept his position, but his reputation was in tatters.
My father once told me he believed it contributed directly to the alcoholism that took my grandfather to an early grave. The earliest Broyles Bills predated what we typically think of as the McCarthyist era. And yet now we can look back at them and see them as classically McCarthyist. McCarthyism does not refer merely to governmental attacks on intellectual and political freedom under the banner of anti-communism.
It is a set of practices consisting of slandering opponents without fair process and based on thin evidence, ascribing dark motives to others to delegitimize their position, suggesting that those you argue with work under the influence of some shadowy entity, and insisting that your targets are not just wrong, but actively malign — and thus must be excised from the conversation.
Sometimes that rejection means having someone arrested. Sometimes it means Congressional hearings and getting people fired. But the intent is always the same: Muslim Americans, and those who were unlucky enough to look as if they might be Muslim, were subject to constant suspicion and bouts of random violence.
Truman Democrats worked tirelessly to expel socialists and communist sympathizers from the party. This was the fate of former FDR Vice President Henry Wallace, guilty of calling for such radical policies as universal healthcare, a de-escalation of the Cold War, and immediate desegregation.
And this period itself echoed the prior world war, when progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson had the communist leader Eugene Debs jailed for his public opposition to the horrific, pointless grindhouse that was World War I.
But McCarthyism rarely looks good in the light of history, and does its damage in the present. For another thing, the mea culpas have always been decidedly narrow in their focus, referring to the specifics of the Iraq war but not to the brutal treatment antiwar types were subject to in the leadup to that war.
The reality of McCarthyism and its regular deployment as a means to bully people into supporting wars, cold or hot, goes largely undiscussed.
I suspect, in fact, that the cycle is starting up again. I suspect that the urge to purge is growing, and that the flashpoint will be Syria. I believe that some sort of American military intervention in Syria is likely coming.
And, perhaps worse for those of us on the socialist left, the political battle over this war will not involve conservatives and some liberals fighting against a more-or-less unified radical left. This conflict will, I believe, divide the already-weak left, leaving it in tattered pieces.
The existence of a pro-war left would have seemed unthinkable to many even 5 years ago. The wounds of Iraq and Afghanistan have been so deep, and the utter mess that followed regime change in Libya such a perfect repetition of all the bad ideas and failures of the preceding decade, that it seemed hard to believe that the country as a whole would want to go to war.
That arguments for intervention might come from the left, traditionally anti-war, distrustful of the military and the government, and always on alert for the hand of imperialism, would have shocked me not long ago.
And yet this is precisely the condition that presents itself today. Take a typical missive in the stalwart leftist publication Socialist Worker.
Anyone on the broad left who engages on the question of Syria online can hardly have avoided them: These voices are aggressive, unrelenting, and fixated on Syria to the exclusion of all else. And they tend to embrace classically McCarthyist behavior, accusing those who disagree with them of being pro-Assad, unconcerned with the suffering of the Syrian people, even agents of the Kremlin.
To such people, the Syrian question is the only question, and there is no such thing as a principled opponent of the use of US force to save Syria.
And chosen targets they have.The United States won’t get everything it wants, but it would be wise to protect Washington’s remaining interests before it’s too late. Any serious researcher on this subject should get a copy of Kris Millegan(ed.)'s book - Fleshing Out Skull and Bones and read 'Proofs of a Conspiracy' by John Robison.
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The impact of the Arab Spring concerns protests or by the way attempts to organize growing protest movements that were inspired by or similar to the Arab Spring in the Arab-majority states of North Africa and the Middle East, according to commentators, organisers, and critics.
These demonstrations and protest efforts have all been critical of.