The use of force in furtherance of American liberties was enthusiastically touted by famed neoconservative writer Alan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind. Indubitably, such a contradiction in terms has become the guiding principle of the American foreign policy establishment. The resulting recreational wars of choice prosecuted over some 70 years, and the regime-change exercises pursued, have caused great, if not permanent, damage to American institutions themselves.
Citing Dr. Paul Gottfried, foremost scholar of the European and American Right, Dr. Cathey traces today’s illiberal Germany, where expression, public and private, is heavily circumscribed in law (in the name of “protecting our [German] democracy”), to the Marshal Plan and to the “denazification” humiliation of 1945, courtesy of the American-dominated Allied forces, during which any expression of German tradition and heritage came to be conflated with fascism.
Cathey laments the party duopoly’s enthusiasm for injecting American boys into conflicts, far and wide, most recently in Ukraine, although sympathy for members of a military that has become a fully coopted global force for misadventures is questionable. It could be argued that it is in the nature of the Anglo-American man to want to be a hero, a rescuer. It can be posited, moreover, that, in his own country, this American, military-minded protector would be maligned and molested were he to patrol his neighborhoods or his nation’s borders. So, off he goes to slay dragons abroad and leap to his death in a lemming’s lunacy. Even so, this generic American grunt does so knowingly. Listening to ex-military officiating as commentators on Fox News—one hears the self-righteous zealotry of the fully converted Global Citizen.
Vladimir Putin, argues Dr. Cathey, has rejected the West’s culturally, racially and sexually decadent ways. For this reason, the Russian president has been targeted by the United States for an excruciatingly slow demise. Led by the US, Russia is destined to be bled dry by the West, the eventual outcome being “regime change” in Moscow (another “color revolution”).
A trickier question for those of us on the Old Right is this: Putin is a Russian patriot. This, in-depth interviews with the Russian president amply evince. He adores and is deeply acquainted with the nation’s “ancient faith,” its history and traditions. But could it be that we of the Old Russell Kirk Right, nostalgic for the very same things absent in our own societies, are romanticizing the Russian people? This writer shares Dr. Cathey’s love of Tsarist Russia’s great culture before communism. (Boyd says Rachmaninov; I say Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique,” his Symphony No. 6 is a singularly intense and sublime expression of the agonies of the individual, caught between salvation, sin and love of Mother Russia.)
But is this same sensibility present in younger Russians? No doubt, Putin is steeped in Russian culture. But do younger Russians share his traditionalism? True, very many hate communism, but that hatred is devoid of a civilizational dimension. I fear younger Russians are already in the market for a Western life filled with sexual titillation and consumerism.
Finally, although it is possible to justify Putin’s war with reference to the more statist scholastic Just War Theory—the libertarian axiom of non-aggression won’t permit such justification. Putin’s war in Ukraine is a war for which there are plenty reasons, all of them vindicating Russia; Russia is in the right! Reasons for war, however, are not the same as justification for war. A war of aggression is seldom justified.
Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly paleolibertarian column since 1999, and is the author of The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed(June, 2016) & Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011). Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & YouTube.