Tuesday's Guardian (26/8) featured an op-ed titled 'The Kind Of Cop We Need' by Tim Montgomerie, promoting a new website called Americaintheworld.com. As you might guess from his mugshot, this is not the Tim Montgomerie who was once the world's fastest man and married Marion Jones. He's the one who was PPS to IDS, the man behind the Statue of Liberty in a burqua and other fear-mongering ads on a defunct internet TV channel. Why the Guardian feels compelled to offer plug space to the creator of the website ConservativeHome is an interesting question, unless it falls under the category of 'know thy enemy', or more likely it's a question of style not substance in the op-ed pages.
The thrust of the piece was that Europeans like Barack Obama more than George Bush or John McCain, but if America goes all European by electing him, they will be turning their backs on 200 years of peace and freedom and we will all drift back into the dark days of Clintonism, where the world was beseiged by Islamic terrorism. I may be sugar-coating it, but you get the drift.
Montgomerie was quick to blame 9/11 on the preparations Al Queda made 'while Clinton was still in office'. He's slow to recall that when Clinton actually took steps against Osama, it was the American rightwing mainstream, not the Europeans, who accused him of 'wagging the dog' to distract the country from the far more pressing issue of Monica Lewinsky.
He somehow manages to blame the US propping up of a military dictatorship in Pakistan on European 'realpolitick', US support for the absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia on European 'appeasement' and the efforts to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons as European 'multilateralism'. He then credits the 'surge' for reducing violence in Iraq, and posits that someday it may be 'one of the the Middle East's most stable nations'. Given what Bush policies have done to the region, that's highly likely as everyone else descends into chaos ...but then he flips his own argument around and argues that the very policies he criticised as 'European' have kept the region stable. Huh?
In Montgomerie's world, Bush's invasion of Iraq, built on lies and costing hundreds of thousands dead and trillions of dollars lost or transferred into the hands of his political allies, have caused Syria to withdraw from Lebanon (civil war and a Hizbollah strengthed by the reaction to the Iraq invasion had nothing to do with it), Pakistan's nuclear secrets being exposed (you figure that one out), and whatever problems there are have been caused by US incompetence, which amazingly began only AFTER the invasion was launched.
I checked out his site, which basically trumpets the American dream of democracy, and the American myth that emerged post-World War II of the country as international saviour as the riposte to any glimpse of reality that sees the US presence in the world as narrow and self-serving, prone to wanton violence, and defined by the morality of the Bush White House, their torture, their assaults on democracy and civil liberties, their profligacy in aid of the wealthy, their fraudulant election-fixing, their brutal campaigning, and their total contempt for whatever ideals we still believe America might stand for.
Amazingly, he calls for a strong America to remain true to 'the values of Kennedy and Reagan'.This would be the JFK who was assassinated before he could withdraw from the Vietnam war? That would be the Reagan who negotiated weapons to Iran in exchange for holding Americans hostage until AFTER the 1980 elections, the Reagan who sold those weapons to Iran and used to profts to launch his own illegal war in Central America, whose allies in that war were shipping drugs to the US to feed America's massive addictions. That would be the Reagan whose first campaign speech attacked racial equality at the site where three civil rights workers were murdered, who praised the SS who ran the concentration camps. That would be the Reagan whose corporate attack ads condemned Kennedy as a commie for his nuclear test ban treaty with the Russians. God bless.
Sure it would be nice to believe in American ideals again. Barack Obama seems to me to be asking Americans to see reality, to realise they cannot pretend to be a beacon of freedom for the world while they pursue the policies of tyranny which the Bush regime has committed in their name. This is a little closer to the Kennedy myth than Ronald Reagan was: Reagan was asking Americans to believe everything was just like one of the movies he'd been in in the 1930s, the nation obliged by ignoring reality as long as they could, and now, despite the corruption of the Reagan regime, the worst presidency since Harding's, we are asked to look at him as the template for the American presidency.Certainly eight years of Cheney should have cured us of that. The City On The Hill preached tolerance and freedom (while enforcing Puritan values).The Bush version preaches intolerance, hate, and curtailing of freedom, in the name of freedom.The central issue in the current election is whether the US can survive four more years of this blinkered world view: survive it not just abroad, but at home.
I can only conclude that this lumping of Obama with Europe is part of the right-wing's Kerry-style smearing of Obama as an effete European. Remember, Kerry was out of touch because he'd married a millionaire heiress; McCain's millionaire heiress wife with more houses than he can recall doesn't make him out of touch because, uh, he was a POW. What next? Attack Obama because people like him? Oh, they've already done that.
There is money to be made by trumpeting the 'values' of the right, the 'special relationship' and US/NATO militarism. A website like AmericaInTheWorld can't help but attract cash from think tanks, government agencies, and corporate sponsors. More power to him. But I am an American in the world, and I'd suggest Tim Montgomerie visit this planet before supporting America in whatever alternate world he's living in.