The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte & Barack Obama

There are two essays I’ve found this morning that are especially fascinating to read in context with one another, and I encourage you to read them now before I make comment on the two taken together:

The first is from historian Victor Davis Hanson titled Iraq – Agony, Ordeal, and  Recovery.

The second is from political scientist Abraham H. Miller titled The Eighteenth Brumarie of Barack Obama

Dr. Hanson’s essay is a critique of the Iraq war from it’s inception following 9/11/2001 to its conclusion with the complete withdrawal of US troops in 2011. This critique follows the path of war from it’s popular beginning led by a popular president George W. Bush.

Hanson points to the now forgotten Bush administration’s winning

overwhelming bipartisan support in obtaining House and Senate resolutions in October 2002 (unlike Clinton for the Balkan war or Obama for the Libyan bombing). It spent a year trying to persuade the UN (unlike Clinton in 1999, who just bombed without even going to the UN).’ 

. . .

Hanson continues:

“Nation-building” was not just some neocon wide-eyed dream (although for some it may well have been that). More likely, it was the last choice to ensure that military force led to something better, a sort of repeat of post-Milosevic Serbia rather than post-Gulf War Iraq. The result was that 70% of the American people and almost the entire liberal media were on board.  They would not have been had (a) the Bush administration failed the year before in Afghanistan; (b) not gotten congressional approval; (c) not gone to the UN; (d) promised to leave as soon as removing Saddam or vowed to install a pro-Western strongman; (e) not had allies; or (f) talked of acquiring Iraqi oil.

. . .

Hanson then chronicles the collapse of that support as things got tough in Iraq and the Islamic insurgency gathered strength. 

From 2004-7, the Bush administration did not reply to or defend itself against its critics, as the media bought into “Bush lied, thousands died” and canonized Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Code Pink.

. . .

That Barack Obama in 2009 simply embraced the entire Petraeus plan (after advocating as an early presidential candidate in 2007 to get all combat troops out by March 2008) and mostly expanded the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols (from Guantanamo and renditions to drones and the Patriot Act [and torture I might add, if the circumstances presented themselves]) without a murmur from the Left suggests that their prior opposition was in large part partisan, not principled, and should have been countered in that context.

Dr. Hanson, being the good historian he is, offers historical and cultural context in his analysis along with the political landscape.

It is here that I offer my own view that the American left and the Democrat Party fueled and used that collapse of support in order to demonize Bush and regain and consolidate political power; you remember Rahm Emanuel’s infamous directive “never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

And the strategy succeeded with a very left wing, inexperienced, and at the time unknown, Barack Obama ascending to the presidency in 2009, with reelection in 2012 in spite of a very poor economic performance under his first term.

Now shift to Professor Miller’s essay The Eighteenth Brumarie of Barack Obama in which he draws analogies between Louis Bonaparte, the nephew of  Napoleon Bonaparte, and Barack Obama. To wit …

Louis Bonaparte’s presence on the stage of history was a farce. By culture he was a foreigner. By political inclination he was a pretender, a man who was all things to all people, and a man who was carried into political life by plying the outcasts of society with sausages. Then, as Marx so aptly put it, he plied them with sausages anew. Bonaparte represented no class interest and no transcendent interest except his own.

.  . .

Bonaparte ruled by creating dependency on the state, by expanding the machinery of government. The organs of the state, the bureaucracy, and their ever-growing tentacles expanding into private life were Bonaparte’s substitution for a class or transcendent interest.

Miller continues with the analogy:

This situation was ripe for exploitation by the foreigner, the pretender, who was all things to all people. To some scholars of this period, this was a description of what would later become known as fascism. The template for Hitler, Mussolini, and Peron is to be found in an examination of the reign of Louis Bonaparte.

So too, in a sense, is the presidency of Barack Obama.

. . .

How is it that a sitting president presiding over a damaged economy with high unemployment and no sign of recovery can get reelected? In part, the answer is that he has expanded access to the federal trough, made people dependent on the largess of the government, and caused them to be fearful that the “nasty” opposition is going to terminate the government programs upon which they are increasingly dependent.

And more from Miller:

Peron, like Hugo Chavez, raided the private retirement funds of individuals and coerced them into government social security in order to pay for a government increasingly burdened with debt from pandering to the social periphery. There is a move now in leftist Democratic circles to have the Obama administration implement similar policies.

. . .

And so, we are in the era of another purveyor of an alien culture, a pretender who is all things to all people, and a demagogue who is hoisted on the shield of the social periphery that is constantly plied with sausages and then sausages anew. Welcome to the Eighteenth Brumaire of Barack Obama.

The strength that men like Hanson and Miller bring to the table is their long view of history, and the actors who have played roles similar to the actors of today. Thinkers like Hanson and Miller teach us to resist the mold of “that was then … but this is now”, and “that was there … but this is here.” History may or may not repeat itself, but as it says  in Ecclesiastes 1:9: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” 

Is this enough to give you pause and reason to dig deeper? Or are these just the ranting’s of right wing zealots?

Don Johnson – March 2013


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