Our Man In Zamboanga

May 29, 2008

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His usual venues rendered septic by Press Secretary McClellan’s defection, Robert Kagan has turned to the relatively unsullied pages of World Affairs Journal to lay out the least and latest explanation of the origins of Neocon foreign policy

Kagan begins by erocising the University of Chicago performance artist presently known as He Who Must Not Be Named :

? it is not really necessary to parse the writings of Jewish ?migr?s. One could begin with less obscure writings, like the Republican Party?s campaign platform of 1900 In that long-forgotten document, the party leaders, setting the stage for what would be William McKinley?s crushing electoral victory over William Jennings Bryan, congratulated themselves and the country for their recently concluded war with Spain.” declaring it “a war fought for ?high purpose,? a ?war for liberty and human rights? [giving]” the American people ?a new and noble responsibility . . . to confer the blessings of liberty and civilization upon all the rescued peoples.?

By an odd coincidence,  the tan-cardboard covered 1904 Republican campaign handbook once had pride of place on my coffee table,  a delightful compendium of Victorian sound bytes I read with relish to horrified Cambridge neighbors- I still commend it as far superior to the contemporary How To Talk To A Liberal genre.

I recall the volume as positively bully on Cuba , and very big on Banana Republic bashing and the Big Ditch for the Great White Fleet, but curiously ambiguous about the late unpleasantness in the Philippines , where the Moro Rebellion was smoldering , and the Boer War , which the Kaiser had fantasized finessing by playing the American caed—sending an Imperial prince to sweep Alice Roosevelt. off her feet and into the extended family.

She had other ideas. We got Archbishop Tutu and the comrades visiting the blessings of Democracy on South Africa   instead. Meanwhile ,  the navy has pulled out of Zamboanga ,and across the Sulu Sea in Palawan,  the Islamic insurgency is settling into its 105th year, having been only briefly interrupted by the Japanese Army.

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