For a columnist or pundit, there’s no greater temptation than to get something written — Quick! Now! — about the latest, greatest, deadliest catastrophe. After all, if it bleeds it leads.
I felt that urge the night of the Paris terror attacks. For once, I resisted. I wanted more information. I wanted to see how the usual suspects responded. I wanted to see whether or not my own immediate assumptions and predictions would hold up before I held forth.
Unfortunately, my assumptions and predictions turned out to be spot-on. The American and European political classes didn’t bother waiting for the bodies to cool — or, for that matter, to even be counted — before commencing their triumphant dance on the graves. The attacks may have been unexpected, but they certainly weren’t unwelcome. The political class immediately pivoted from a pro forma parody of normal peoples’ heartfelt condemnation to special pleading for more power.
Within hours, prominent War Party mouthpiece (and former US ambassador to the United Nations) John Bolton rushed out a piece on “four important lessons we must learn” from the attacks. Predictably, “never trust John Bolton with any decision more consequential than ordering pizza, and even then be watchful lest ye end up with anchovies” didn’t make the cut.
CIA director John Brennan and his predecessor, James Woolsey, blame whistleblower Edward Snowden for the attacks. Snowden crashed the US intelligence community’s illegal surveillance party. If only state apparatchiks had all the unaccountable and unlimited power state apparatchiks wanted, we’d all be safe, see?
Who should we blame for the murder and mayhem in Paris? Of course — OF COURSE! — the evil individuals who planned and carried out the attacks.
But when the prescriptions of an identifiable American ideological tendency — call it “neoconservatism,” call it “hawkishness,” call it “interventionism,” call it whatever you like — can irrefutably be observed to have culminated in the horror of 9/11, the quagmire in Afghanistan, the debacle in Iraq, the fiasco in Libya, the rise of the Islamic State and innumerable other evils, at some point we should stop clapping in unison with their blood-soaked boogie-woogie and cease trusting to their highly questionable wisdom for solutions.
Americans and our European cousins face a stark choice: We can stop letting our political classes try to run the world, or we can keep letting the innocent pay in blood for our politicians’ hubris.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.