Really, what is the point of being a super power if a swath of our elite exist in a state of near constant panic?
It could be that the same hegemonists who cannot stay quiet about how unparalleled and unprecedented American power is are so genuinely terrified of being dethroned that they see even the tiniest possible slippage in U.S. preeminence as the beginning of the end, but I don’t think this is the case. I am hopeful that most Americans would not be interested in perpetuating U.S. hegemony if it were not for the steady drumbeat of fearmongering, hysteria and alarmism that comes from American hawks. If the public can be misled into believing that Russia is actually “revanchist” and “expansionist,” that the peace of Europe is threatened by Obama’s “appeasement” as it was in the 1930s or that an Iranian-Venezuelan axis is, in fact, a dire and unspeakable threat to our very survival (or something along those lines), to name just a few of the nonsensical claims from this crowd, the public will be inclined to defer to hawkish policies and will want to “support the President” as he makes the decisions that they have been persuaded are necessary to prevent calamity and disaster from reaching our shores. By the same token, the public can be whipped into a frenzy against a President if he is not reflexively hawkish enough. Fortunately, it seems that disapproval of Obama’s handling of foreign policy has barely increased despite the numerous (false) charges of weakness, appeasement and surrender.
The state of “near-constant panic” Scoblete identifies is not an expression of real fear, because the threats are either manufactured or vastly exaggerated, but it is part of a concerted effort to manipulate the public into accepting policies that it neither needs nor can afford. Mark Helprin is not an idiot. Not even people at the Claremont Institute can actually believe that scrapping a small set of missile interceptors that was defending against a threat that didn’t exist makes any difference to European security, much less that it can be seriously compared to Munich or even to the controversy over deployment of nuclear missiles in western Europe. It is hype designed to frighten people, to get them to stop thinking and to begin reacting viscerally and emotionally. This is done by summoning up spectres of past totalitarian threats that are long gone and by tapping into irrational feelings of national righteousness and by encouraging a belief that our government is undermining our national greatness. It is as deliberate and crafted as it is abhorrent. It is not the product of panic, but instead derives from calm calculation about how to mislead the public and to keep them in a state of perpetual anxiety about foreign threats that the hawks are only too happy to have our soldiers combat.