The Da Vinci Code has nothing on what happened in Central America. Grandin, continued from page 23 was Francis Fukuyama on the neocons, for instance, along with Kevin Phillips on the theocons. Other scholars have looked at nationalists and militarists. Empire’s Workshop can be read as a missing link connecting these works, examining how the coalition that gave rise to the Bush administration’s preemptive warfare doctrine was itself forged in the crucible of war. Now most accounts of the rise of the New Right focus on its domestic dimensions, linking it to a backlash against the crisis of authority and social liberalization of the 1960s, situating it within economic and demographic shifts such as post1973 industrialization and the transfer of the nation’s economic and political center of gravity from the Northeast to the Southwest and West. But few studies have explicitly understood the New Right not only to be an internationalist movement, but that its energy and success can be found in that internationalism. The Reagan Revolution could only sustain itself by continually marshaling its base in the name of an expansive foreign policy, pulling into its gravitational field a diverse constellation of nationalists, militarists, religionists, idealists, and economic elites. TO: Can you say more about the religious dimension of this revolution? GG: There’s been much discussion about how evangelicals and secular neocons come together over Israel. Likewise, during the 2004 presidential campaign, many seemed to believe that if you scratch a conservative evangelical, if you could neutralize “cultural” issues like abortion, a la Thomas Frank, you would find a New Deal populist. But Christian evangelicals were deeply involved in the process of “remoralizing” not just American power but the free-market capitalist base of that power. Again, Central America is key. In order to bypass congressional and public opposition to its Central American policy, the White House mobilized its fundamentalist base, in effect outsourcing the hearts-and-minds component of low intensity warfare to religious conservatives. This mobilization, in turn, both increased evangelical involvement in foreign policy and helped fuse the religious and secular branches of the New Right. Evangelicals shared with neocon militarists a sense that America had grown dangerously weak, and that only a rebirth of political will, or spiritual renewal, would save it. Their understanding of themselves as a persecuted people engaged in an end-time struggle between good and evil mapped easily onto the absolutism of anti-communist militarists. This happened in the case of the Central American Cold Warriors, many of whom, such as CIA director William Casey and Oliver North, were themselves members of ultraconservative Christian sects like Opus Dei or the Knights of Maltathe Da Vinci Code has nothing on what happened in Central America. One aspect of the Central American wars largely overlooked is the importance of Liberation Theology, along with the Christian humanism of the domestic solidarity movement, in uniting the New Right. Well before radical Islam, Liberation Theology was the “political religion” that secular anticommunists, mainstream conservative theologians, and pulpitthumping fundamentalists squared off against. So when Jeane Kirkpatrick remarked that the U.S. nuns who were raped, mutilated, and murdered by Salvadoran security forces in 1980 were “not just nuns, they were political activists,” she was being more than cruel. She was signaling her disapproval of a particular kind of peace Christianity, or Christian humanism. TO: Has the so-called War on Terror facilitated the resurgence of that coalition? GG: Yes. After Reagan left office and the Central American crises wound down, the alliance between evangelicals and secular idealists would begin to fracture. Prominent fundamentalists, such as Pat Robertson, distrusted George Herbert Walker Bush. And obviously they had little sympathy for the Clinton administration. Yet many fundamentalists extended their increasingly confident engagement in world affairs well beyond Central America. In some ways, some of the most committed congressional “internationalists” are Christian conservatives like Virginian Representative Frank Wolf and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, who have consistently pushed Washington to deal with global humanitarian issues such as AIDS, sex trafficking, slavery, religious freedom, malaria, and genocide prevention. After 9/11, evangelical internationalists once again joined with a now fully empowered cohort of neocons to push George W. Bushwho if we remember promised a “humble” foreign policy during his first campaignto embrace so-called “hard Wilsonianism” and to “remoralize” America’s role in the world. 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 14, 2006
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.