Fascist Invasion

TimeWatch Editorial
December 16, 2016

The Free Encyclopedia describes Robert Kagan who was born September 26, 1958 as an American historian, author, columnist, and foreign-policy commentator. Kagan is often characterized as a leading neoconservative. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes Neo-conservatism as the promotion of democracy and promotion of American national interest in international affairs, by means of military force if necessary and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism. The Free Encyclopedia continues to describe Robert Kagan as A co-founder of the neoconservative “Project for the New American Century.” he is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Kagan has been a foreign policy adviser to U.S. Republican presidential candidates as well as Democratic administrations via the Foreign Affairs Policy Board. He writes a monthly column on world affairs for The Washington Post, and is a contributing editor at The New Republic.

It is one of his articles published in the Washington Post, May 18, 2016 that caught my attention. The title of the article was “This Is How Fascism Comes to America.” Kagan opens up the article this way:

“The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well. But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.” Robert Kagan, “This Is How Fascism Comes to America” the Washington Post, May 18, 2016

The reason why Robert Kagan’s opinion matters is because his background and global, political experience is unquestioned. Jason Teinhauer, in his "Three-Part Lecture Series at the Kluge Center Looks at Foreign Policy through the Lens of Realpolitik," makes the point that in 1983, Robert Kagan was foreign policy advisor to New York Republican Representative Jack Kemp. From 1984–86, under the administration of Ronald Reagan, he was a speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz and a member of the United States Department of State Policy Planning Staff. From 1986–1988 he served in the State Department Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. Kagan continues.

“Trump’s offers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.” Robert Kagan, “This Is How Fascism Comes to America” the Washington Post, May 18, 2016

Kagan’s grasp of history is evident here. He recognizes the original intent of the founders and compares what they desired to see with what is swiftly approaching. Notice how he puts this.

“Republican politicians marvel at how he has “tapped into” a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.” Conservatives have been warning for decades about government suffocating liberty. But here is the other threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained, might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their freedoms. As Alexander Hamilton watched the French Revolution unfold, he feared in America what he saw play out in France — that the unleashing of popular passions would lead not to greater democracy but to the arrival of a tyrant, riding to power on the shoulders of the people.” .” Robert Kagan, “This Is How Fascism Comes to America” the Washington Post, May 18, 2016

So Kagan reaches his conclusive description of the kind of political system that arises out of these variables. He names it clearly and defines the differences between the various types of the same system.

“This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical. Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Führer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how. Today, there is Putinism, which also has nothing to do with belief or policy but is about the tough man who single-handedly defends his people against all threats, foreign and domestic.” Robert Kagan, “This Is How Fascism Comes to America” the Washington Post, May 18, 2016

Kagan’s article was published in the month of May, this is merely seven months later, yet it may already be possible to evaluate the path ahead. Perhaps we will return to Mr. Kagan’s analysis in the near future.

Cameron A. Bowen

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