Thursday, March 5, 2020

Quincy Conference: A 'Seat at the Table'...or a Kick in the Teeth?

By Daniel McAdams - March 05, 2020 at 10:25AM

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This article originally appeared as a special update to RPI subscribers. Subscribe for free here.

I hesitate to write this, as I am a fan of the Libertarian Institute. But one of their recent articles has me scratching my head. And though I have never named them before in a critical piece, I notice that one of my articles is linked in their article so I believe I should set the record straight because the topic is so critically important to our movement.

The article in question, "The Quincy Institute: Off to a Decent Start,"  heaps praise on the Koch/Soros collaboration for its first conference, inaccurately titled, "A New Vision for America in the World."

From the first sentence of the Libertarian Institute article it is clear there is something very wrong with the piece. 

It begins, "Non-interventionists are not used to having a seat at the power table." The implication is clear: with this conference non-interventionists have finally been given their "seat at the power table." But nothing could be further from the truth. Out of 22 speakers there was not a single non-interventionist in the line-up. So, even though the table was absurdly large, there were still no seats for non-interventionists. Not. One. Seat.

And we are supposed to cheer?

Unfortunately, the piece was littered with some assertions that frankly are hard to explain. For example, the author, in responding to criticism over the speaker line up (where he links to my article on the topic), explains the abysmal selection of speakers by claiming, "The event was pitched as a forum between the Quincy Institute and Foreign Policy..." (emphasis added).

But that is simply not true. Nowhere in the promotional materials on either the Foreign Policy or Quincy website was this conference billed as a debate between Quincy and Foreign Policy magazine, with one favoring "restraint" and the other pushing the status quo. It was billed as a jointly hosted "leadership forum on the future of US foreign policy and national security."

The whole "this was a debate between FP and Quincy" is revisionism in response to the outcry over the choice to feature the unreconstructed epitome of the "old vision" - David Petraeus - as the lead speaker facing no scrutiny or opposition. As if Quincy had no power to reject the inclusion of Petraeus in its own conference. 

Further attempting to exculpate the Quincy Institute for any responsibility over the line-up, the author writes, "Quincy was discernably the junior partner in the conversation." 

Based on what evidence? Presumably being backed by moneybags Koch and Soros, the Quincy Institute picked up the lion's share of the tab for the event. How does that make one a "junior partner"? More accurately it would suggest they are either grossly incompetent or in on the scam.

And while we're at it, if you are seeking to launch a "new vision" for US foreign policy, why partner with a magazine that endorsed the bloodthirsty warmonger Hillary Clinton for president in 2016?

Don't like Trump? Fine. Don't endorse anyone.

Though it has received less scrutiny, it is worth mentioning that the other major backer for this event was the Pivotal Foundation. For those unfamiliar with that organization, it is among the single largest financial backers of...the McCain Institute! Yes...that McCain.

So we have an event funded by two huge backers of the warmongering Atlantic Council (Koch and Soros) and a major funder of the neoconservative McCain Institute. We have as "senior partner" in the conference a publication that endorsed for president the instigator of the murderous Libya invasion and the author of the plan to arm jihadists in Syria. It is a conference that features not a single non-interventionist on a single panel. Yet we are supposed to jump up and cheer because we finally have a place at the table?

Are we really that desperate for a pat on the head from the Beltway bombardiers and their think tanks?

The author does not go into the actual presentations at the conference beyond the Petraeus debacle, but it isn't difficult to see that even the "best" speakers are, at best, self-described "realists."

On the panel ostensibly to demonstrate that "left wing" Members of Congress are getting together with "right wing" Members to push non-interventionism we are treated to the display of BOTH Members of Congress agreeing that Venezuela's president was a monster who had to go! That's the real bipartisanship in Washington.

The Republican, Arizona's Andy Biggs, made the absurd and laughable claim that Juan Guaido was "rightfully elected" president of Venezuela and therefore it is legitimate for the US to install him in office. Though he didn't say "Guaido" because he clearly did not even know they guy's name. And as we know, Guaido never even ran for president in Venezuela - he was named president by Mike Pence!

Biggs then further shows his utter ignorance of a country where he seeks US regime change by stating, "I view Maduro as the legitimate leader" before being corrected by a member of the audience and, clearly embarrassed, laughing it off.

This is the best argument for non-intervention: the people "in charge" have no idea what they are dealing with (and the people under them know exactly what they are dealing with).

Realists are not strategic allies of non-interventionists. There may be some tactical alliances on specific issues where there is the joint intent of sucking the oxygen out of the room on a particular intervention, but we should not forget that "realists" believe strongly in US government interventionism overseas. They only quibble with the neocons over the criteria. If it's "in the national interest" they are all for it. But who gets to determine the "national interest"? Well they do, of course. And as ever check their funders to determine their interpretation of the national interest.

The neocons are Trotskyites determined to use force to remake the entire world in their image. Realists are for the use of force to affect outcomes determined by the masters of the Grand Chessboard.

To paraphrase Michael Malice, realism is just neoconservatism driving the speed limit.

The purpose of the Quincy conference was not to promote non-interventionism. Not a single non-interventionist was allowed to speak. Worse, actual non-interventionists were not welcome even in the audience. Genuine antiwar activist and intellectual Ray McGovern was denied entry to the event because presumably they could not bear having anyone with a history of challenging "King David" Petraeus on his murderous record.

The purpose was, as I said in my original piece, to serve up the old wine of a disastrous foreign policy in the new bottles of "restraint" and other meaningless wooden language phrases. One speaker even expressed the view that we should stop calling war "war" because it implied that there should be an end to the use of US military force overseas!

So this conference was "a good start" for non-interventionists? What's their next act...a keynote from Bill Kristol?

As Ron Paul has always said, this is at its core a philosophical question. It is not about compromising one's values or principles. We must stand strong against US government interventionism overseas. Full stop. Anything less and we are, like the Quincy Institute, merely providing cover for the continuation of Washington's disastrous and anti-American foreign policy.

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