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Islamic Fascism?

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While it is important to identify and to warn against the signs of latent or embryonic fascism in and around the Bush administration, it is also necessary to point to the emergence or proliferation of a number of hopeful signs and forces that are evolving to counter the fascistic tendencies of neoconservatism. What are those counteracting forces?

One such sign of optimism is the fact that as the neoconservative agenda of the Bush administration is increasingly exposed as fraudulent, public support for that agenda is dwindling among the American people. As noted, agitation and mobilization of the masses around the flag and on the ground of pseudo-nationalism by means of disinformation and deceit is a major secret of the success of fascism. Rising uneasiness of the American people with the neoconservative-Bush agenda of war and militarism is a hopeful sign that further implementation of that ominous agenda might not be as easy in the future as it has been in the past six years.

Another indication of optimism is that even the military is gradually questioning the jingoistic plans of the neoconservative civilian leadership. Tensions between the professional military experts and civilian leadership, pejoratively called militaristic chicken hawks, festering ever since the invasion of Iraq, have now been heightened over the administration's policy of an aerial military strike against Iran. While civilian militarists, headed by Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, are said to have drawn plans to bomb Iran, many senior commanders are openly questioning the wisdom of such plans.[7]

Third, and perhaps more importantly, serious tensions and disagreements are developing within the ruling elite over aggressive unilateral policies of the neoconservative Bush administration. Cross-party opposition within the ruling factions to the neoconservative agenda, latent ever since they took over U.S. foreign policy, has recently become quite intense. The so-called realists and/or multilateralists are increasingly expressing dismay at how the neoconservative policies of the administration are undermining not only worldwide U.S. credibility but also its geopolitical and economic interests.

A major part of the disagreements within the ruling circles is due to the fact that their economic interests are impacted differently by the foreign policies of the Bush administration. While major beneficiaries of military capital, that is, armaments industries and related businesses that benefit from war and militarism, support the administration's policies of unilateral wars of aggression, non-military, or civilian, transnational capitalists do not favor such policies as they tend to cost them foreign markets and investment opportunities.

The Powerful interests that are vested in the military capital or war industries include not only the giant Pentagon contractors such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, McDonald Douglas, or Raytheon, but also a whole host of war-related smaller businesses that have recently spun around the Pentagon and the Homeland Security apparatus in order to cash in on the Pentagon's escalating budget. All these war-based industries and related business have been reaping the benefits of a war-time bonanza thanks to drastic increases in military spending under President Bush officially a 45 percent increase in real terms over what he inherited in 2001. Not surprisingly, these beneficiaries of "war dividends" are the major supporters, and often also the architects, of the Bush administrations foreign policy. They are the real (though often submerged) forces behind the façade of the cabal of neoconservative activists, their militaristic policies, and their demagogic rhetoric of democracy.[8]
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But while the interests that are vested in the business of war have been handsomely benefiting from the Bush administration's policies of war and militarism, Thousands of non-military transnational businesses have suffered from losses of trade and investment opportunities in global markets as a result of those policies. From their point of view, the neoconservative policies of military buildup and unilateral wars of choice have increasingly become economic burdens not only because they devour a disproportionately large share of national resources, but also because such adventurous operations tend to create instability in international markets and subvert long-term global investment. Furthermore, the resentment and hostility that unprovoked aggressions have generated in foreign lands have also created consumer backlash against brands that are closely identified with the United States: Marlboro cigarettes, America Online (AOL), McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Pizza Hut, American Airlines, Exxon-Mobil, and many more.[9]

Losses of trade and investment opportunities in foreign markets have prompted a broad spectrum of non-military business interests to form coalitions of trade associations that are designed to lobby foreign policy makers against unilateral U.S. military aggressions abroad. One such anti-militarist alliance of American businesses is USA*ENGAGE. It is a coalition of nearly 700 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy actions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad.

The coalition's statement of principles points out, "American values are best advanced by engagement of American business and agriculture in the world, not by ceding markets to foreign competition. Helping train workers, building roads, telephone systems, and power plants in poorer nations, promoting free enterprise these activities improve the lives of people worldwide and support American values."[10]

While these positive developments (erosion of public support, hesitation of the professional military brass, and disagreements and tensions within the ruling elite) are hopeful signs that the power and influence of the Bush administration and his neoconservative allies are rapidly declining, they do not mean that these champions of unilateral wars and militarism can no longer inflict serious damage to international peace and stability (for example, by a reckless bombing of Iran). One should never discount the dangerous reactions of bullies when they find themselves against the wall: attack.


1. Frank J. Ranelli, "Defining Fascism, Then and Now," OpEdNews.com (September 13, 2006), http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_frank_j__060913_defining_fascism_2c_th.htm
2. Andrew Boswoth, "Welcome to Neo-Fascism 101," VirtualCitizens.com (August 8, 2006), http://www.virtualcitizens.com/article.php?shorttitle=WelcometoNeoFascism
3. Michael Parenti, "Plutocrats Choose Autocrats," section 1 of Chapter 1 ("Rational Fascism") of his book, Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism, 1997. See also James Pool and Suzanne Pool, Who Financed Hitler (New York: Dial Press, 1978).
4. Parenti, Ibid.
5. Ibid.; See also Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business (New York: Monad Press/Pathfinder Press, 1973).
6. Marc Ash, "Fascism of All Varieties," TruthOut.org (August, 11, 2006), http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/081106Z.shtml
7. Ismael Hossein-zadeh, "U.S. Iran Policy Irks Senior Commanders: The Military vs. Militaristic Civilian Leadership," Pyavand.com (August 14, 2006), http://www.payvand.com/news/06/aug/1154.html
8. I have provided a detailed discussion of these relations in my recently-published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2006), Chapter 6.
9. Ibid., Chapter 8.
10. http://www.usaengage.org/about_us/index.html
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Ismael Hossein-zadeh is a professor of economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of the newly published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism His Web page is http://www.cbpa.drake.edu/hossein-zadeh

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