Ãœber-Neocon Robert Kagan: America May Be a Sucker, But at Least It's Not a Wimp!


You've got to feel a bit sorry for the Kagans, the first family of neoconservatism (for those that don't follow these critters, Robert, Fred, Donald and Kimberly are all zealous advocates of American perma-war). Their era is done; the "New American Century" lies in the dustbin of history and they have to work so much harder these days to hold on to their many columns throughout the conservative media.

But Robert, whose book Of Paradise and Power was supposedly a great influence on George W.'s worldview, is chugging right along, this time playing every feverish right-wingers' favorite game, 'How Many Clichés About Those Spineless European Surrender Monkeys Can I Pack Into a Single Washington Post Column?'

Let's catch up with his musings about Obama supposedly making the "conservative" Europeans uneasy:

[What the] Europeans yearn for in their self-contained world is stability and predictability, a little peace and quiet ... They don't want more excitement... [They share] a mortal fear of the turmoil that can be caused by unconstrained ambitions, both national and individual. The German people, for whom and by whom the European Union was consecrated, want to be constrained. The E.U.'s economic strictures, which now act as a barrier to Keynesian deficit spending, were put there by the Germans, for whom memories of inflation, not depression, are the great nightmare. The Germans and French prefer welfare payments to government stimulus spending, for they are part of the passive system of social safety nets on which their citizens have grown so comfortably dependent.

They do have deficit spending rules, but "welfare payments" -- things like food stamps and unemployment benefits -- are, of course, the "government stimulus spending" that brings the greatest bang for the buck. Or, as the New York Times put Kagan's argument:

The Europeans say they have no need for further stimulus right now because their social safety nets, derided in good times by free market disciples as sclerotic impediments to growth, are automatically providing the spending programs that the United States Congress has to legislate.

Europe’s extensive job protections and unemployment benefits are “bad in the upswing, because firms don’t dare to hire people, because then they are glued to them,” said Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich. “In the downswing, it’s good if the people are glued to the companies. They keep their jobs. They keep their income. They keep consuming.”

But never mind those pesky details. Back to Kagan:

The creative destruction of the business-oriented political economies of the Anglo-Americans is too violent and unstable, too brutal and unpredictable. Better to regulate more tightly the international capitalists who can cause havoc through their inventiveness. Better to be less rich than less secure.

Ah yes, let's take a moment to praise those gritty international capitalists -- at least those that adhere to the Anglo-American model -- and their "inventiveness." Look at the big, beautiful crisis they've invented for the global economy!

This is a tired old talking point. America's vaunted "jobs machine" has fallen behind the European economies. The U.S. is 10th in average income; ahead of us are three of those timid countries with 'better regulated' economies. None of the three is Britain. According to the corporate-sponsored Heritage Foundation's "Economic Freedom Index" -- the closest I could come to quantifying a country's tolerance for "creative destruction" -- the U.S. ranks 6th in economic freedom; among ten "freest", only 2 aren't highly-regulated social democracies. But, again ... facts.

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