A Syrian serviceman stands guard on the front line against Jabhat al-Nusra rebel forces, in Latakia governorate, in 2020. Al-Nusra is an offshoot of al-Qaeda. Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Sputnik

The mid-20th-century Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr would have recognized the irony of a foreign policy that continually enters alliances (both covertly and overtly) with groups and causes that are themselves the very antithesis of the values that the US foreign-policy and defense establishments claim they are defending the world over.

Over the past several years, the weaponization of “woke” politics has had numerous ramifications across the United States. And among the most ominous of these has been the burgeoning alliance of woke liberals and progressives and the unaccountable careerists who staff the US foreign-policy bureaucracy and the military-media-defense nexus that has cynically adopted the language and mores of the woke opposition in the service of American global hegemony. 

The dynamic has been positively Hegelian: thesis (woke politics) meets antithesis (militarism) and forms a new synthesis (woke-militarism).

The result is that the US is now engaged in a global Cold War Culture War against any and all states that refuse to get with the woke program.

This culture war, which I first described in the conservative journal American Affairs nearly four years ago, is being waged by those who “believe that their political inclinations are not simply correct but also universal, and that they should be spread, as one longtime neoconservative has advised, ‘at gunpoint if need be.’ They are ardent defenders of pluralism at home, yet they are the most vocal advocates for a kind of liberal cultural monism abroad.”

While the militarist-woke alliance has had its sights set on Russia (and to a lesser degree Viktor Orban’s Hungary), the alliance really solidified during the Syrian Civil War.

It was then that the self-righteous conviction took root among American liberals and progressives that the US must embark on a crusade to overthrow the sovereign, multi-confessional Syrian state in the service of the very factions, including the jihadists of Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, the al-Nusra front, that would turn around and kill them at the first opportunity. 

Talk about irony.

But Syria isn’t the only example. Over the past decade the US has, in the name of “democracy and human rights,” invariably backed Islamist insurgents in Libya; the proud heirs of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera in Ukraine; and, most recently, Islamist rebels in Kazakhstan. 

Perhaps the best chance of defeating the unholy alliance of militarists and woke liberals is the rising generation of Republican politicians who may imbue America First with the best anti-imperial traditions of the nation. 

Because you can forget about the liberals and progressives who in their myopia and paranoia over Donald Trump have entered an alliance with the most unapologetically sanguinary elements of the American establishment. For proof, look no further than the obscene endorsement of arch-neoconservative Liz Cheney by the once-reputable progressive Mother Jones magazine.

What to do? 

One option that will be available to American voters this November would be to elect a new breed of Republican politician, such as those like Blake Masters, running for the US Senate in Arizona; J D Vance running for the US Senate in Ohio; Joe Kent running for the US House of Representatives in Washington state; and Andrew McCarthy running for the US House in upstate New York. 

Indeed, one of the great tragedies in a period that hasn’t lacked for them is that in their alliance with the militarist establishment, liberals and progressives have abandoned their best traditions in order to act as foot soldiers for a Democratic Party that in matters related to foreign affairs is barely discernible from the Republican Party of George W Bush and Dick Cheney. 

Today, not a single liberal or progressive in the halls of Congress has raised a voice in opposition to the Joe Biden administration’s policies on NATO expansion that might well result in a conflagration between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

How ironic that it is to aspirant Republican office holders we now must now look to in the hope of restoring sanity to American foreign policy.

James Carden

James W Carden is a former adviser to the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission at the US Department of State. His articles and essays have appeared in a wide variety of publications including The Nation, The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, The Spectator, UnHerd, The National Interest, Quartz, the Los Angeles Times and American Affairs.