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Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is a public policy consultant and writer in Miami and Washington, DC. A former member of the Miami Herald Editorial Board, he writes a regular column for The Herald on politics, military affairs and diplomacy.

He also writes for Tiempos del Mundo (a Latin American weekly), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and periodicals such Insight magazine, The American Enterprise Institute magazine, and the American Legion magazine. He is a Phillips Foundation Journalism fellow for 2003-2004.

Mr. Crespo is an adjunct professor of politics and international relations at the University of Miami. He is also the miltary analyst for WSVN channel 7 TV news in Miami and has appeared on CNN, FOX News as well as Univision and other Latin American cable news shows.

A former Marine Corps combat-arms officer, he served in airborne and special operations units in the Far East and Europe. Assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), he was a Defense and Naval Attaché (military diplomat) at U.S. embassies in the Balkans, Persian Gulf, and Latin America.

For a complete biograpy of Paul Crespo, and to enjoy all of his writings, visit his website at:


    Democracy & free markets vs socialism
    Paul Crespo

    July 26, 2003

    I recently came under fire for referring to Saddam Hussein's regime as fascist. Some argued that I was wrong because the Baath Party was actually socialist. Well, both views are correct. Hussein ran a totalitarian fascist regime that in practice was similar to a totalitarian socialist regime -- or maybe it was vice versa. While there are many differences between the two, the finer ideological distinctions are generally lost on the regime's victims.

    In either dictatorship, the state reigns supreme. Secret police roam at will, the maximum leader's images are omnipresent in schools and workplaces, the masses are mobilized to support the state, there's a bloated state-run economy and militarized society as well as lots of prisons where dissenters are tortured and killed. In practice, when it comes to state control, there's little difference between extreme socialism and fascism. Both are the antithesis of American constitutional principles.

    With most of these dictatorships, only the ideological rhetoric differs. For Hussein's Socialist Baath Party, it was about Pan-Arabism. For Castro's Communist Party, it's international socialism. For Hitler, it was national socialism (Nazism). For Mussolini, it was corporate statism (true fascism).

    While some had much more blood on their hands than others, all these dictatorships shared similar forms of totalitarian repression. In fact, what many of them have in common is their espousal of populist socialism of one form or another.

    Ironically, it's the left that constantly uses the fascist bogeyman against the so-called conservative right. While this may have some resonance in Europe or Latin America where the right may still be associated with militarists, statists and nationalists, it certainly has little relation to reality in the United States, where conservatives generally promote uniquely American ideas of liberty and constitutional republicanism.

    So, it's entertaining to hear the left regularly denounce President Bush and his conservative supporters as fascists. Either these folks have no idea what fascism means, or conservative Republicans really do want a militarized, one-party, state-run society. I tend to believe the former.

    In fact, mainstream American conservatism and the GOP, for the most part, actually promote classical liberal ideas of liberty and individual rights. Like our Founding Fathers, they believe in a smaller, less intrusive government; less taxation, property rights, the rule of law, individual responsibility, and free and competitive markets. They are staunch defenders of the Constitution and the principles it represents. Those who veer too much from that consensus -- Pat Buchanan may be an example -- quickly find themselves on the outside.

    Even among the religious conservatives who focus on promoting traditional American social values, I haven't found any fascists or theocrats. Most are regular folks who believe strongly, as our founders did, that a self-restrained, moral people is the bedrock of democracy and that government should not be eroding the moral values that form the foundation of our democratic system.

    In reality, modern American conservatives have more in common with classical liberals than many of today's so-called liberals can ever hope to have. This is particularly true because American liberalism in many ways has been hijacked in recent years by a collectivist and pacifist left wing that is closer to European socialism than to American ideals.

    These differences do matter because the battle now is not between right-wing fascism and left-wing liberalism. The contest is between American constitutional democracy and free markets on one side and leftist socialism, rightist statism and ultimately totalitarianism of any stripe on ther other.

    Today ''right-wing'' conservatives are the ones promoting democracy and liberal American ideas throughout the world, while many of our so-called liberals seem bent on opposing them.

    This is the real battle between right and left.


    Paul Crespo is a public policy consultant and writer in Miami and Washington, DC. A former Marine officer, he was a member of the Miami Herald Editorial Board and writes regularly on politics, military affairs and diplomacy for The Herald, AEI Magazine Online and Tiempos del Mundo.

    ©2003 Paul Crespo. Reprinted on The Tocquevillian by permission of the author.

    © 2003 Tocqevillian Magazine