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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Beinart again

Jonathan Swartz has been doing a nice job of slice and dice exegesis on Peter Beinart’s claim, made in an interview with Kevin Drum, that

“Jihadism sits at the center of a series of globalization-related threats, including global warming, pandemics, and financial contagion, which are powered by globalization-related technologies, and all of which threaten the United States more than other countries.”

Schwarz’s pithy summary of this farrago is: “Peter Beinart Finally Achieves 100% Gibberish.”

From a logical point of view, Schwartz is right. However, there is more going on here than logic.

Beinart and the court D.C. set are not completely crazy to have decided to make jihadism the object of a ‘long war.’ First, however, one has to say that logically, this is one of the funnier isms ever – consider that it fits into a series including prayerism, meditationism, and reflexionism, or, ratcheting up the fiercesomeness, Iron Johnism (from the 90s male liberation movement). I imagine that at this assembly of apocalyptic movements our readership is already trembling like tapioca in an earthquake. But for those who can keep their teeth from chattering, you will notice that the main threat posed by this series is that each encloses its acolytes in such time consuming practice that it takes away from quality time better devoted to sexual congress. That’s about it, as far as the threat level goes. These aren’t even first person shooter games.

Politically, however, there is some subgenius thing going on. The cold war is obviously so hardwired into the D.C. mindset that the nineties, our glimpse of a world without a long war, caused actual physical agony among the think tanks – daylight seeped through the windows of the New American century, the Heritage Foundation, the Brooks Brothers Institute, the Psychotic Robotrons for a Stronger America Institute and other well funded and well staffed booby hatches, and many vampires, reportedly, died. To this day, it is said, Richard Perle has scars on his body.

But never let it be said that these low lights and paragons of political science were not thinking hard about strategy, geo-politics, the state of exception, tactical warfare, and the sweet taste of nymphette blood on a full moon night.

The problem with the Cold War, in a nutshell, was that the enemy actually had a few very attractive notions up its sleeve. Like the social welfare state. Like social and economic justice. Like equality. Like public investment. And the response in the West, up until the social welfare states were entrenched, was to compete partly by diluting the bloody capitalist order to accommodate the social welfare state. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil Rights movement just didn’t coincide in time – they operated in the same political continuum. At the time, this was openly acknowledged. The investment made, for instance, in science education in the U.S. after 1957 was attributed directly to the Sputnik scare.

Hence, the genius of a long war on a non-existent enemy whose program is almost completely repulsive, insofar as you simply make it up on the spot of various exotic and repulsive items. Double bonus -- you can then justify the most repulsive behavior on the part of the anti-Jihadist forces -- razing Fallujah, say -- by claiming that these jihadists must be fought without moral compunction.

Jihadism isn’t even a Wahabi form of Islam – the closest thing to it that I can imagine is the Taliban in Afghanistan. The idea that the long war is on varieties of the Taliban (while, of course, the U.S.’s great ally in the Middle East remains Saudi Arabia and we spoonfeed billions to the Pakistani government that created the Taliban and, according to the current Afghan government, still sustains it) is, from the vampiric view of the defense industries, simply stunning – it is thinking out of the box, as the vampires like to say, with a chuckle – oh, they know about those long boxes in which the Peter Beinart types like to lie around, during the day. In one brilliant flash, it justifies pouring hundreds of billions into defense industries, allows for a prospective infinity of debates, white papers, meetings, and high level appointments, and undermines any metric of success. It is as if the U.S. declared itself rigidly, passionately, and completely committed to hunting unicorns.

Thus, the perfect war, in which the profit going to the plutocrats would not have to be balanced in any way by any act of economic justice to tame the potentially restive masses. And icing on the cake is the whole new world of executive branch mercenaries, the synthesis of ‘private military forces’ and the volunteer army, with no congressional restraint upon their deployment anywhere, at any time. This is Beinart's Utopia: Bushism forever.

2 comments:

Brian Miller said...

roger, as much as I love the blog format, appreciate the chance to comment, etc. etc, you deserve a bigger audience! you gotta get published, man. There has to be someone out there in the less corrupted realm leftward of The Nation.

roger said...

Brian, thanks for the strokes, man. I am, actually, published, but not in my dragon breathing mode. Here's a typical Roger article: http://www.suntimes.com/output/books/cst-books-brockmeier05.html.

To tell you the truth, if this blog were better known, I would no doubt get published much less. Nobody wants to hire a troublemaker. And if that happened, my tummy rumble in that particularly unpleasant, empty way that all writers since Homer have deplored.

Fortunately, I have developed a style that zigzags between the pedantic and the tedious, repelling the average reader who comes here, mostly, for some innocent viewing of "sexy girles" or "Nude pics" - which sometimes makes me feel guilty, since I put up so few nude pics of sexy girles that I feel like I am letting him down, this average reader -- and keeps my parasitic niche as a freelance book reviewer safe.

So I can't realy bitch. Life is good!