The pack of pundits, LI has noted, has generally been pouting about the war they so ardently helped blow into life three years ago. When the American populace goes off the reservation, as they did in 1998 when they refused to knock the president off for his office quickie, the pundits do this. Centrists of mammon, shills of the war culture, the pundits generally consider that they have backdoor privileges on the American psyche, which shuns extremes and loves reforms and finds its true voice in the arthritic angers of the various wattled turkeys that end up on news talk shows, endlessly retreading cliches. This is what the American people love. Strong on defense. Oh how they love defense. And reform, too. Oh how they love reforms. Plus they love spreading democracy. Gots to spread that democracy. The last time the American populace failed their pundit spokesman, in 1998, the turkeys spead their wings. They got angry. It was the death of outrage and the slouching towards Gomorrah.
Is it time for that again? The neo-cons, after covering reams of paper with bullshit paens to the City on the Hill, are radically revising their view of American history downward, or so at least seems to be the distinct undercurrent. It broke cover in Max Boot’s column in the LA Times this Sunday, which is full of pop gun anger usually to be directed against, say, the French:
“MANY AMERICANS have been wondering why so many Iraqis are willing to fight for militias and terrorist groups but not for the American-backed government. Look at it from their perspective. Would you stake your life on a regime whose existence depends on Washington's continuing support? Given our long, shameful record of leaving allies in the lurch, that has never seemed to be a smart bet.”
“Long, shameful record”??? Whatever happened to the benign empire? How quickly we’ve fallen from the cynosure of history to the dunce. But, besides the usual grumblings of a discredited faction, the interesting thing about Boot’s column is how thoroughly it ventilates what one could call the state of the art in American thinking. That is, non-thinking.
Here’s the theme. Since the war against the Barbary pirates, the U.S. has promiscuously picked up and discarded allies. Shocking, eh?
“We have been betraying friends since our first overseas conflict, against the Barbary pirates who captured ships off the African coast and enslaved their crews. To defeat the pasha of Tripoli, the U.S. made common cause with his brother, Hamet Karamanli. In 1804, American envoy William Eaton led a motley force of mercenaries and Marines across North Africa to install Karamanli on the throne. The offensive was called off prematurely when President Jefferson's envoy reached a deal with the pasha to free his American captives in return for $60,000. Karamanli was evacuated to the U.S., but his family members were left as hostages. Eaton raged: "Our too credulous ally is sacrificed to a policy, at the recollection of which, honor recoils, and humanity bleeds." “
Now, let’s grant for a second the premise here. Actually, it is eminently grant-able – since the U.S. is simply operating as all nations have operated since the beginning of the nation state. What is interesting, here, is that this history should certainly have applied three years ago as well as now. In other words, when Boot was advocating swarming into Iraq back in 2003, he should have know that “we have been betraying friends since our first overseas conflict…” So, this should have effected his thinking re said attack. You go to war with the history that you have, not the history you pull out of your ass – as per Donald Rumsfeld. Meaning…
Meaning that any conflict labors under a time constraint. The constraint runs something like this: American wars have certain broadly agreed upon goals – and then some of them have less broadly agreed on goals. The agreed upon goal in the war against the Barbary pirates was to free the American captives – not to overturn piracy. The war in Iraq was about overthrowing Saddam Hussein – not about making good Chamber of Commerce Republicans out of the sheiks of Ramadi.
Say, however, you want to piggyback your war on the war that the Americans are fighting – which is the essence and body of the neo-con deal. That means you have to fight the war right – in other words, no drift, no aimless strategizing, no fiasco. Given this goal, the neo-cons should have been the most radical critics of the pursuit of the occupation from April, 2003, onward. In fact, they became a chorus line of approval for every dumb and dumber move made by the administration in Iraq. A chorus line of zombies.
And now they are suddenly aware that the time is running out???
Which gets us back to the state of the art of American thinking, circa this year of our lord, 2006. The characteristic that strikes the unbiased observer is an astonishing inability to put puzzle pieces together to form a coherent image. Rather, like monkeys at a jigsaw puzzle, our pundits continually put together a botch and call it a picture. Small people, misused forums, lightless imaginations, failures on the ever upward track – that is what American thinking, at the moment, consists of.
“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears
Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads