Saturday, January 13, 2007

chasse aux geants

The first chapter of the Chuang-Tzu consists of a comparison between the giant and the small, beginning with the famed fish, K’un:

“IN THE NORTHERN DARKNESS there is a fish and his name is K'un.1 The K'un is so huge I don't know how many thousand li he measures. He changes and becomes a bird whose name is P'eng. The back of the P'eng measures I don't know how many thousand li across and, when he rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky. When the sea begins to move,2 this bird sets off for the southern darkness, which is the Lake of Heaven. (Burton Watson translation)

Against the wonder of the P’eng is set the laughter of the dove and the cicada:

The cicada and the little dove laugh at this, saying, "When we make an effort and fly up, we can get as far as the elm or the sapanwood tree, but sometimes we don't make it and just fall down on the ground. Now how is anyone going to go ninety thousand li to the south!

The chapter then proceeds through other giant/small contrasts in the style peculiar to it – each passage being at once unlinked from the proceeding one and yet bearing the distinct resemblance that one hand of cards bears to another. So giant and small face off against each other in wisdom, in status, in miraculous powers. The final contrast is between Hui Tzu and Chuang Tzu. Hui Tzu, given giant gourd seeds, plants and grows them, but the gourds are too big, so he smashes them Chuang Tzu laughs at this, saying that Hui Tzu, seems to be in thrall to the outward show of the gourds only: “Now you had a gourd big enough to hold five piculs. Why didn't you think of making it into a great tub so you could go floating around the rivers and lakes, instead of worrying because it was too big and unwieldy to dip into things! Obviously you still have a lot of underbrush in your head!"

So: what is the Daoist attitude towards the giant – are we looking at things from the perspective of the P’eng or the cicada? Surely Chuang Tzu’s tone of mockery is supposed to release us from the first impression of the giant – the impression of sheer wonder. That moment emerges in the early modern era in Europe as a sly maneuver to allow the writer to attack wonder itself , the glue that officially kept the sacred system together. Rabelais’ mock giants, the windmills that Don Quixote attacks, thinking that they are giants – this is about, in one sense, chasing the giants from the culture. Giordano Bruno uses the same mock heroic means in the Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. In the Ash Wednesday colloquy, Nolan (Bruno himself) is extolled in terms that could plug into the Chuang Tzu:

“Now here is he who has pierced the air, penetrated the sky, toured the realm of stars, traversed the boundaries of the world, dissipated the fictitious walls of the first, eighth, ninth, tenth spheres, and whatever else might have been attached to these by the devices of vain mathematicians and by the blind vision of popular philosophers. Thus aided by the fullness of sense and reason, lie opened with the key of most industrious inquiry those enclosures of truth that can be opened to us at all, by presenting naked the shrouded and veiled nature; he gave eyes to moles, illumined the blind who cannot fix their eyes and admire their own images in so many mirrors which surround them from every side. He untied the tongue of the mute who do not know [how to] and did not dare to express their intricate sentiments. He restored strength to the lame who were unable to make that progress in spirit which the ignoble and dissolvable compound [body] cannot make. He provided them with no less a presence [vantage point] than if they were the very inhabitants of the sun, of the moon, and of other nomadic [wandering] stars [planets]. He showed how similar or dissimilar, greater or worse [smaller] are those bodies [stars, planets) which we see afar, compared with that [earth] which is right here and to which we are united. And he opened their eyes to see this deity, this mother of ours, which on her back feeds them and nourishes them after she has produced them from her bosom into which she always gathers them again -- who is not to be considered a body without soul and life, [33. This animistic world view precedes a slightly veiled affirmation of pantheism.] let alone the trash of all bodily substances.”

The moment of mockery, of the exorcism of the giants, gets its juice, its scoffing power, from the practical, from the peasant’s p.o.v. – it is, after all, through Sancho Panza that we know the giants are windmills in Don Quixote. (Although the voice of the trope starts singing in my head as I write this: aren't peasants notoriously credulous? Aren't these images out of tune? - ah, the malicious trope that tricks my every claim with a counter-claim!) However, it would be a retarded enlightenment indeed that remained frozen in the moment of mockery. The movement, as in the quote from Bruno above, is to another and more abstract view. In the Chuang Tzu, the scale by which the K’un is gigantic and the dove is small is itself neither gigantic nor small. The scale has no size. In Bruno, the attack on the giants is done in the name of a notion of infinity with which Bruno’s name is still associated. When Newton applies the laws of motion on earth to the heavenly bodies, his idea is related to this same notion of a scale of no size – of a force. Newton famously wrote that he saw further because he stood on the shoulders of giants – showing that he had learned something that would make him free from the reproach Chuang Tzu gives to Hui Tzu: "You certainly are dense when it comes to using big things!” In fact, there is a certain slyness to Newton’s phrase – he does not, as is usual with the phrase (tracked through every maze by Robert Merton in his book) call himself a dwarf – his own stature is, as it were, for the observer to determine.

LI is down with these two moments in the chasse aux geants – we can understand – or, more accurately, we feel no resistance to - the Dao, here. But there is a whole other dimension of the gigantic that we don’t understand at all. Lately, we’ve been thinking about this because we’ve been reading Roberto Callosso’s Ka. In Ka, Callasso retells the stories of the Indian sacred books – the Rg Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, etc. Being incredibly ignorant of these basic texts, we have been trying to catch up – you know, the old struggle for minimum cultural literacy. Reading Ka has been an uncomfortably dreamlike experience – the dream divided between nightmare and wet dream, the powers that rule over the inveterate masturbator’s nocturnal life. We will have more to say about this in our next post.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Economist supports President Backbone for another Keegan

The Economist is made of stern stuff. Not for them the cotton candy allurement of extraction from that Middle Eastern principality which we were all hopeful, two years ago, would follow General Pinochet’s path to privatization and prosperity. Instead, they are throwing their muscularity behind President Backbone:

America and its allies have failed in Iraq. George Bush is right to hold out against an even bigger failure

GEORGE BUSH has always been a gambler but this is his most audacious bet yet. Most Americans now believe that America has lost the war in Iraq. Only last month the Baker-Hamilton group, a bipartisan group of wise men (and one wise woman) told Congress that the situation in Iraq was “grave and deteriorating”. It recommended a managed withdrawal, dangling the prospect of the bulk of America's combat troops pulling out in early 2008. This week Mr Bush rejected that advice. He intends to defy world opinion, American opinion, congressional opinion, much military opinion and even the advice of many members of his own Republican Party by reinforcing rather than reducing America's effort in Iraq. Some will call this reckless. Some will say the president is in denial. We don't admire Mr Bush, but on this we think he is right.”

And what is he right about? Well, the Economist, right out of the box, starts substituting its own description of what President B. proposed for what President B. proposed. This isn’t unusual – rarely has a war been defended so ardently by systematically misdescribing not only its aims, but its tactics, its motives, and – most importantly – the people most effected by it. This is what the Economist thinks the plan is:

Mr Bush is investing much hope in a plan, known as “the surge”, to secure the mixed Sunni-Shia neighbourhoods of Baghdad by injecting “more than 20,000” additional American troops on top of the 130,000 or so already in the country.

Now, the key word here is “mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods of Baghdad.” That description could mean one of two things – it could designate the subset of neighborhoods that are mixed Sunni-Shia, or it could designate the whole of Baghdad. In the latter case, it would be unnecessary – and yet, the only way that the description fits the proposal is if the latter designation is the correct one.
The lack of economy in the language betrays the anxiety of the writer. In actual fact, what is happening is a neighborhood by neighborhood attempt to clean the Sunni out of Baghdad. The cleansing is exactly what the Shia government – the Dawa government – of Maliki has been doing faithfully. To “secure” those neighborhoods, in conjunction with Maliki, is to ethnically cleanse them. In effect, President Backbone is proposing something parallel to adopting, say, Milosovic’s plan for Sarajevo.

However, because the White House favors being unclear about its own motives – looking in its heart all of the time, instead of watching what its brain does – this isn’t the announced American policy. There’s enough elbow room to pretend, in fact, that the effect is just going to be an accidental consequence of the act.

Now, as is the custom for the belligeranti, arguing for a program that has little chance of success and a much greater chance of failure requires, first, pretending to consider the one the one hands and the on the other hands. The Economist gets through this exercise in propaganda briskly:

It is by no means certain that the surge will succeed. The Americans have tried before to impose order on Baghdad, only for violence to flare again as soon as the troops move on (see pages 22-24). Those who say this is too little, too late, may be proved right. Sectarian hatreds have deepened since that referendum of 2005, as the wildly differing reactions of Shias and Sunnis to the hanging of Saddam Hussein demonstrated. Even with Iraqi helpers, American soldiers may not be welcomed in Baghdad's neighbourhoods now that Iraqis have turned for protection to their local militias. According to one survey last September, 61% of Iraqis approve of attacking coalition forces. It may be that by barging into Baghdad's neighbourhoods, and staying there this time, the Americans will merely stoke resistance and take (and inflict) more casualties.
In short, the surge may fail. But the surge is not the most significant part of Mr Bush's speech of January 10th. If this particular plan fails, a new one will be formulated. Far more significant is the strategic message that in spite of the Baker-Hamilton report, and notwithstanding the growing pressure from public opinion and a Democrat-controlled Congress, this president will not in his remaining two years concede defeat and abandon Iraq to its fate. And this, whether it is motivated by obstinacy, denial or a sober calculation of the strategic stakes in Iraq, is a good thing.”

One could make the argument here made about many things. For instance: “It is by no means certain that a perpetual motion machine will succeed.” Or: “It is by no means certain that a man jumping off a cliff could, by flapping his arms, fly safely over to the cliff facing him.” Or: “It is by no means certain that I could throw a rock that would fly all the way up and hit the moon.” The ass covering here is perfunctory. The Economist can’t really discuss the conditions that would give us a sense of whether the escalation would work or not because they have muddied the description of what the escalation is supposed to do from the very beginning. The continual pretence that Iraq is a tabula rasa, that the government in Iraq has left no record and thus is infinitely malleable, that the people of Iraq have not expressed, in polls and, more importantly, in supporting militias and insurgents, their sense that the occupation should be over, is the necessary precondition to continued failure. To discuss these things would be to strip away the pretence that the Iraq war has anything to do with democracy. It would lay bare the cost of the war both for the occupiers (delaying endlessly the reality that the U.S. has lost its Cold War hegemony in the Middle East and is going to have to negotiate in that system from a lower status) and for the occupied (the cost here has a simple name in the courts: it is called first degree murder).

A week ago, LI was surprised to read some eminent sense from Chalabi frontman, Jim Hoagland, in the Washington Post. Instead of continuing the campaign of crushing whoever, Hoagland proposed that the U.S. policy in Iraq should work, firstly, towards a ceasefire.

“… call a one-month halt to U.S. offensive actions -- a truce, in effect -- and encourage Iraqis to do the same. This would facilitate the holding of a peace conference in Baghdad, in which blood-stained radicals such as Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Hadith al-Dari, the inflammatory voice of Sunni insurgents, would be asked to participate.”

The second point has to do with Iran – doing exactly the opposite of the slimy President Backbone’s policy of weasely aggression:
“Bush's speech should recognize that Iran has legitimate interests in security in Iraq and the Persian Gulf region, and he should pledge that the United States will not use Iraq as a springboard for action against the Iranian regime.
These implicit security guarantees -- if met by a proper response from Iran -- could be the basis for a broad U.S.-Iranian dialogue and an eventual regional conference to endorse and implement the work of the Baghdad conference.”
Actually, to this point should be added that the U.S. should, over the last month, have been making much of the elections in Iran, which repudiated the President and the various hardliners. Instead, the election has been greeted with zip – because it occurred in the great American blindspot, which pretends that Iran is a tyranny run by mad mullahs. Iran is definitely run by too many mullahs, but then again … so is Iraq. And so is Saudi Arabia.
Now, LI is aware of the fact that Hoagland’s proposal wishes away President Backbone. The point of discussing alternatives like this is simply to start filling in the space of opposition to the continued war criminal policy of the White House krewe. Congress is beginning to assert itself. Of course, one of the things that should be done – just to start the discussion – is calling the Iranian Study group before a committee. This should be done solely to amuse us all with Bush’s oedipal rage that those people – his daddy’s friends – are back in D.C. President Backbone, while a terrible president, is at least amusing when he gets into one of his oedipal rages, and what else is the putz for but to make us laugh at him?
But the other thing calling the ISG would do would be to start loosening the lock of the administration on the policy choices before us in Iraq. At the moment, they have the same binary form as the power on the TV clicker – on and off, stay or go. Our notion is that the policy choices are more like the channels on that clicker –potentially different shows. One channel is off the air – the channel formed around every reason and goal that the U.S. was proclaiming in 2003. Even the Economist knows this, underneath the irrationality of its defense of the escalation. The American soldiers and the Iraqis are to be murdered in defense of the power relations that keep such as the editors of the Economist in bar tabs and speech fees.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bush's speech: the expected and the unexpected

Everybody is a little let down by the Bush speech. Before the speech, White House aides were saying that Bush was going to speak against a background of Sister Machine Gun singing Hole in the Ground:

“Cut down by the look in your eyes
Never satisfied by your goddamn lies
There's nowhere left for me to go
Living in a river of sin
Never thinking about the shit I'm swimming in
Don't think I'm ever coming home

There's a hole in the ground
There's a hole in the sky
And there's no deeper place where all the pigs can die”

In the event, Bush couldn’t find Jenna’s CD. So the speech zeroed out as the dull cadences of Bush on the serious channel convinced many that he'd gotten into Laura's valium. The last couple minutes caught some off guard, though, when the Rebel in Chief put on his Barbara Bush wig and just sat there, silently, while a voiceover played. According to my notes, it went:

“They're probably watching me. Well,
let them. Let them see what kind of
a person I am.
(A pause, as the fly
lights on George's
I'm not going to swat that fly. I
hope they are watching. They'll see...
they'll see... and they'll know...
and they'll say... 'why, she wouldn't
even harm a fly...'

George continues to gaze ahead into nothing.

According to a poll taken afterwards among Republican voters, Bush is still so popular that he is the model for the candidate they want in 2008. They want the son of a billionaire who is spectacularly unsuccessful at business, pulled out of several jams by his daddy’s friends, given a sweetheart deal on a sports franchise, and leveraged into a meaningless public office the only power of which is to pardon capital offenses or not. If such a person can’t be found, 70% of GOP voters said they’d be willing to consider one of the members of the Billionaire Boys Club, whose parole could be speeded up just in time for the 2008 election.

ps - in a significant development on the brownnoser front, The Corner has come up with a label for our Churchill that will now officially replace Rebel-in-Chief. This is from the sparkling mind of Larry Kudlow, the man who reported, on the basis of the NYSE runup in October, a stunning sweep by the Republican party:

"President Bush—aka President Backbone—may be fighting an uphill battle in Iraq, but he is sure fighting."

Thus, the heirs of Burke dig the old man up and pee in his skull's gaping mouth! Conservatism today - as hot as a Fox Reality Show!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the expulsion of the triumphant beast

LI’s mind, this morning, keeps drifting to the title of one of Giordano Bruno’s pamphlets: The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. There seems to be something magically coordinate between that title and the scheduled appearance of President Bush this evening. Bush is, of course, going to announce that the final result of the listening tour he conducted among his cabinet, numerous public toilets at D.C. subway stations, and in the attic of his ranch in Crawford has led him to chose to send 20,000 phantom soldiers to Iraq in the hope that this will lead to victory. Victory will come, according to the President, when the stars are covered with blood, the night is as bright as the day, and the last Islamofascist is strangled with the guts of the last polar bear.

Yes, there is some coordination between Bruno’s mock apocalypse and the apocalyptic mockery of this Presidency.

The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast was an expensive pamphlet. It cost Bruno his hide – officially, he was burned at stake by the Church because of the heretical views he expressed in it. Of course, those views had to be found by trained allegorists, since the pamphlet is a dialogue about the ‘reformation’ of the Zodiac. It appears that Jupiter is unsatisfied with the Zodiac’s current figures, old guys from long decayed systems of superstition. Momus, acting as the devil’s helper, suggests many criticisms of these figures to the Lord of Lords – for instance, he says of Orion

„On this, Neptune asked, what, o Gods, do you want to do with my favorite, my dear, Orion is the one I’m talking about, who, as some etymologists believe, causes the heavens out of pure fear to urinate? Then Momus answered: Let me, o Gods, make a suggestion! There’s a Napolitan saying that goes, the macaroni falls into the cheese – which is what we are faced with. This one truly understands performing miracles on every side, and as Neptune well knows, he can wander over the waves of the sea without sinking, yes, without getting his feet wet, and in consequence he can do other beautiful little tricks – now, lets send him down [to exist] among men.“ (my translation of a German translation )

To which Jove said:

“Now do you know, said Jove, what I am deciding to do concerning that one [Orion] in order to avoid any possible future scandal? I want him to go down to earth; and I shall command that he lose all power of performing bagatelles, impostures, acts of cunning kind actions, and other miracles that are of no worth, because I do not want him together with the other to be in a position to destroy whatever excellence and dignity are found and exist in things necessary to the commonwealth of the world.” (translated by Arthur D

Now, if the Zodiac is to be reformed, and superstition is to be swept from the skies like so many old cobwebs carried off by a good huswife’s broom, one would expect that a sort of festival of reason would install, in their place, symbols of our mental dignity. O shades of the French Revolution! But this is to underestimate Bruno’s own peckerwood sense of dialectics – for Bruno, the ludicrous is not opposed to reason, but exists at its secret thumping heart. Thus, Jove suggests sending an ass up to the sky – asinine reason, heehawing its way through infinity! which necessarily encompasses nothingness…

This tickles the line of thought I’ve been pursuing lo these many and weary posts through this blog. But lets return to one of the tricks of our own urinating Orion – with which I began. While not exactly a giant hunter – the Bush administration’s giant hunter is best known for scattershooting an old lawyer – certainly the administration seems to love engaging in sleight of hand games. And LI suspects that reforming the zodiac – taking down the war culture – has to be the end result of opposing the Bush administration. It isn’t a question of just withdrawing from Iraq - it is a question of destroying a whole system of superstitions, the economic and cultural interlocking of a giant, war producing mindset – planetset in the name of … well, that is the question.

LI has noted the vast fluffing of General Petraeus in the press. David Ignatius publishes another paen in his WAPO column today. The subject is Petraeus’ apparently brilliant insight that successful counter-insurgency strategies don’t involve the massive projection of force guided by the precept of optimally guarding each individual soldier from risk. Wow! If this is what it takes to be a military genius, I suppose LI should apply to West Point – we made this point what, two years ago? Three years ago? Here’s Ignatius on Petraeus’ field manual:

The field manual summarizes some of the lessons that commanders have learned in Iraq: Long-term success "depends on the people taking charge of their own affairs and consenting to the government's rule." Killing insurgents "by itself cannot defeat an insurgency." Local commanders "have the best grasp of their situations" and should have the freedom to adapt and react to local conditions. As many officers ruefully admit, the Army is learning these lessons three years late -- but perhaps that's still in time to make a difference.

My favorite part of the manual, which I suspect Petraeus had a big hand in drafting, is a section titled "Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency Operations." The headings give the flavor of these unconventional ideas: "Sometimes, the More You Protect Your Force, the Less Secure You May Be." (Green Zone residents, please note: "If military forces remain in their compounds, they lose touch with the people, appear to be running scared, and cede the initiative to the insurgents.") "Sometimes Doing Nothing Is the Best Reaction." "Some of the Best Weapons for Counterinsurgents Do Not Shoot." And this military version of the Zen riddle: "The More Successful the Counterinsurgency Is, the Less Force Can Be Used and the More Risk Must Be Accepted." (As the host nation takes control, "Soldiers and Marines may also have to accept more risk to maintain involvement with the people.")

The abiding lesson of this manual comes in one of Petraeus's paradoxes, and it ought to be engraved as the cornerstone of U.S. policy going forward, regardless of whether there is a troop surge: "The Host Nation Doing Something Tolerably Is Normally Better than Us Doing It Well." In making this point, Petraeus cites the godfather of counterinsurgency warriors, Gen. Creighton Abrams, who said when he was U.S. commander in Vietnam in 1971: " We can't run this thing. . . . They've got to run it."

The last paragraph is, of course, itself fluff. What we are doing Well is – protecting American troops. The same thing that General McClellan did well in 1862. Compare this to, say, our post from June 26th, 2006, with which I will end this here long long long post:

... This misses the bloody crux, the structure, the very moral economy of the American way of warfare. If forces are kept to a minimum and if force is proportioned to some threshold point beyond which you antagonize the population, you will, inevitably, suffer much higher casualties. If American soldiers winnow through a village, looking only for insurgents, they are much likely to be injured or killed than if they plow through the village in the balls out, mega-American way. And the soldiers know that. The American soldier has been trained to think that the preservation of his life is the prime objective. He has been raised in the spirit of McLellan, and advances with the firepower of Grant, which is why America always wins the wars that it loses. This is why the American soldier is good in a battlefield situation such as presented itself in WWII, or in the First Gulf War, and entirely sucks at counterinsurgency. And will always suck. Because the higher risk brings with it the question: what am I doing here? Since American interests have nothing to do with the Iraq war – it was commenced and continued solely to serve the vanity of a small D.C. clique – the only way to keep waging it as what it is in reality – the usurpation of American forces for mercenary purposes on the part of a power mad executive – is to wage it with as few American deaths as possible. The Bush doctrine converges with the Powell doctrine – overwhelming force = lucrative contracts to war contractors + lack of visible sacrifice to the Bush base.

The logic here is inexorable. Either a greater number of Americans die, or a greater number of Iraqis die. Americans have decided to pretend that the greater the number of Iraqi deaths, the more the Americans are winning. That, of course, is bullshit. Which is why the argument that the U.S. troops should stay in for humanitarian reasons is bullshit – the logic of American strategy will continue to maximize the number of Iraqi deaths, or it will have to face the repulsion of American public opinion as American deaths go racheting up. It won’t do the latter. The rulers actually fear the American population in their nasty, prolonged wars. Fear that the population doesn't want to fight. This is their worry. This is what they work at. Both parties, it goes without saying. This is what all the bogus talk about "will" is about.

They are afraid of us. Doesn't that imply that they have something to be afraid about?

Stab this war in the back.

The Basho of economics

No doubt, this is of no interest to anybody but me. So, excuses in advance. But ... guess what? The book I translated - the Basho of Economics, by Silja Graupe - has been accepted by the Ontos Press. Publication, boys and girls!

So allow me to be totally gross for a second and quote from the acceptance letter. This is so gross I advise you to shield your eyes and come back to Limited Inc when I have something better to lay before you.

Here it is. The quote. Our acceptance letter. Ha ha ha!

I just had a look at the translation. As I expected, Roger did a truly outstanding job--the result is faithful to the 'intellectual feel' of the original yet reads as smoothly and lively as an original text (and the technical terminology is recaptured expertly, with great precision and sensitivity--congratulations to both of you, Roger and Silja, to the splendid result of your intense and dedicated collaboration on this project!)

Life is good. The champagne's on me. How much is it a bottle again, bartender? ...

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Nietzsche Peace Tribunal initiative

LI checked around to see how Peace was doing this weekend. You remember peace – as in, ain’t gonna study war no more and other songs popular in kindergarten. During the hoopla that preceded putting Jerry Ford in the ground, there was surprisingly little talk about peace – which would have surprised people in the seventies. Nixon couldn’t make a foreign policy move without invoking Peace. Even Reagan would genuflect to Peace.

Interestingly, I don’t have an aural memory of Bush using the word. Surely he has at some point – but not as though Peace were, ultimately, a Goddess that we must assuage. Talking about this with my brother the other day, I told him that there is a phrase, hypocrisy is the tithe vice pays to virtue. He repeated the phrase a little doubtfully – my bro immediately gets suspicious when I get all epigrammatic and shit. He didn’t think it lessened Nixon’s crimes that he used the word Peace. Myself, I was just trying to look on the bright side!

The first thing I noticed is that the newspapers are floating another trivial project – a mere 100 billion dollars to “replace” our aging nuclear missiles with brand new ones, which might require underground testing. Now, if somebody was talking about spending 100 billion dollars to extend health coverage for people in my income bracket (the botched lowest 10 percent), there would, of course, be an outcry. We can’t do things like that. But for the peculiar geometric shape we all know and love, the Pentagon, 100 billion dollars is really a computer blip. After all, that 100 billion will flow to the people who need and deserve it most – the network of war industries out there, just aching to employ our finest engineers, who in turn are always just aching to see Free Enterprise unleashed upon the lazy masses. There’s nothing like an exception in an ideology to make it go down like sugared urine.

We did like the comments by one of the Pentagon Generals who, obviously, was interrupted in the middle of some sweet, erotic daydream about launching his pretties on the fuckin’ Russkie Islamofascists:

“Administration officials and military officers like General James Cartwright, head of the Strategic Command, which controls the nation's nuclear arsenal, argue that because the United States provides a nuclear umbrella for so many allies, it is critical that its stockpile be as reliable as possible.

"We will not 'un-invent' nuclear weapons, and we will not walk away from the world," Cartwright said in an interview. "Right now, it is not the nation's position that zero is the answer to the size of our inventory."

He added: "So, if you are going to have these weapons, they should be safe, they should be able to be secured, and they should be reliable if used."

Safety and reliability! That’s the ticket. If we must kill 2 million people, we want them to be the right 2 million people, after all. What kind of barbarians do you think we are? The NYT newspaper reporter did not record if he zipped up before or after this statement of the case, but surely those strong words must have left some telltale stain upon his uniform trousers.

Looking around for more hopeful Peace stuff, we went to the blog of the Perdana Peace Initiative, supposedly launched to criminalize war. Unfortunately, the signatories of the blog, all members of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal, have an inverted idea of peace. For them, peace seems to involve the total increase of conflict.

It was not Saddam Hussein’s death warrant that Nouri Al-Maliki signed so publicly but his own political and moral downfall along with that of the militias and gangs he is leading. The haste and the glee with which Maliki rushed through the execution exposes clearly the sole division that exists in Iraq, between the occupation and its local lackeys and the Iraqi population and its resistance to America's murderous agenda. This execution finds its place within an American strategy that at the least seeks to humiliate Iraq and at worst aims to foment mass civil strife if not a wider regional conflict.

The criminal Maliki government cannot now be recognised by any
government, institution, association or citizen as either a protector of Iraq and its people, or of legality and Iraqi custom.
Only the Iraqi national popular resistance is the guarantor and
protector of Iraqi sovereignty and the continuity of the Iraqi state.

The national popular resistance is the only legal authority that can
represent the Iraqi people and determine a path towards peace and
stability in Iraq.”

Notice the very sound of this - it is the language of the secret policeman as he breaks your glasses. It goes on and on, pretty much an anti-Shiite screed. While of the opinion that Hussein was lynched and his lynching used as a sign that the government and its allies desire the crushing of the Sunni population, we would think that a peace organization would do some general deploring and then advise negotiation – for negotiation between all parties in Iraq is, really, the only way out. There are models for this – for instance, the negotiation that ended the war in Northern Iraq between Kurdish factions in the 90s. Negotiation involves, first, less intransigence about legitimacy. It involves, second, a minimum of self policing. But such is not the route taken by this supposed peace organization, which apparently thinks that there is one thing called the national popular resistance. If only there were! And the use of the usual branding words – Hussein as the legitimate head of the government, Maliki as a criminal, etc., etc. – are so much useless confetti. Hussein, it should perhaps be recalled to these representatives of the Peace goddess, launched a devastating war against Iran in 1980, thus making legitimacy a mask for the far greater crime of warmongering.

There are legislators in the Kuwaiti parliament who are calling for retaliation against those governments that have expressed shock at Saddam’s death. What do you expect from Kuwaiti parliamentarians? But this antique, militant and futile language from supposed peace activists is as depressing as the tortures, explosions, and casualties it countenances. Poor Bertrand Russell, whose name is now being used as a shell to disguise calls to further mass murder! LI is very tempted to form a real Peace tribunal, and name it after Nietzsche.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

America's new plan in Iraq: theocracy and mass murder

The NYT pokes through the ashes of Saddam Hussein’s execution in a long article that tells us what this occupation has wrought. In one of history’s practical jokes, the phrase that American warmongers can’t get enough of when talking about Iran – those mad mullahs, that mullah ridden country, the word mullah repeated like a charm against the evil of the evil axis – has become the term that designates the government that has been installed, step by step, in Iraq, with the Americans playing the role of sublimely unconscious instruments. This fact, somehow, never crops up when the Americans are discussing why they are in Iraq – the official version, which has been erected like the Berlin wall in the MSM, is that Americans stand for “democracy.” Here is a salient paragraph from the NYT article about Iraq’s “democracy”:

“Mr. Khalilzad had suggested that the Iraqis get a written ruling approving the execution from Midhat al-Mahmoud, the chief judge of Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council; Mr. Mahmoud refused. Then, the Iraqis played their trump card: a call to high-ranking Shiite clerics in the holy city of Najaf, asking for approval from the marjaiya, the supreme authority in Iraqi Shiism. When his officials reported that they had it, Mr. Maliki signed a letter authorizing the hanging. It was 11:45 p.m.”

Let’s be clear, as your average Pentagon voxbox likes to say: the government in Iraq is another Shiite mullah led state. Victory – the precious relic that Bush has carried over from his cheerleader days – means simply that the Shiite mullahs crush the Sunnis. That’s it. Victory is the triumph of a paler form of Khomenei-ism, and this has been acknowledged, in practice, by this administration. The Sunni insurgents have every reason, at the moment, to fight, and fight as hard as they can, since their extermination is on the table. The upcoming murders of American soldiers, the blood of whom is on Bush’s head, will only serve either to cement the mass murder and the installation of a theocracy or to fail at that mission. That’s it.

The good news from Iraq yesterday was that corpses were found on Haifi street hung from streetlamps – a more merciful form of murder, surely, than getting the dentist drill through your eyeball, favored by the Badr brigade and the Mahdi militia.

Lawrence's Etruscans

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