Archive for November of 2005
Together with another exhortational recital by Bush. Both are tedious repititions of the same empty slogans used since 2002 in the Run Up. “Stay the course, when Iraq stands up, we stand down”, etc. You've heard it before. Laura Rosen has a link to the bromide brochure/strategy here.
This or any ideological regime can not suddenly become another animal. To expect details, a management focus, or recognition of the empirical situation on the ground would be to ask for an ideological regime to self destruct.
P.S. Don't forget Rumsfeld's self-desribed “epiphany” at his press conference yesterday, when he realized over the weekend (he says) that what would really help is if we stopped calling the insurgents in Iraq “insurgents”.
UPDATE: 30.11.05 10:50 PM The original art for this post was replaced. This version adds Victor Davis Hanson as an apparition and turns Rumsfeld into his self image of “Mr. Brain”. The revisions seemed more appropriate for where we are.
All in a shameless effort to manipulate the public at large into compliance, fear and trembling (apologies Soren).
Yet here is the real thing. The new conservative Polish government has just released documents from the archives, including this 1979 Soviet plan to wage nuclear war to seize Western Europe.
The NATO response is depicted by the Soviets as the fairly precise strikes to interdict the follow-on echelons arriving from the Soviet Union to support the then-Group of Soviet Forces Germany. (Wow, is that weird typing that again after all these years). Note the larger Soviet warheads and less accurate delivery vehicles (the SS-20s were only beginning deployment in 1979) meant Western Europe was largely doomed to be a radioactive wasteland. Under the plan, however, the Soviets expected to halt combat operations at the Rhine.
But this is reality. Not a blown up subway. Not a series of color charts. Nuclear obliteration. It puts the fear mongering and psychological AgitProp of the Global War on Terrorism (tm) in perspective. That was real nuclear catastrophe - a whole continent wiped out in 7 days. That was real conflict with a totalitarian adversary. The threat from Al Qaeda is of a different order, and Condi, you have yet to apologize for your blatantly dishonest “threat of mushroom cloud” nonesense from the Fall of 2002.
From Salon, a powerfully insightful column, The Long March of Dick Cheney.
A couple of the key grafs:
Nov. 24, 2005 | The hallmark of the Dick Cheney administration is its illegitimacy. Its essential method is bypassing established lines of authority; its goal is the concentration of unaccountable presidential power. When it matters, the regular operations of the CIA, Defense Department and State Department have been sidelined.
Richard Nixon is the model, but with modifications. In the Nixon administration, the president was the prime mover, present at the creation of his own options, attentive to detail, and conscious of their consequences. In the Cheney administration, the president is volatile but passive, firm but malleable, presiding but absent. Once his complicity has been arranged, a closely held “cabal” — as Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, calls it — wields control.
Within the White House, the office of the vice president is the strategic center. The National Security Council has been demoted to enabler and implementer. Systems of off-line operations have been laid to evade professional analysis and a responsible chain of command. Those who attempt to fulfill their duties in the old ways have been humiliated when necessary, fired, retired early or shunted aside. In their place, acolytes and careerists indistinguishable from true believers in their eagerness have been elevated.
Then the article, by Sidney Blumenthal, goes on to note what the Stiftung has been saying for over a month now:
Cheney is a master bureaucrat, proficient in the White House, the agencies and departments, and Congress. The many offices Cheney has held add up to an extraordinary résumé. His competence and measured manner are often mistaken for moderation. Among those who have misjudged Cheney are military men — Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft and Wilkerson, who lacked a sense of him as a political man in full. As a result, they expressed surprise at their discovery of the ideological hard man. Scowcroft told the New Yorker recently that Cheney was not the Cheney he once knew. But Scowcroft and the other military men rose by working through regular channels; they were trained to respect established authority. They are at a disadvantage in internal political battles with those operating by different rules of warfare. Their realism does not account for radicalism within the U.S. government.
Blumenthal is too kind. Powell, Wilkerson et al. were powerless not only because they fail to understand that they confronted an ideology — an ideology far more malignant and encompassing than the convenient “neocon” label. Powell et al. failed because they lacked a coherent philosophy of their own, other than competent crisis management or mastery of details. It is comical now to hear Wilkerson peddle around town that org chart reform is needed to constrain what happened. Wilkerson sadly denied ideology was a factor in what happened against Powell, claiming that the influence of the Vice President was not ideological. No wonder OSD and EOVP treated them with contempt.
(And let us not forget Wilkerson et al. kept silent up through October 2005 and failed to speak out before November 2004 when their alleged warnings could have made a real difference). But he has a book coming to plug. Coupled with Powell's pathological need to ensure that the Powell brand was protected at all costs, their inability to recognize and confront a radical ideology and respond with a coherent vision of their own guaranteed their eclipse.
But read the whole Salon piece here. And Happy Holidays to all Acolytes of Freedom!
“Open Source Media”, nee the mercifully abandoned “Pajama Media”, launched their contribution to “the Movement” die Bewegung. Bizarrely, they boast a logo brazenly ripped off from the ridiculous Lucent “innovation ring”.
As noted by James Wolcott, OSM in its the inaugural launch is consistent with its squadrismo heritage and features calls for violence on the opposition. It is up to you now, Squadristi, to fullfill your destiny and become the blog of “Anti Throught”, to complete your mission to overthrow the Enlightenment and decadent bourgeois liberalism. We look forward to monitoring your calls for action and hate, emotion over reason and the marginalization of the rational. La Razza and il pugno are your masters now.
UPDATE: 22.11.05 12:30 PM
Slashdot reports that OSM wants to change its name *back* to “Pajama Media”. Apparently OSM has been beaten about the head over its misuse of the “open source” meme. They seem to have stood their ground just like the Italian 8th Army on the Don in December 1942. Details here.
And equally inevitable? That he would be revealed as a shameless self-promoter and huckster who traded insider gossip for critical thinking.
What was unexpected? That others are finally catching on to his schtick.
Bob Woodward is a courtier, attending the powerful and the elites. He sells their stories in return for access. He is the utlimate safe courtier, because he will never risk upsetting the system. To do so would be to lose access, and thus the lifeblood of “Bob Woodward Enterprises”.
But the game changed on him with the Bush Administration. Their feral zeal in (a) ensuring message discipline; (b) rewarding fellow travellers and punishing critical thinking; and (c) transformation of media and politiical discourse via the politics of fear, anger and resentment is unique in modern American history. And to gain access to this mutated Court, one had to be complicit, one way or the other.
Bob Woodward has now been spit out by the debased Court system. He must do “the walk of shame” home now, in front of us all. Forced to come clean finally with colleagues and the “rabid dog” Fitzpatrick. The only ones in the dark are his putative readers in the public. Yet we see him now as he is, beleaugered, tired, spent and bereft of credibility.
UPDATE4:15 PM 09.11.05
To answer the questions, yes, the podcasts also will be available for subscription via iTunes shortly. Some php coding remains to be done.
UPDATE1:40 PM 10.11.05
To those worried, be assured Helga definitely will be back, and taking no guff!
As noted below, the transformation of the United States towards a MachtStat post 9-11 is the most dismaying aspect of 2001-2005. While not complete by any means, the process of change is far advanced by late 2005.
At heart is the subtle recognition and acceptance that a citizen is now a Supplicant before the State. Such a role of the citizen is wholly outside the American tradition. Yet the belief is shared or accepted to some degree by elements across almost all the political spectrum and across the three branches of government.
Overstating the case?
Consider. The ethos of the MachtStat finds expression in different forms in different social contexts.
In the domestic sphere, it can appear as the NSLs as discussed in an earlier post. Or the broader reconfiguration of the role of the State, from (a) provider of social services and inclusive protections for all to (b) a referee and Guardian of a social Darwinian climate of competition, entitlement and struggle (all sold under various guises of "freedom" and other self-actualizing bromides).
Or in the foreign policy context, the MachtStat finds expression in celebration of power, of the (Leninist) concept of "Who, Whom?". In some quarters, the self congratulatory (onanistic?) celebration of power is bleated as "Unipolar Eras". Others hide with less strident formulations. Nonetheless, the shared philosophy is one of militarization, of world history and relationships seen through the binary lense of forward or back, win or lose, struggle, war and threat.
Below, the Culture of Empire concept was introduced by noting that fear and "shape of the mushroom cloud" propoganda had done much to subert or undermine traditional memes of civil liberty and suspicion of government encroachment. But that is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg.
To subvert the civil religion of the American experience of individualism and freedom and replace it with obeissance to Macht (in all its guises) is an enterprise far beyond the means of one Administration and its flacks in the media. There are two aspects here: (i) the constituencies supporting this transformation; and (ii) the pedagogic/agitprop means of message distribution.
And one aspect of that broader distribution channel, targeted at the young, is entertainment and specifically videogames.