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26 June 2007

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Publius

"At the beginning of this, just after the US intervention in Iraq began, I was solemnly assured by a young woman who was fresh from graduate school and working deep in the heart of the neocon labyrinth, that the Arabs and Muslims had no culture or ways worth saving and that they needed to be "re-made" into something worthwhile. Clearly, she thought of them as "untermenschen." Considering her own heritage I thought that a particularly shameful belief. Some at the table, made up of those similar to her, protested but not many. Surprised, I asked her if she thought it would be easy to do that. She said that the level of difficulty would vary, but the job must be done. I hope she has relatives in the war, and not just in the think tanks and political science departments."

One of the unfortunate lessons I've learned over the years is that neither the Israelis nor their most fervid American supporters seem to have learned anything meaningful from history. They've clearly learned all about the iron heel philosophy, but the rest is lacking. That the Israelis and their supporters view others as untermenschen is truly disappointing. One wonders if all of the support over the years has been worthwhile.

It seems these people are no better in power positions than are their adversaries. Of course, we in the U.S. have a problem with that as well.

TR Stone

I did not see the Rosen report, but assuming it is true, could this be the truth telling moment in this war's reporting?

Montag

In Leonard Wibberly's comic novel, "The Mouse That Roared," he discusses the founding of the independent Duchy of Grand Fenwick by Sir Roger Fenwick--an English freebooter during the Hundred Years War. His description of Sir Roger's philosophy pretty much fits the anti-intellectualism of the Neocons as well:

"In the few fragments that remain of his own story, he records that he learned but three things in two years at Oxford. The first, on which he placed the greatest value, was that 'Yea' might be turned into 'Nay' and vice versa if a sufficient quantity of wordage was applied to the matter. The second was that in any argument, the victor is always right, and the third that though the pen is mightier than the sword, the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given moment."

Charles

Nir Rosen is someone "who talks to . . . real enemies.

Thank goodness somebody does, there's a better chance of what they actually say being reported.

Nir wrote "In the Belly of the Green Bird" I believe, don't have my files handy, I may be mistaken, but if that's correct I remember it because it was worth remembering, my second highest book club recommendation.

4 billion

Babak,
The reason it is hard to find precedent is that said action is merrily the latest exploit in the thousand year war, and history gets a bit sketchy before that, a severe case of the victor writing the story.

The reason it has flared up is that the 'buggers' are sitting on our oil and one cannot get too righteous about oil, not nearly as much as Hun.

DH

Michael Murry,

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

jr786

Babak:

Not perfect, but the analogy is apt enough. It was inspired in part by Col. Lang’s report of the young woman’s conquistadora spirit and its convergence with the missionary zeal of the concluding sentence of the 2002 NSS: These values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every society—and the duty of protecting these values against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages.

The ultimate triumph of Materialism depends on the complete eradication of Idealism, now reduced to a few bastions of religious, traditionalist societies, well-intentioned reactionary movements (Muslim mainly, although history is littered with the remains of others - the Fugitives, for example) and anachronistic individuals. You have to knock down the old gods in order to raise new ones. For a literary example, in terms of the Spanish, consider D.H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent, a plea to resuscitate the Old Gods as a means of resisting colonialism.

An old story; an earlier example of which can be found buried in William Vaughan Moody’s anti-imperialist poem The Quarry (1900). The title of the poem puns on the double meaning of quarry as both something hunted and a place to extract something from, both of which are included in Moody’s theme: the helplessness of the aging, quietist cultures of the East in standing up to the predatory advances of imperialism. These are represented in the poem by various brutes of prey and one giant bird that comes swooping down upon a hapless, hunted elephant. The poem compounds images of the East through the principle figure of this “sacred elephant, snow-white” that burdened with physical and historical baggage, runs for its life through an ancient and decrepit Eastern landscape. At one point:

Blind as the eyes of pearl in Buddha’s brow
his beaded eyes stared thwart upon the road;
and feebler than the doting knees of eid,
his joints, of size to swing the builder’s crane
across the war-walls of the Anakim,
made vain and shaken haste.

An obscure and subtle metaphor, but back then the critique was that religious quietism prevented Muslims and Hindus from resisting Imperialism. Today, it's all that remains.

It's hard to destroy a civilization, but devaluing it makes things easier. The Spanish knew that better than anyone. Nothing has changed.

Babak Makkinejad

r786:

Yes, "God is dead" and she has just been able to discover a new god called "Freedom" to justify her actions and existence.

The Spaniards destroyed a "Civilization" as you say but they also created a new one in its place. Moreover, the Spaniards were willing to extend their institutions and laws to their colonies; they wanted new Hispanified peasants since they wanted to replicate the Iberian social organization in the new colonies. So they settled there - the equivalent would have been for US to make Iraq a US Dominion and extend the Laws of the United States there.

The Arabs also created a new "Civilization" when they destroyed the existing political and social structures of the Near East. Likewise for the Ottomans. None of these people were quietist in their Time of power; look at repeated wars of Muslims against Hindus in the territory of present day Pakistan and India.

And Chinese were not quietist when they kept on invading Vietnam over the centuries.

In my opinion, the quietism came centuries later when these non-Western people had become too dumb, too fat, and too happy to care about anything. The Western people kicked them out of their complacency and caused them to examine themselves, their traditions, and their institutions. And I think this process is irreversible. Look at how Arabs are being taught by US and Israel how to fight; for example.

Napoleon had warned exactly against such a thing; "There is a Dragon sleeping in the Orient, do not wake it up!" Quietism is a policy prescription more fitting to an Imperial power in its hour of triumph and dominance - it blunts the engenderment of opposing forces!

It is not "materialism" that will be the undoing of the current order - it is its inherent barbarism; i.e. belief in the Collective Powers of Man. It was for reasons such as that the Rabbis rejected Rome as being God-less; no tears shed for Rome's decline by them!

johnf

Charles

>Nir wrote "In the Belly of the Green Bird" I believe, don't have my files handy, I may be mistaken, but if that's correct I remember it because it was worth remembering, my second highest book club recommendation.

Yes, he did write it.

Different Clue

Leila,

I would say your father was right about some Americans and wrong about others. Unfortunately, the Americans-in-power are the ones he was right about.
A country this huge has many different point-of-view
groups in it. To be extremely over-simplistic, my feeling is that we have the Bush Americans and the UnBush Americans. Very few Bush Americans post here. But the Bush Americans have the power right now.
To give an example of an UnBush American in action, during Desert Storm One, I remember Representative Henry Gonzales speaking in Congress condemning in harshest terms possible the ongoing destruction of archeological sites all over
Iraq. And in runup to the current war, I remember either hearing or reading that a unified mass of Museum Directors, Art Historians, etc., from all over America, presented petitions, letters, etc., to
the Bush Administration authorities pleading for American Occupation Planning
to secure the Iraqi Museums,
Libraries, etc., against the
inevitable looting attempts.
Gonzales and those Museum Directors represent UnBush America. The Buscist authorities of course rejected those pleas. Rumsfeld's gleeful gloating about the looting represented Bush America.
If it makes you feel any better, bear in mind that Bush America hates UnBush American culture just as deeply as Bush America hates
Arab culture, and is trying to destroy our culture just as hard as it is trying to destroy Arab culture. Our constitutional republican form of governance is a part
of UnBush American culture, for example, and you see how
hard the Bush Americans are working to destroy that.

Binh

Glad to see Nir Rosen's work on this blog. He's a great journalist (and very brave for staying in the Red Zone in Iraq). He also did a great piece on the plight of Iraq's enormous refugee population in Syria/Jordan that appeared in NY Times Magazine(?) a couple months ago.

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