one well-coordinated blow, the
entire free world has been paralyzed. It is as if a rock-wielding
David has hit a glass Goliath straight between the eyes, shattering
the imperial colossus and bringing down the whole top-heavy
apparatus with an earthshaking roar. The
entire US government was shut down. President George W.
Bush, in Florida at the time, was flown at to the safety of
Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Top government officials
and congressional leaders were secreted
to an undisclosed location: US fighter jets patrolled
the skies above the nation's capital.
OF THE TEMPLE
devastating of all was the attack on the Pentagon, which took
a devastating hit 800 dead and not only in terms
of physical damage. If anything was considered invulnerable,
then surely this building, the sanctum sanctorum and architectural
symbol of American military power, was it. What could be safer
terrain than the capital of a world empire, a city where the
fate of nations is routinely decided, where the supplicants
of the world gather to humbly present their petitions to the
Senate and lobby the White House?
sheer fragility of the American Imperium is what is painfully
apparent here. Painful most especially to the US government,
whose complete inability to defend the country while claiming
the mantle of the world's only superpower is exposed for all
to see. It is the weakness of an entity that has grown too
big, too overextended, too blinkered by pride (some would
call it hubris) to see the pitfalls of the policies it has
pursued, not only in the Middle East but around the world,
from the Balkans to the Far East. Our foreign policy of global
military and political intervention in the internal affairs
of other nations, from Bosnia to Belarus, has produced what
policy analyst Chalmers Johnson has referred to as "blowback."
In his book
of that title, as if in anticipation of the perplexed "Why?"
of the average Americans'reaction to this carnage, Johnson
when we come to see our country as both profiting from and
trapped within the structures of an empire of its own making
will it be possible for us to explain a great many elements
of the world that otherwise perplex us."
response of a weak adversary is always to exaggerate its own
power, to make a great show of faux strength that mostly amounts
to a lot of noise, and that is precisely what the US is now
doing. We have pledged to go after the perpetrators or those
who gave them safe harbor, and the usual
parade of laptop
bombardiers has declared
"war" on "the enemy." But who or what
is the enemy? And, most of all, where are they?
the lack of any tangible, stationary enemy say, a particular
country or even a group of individuals shouldn't stop
us from making a formal declaration of war: "Let's not
be daunted by the mysterious and partially hidden identity
of our attackers," says Robert
Kagan in the Washington Post. "It will soon
become obvious that there are only a few terrorist organizations
capable of carrying out such a massive and coordinated strike."
If there are only "a few," then why not get more
bin Laden, the all-purpose Arab arch-villain, is routinely
blamed for any and all terrorist acts outside of Northern
Ireland and the jungles of South America. However, the ambitious
Kagan co-author, along with Bill
Kristol, of an infamous article proposing that the goal
of US foreign policy must be "global hegemony"
is after more than that:
will become apparent that those organizations could not have
operated without the assistance of some governments, governments
with a long record of hostility to the United States and an
equally long record of support for terrorism. We should now
immediately begin building up our conventional military forces
to prepare for what will inevitably and rapidly escalate into
confrontation and quite possibly war with one or more of those
powers. Congress, in fact, should immediately declare war.
It does not have to name a country. It can declare war against
those who have carried out today's attack and against any
nations that may have lent their support."
DECLARATION OF FATUOSITY
should declare "war" on a nameless enemy, about
whose whereabouts we haven't a clue as if some empty
resolution penned by a parcel of politicians could possibly
erase or rectify the horror of the past 48 hours. Surely,
a formal declaration of war against the Unknown Enemy would
only underscore our own impotence. Such a fatuous proclamation
would turn tragedy into farce a talent politicians
of all stripes have in abundance.
see if I get this straight: Tim McVeigh was a "lone nut"
who blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building all by himself,
but the World Trade Center terrorist plot just had
to be aided and abetted by a foreign power. If Mr. Kagan has
information that "some governments" cooperated with
or even knew about the attack in advance, then why doesn't
he name them? The reason is because, to Kagan and his ilk,
it doesn't matter who did it the point it to
strike out at anyone or anything within range.
rage expressed in terms of a self-conscious demagoguery is
what we get from David
Horowitz, the wild man of the Neocon
Right. He asks how it was possible for 4 commercial airliners
to be hijacked from major airports within a set time frame,
wonders how the Pentagon the Pentagon
could've been pulverized so thoroughly, and avers:
know the answer. America is soft. America is in denial. America
is embarrassed at the idea that it has enemies and must protect
Is our alleged "softness" to blame for this horrific
tragedy the softness that prevents us from completely
militarizing America, and converting a free society into a
prison? America in denial? But how could that be, when
so many millions and so
much rhetoric has been expended in the war on terrorism?
No expense was spared, either in terms of tax dollars or basic
civil liberties and still it happened.
more absurd is the idea that our government is somehow "embarrassed"
by all the enemies it has made, worldwide: you certainly couldn't
tell that from our actions. Indeed, the whole point of being
a superpower is that you don't have to be embarrassed
about anything: you brazenly disregard moral principle, and
go right ahead and bomb a Sudanese
aspirin factory to get a presidential sex scandal off
the front pages. The arbitrary and often deadly exercise of
overwhelming military force is what being a superpower is
but Horowitz would ascribe this to Clinton's personal evil,
and dismiss any more systematic critical analysis of our role
in the world as simple "anti-Americanism." But the
real anti-Americans are those who would sacrifice thousands
more of their fellow citizens in defense of a policy and a
mindset that is pure hubris. Talk about blaming America first:
Horowitz spends most of his piece attacking those "soft"
Americans who have "been so eager to cash in on 'peace
dividends' that it has stripped itself of even prudent defenses."
Oh, how dare those selfish soft Americans try to get some
of their hard-earned tax dollars back from a thieving federal
government. Horowitz's big solution is yawn
a missile defense "to protect against even worse terrorist
acts in the future." Yeah, but what about the sort of
attacks we have just experienced a bunch of knife-wielding
terrorists who commandeer a plane and ram it into the biggest,
most visible symbols of American military and financial preeminence?
What he doesn't want to admit is that there is no defense
against such acts short of abolishing the Constitution
and instituting martial law, that is.
is in denial that much of the world hates us," rants
Horowitz, "and will continue to hate us. Because we are
prosperous, and democratic and free." But the US government
is perfectly well aware that large sections of the globe have
no love for the US government, and yet this has not had the
slightest effect on US foreign policy. The whole Arab world
is united in its opposition to our mindlessly pro-Israel stance
including the Saudi and Kuwaiti regimes that we prop
up with our troops and treasure but that has not altered
our position one iota, no matter who occupies the White House.
It is so typical of the paranoid and reflexively defensive
Horowitz to inveigh against all those terrible foreigners
who supposedly hate us because we're so wonderful. But I wouldn't
count on either prosperity or freedom if the war Horowitz
and Kagan would so dearly love to see declared and fought
should ever come to pass. For the only way we can "win"
such a battle is to lose the very values that we want to defend
in the first place.
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