If the millennium madness that has gripped the world in the weeks leading up to this climactic night is a portent of things to come, then the 21st century promises to be even crazier, bloodier, and more tyrannical than the last. Let's get past the official optimism and all the Panglossian hype about how the ubiquity of the Internet, free trade, and capital-D Democracy are going to usher in a global utopia: if we project the present state and mood of the world into the future, then, as Bette Davis put it in All About Eve: ""Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."
A good barometer of stormy weather to come is the spirit in which various peoples around the world are celebrating such as auspicious dawning. If we gauge the mood of the new millennium by the crazed frenzy of fear and repression leading up to this ominous night, then the new age is not exactly going to be party time.
A brief survey of worldwide party plans reveals that the poopers are in the ascendant. In Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdullah bin Jabrain, a leading Muslim cleric, flatly declared that "celebrating the holidays of the infidels is not allowed, even if its [sic] out of courtesy, because they are not holidays that Allah revealed." The conceits of universalism are so easily overthrown; not even courtesy is globally recognized as a virtue, as anyone who lives in our "multicultural" society knows all too well.
One of the great unsung benefits of globalization is that we are getting to know certain peoples very well, and beginning to realize that some regions of the world breed malevolence and hatred like dew oozing from the very earth. They are the sore spots, the hotspots, sources of conflict and constant war, and we shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that we can control or even completely understand the spasms that rack these regions. Ireland is one. The Middle East is another. What is a Westerner to make of the dour Sheik, who declaims: "Muslims are forbidden from glorifying these days, congratulating those who follow them and showing any form of happiness or joy which would recognize this heresy"?
Any form of happiness or joy is hateful to the fearsome ayatollah, whose fiery asceticism reflects the merciless glare of the desert sun. If human happiness is "heresy," then unhappiness is, presumably, a state of grace but it would be presumptuous and ultimately futile for me to go much further in analyzing the implications of the Sheik's profound utterances on the subject of how to celebrate the new year. Short of following the example of Lawrence of Arabia and going "native," or at least making a lifelong study of the subject, no Westerner can comprehend the Sheik's mindset. If and when life on other planets is discovered, we may be startled to realize that we have more in common with the inhabitants of Betelgeuse XIII than with some of our fellow humans.
The party is no merrier in Israel, that beloved theocracy, where an official council of rabbis has made it all but impossible for even foreigners to enjoy a New Year's party. Hotel owners have been told that they may not hold New Year's celebrations. While not forbidden to rent facilities to non-Jews, hotels must somehow make sure that no Jews would be admitted. Music, at any rate, is strictly forbidden at these gatherings no, not even a single verse of "Auld Lange Syne"!
This rabbinical edict intimidated the Jerusalem Hoteliers' Association into declaring that even such dreary affairs would be out of the question. Hotel owners, fearful of offending the powerful rabbinate, would rather be safe than sorry especially since a hotel in the Jewish part of town must be certified as kosher, or else go out of business. The official explanation for the restrictions is that the New Year's celebration falls on the Jewish Sabbath although it is unclear why non-Jews should be forced to obey such strictures. The high priests of the Jewish state, like the Ayatollah Abdullah, are determined that the New Year 's Eve celebration will be muted at best. No singing, no dancing, no drinking no joy. However much Jews and Arabs may conflict in the temporal world, spiritually these worshippers of a fierce desert god are brothers under the skin.
In Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, some of the more secular Palestinians are planning a "Bethlehem 2000" celebration, to be climaxed by the release of 2,000 doves at midnight symbolizing the region's hopes for peace. There's only one problem, however, perhaps emblematic of the Middle East peace process itself: doves fly by day, and sleep by night. They may not be in the mood for aerial acrobatics when the New Year kicks in. The organizers, however, are not just winging it, but are fully prepared for this contingency: the plan is to turn on the floodlights and fool the birds into thinking that day is night. If political leaders can do it to voters, maybe it will work on the far brainier doves.
The dour mood has even infected San Francisco, the ultimate party town; the Washington Times reports that "religious leaders in San Francisco, meanwhile, defeated a hotel's plans to inflate a seven-story blue martini glass on Union Square, complete with a 10-foot olive. A prayer vigil will be held there instead."
When a prayer vigil wins out over a seven-story martini glass on New Year's Eve in what Herb Caen used to call Baghdad-by-the-Bay, you know something's up. A pall of fear, mixed with sanctimony and permeated with the threat of violence, has settled over the nation and the world like a poisonous fog and the party cancellations are pouring in.
In the Imperial City, where officials urge residents to stockpile at least several days of food and other supplies, a high profile event at the downtown MCI Center, "Capital Countdown 2000," was suddenly nixed. Promoters declined to get very specific about the reason for the abrupt cancellation, but a lack of ticket sales forced another big Washington, D.C. bash at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, a black-tie charity ball, to bow out. Fearful of reenacting the Battle of Seattle, Mayor Paul Schell put the kibosh on the city's long-planned celebration. All over the country, hotels and other people are "cocooning" cowering in fear of enemies both real and imagined.
Oh yes, they have us where they want us: shivering with fright and waiting for the government to "save" us. Good God, will people never learn? What will it take for them to realize what is really going on here a sign from God? Or, perhaps, a sign from the Other Guy, His Satanic Majesty whose "hideous" visage, according to a report in the Weekly World News, has been photographed hovering over the US Capitol! If you've been stocking up on Spam and canned peaches in preparation for Y2K, you've no doubt read this story on line at the checkout stand. Now I know, I know what you're thinking: the Weekly World News is not as reliable as the staid old National Enquirer. But do yourself a favor and follow that link. Read this riveting account of how "intelligence agents" using "handheld" cameras "that are generally found on spy satellites photographed the hideously evil Face of Satan hovering over our nation's Capitol on November 17"!
The report goes on to reveal that "President Bill Clinton has ordered the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and State Department to pool resources in an unprecedented interdepartmental investigation" to get to the bottom of this mysterious apparition. The tabloid quotes "one unidentified, veteran CIA operative" as saying:
"The image is a portrait of terror unlike anything we've ever seen in this country. Is it something supernatural? Is it some kind of life form? Is it and hell yes, I'll ask the question is it Satan himself? Is it a threat to our President?"
A threat to our President hell, it is our President. Just ask the 3,000 Iraqi children who die each week as a result of US-UN sanctions imposed on that prostrate battle-scarred nation they'll tell you. Just ask the victims of the Sudan bombing, sacrificed on the altar of Bill Clinton's spin machine perhaps they will cry out from their graves, this mystic night, and testify to the Satanic power that cut them down in their tracks. But our "unidentified CIA veteran," in this shocking interview, is not far off the mark when he goes on to say:
"You want more? We're monitoring this thing from space and from the ground around the clock and it just keeps getting darker and denser and more ominous by the day. The wind doesn't blow it. Radar can't scan it. Geiger counters can't read it. The naked human eye can't see it. You actually have to look through the lens of a million-dollar camera to even know it's there."
Our anonymous Weekly World News reporter describes the awful apparition as "sitting up there over our nation's Capitol like a crow on a clothesline, taunting our every move," and asks: "Is it somehow a sign of events either bad or good to come?" You don't need a special camera to capture the spirit of the nation and the world as it stands on the brink of the new millennium: the Weekly World News story perfectly expresses the Zeitgeist of the new age: a dark, ominous sense of foreboding.
In spite of the scientific"experts" (including economists) who assure us that everything is getting better in every way, that crow on a clothesline is indeed taunting us, and that bird is not alone: indeed, a whole flock is crowing triumphantly over their recent "victory" in Kosovo, and the loudest of these war birds are now squawking for a showdown with Saddam, with Russia, with China, with anyone who dares stand up against Washington, world headquarters of Satanic Evil.
This increasingly popular worldview that puts the US Capitol at the epicenter of evil is held not just by many conservatives, but also by large sections of the populace in the Balkans, Russia, and North Africa, and is virtually unanimous in China and the Middle East. If you want to know why just read this ABC News story headlined "Crackdowns Worldwide: Precautionary Arrests Reported in Europe, Africa, Middle East," which reports that "law enforcement and security services around the world are interrogating, detaining and arresting people with suspected links to terrorists and terror activities."
Why don't they knock on the door of the White House? There are a few people there who ought to be interrogated, detained, and arrested, for they are the biggest and most arrogant terrorists of them all. As they scour the world in search of enemies, they are exercising their imperial prerogative to corral every dissident, and round up the "usual suspects" in a global "sweep" and a show of their global reach. As a display of raw power, it is a warning and a portent of things to come.
Wars and rumors of wars dominate the news "armed conflict is currently raging in a third of the world's nations," according to a survey done by the National Defense Council Foundation. "It's going to be a very tough next 20 years," says retired NDCF executive director Army Maj. Andy Messing Jr. If the War Party has free rein in the years to come, that may be putting it lightly.
I have two questions for those of you cowering in your bunkers, preparing for the worst, quaking with fright. Now that government officials have turned you into paranoid nutballs who jump at the sound of backfiring autos and have three months worth of dried beans stored in the basement how come these same government officials are out partying? According to news reports, the State Department's top terrorism official will ring in the New Year whooping it up with Clinton on the National Mall. "I am going there to enjoy myself," says Michael A. Sheehan, who holds the exalted office of "counterterrorism coordinator" at the State Department. "There are no guarantees in life." Yeah, including the guarantee that someone hired to protect us from an alleged worldwide "threat" will report to work on the day of the impending disaster. How seriously do federal officials take their own phony "anti-terrorist" scare? "I've read all the stuff coming in," said Sheehan in response to questions, "and I intend to be there. If I see something suspicious, I'll report it to the first cop."
There's something mighty suspicious about this terrorist scare, all right, and that brings me to my second question: Whatever happened to the EgyptAir 990 investigation? How come that once-hot story seems to have slipped completely below the radar of the major media? That, you'll remember, wasn't an act of terrorism. Indeed, the "t"-word was never mentioned by government officials in connection with that case and to this day they expect us to believe that the pilot simply shut off the engine and plunged the plane into the ocean for reasons unknown. Yet now, suddenly, we have a total turnaround: from a complete unwillingness to deal with the terrorist issue to a prolonged campaign of scare-mongering and "precautionary" arrests worldwide. But if we, unlike Michael Sheehan, take the imminence of a terrorist threat seriously, then why rule out an act of terrorism in the case of EgyptAir flight 990?
Who knows what they're covering up, and what's really behind the most intense government propaganda campaign since the Kosovo war? Uncovering the web of lies woven by government spinmeisters is what we do here at Antiwar.com, and what better place to remind you of that than in my first column of the new millennium? We greet the New Year as fearfully as any of our readers, but also with hope. Hope that a new year will bring progress in the battle against the War Party. We have recently seen more improvements and new features at this site, and I am happy to report yet another success.
We have spotlighted George Szamuely's New York Press pieces as an act of homage to a great writer and in the secret hope that he would one day join the ranks of our writers and turn out a column exclusively for us. As proof that wishing sometimes does make it so, I am pleased to announce the addition of the wildly popular George Szamuely to our stable of columnists. Born in Budapest, Hungary, educated in England, he has worked as editorial writer for The Times of London, as editorial writer for The Spectator (London), and was an editor at the Times Literary Supplement. In the US, Szamuely has been equally busy, working as an associate at the Manhattan Institute, as editor at Freedom House, as film critic for Insight, as a research consultant at the Hudson Institute as well as weekly columnist for the New York Press. His work, always first-rate, has appeared in Commentary, American Spectator, National Review, the Wall Street Journal, National Interest, American Scholar, Orbis, New Criterion, Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Sunday Telegraph and now Antiwar.com.
Although George didn't come cheap by our relatively humble standards you can be sure he's worth a lot more than we're paying him. And that brings me to yet another order of business . . . Those who signed up for our e-mail list have already been hit up yes, folks, this is a reminder and now it's your turn. The War Party has millions nay, billions to spend. We can never come close to matching them, naturally, but then we don't need to: all we need is enough to pay the cost of uncovering the truth. These costs are minimal virtually nonexistent, compared to the War Party's propaganda machine but they are, nonetheless, very real, and must be met. Won't you help? We'll send you all kinds of books and other goodies: intellectual ammunition in the fight against globalism and interventionism. Celebrate your support for and dedication to the cause of peace in the new millennium by making your contribution today; right now, via secure credit card server, or by mail at the address below.
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You don't have to be Nostradamus to predict what the new millennium has in store for us: it is precisely what governments everywhere and at all times have practiced continually, since the beginning of history, and that is war. Here, at history's end, we have the final war, the struggle of an emerging world state to exercise hegemony over the globe. It will be a long and bloody struggle, and throughout the coming years the question will pose itself again and again: which side are you on?
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