WICKED THIS WAY COMES
did I know how vulnerable.
Like most Americans, I never imagined that, less than a year
later, we would all be staring in disbelief at the smoking
ruins of the Pentagon and a good part of downtown Manhattan.
But I knew something
was amiss: "In the coming year," I predicted, "the
profiteers of empire will be especially busy selling the whole
panoply of 'good works' the US is performing overseas,"
especially in "the Middle East, where we are ostensibly
fighting another bogey of the modern world, 'terrorism.' Whether
the American people are buying it is another question."
if they weren't buying it before, now they certainly are and with a vengeance. As the US goes
rampaging through Central Asia in search of Osama bin Laden and
his Terrorist International, the War Party has been given
a blank check and they're diddling over how much to
make it out for. But you didn't have to be a certified seer,
or a Jean Dixon,
to see what was coming over the horizon. Reiterating the Clintonian
record a new military intervention every few months
days, the brazen belligerence of the US goes way beyond arrogance
and all the way to hubris, the old Greek conception of a pride
so overweening that it literally begs to be toppled, like
Icarus felled for daring to
approach the sun."
Icarus hasn't learned his lesson. Still reaching for that
bright orb, he doesn't realize he's been blinded. Lashing
out, he stumbles about in the darkness, bellowing like a wounded
giant, and wreaking devastation across the globe. Already
the ripple effect caused by the US military campaign has caused
disruption throughout the region, with India moving quickly
to destabilize Pakistan. The nutball
Hindu nationalists who hold sway in New Delhi have recently
acquired a cache of new weapons from Israel and don't
think they won't use them.
and Israel have a lot in common: not only a mutual hatred
of Islam, but also an expressed willingness to use nuclear
weapons. It was not for nothing, after all, that Israel
recently admitted what it has always officially denied
(even though everyone knew the story of Mordecai Vanunu): yes,
they have nukes. But why admit this now, at the height of
the crisis, unless it is meant as a warning that they won't
hesitate to use them?
the other side of the Middle East, New Delhi's Brahmins are
wielding the nuclear stick more openly, explicitly threatening
Pakistan with the unthinkable. At issue is the
Vale of Kashmir, a section of Central Asia so mountainous
and inaccessible that it makes the terrain of Afghanistan
look like a golf course. India has always claimed it, in spite
of its overwhelmingly Muslim population. If India allowed
a real national referendum, Kashmir would doubtless go with
Pakistan, but New Delhi's "Great Power" conceit
would never permit that, and so the region has been in a constant
state of war since the partition of India and Pakistan more
than 50 years ago.
this lair of Islamic "terrorism," various Islamic
tribes and groups have launched attacks on India proper, and
the Brahmins, asserting their regional hegemony, have decided
to follow the good example of the United States in pursuing
"terrorism" to its source. Since the Indians aver without offering any proof that the terrorist attacks have been organized and directed
by Islamabad, and that these groups are little more than proxies
for Pakistan, in effect a de facto state of war already exists between
the two nuclear-armed nations. And the conflict is rapidly
news that China has moved
its troops up to the border with India should have hit
the headlines like a thunderclap. The dominoes are falling
fast, and even rippling outward to the edge of the world,
where North Korea starving, desperate, and demented
teeters on the brink. The "mystery
ship" that invaded Japanese waters and was sunk by
the Japanese Defense Force sent shockwaves through Japan,
and globalized this perilous moment.
we standing on the brink of World War III? It all depends
on just how
crazy are the Hindu
nationalists who rule an increasingly bizarre and militant
India. Perhaps not all
of them are particular devotees of Kali, goddess
of destruction all I know is that Kali holds a central place in the Hindu
pantheon, and she no doubt has lots of fans. Here, for
example, is an Associated Press story detailing the mindset
of the people of Jaisalmer, India, who live near the border
with Pakistan, who are "aching
on another war, we are ready,' shouts Jagdish Prasad Vasa,
a craggy shopkeeper who has lived through the three wars between
India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.
His war cries draw similar chants from the old turbaned men
drinking sweet tea at the foot of the sandcastle-like fort.
Jaisalmeris are warriors by nature, always on alert and never
afraid to fight,' says Vasa, spitting out juice from his 'gutkha,'
a concoction of tobacco, betel nut and spices. 'It's time
to put Pakistan down, for good.'"
heard all this highfalutin' theorizing about how Islam, at
its Wahabist incarnation, is the equivalent of "Islamo-fascism,"
but how much more explicit can you get than deifying the concept
of Destruction? If I were the Pakistanis, I wouldn't rule
out the distinct possibility of an Indian first strike
even raising the
threat to begin with, New Delhi is announcing to the world
that the proximity of US troops in the region is absolutely
no deterrent. Remember that, during the Cold War, the Indians
were generally pro-Russian, and their hatred of
America has by no means abated. Pakistan, on the other
hand, has stood by the US, with General
Pervez Musharraf risking the peace and stability of his
own country to root out Al Qaeda. What has India done to fight
the bin Ladenites?
except take advantage of the crisis to pursue revanchist land
claims and threaten our primary ally in the region with nuclear
annihilation. They are about as helpful as Israel, with
whom they just signed a big arms deal. The Indo-Israeli
alliance doubles the chances of World War III starting in
the Middle East. If Ariel Sharon doesn't succeed in provoking
it on his end, then the worshippers of Shiva
the Destroyer have their chance in the East. After all, Lord Shiva is often depicted wearing
a necklace of human skulls around his neck. It may not
be this year, but surely by the next we will see a nuclear
exchange in that part of the world unless something
is done to stop it.
great danger, right now, is that Osama reported to
in the wilds of Pakistan may already be seeking
refuge in Kashmir. If that is the case, then he will have
deposited himself right at the epicenter of the region's geopolitical
fault-line in which case anything can and will happen.
I don't want to write another "I told you so" column
don't but in researching this piece I reread all my
New Year's columns, or, rather, both of them, and I have to
say I was a little frightened
by the one dated December 31, 1999, "Millennial Madness Around the
World." I had completely forgotten about it, as I
have all the others. After all, I write three times a week,
usually at length, and it's a defense mechanism, really, a
way to keep going by constantly clearing out the old to make way for the new. In
any case, I took a look at it again, for the first time since
writing it, and it was clear that I had foreseen the new spirit
of the age, if not the full horror of its defining moment:
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.'"
got the geographical details of my dark vision right, pointing
specifically to the Middle East as one of the persistent "sore
spots" of the world. If we judge how some of the more
troublesome peoples of the world are planning on celebrating
or not celebrating the New Year, then clearly,
I wrote, the new millennium is not going to be party time.
Consider Saudi Arabia, where:
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."
NIXES NEW YEAR'S EVE
austerity of the Muslim mindset was matched by the
Israelis, who invoked a similarly stern religious edict against
millennial joy. "The party is no merrier in Israel,"
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'!"
all those New
Year's 2000 events that were canceled
because everybody was "cocooning"?
What has really changed? Indeed, things have gotten much worse.
We're all still cowering in terror, only this time with good
reason, and the anti-joy, anti-pleasure ideology of the ayatollahs
and their Israeli equivalents has infected even American society.
"Don't you know there's a war
on?" the prudish warmongers ceaselessly remind us
how can you engage in such frivolous activities as partying
and cutting taxes at a time like this? Caught in the crossfire
between warring theocrats, we've all been drawn ineluctably
into this ancient blood feud. It's gotten so bad that we're
as obsessive and involved as these two battling desert tribes
who are so much alike in their dried-up asceticism.
now we get to the scary part. I had completely forgotten my
reference to the Weekly
World News, that ludicrously lurid tabloid no one will
admit to reading on the supermarket check-out line, and its
oddly prescient story: "Face
of Satan Photographed Over US Capitol!" There was
even a picture that oozed sheer malevolence: a thin, mocking
face that peered out of a black swirling cloud, manic eyes
ablaze and the mouth twisted into a satanic sneer. This, it
seemed to me, more than any other news story about the terrorist
threat or the prospect of war in the Middle East, described
the spirit of the coming age.
course, compared to its sister publication, the good old National
Enquirer, which is almost respectable now, the Weekly
World News is not too reliable. But this 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" seems to have presaged the gibbering
evil that hangs over us all today. The Weekly
quotes "one unidentified veteran CIA operative"
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?"
awful apparition, the Weekly continued, was "sitting
up there over our nation's Capitol like a crow on a clothesline,
taunting our every move. Is it somehow a sign of events either
bad or good to come?"
uh, definitely bad,
I would say. But you didn't need a special camera to capture
the spirit of the nation and the world as it stood on the
brink of the new millennium. This Weekly
World News story, I averred, "perfectly expresses
the Zeitgeist of the new age: a dark, ominous sense of foreboding."
A crow sitting on a clothesline, taunting our every move with
maniacal cawing sounds like Osama to me.
the world races to the edge of the abyss, with the US racing
the fastest, this sense of foreboding has been more than confirmed.
We have unleashed through our arrogance, our carelessness,
and our shortsightedness forces that we can neither
understand nor control. Having planted the seeds of the war that is now only just beginning, this year, which the
President of the United States has promised will be a "war
year," we are bound to reap the whirlwind.
take no satisfaction in having predicted all too accurately
the course history has taken since 1999. It sickens
me, really, to know that one can rail against the darkness,
even as it descends, and all to no effect. It seems, at times,
that we are helpless to defy the march to war, powerless to
fight an invincible evil that hovers, like that image of Satan
above the US Capitol, over the days of our lives. War abroad,
and the specter of repression at home: this is what we have
to look forward to, and it isn't pretty.
Looking into the future, on this first day of 2002,
what is visible with striking clarity is the clearly discernible
Face of Satan.
all is not lost. There is still time time to wake up
the American people, who may yet perceive that their interests
do not lie in perpetual war. Time to revive the spirit of
the Constitution and the memory of our Old Republic, in spite
of the deformations of Empire. We must fight for all that
America once was, and can be again with all our might,
and using every weapon at our disposal. This is the final
battle, and we must either win it, or die in the attempt.
Antiwar.com will be there, to inform you, uplift you, and
keep you company. And that's the only comfort I have to offer:
the knowledge that you are not alone.
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