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August 17, 2010

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Also, too.

Remember when George W. Bush and his neoconservative allies used to say that the “war on terror” was a struggle on behalf of Muslims, decent folks who wanted nothing more than to live free like you and me? Remember when Karen Hughes paid millions to produce glitzy videos of Muslim Americans testifying about how free they were to practice their religion in the USA? Remember Bush’s second inaugural, when he said “America's ideal of freedom” is “sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran?”

Once upon a time, Republicans were so confident that the vast majority of Muslims preferred freedom to jihad that they believed the U.S. could install democracy in Iraq within months. Now, confronted with a group of Muslim Americans who want to build a cultural center that includes Jews and Christians on the board (how many churches and synagogues do that?), GOP leaders call them terrorists because they don’t share Benjamin Netanyahu’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Once upon a time, the “war on terror” was supposed to bring American values to Saudi Arabia. Now Newt Gingrich says we shouldn’t build a mosque in Lower Manhattan until the Saudis build churches and synagogues in Mecca—which is to say, we’re bringing Saudi values to the United States. I wonder how David Petraeus feels about all this. There he is, slogging away in the Hindu Kush, desperately trying to be culturally sensitive, watching GIs get killed because Afghans believe the U.S. is waging a war on Islam, and back home, the super-patriots on Fox News have… declared war on Islam.

So please, no more talk about those idealistic neoconservatives who are willing to expend blood and treasure so Afghans and Iraqis can live free. People in Basra and Kandahar had better hope that America’s counterinsurgency warriors create a society in which they can practice their religion free of intimidation and insult. Because it’s now clear they can’t do so on the lower tip of the island of Manhattan.

Thanks Phil.

As usual, wish I'd said that.

Question: How long until a Muslim burns down the Reichstag?

The only thing that surprises me more is why people of conscience didn't pick up on this sooner.

Were there really people out there who bought this bringing-freedom-to-Muslims shtick?

Jeez, I've been out to lunch. I guess they did. Now that the GOP has gone from infected to rabid, it's too late.

We're now paying for having unquestioningly slunk into bed with it nine years ago over this. And are they ever making us pay up.

I think it's a bit simplistic to assume that all the neocons wanted (and still want) was an excuse to peel away freedoms domestically. While that may have been a factor, it seems to me that they were at least as interested in taking over the world for their particular religion instead. In that, they are nearly as pushy as the straw-man of Islam that they so frequently denounce.

Oh I agree wj. Imperial hegemony in pursuit of US/Israeli interests is the #1 priority. Everything else is either a pretense, or a means to that end. Or both.

they were at least as interested in taking over the world for their particular religion instead.

Their religion is called "ruling the world". It's the one where they get to be god.

The more idealistic ones would add, for its own good. But either way, ruling the great big Risk board called planet Earth.

Maybe money, too, for some of them (I'm looking at you, Richard Perle), but mostly just ruling the world.

Nothing new there, everybody seems to want to take their crack at it at some point or other. Apparently, it's our turn now.

I'll be curious to see what we, the US, looks like when we land on the other side of our great big adventure.

Washington saw the potential for it, as did Adams. They knew the flip side of it (or, maybe, as former English subjects, both sides of it).

Warnings, meet deaf ears.

We keep pretending that by appealing to the founding fathers, we haven't become what they explicitly crafted American government not to be like. It works - our fetish for constitutional mechanisms, complete with all the sophistry over "originalism," convinces us that we're off the hook for what we've actually become and what we do. It doesn't matter that so much of it is unconstitutional.

Our stunning success in war without domestic chaos over it has led us to believe that we can upend one part of the world after the next without really having to pay for it. But it's occurring to me that the payback is beginning on a mass scale. 15% of the population without health insurance, individualized empires of debt, jobless recoveries, an ever-widening gap between rich and poor plus a lineup of pundits and officials (both elected and unelected) who rationalize not doing anything about any of it...these are formidable, but I still believe, imperfectly fixable problems that are being made to fester because they detract from empire and the dreams that sustain it.

Boy. We have met the enemy, and they is us. It gives me no pleasure to say it. But this is what should be scaring the pants off us, not Muslims or gays or immigrants or any of these other bogeymen. But there's a correlation between the magnitude of the problems that our policies have visited upon us and the determination of those who change them but don't to search ever more determinately for others to blame these problems on.

If in fact we are an empire, we're a sick, prematurely old, and feeble one.

My apologies to all:

"But there's a correlation between the magnitude of the problems that our policies have visited upon us and the determination of those who change them..."

I meant: "...the determination of those who can change them..."

Now, I scare myself.

Yet one more thing.

I meant my last big post to go on the 20th-century-PTSD thread, and I now realize I've posted this with the wrong thread. Yet the previous couple of posts here dovetail into the other thread. Be that as it may, I don't want to confuse anybody here.

There. I didn't mean to scare anyone else - just myself. But my apologies for any confusion here.

The Boys with the Arab Trap.

Oh, you deserve such a pinch for that...

Oh yeah--good post too.

wj,

it seems to me that [the neocons] were at least as interested in taking over the world for their particular religion instead.

While the neocons certainly pursue their not-univerally-agreed-on idea of Israeli interests, I don't think they are trying to take over the world for the Jews (I have a couple of spots in Italy in mind, any one of which will do nicely for my share, thanks).

I doubt that's what you intended to suggest, but maybe a touch more care in phrasing would avoid misunderstandings.

Sorry, Bernard. I admit I was thinking more of the evangelical Protestant neocons than the Jewish ones. I will try (probably unsuccessfully) to be more precise in my phrasing in future.

I think it's a bit simplistic to assume that all the neocons wanted (and still want) was an excuse to peel away freedoms domestically.

It's simplistic to say that that's ALL they want(ed), but as it were deconstructing liberal democracy is an essential part of their vision. When they not-in-so-many-words say they hate Liberals, it's a mistake to think they mean they hate Democrats: they hate small-'l' liberalism, in the 'liberal democracy' sense. They don't really even hide their hostility to it all that much. Honestly, if you want an idea what their vision is, imagine an American version (i.e. with Empire) of Franco's Spain - not quite fascist, but enough fear and ignorance to awaken - and to keep awake - the overriding passions appropriate to Little People: Reverence (above all), blood lust (war, esp. holy war), and nationalism. Those guys honestly think that's how society should be ordered, and that such an order is much more noble than messy, decadent, modern, liberal democracy. As I say, notwithstanding Strauss' feline tricks with language, the American heirs to the PoMo/neocon ideas don't exactly hide them. They don't always need to, since, for some audiences, it's not a hard sell.

wj,

No problem. I admit I tend to think of neocons stereotypically as Jews (not something I'm thrilled with) and to ignore other possibilities. Probably a mistake by me.

Anyway, I've sent in my requests, just in case.

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