July 10, 2006

The Monsters' Reality: "Waiting for Our Turn to Die"

In terms of the overall contours of our national debate, I think we may have entered new territory as the catastrophe in Iraq is on the very edge of exploding into uncontrollable bloodshed and unending mayhem on a very large scale. The massacres and violence in Baghdad itself are only the latest indication of what may be in store, and of a trajectory that it may be impossible to stop or alter at this point. The denial and avoidance of facts that contradict or call one's beliefs into question is a necessary part of the True Believer psychology. But when all the available facts are in direct opposition to one's preferred view of the world, the True Believer faces a stark choice: he can either begin to acknowledge the complete failure of his delusions, or he can reject reality completely. I do not exaggerate, and I do not intend to be at all humorous, when I say that the latter is the path to extremely severe neurosis, so severe that it should serve as a frightening warning to others about the grave dangers of placing the demands of a totalist ideology and of cult loyalty above everything else.

You might think that this kind of profound psychological disorder would disqualify a person from the role of prominent commentator on politics and world events. In our country today, of course, you would be wrong. Listen to Fred Barnes:
THERE'S JOY at the White House again and less anxiety among Republicans in Congress. The excesses of the press and Supreme Court are bringing Bush and rebellious conservatives closer together. Iraq is better off. The American economy is humming. The White House has made no harmful missteps. And the president's job approval rating is rising.

Yet the Bush recovery is not complete.
"We're in a better place than we were two or three months ago," says Republican national chairman Ken Mehlman. "But [the midterm election] remains fundamentally a difficult election." Far more Republican House and Senate seats and governor's offices are at risk than Democratic ones.

A Bush rebound--at least a weak one--was probably inevitable.


The war is unpopular, but it has nonetheless helped the Bush recovery in three ways. First, the killing of the terrorist Zarqawi and the formation of a permanent Iraqi government were encouraging developments. Second, the president punctuated his support for the new government with a surprise visit to Iraq, and he's gone on the offensive again in speeches defending his policy. On July 4, he told soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he won't allow the death of 2,527 troops in Iraq "to be in vain by pulling out before the job is done." Third, Democrats have fumbled the Iraq issue.


For the moment, the issue agenda has turned favorable for Bush and thus for Republicans. His best issue is national security and the war on terror, and the Supreme Court pushed that issue front and center. While striking down the administration's plan for prosecuting terrorists held in Guantánamo, the court said Congress could authorize and set the rules for prosecutions. And that's what Congress will try to do this month, no doubt with extended debate on how to deal with terrorists.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has legitimized White House press bashing by disclosing a secret program for tracking al Qaeda money transfers. When your enemies are liberals on the Supreme Court and in the media, even disgruntled conservatives tend to rally to your side.

At worst, Bush has bottomed out. At best, he's on his way to renewed popularity.


If all goes well--which it often doesn't in politics--even the media might be forced to give Bush a measure of respect. At his press conference in Chicago last week, the press seemed oblivious to his partial recovery.
Under different circumstances, self-delusion of this intensity might only prompt our pity, perhaps mingled with derision. But we are dealing with a catastrophe that mangles and destroys many people's lives and bodies every day, and that may still lead to a wider regional war.

To appreciate how completely Barnes and others like him have chosen to rewrite reality, consider the daily news reports from Iraq -- or read a column like Dahr Jamail's. In his latest piece, Jamail writes:
Surprise, surprise. In an interview with John King from CNN last Thursday, Dick Cheney said that withdrawing US forces from Iraq would be the "worst possible thing we could do."

Doing his best to stoke the always simmering fears of so many US residents (let us be careful how we use the word "citizen"), Cheney said of the terrorist groups in Iraq, "If we pull out, they'll follow us."

Because according to Cheney, "This is a global conflict. We've seen them attack in London and Madrid and Casablanca and Istanbul and Mombasa and East Africa. They've been, on a global basis, involved in this conflict. And it will continue - whether we complete the job or not in Iraq - only it'll get worse. Iraq will become a safe haven for terrorists. They'll use it in order to launch attacks against our friends and allies in that part of the world."

Lovely to watch how people like Cheney, and the minions who support his ilk, conveniently forget that there was no terrorism in Iraq prior to the US invasion/occupation. And one must love his "logic." For according to Cheney, "whether we complete the job or not in Iraq" his beloved "terrorism" will "continue" ... "only it'll get worse."

Then why stay in Iraq, Dick?

Because when Dick said, "only it'll get worse," if he'd been referring to the situation on the ground in Iraq, he'd have been 100% accurate.

For starters, things for the US military continue to disintegrate. With raping and pillaging being carried out by soldiers who have long since surrendered the war for "hearts and minds," other lesser reported developments underscore the trajectory of the military in Iraq.


Here is another email I received the day before the aforementioned, from another friend in Baghdad:
Dear friend,

Maybe this is the last message I am going to send ... really I don't have anyone here. I am like a foreigner in my own country. I am really feeling very afraid. I am living next to Al Sadr City and the Al Sadr militia is killing anyone who is Sunni, especially when any explosion attacks the Shia. They come to our zone and take Sunni people from their houses and kill them. They killed one of my relatives. They killed my neighbor, who was only 26 years old. My friend, the situation now in Baghdad is very bad. Do you know that there is no work and no safety, even in my own house? I'm very sad to tell you that I am very tired from changing my house. My family and I leave the house every month for three weeks and we run away like some one who did a crime. What is our crime?

We are in a very bad situation. It is so bad now. Please help, is all that I ask as we need help now. We are living, just waiting for our turn to die ... Please help us if you can ... I don't have any one to ask but you.
So while Iraqis are being killed or fearing imminent death as they suffer through the daily hell that is the US occupation, Cheney, the real force behind this "administration," tells CNN, "No matter how you carve it - you can call it anything you want - but basically, it is packing it in, going home, persuading and convincing and validating the theory that the Americans don't have the stomach for this fight."

Guess what, Dick - moral and sane Americans "don't have the stomach for this fight" because this fight should have never taken place. And anyone with a soul, let alone a conscience, should be more than happy to see US troops in Iraq "packing it in."
Given the ungraspable nightmare that is their life every day, it would be more than understandable if many Iraqis temporarily retreated into fantasy, simply as a last means of preserving the few remaining strands of sanity we have left them. But to the extent they still desperately cling to life and hope to survive this hell on earth, they know that is a luxury they cannot afford. They must acknowledge and deal with the horrors that surround them, if they wish to survive.

Meanwhile, our leaders like Bush and Cheney, and supporters of theirs like Barnes, live in circumstances as close to perfect safety as possible -- and they choose delusion over fact. They make certain that the horrors their policies have unleashed have no way of touching them directly, so they can continue to indulge in fantasy, and to refuse to acknowledge the agonizing death spasms of an entire country. And they do all this simply because they will not question their belief system, and because they refuse to admit they were wrong.

Can there ever be forgiveness for this kind of deliberate self-blindness, or for this refusal to acknowledge the unbearable pain and suffering their actions and their policies have caused so many countless, innocent people? We are not gods; the perspective of eternity is not ours. In the human realm, where life and the possibility of happiness are the indispensable primary values, forgiveness is not possible, nor should these barely human monsters expect it. They are monsters by choice, and they may not now escape the consequences of their actions. In a tragedy beyond measure, many, many thousands of entirely innocent people will not escape those consequences, either.