The New York Times has a nice chuckle at the expense of the Birchers, and, hell, the Birchers are pretty chuckleworthy at times. And yet, if you take "The Rockefellers, the Morgans, the Rothschilds," not as the literal rulers of mankind but as a sort of metonymy for the institutions of global State Capital, then frankly it doesn't sound so very crazy at all.
Friday, June 26, 2009
This Krauthammer 40,000 column is so utterly and extraordinarily insane that it achieves a sort of majesty. Like the highest attainments of lyric poetry, it totally resists paraphrasis, and I urge you to read it all. Bref: Mir Hussein Moussavi could be Yeltsin . . . must be Yeltsin, once cast in the endless psychodrama that is the American version of world history as a bewildered Russian drunk with an occasional mean streak, now cast by Krauthammer as if he were the figure around which Russian popular protest coalesced to bring down the Soviet Union. Which, needless to say, is not what happened. Yeltsin did manage to beat back Communist recidivists, but then got himself mired in a two-year bitch-fugue with the Russian parliament, eventually calling in the tanks to shell the legislature into submission. Then he sold off the entire Russian economy to six former KGB agents and four members of the old politburo, drank himself silly, resigned, and effectively went into hiding. Vladimir Putin, the tiger-killing god-emperor of the steppe took over, and now notably occupies one of the prime spots in Krauthammer's personal gallery of villains.
The Krauthammerian takeaway: the most desirable outcome for Iran would be a momentary pseudodemocratic caesura followed by the rise to power of a truly brilliant and capable strongman who will with acumen, aplomb, and efficiency consolidate Iran's position as the preeminent regional power and a decidedly recalcitrant, revanchist player on the world stage. (To be fair: this seems to me as good an outcome as any, but by the prevailing Washington Post logic would represent absolute defeat and failure.) Seriously:
Unless Mousavi rises to it, or another rises in his place, Iran's democratic uprising will end not as Russia 1991, but as China 1989.Now, twenty years later, Russia is "defying" . . . someone or other in Georgia, wagging its dick at the Ukraine, flipping off the EU, and in general causing nothing but trouble for the satellites and allies of the American hegemon. China, meanwhile, is bankrolling the West, producing cheap goods, and keeping US symphonies afloat by booking them to play goodwill tours in East Asia. If Iran's "Green Revolution" represents their own Tienanmen, then we might consider ourselves lucky . . . as might the Iranians, who in a mere generation could be the powerhouse economy of the near Orient.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
It's perfectly, delightfully absurd to have Little Lord Obama, the Deuxième Dauphin, sniping at Iran's government for its democratic failings given the half-assed plebiscitory dictatorships America has thus far installed to the right of them and to the left of them. Such blithe hypocrisy is America's favorite dance step, and I am neither surprised nor the type to lament the inevitable damage to our . . . our what? Our legitimacy? Our standing? Our brand? Ever thus to deadbeats. And yet somehow one feels like . . . parents who, having discovered the teenager's pot stash, both punishes the poor boy and keeps the pot for themselves.
Now I know that Iran isn't part of "the Arab World" any more than India, Indonesia, or for that matter the United States are part of the Arab World. And Mona Eltahawy knows that Iran isn't part of the Arab World any more than Moldova, Azerbijan, Georgia, Tibet, Laos, Nicaragua, or French Guyana are part of the Arab World. But most of the readers of the Washington Post don't know this, which makes one wonder what agenda is served when Eltahawy so assiduously elides the distinction in the pages of the WaPo opinion section.
He kidnapped himself.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Right now, even as I type, Mark Sanford is apologizing to Jesus for not telling him that he was gonna head down to Buenos Aires for . . . for what now? I know that whenever I go out, I leave . . . wait, he is fucking his Argentinian pen pal!
As various western factions debate whether Iran is or is not a democracy, or is or is not in the process of becoming one, or mired forever as some sort of mishmashed autocratic theocracy or theocratic autocracy or theo-oligarchic dictatorship or military oligocracy or or or . . . it does us well to bear in mind that not one of these various régimes, Hitlers, enemies-of-order, terrorists, failed states, nemeses, adversaries, competitors, ad inf. exhibits anywhere near the hegemonizing, evangelical zeal of the club of Western democracies when it comes to their political institutions and variously scorned or vaunted ways of life. I'm not referring specifically to the American version of militarized neocolonialism in which foreign nations are forcibly conquered and occupied, their leaders deposed, their governments disassembled, and the whole thing reconstituted at gunpoint in some or other image of American Federalism, although that's certainly part of it. I'm referring instead to the broad philosophical and ideological commitment to "spreading democracy," from niggling hopes that the Chinese industrial economy will convert that nation to the doctrine of universal suffrage and 30-second campaign spots to the more romantic ideation of Iranian street protests as an early application for NATO membership and congressional seats in Brussels.
You might call it Democratic internationalism, and although it's gaudier by far, it bears a striking resemblance to its old nemesis, Soviet Communism. It stands in stark contrast, incidentally, to whatever on earth you'd call the Chinese system--whatever else you might say about the Chinese, they don't seem to have any designs on the American constitution. Our various scardeycats prattle fearfully about Islamofascism and its expansionist impulses, but while one can certainly find radical voices calling for the unification of the Ummah, even the wildest dreams of some new caliphate stop short of Cordoba, let alone Vienna, despite the fever dreams of The Internet's more entertaining madmen. Occasionally you will hear some American rightwinger or British nationalist averring that the Muslims are overrunning London, Paris, Marseilles, but even this doomsday is more a worry about displacement than conquest, a vaguely held fear that white folk are being outbred. There is no sense or evidence that Osama bin Laden wishes for America to convert and embrace the religion of the Prophet. The Taliban have no designs on Topeka. Yet you cannot say the US Congress has no plans for Karachi.
As America goes mad with grief and pity over the supposedly intolerable death of an Iranian woman in the chaos of the ongoing political protests, it is worth noting that our flying death robots are killing scores of people--guilty, innocent, dangerous, friendly, who knows? who cares!--all the time. Recalling this is, I believe, a necessary antidote to the temptation to view the Iranian uprising with a false optimism that sees our countries drawing nearer together, if only the revolution succeeds. Leaving aside the dubious victory claims of the Iranian opposition, the turth is that Iran, even as a pseudo-military theocratic autocracy, has never been an aggressor nation like the United States and its Western Allies, has indeed fought only one major conflict, the Iran-Iraq war, which was begun when Iraq invaded without warning, hoping to take advantage of the disarray of the Islamic Revolution, backed by, among others, these United States.
I wonder, will Barack Obama be outraged by "threats and beatings" when they come to Pittsburgh in September?
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
And, of course, the long and rich history of British imperial intervention in Persia does provide some support for the notion.This sentence leers like a drunk in the middle of an article on Iran's "primitive" paranoia, and one wonders why it was included at all. Caveats don't sit well in polemics, and anyway, like the saying goes, just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. Yes, Iran has concocted a veritable treasury of foreign devils, ever meddling in their internal affairs. So too has the United States and its satellite Airstrip . . . with far less reason or historical justification. You can blame the Anglo-Saxons for the Shah, but you can hardly blame the Mullahs for Margaret Thatcher.
-Sir Marmalade Jellyknees Aloysius Ginnifer Hitchens, Escutcheon of the Upitstay, on Iran
In the meantime, Christopher says:
There is then the larger question of the Iranian theocracy and its continual, arrogant intervention in our affairs: its export of violence and cruelty and lies to Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq and its unashamed defiance of the United Nations, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency on the nontrivial matter of nuclear weapons.Our affairs indeed.
"Morgan Jones, host of 'flamethrower' parties, pleads guilty."
Interesting to note that Mr. Jones lawyer was at pains to assure the court that Mr. Jones harbored no "anti-government sentiment." Why the absence or presence of such sentiment should be dispositive one way or other . . . Of course, I don't believe that our reptilian overlords can be brought down by revolutionary vigilantism, so I keep my flamethrowers, uh, to myself. In this new age of right-wing "terrorism" we must bear ever in mind the old Clintonian aphorism: you cannot claim to love your country while hating its government. Personally, I'm no great fan of either, although Pennsylvania is lovely at solstice time.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I met The Revolution on a blustery, muggy day at a small café where she takes her coffee, or occasionally a glass of white wine, most afternoons. Her schedule has been busy lately, or so she told me over the phone, and I apologized for being late. She picked at a croissant as we talked about her storied past and plans for the future.
IOZ: Things have been hectic for you.
THE REVOLUTION: Oh, yes, yes. You know, I had been spending a great deal of time in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, doing the whole, sort of, post-Soviet thing--
IOZ: Moldova. Georgia.
TR: Yes, yes, and a few others. The Ukraine. Azerbijan. Georgia is of course the one everyone knows.
IOZ: It didn't perform as you'd expected.
TR: No, regrettably. You know, the thing was, the critics liked it, the reviews were very positive! But it never . . . somehow, it didn't catch on. Which was terribly disappointing, because I really think that one . . . well, it had something to say. I thought so, anyway. Of course, it wasn't a total bust. I got to meet John McCain, briefly.
IOZ: The US Senator.
TR: Yes. Bit of a language barrier, I thought, but a fine older gentleman. Perhaps a little . . . dotty, no? Asked me to marry him! I think he was serious, the poor dear.
IOZ: And more recently?
TR: Of course, I have been working for quite some time with Pakistan. We are what you might call long-term collaborators, although, of course, one hates to date oneself. [She laughs.] No need to be vain, though. The problem with that sort of relationship is the commercial interests are always trying to interfere. All about product with them, never about process. "Oh, why don't you add something about the Tribal Zones." That sort of thing. "How about a full-cast number in the streets of Lahore?" Real bang-you-over-the-head sort of stuff.
IOZ: Do you feel that it's salvageable?
TR: Absolutely. Listen, I wouldn't do it if I didn't. Whatever they do for profit, there's always some slim chance that it will produce . . . art, maybe, you'd call it.
IOZ: How about other current projects? You're receiving excellent notes on Iran.
TR: Now that was a project that really came together at the last minute. You see, we had all . . . we were doing a whole Lebanon thing, a whole Christian-meets-Muslim, wrong-side-of-the-tracks, star-crossed kind of story. Well, it all fell apart at the very last minute, and the producers decided to stick pretty much with what they had, and I . . . got the distinct feeling that maybe they thought I was a little too . . . old for the part. There's no less delicate way to put it. I mean, War, he can age, right? Gravitas, or whatever? But a wrinkle here or there and I'm getting sympathy cards and splendid regrets. Fortunately, I got a call just a few days later, saying, Tehran! Get on the plane! So I did, and that's become that.
IOZ: Can you give us a sneak peek, a hint about the ending.
TR: A lady never reveals.
IOZ: Well, thank you so much for talking to me. Best wishes.
TR: Thank you darling. To you as well. Vive moi, as they say.
Liberal voices, moved by sentiment, are now coming around to the idea that America must . . . what? Do something? Say something? Note how comfortably E.J. Dionne, a reliably Democratische commentator, slips into the idea that America's overarching purpose is to transform every nation into self-similar democracies, whose "legitimacy" will be measured by their friendliness to US. Dionne would still gainsay the neoconservative conviction that stridency and force are now required, but their positions are not so far apart and not so irreconcilable as either side, Dionne's in particular, would like to think.