Friday, January 21, 2005

NELLIE DERRIDA MAKES A GOOD POINT in the Comments section about Condi Rice being cold and calculating, not naive. I think she has it right on target when she says, "Condi knows that torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and all the other untold locations will lead to torture and further terrorism here and abroad. But it is a gamble they are more than willing to take." Obviously she can't say that to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so she makes a ridiculously disengenuous statement about not being concerned that American soldiers will be tortured, because American soldiers are not terrorists.

I've been thinking about this off and on for most of the day, though; and I'm not sure that Rice and Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz *aren't* being naive -- just not in the way I was thinking yesterday. Phyllis Bennis, of the Institute for Policy Studies, was interviewed on Pacifica Radio today, and she made some comments that were very enlightening to me in the context of the Bush inner circle's motivations for their "war on terrorism" policy. Bennis said that what makes the Bushies so dangerous is not that they don't believe a word they're telling the American people when they talk about spreading democracy all over the Middle East. What makes them so dangerous is that they actually DO believe that. Of course, we can't know for sure what they are thinking or what motivates them, but Bennis seems to feel (and she's not the only one) that Bush and his courtiers don't see the same disaster and failed policy when they look at Iraq that we do. They see that the invasion and postwar occupation didn't turn out exactly as they thought it would; but this is, to them, just a matter of there being a few unforeseen problems. Given time and patience, these problems will work themselves out. It does not occur to them that the problems in Iraq reflect a profound resentment of and opposition to the U.S. invasion and occupation, because they are convinced that anyone and everyone in the world wants what America is offering to give to them. In the world most of us live in, we know that Western-style democracy is deeply incompatible with the political, social, cultural, and economic realities existing in large parts of the world; and that true democracy cannot be imposed on one society by another with bombs, guns, and military occupation. But Bush & company keep on believing that if they just push on, past these minor logistical problems that are creating some concern right now, freedom and liberty will win out, and a tidal wave of Jeffersonian democracy will sweep the Middle East.

When you think about it, it's not so hard to believe that Bush's power clique could hold this view. Bush is convinced that America has a mission to "spread freedom" that comes to us "from beyond the stars" -- and given that Bush has the religious faith of a four-year-old, that comment was probably an honest reflection of his thoughts. The check on that kind of thinking in a president of the United States would normally be the staff that surrounds him most closely; the people who have his ear, so to speak. But in this administration no one even has the ghost of a chance of holding that much power or of being that close to the president unless they reflect back at him exactly what he believes and wants to hear, word for word and thought for thought. Pres. Bush does not get to hear any dissenting points of view, because none are permitted in his inner circle. The Bush cabinet is the ultimate example of groupthink. Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Rice all reinforce each other's plans, policies, actions, beliefs, and words because the only voices they hear are their own. Given that truth, why wouldn't it be possible and entirely credible that they could all be convinced that Iraq is a success story with just a few temporary glitches and soon democracy will spread like wildfire throughout the region? Any information or events that contradicted that perceived reality would never, ever penetrate the wall they have built around themselves.

And THAT is what is truly frightening about the next four years.

1 comment:

Crepuscule with Nellie said...

Hey Kathy,

I think that you make an excellent and valid points. The problems of the Bush presidency are rooted in W's blind faith and inability to handle criticism or divergent opinions.

Bennis may be right in thinking that Bush and his cohorts actually do believe their own rhetoric; but again, I think that the true believers are actually a small minority within the executive branch. I still think that people like Rove, Rice, Cheney and others are maneuvering, posturing and using faith as a tool to expand their radical agenda. They know exactly what they are doing, and yes, they think they are justified. But in the long run, the only god those guys bow down to is the greenback.