Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Pentagon Paupers

In the Public Relations State it is axiomatic that any radical departure from the status quo in the past is swiftly absorbed and reprocessed by the system into a new form, which, though by association reminiscent of the celebrated act of rebellion, is essentially a re-entrenchment of the status quo. Witness, for example, how the politically charged Rock ‘n’ Roll environment of the 1960s morphed into the domesticated, stabilizing influence of rock star Bono, or how a virile US civil rights movement wilted into the political impasse of rap culture. Witness the type of “social justice” under promotion in both cases.

In exactly the same way, anyone waiting on the Iraq-War equivalent of the Pentagon Papers will be as disappointed as I was to discover that all we get is the equivalent of a lousy T-shirt:

The New York Times newspaper has published what it says are the findings of a classified US intelligence paper on the effects of the Iraq war.

The document reportedly blames the three-year-old conflict for increasing the threat of terrorism and helping fuel Islamic radicalism worldwide.

Not that one would wish to exaggerate the merits of the New York Times (NYT) for having dropped the PR bombshell of the Pentagon Papers in early 1971—for the most part the paper had stolidly and slavishly supported the entire Indochinese atrocity from the very start; it only permitted the publication of Ellsberg’s heroic treason after significant elements of America’s power elite had decided that the nation’s resources could be directed towards less discrediting and more productive ends. Still, the publication of the Pentagon Papers represented a signpost for tourists as to the future course of the war; it signaled the inevitable US withdrawal and failure in the eyes of the reactionary world.

But this latest “US intelligence paper,” why is it there? Why has the decision been made to “leak” this “classified” intelligence via the NYT? Doubtless this manufactured non-event seeks to exploit, ape and hijack the charismatic mystique of the Pentagon Papers as per tired advertising formula, but it is in fact merely another pro-war jingle. In the new absorbed and reprocessed Pentagon Papers wannabe the verdict echoes that of the original model in that it speaks of an Iraq War that has been a failure, which our democratic leaders have hidden from us for the sake of its perpetuation. The grotesque mimicry ends there, however, and the sick added twist lies in the fact that this is used as a further justification for an expanded War on Terror. The Iraq War, rather than making the world safe for plutocracy, has spawned new generations of terrorists geometrically. Now, more than ever before, we have to be on our guard and act decisively, if not democratically.

The whole pitiful charade is presented as an honest mistake, but the only “intelligence failure” at work is our own, if we fail to entertain the suspicion that the Clash of Civilizations was conceived of as a self-fulfilling and perpetuating prophecy to replace the Cold War. Obviously, as we bomb and torture more and more Muslims in more and more international outrages, the number of militants in opposition will grow geometrically.

Friends, this is not a miscalculation. I will concede that certain pig-ignorant members of certain intelligence communities may have been wrong about popular sentiment in Viet Nam and Cuba around the time of the Bay of Pigs Invasion (though many knew damn well which way the wind was blowing and decided to proceed with their ham-fisted counter-revolutions anyway), but at the onset of the twenty-first century no one seriously expected Muslims around the world to rejoice at the prospect of first the Taliban, then Saddam Hussein being blamed for 9/11 and their unfortunate subjects being bombed accordingly. Be that as it may,

The report ends by saying the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of al Qaeda operatives and related groups and now includes a class of "self-generating" cells inspired by al Qaeda’s leadership, yet has no direct connection with Osama bin Laden or his top officers, The New York Times reported.

In other words, “al Qaeda,” now unhinged from the restraints of any type of official affiliation, continues to be what it always has been, namely, an umbrella term for undefined enemies of state and a public relations master password. What else is an honest report to recommend but the mobilization of more resources towards brutal Third World intervention and domestic repression?

In a standard wartime pseudo-democracy play reminiscent of Henry Ford’s “any color they like; so long as it’s black,” either we are “doves” who feel that society must further militarize on account of being under attack as the result of a misguided war, or we are “hawks” who advocated such militarization from the onset. It also has something of the schoolyard bully about it: rather than straightforward blackmail where an actual choice is being presented, we are witnessing what looks like the unconditional coercion of Western society into a purely military mode of existence. Those looking for reliable Orwellian signs of collapsing democratic institutions, may observe with horror the fact that, regardless of the outcome of military conflicts, the answer coming from the media is always greater militarization. The war machine simply keeps gaining more and more ground, until brute force and the subjugation of every last soul on Earth becomes the irrefutable raison d’être of every last human twitch.

I leave you with Nietzsche’s observation that “He who makes his living by fighting an enemy has an ongoing stake in his survival.”

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