October 02, 2007
Bolton for President of the World
Here’s another glimpse, as if we needed one, into the dank interior of John Bolton. You will remember him as that silver-tongued charmer whom Bush once sent to represent us at the United Nations:
“Because life is about choices, I think we have to consider the use of military force. I think we have to look at a limited strike against their nuclear facilities.”He added that any strike should be followed by an attempt to remove the “source of the problem”, Mr Ahmadinejad.
“If we were to strike Iran it should be accompanied by an effort at regime change ... The US once had the capability to engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments. I wish we could get it back.”
The fact that intelligence about Iran’s nuclear activity was partial should not be used as an excuse not to act, Mr Bolton insisted …
Mr Bolton told an inquiring delegate that he was not and had never been a neoconservative: “I’m not even a Reagan conservative. I’m a [Barry] Goldwater conservative. They [neocons] have somewhat — I would say excessively — Wilsonian views about the benefits of democracy.”
For the history-challenged, Woodrow Wilson was, like Bush, a warmonger who believed that democracy was so desirable that he should — and could — spread it at gunpoint. Bolton seems to be saying that he himself believes in war simply as a display of national manhood and the hell with all this soft-nosed crap about this soft-nosed crap called democracy. He is thus more of a Kissingerian than a Wilsonian. The difference is of course inconsequential to the victims, who remain dead in either case.
Posted by Jerome Doolittle at October 02, 2007 09:45 AM
What is it with these men who are so anxious about their masculinity and can assuage their worries only by seeing other men wearing their "colors" kill men wearing different colors?
If they're too wimpy to prove their manhood to themselves by enlisting or by punching some other man in the nose, can't they just go to a high school football game and root for the home team?
I guess I've been lucky to grow up with and marry self-assured men comfortable in their own skins. I haven't encountered these neurotic men at close hand.
Glenn Greenwald just wrote along similar lines: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/10/02/angry_leftists/index.html
Thus the dean of the State Department, George Kennan, in (then) top-secret PPS 23, Feb. 1948:
We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population… In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity… We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction… We should cease to talk about vague and… unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
I'm not sure it's manhood exactly that's at issue, unless we consider the will to dominate essentially a male characteristic, and women who dominate to be, at least in this regard, males in female bodies. That's a reasonable way to look at it, that domination is yang rather than yin.
My model of the situation is closely related to Thorsten Veblen's, in his Theory of the Leisure Class, that the upper class creates social conditions, sometimes consciously and sometimes instinctively, that tend to preserve the status quo. If you're on top, progress doesn't sound so attractive.
Nor do you maintain social control without hierarchies, external threats, and indoctrination. Education, says Chomsky (from whom, BTW, I cribbed the Kennan quote), is a system of learned ignorance. It's particularly true in the areas of politics and social policy, where the people with the most influence are naturally working in their own interests and don't want reform of any kind, because it's likely to reduce their influence, and thus their take. Not that they're all taking money out of it, like Cheney is; some take emotional gratification of various kinds, or exercise (rarely exorcise) their demons.
One of the best ways to get people organized to do what you ask them to is to create an emergency. People will mobilize and generously help each other out, while you busily and quietly slant the playing field toward yourself. This is the main reason the US maintains its massive "defense" establishment: it's a resource reallocation scheme, intended to concentrate wealth and power. To sell it requires constant threats from outside, and, as Jonathan Kwitny detailed in Endless Enemies, we therefore create them.
In a nutshell, I model history as an enduring conflict between the leisure class who wants to control but not produce, and the vast majority who like producing and coöperating, and mostly don't need the control from above. Thus they have to be sold on it, and war is the best salesman on the floor.