Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Annals of "Literature"

You are reading Just Another Blog (From L. A.)™, but let's go to New York, where, you might remember, six years ago today something happened that has resulted in our incompetent, foolish, so-called leaders sending us into a tailspin of aggression, death & destruction in the Middle East. And some of the equally incompetent fools who populate places like the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Enterprise Institute would like to make sure that we never pull out of that tailspin. In the New York Times, Peter Bienart, a senior fellow at the CFR (and Editor-at-Large @ TNR) looks at a couple of books (one of them "drops" today like the load of crap it is) by two nitwits, one of whom is a CFR member. Things may be a little strained in the CFR lunchroom for a while. The CFR member is Norman Podhoretz (also Editor-at-Large @ Commentary). His book is entitled “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism.” There's an article @ Commentary entitled "The Case for Bombing Iran" that pretty well sums up Mr. Podhoretz' general attitude. But let's see what Mr. Bienart has to say:
His new book [...] contains remarkably little information about its supposed subject. “Islamofascism,” for instance, goes largely undefined.
Here's how Mr. Podhoretz defines it in Commentary:
Like the cold war, as the military historian Eliot Cohen was the first to recognize, the one we are now in has ideological roots, pitting us against Islamofascism, yet another mutation of the totalitarian disease we defeated first in the shape of Nazism and fascism and then in the shape of Communism; it is global in scope; it is being fought with a variety of weapons, not all of them military; and it is likely to go on for decades.
Ah yes, the "totalitarian disease." Bienart again:
Podhoretz does call it a “monster with two heads, one religious and the other secular.” But if fascism involves worship of the state, how exactly does the religious “head” — Al Qaeda — qualify, given that Osama bin Laden sees the state as a pagan imposition threatening the unity of Islam? And if the secular “head” was Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, what made it Islamofascist? [...] What really interests Podhoretz, who now advises Rudolph Giuliani, isn’t the Islamic world; it’s the home front. The news media, he explains, are in favor of “an American defeat in Iraq.” So are the former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft. Why do these ostensibly patriotic Americans want to see their nation humiliated and its troops killed? Because it will help their careers. Many Realists ... along with most liberal internationalists,” he writes, “were rooting for an American defeat as the only way to save their worldview from winding up on the ash heap of history.” And thus, Podhoretz lays the foundation for claiming — if America loses in Iraq — that we were stabbed in the back. Which, as Theodore Draper noted 25 years ago in a review of Podhoretz’s book “Why We Were in Vietnam,” is exactly what he did the last time America lost a major war.
The stab in the back narrative. Known to post World War I Germany as Dolchstoßlegende. Did somebody say "totalitarian disease?" On to the next book:
Unlike Podhoretz, for whom “World War IV” is largely an excuse to insult his old foes on the left and titillate himself with fantasies of civic violence, Michael Ledeen has written an actual book on the Middle East. In particular, he is passionate about Iran. If Podhoretz is vague about whom exactly America is fighting, Ledeen is precise: everything traces back to Tehran.
Ledeen has had it in for Iran for quite some time. He's well connected to sources in the country. And is a generally pleasant, entertaining fellow. A bit more from the NYT review:
He says Shiite Iran was largely behind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a man famous for his genocidal hatred of Shiites. He claims that “most” Iraqi insurgents are “under Iranian guidance and/or control,” not just Shiite warlords like Moktada al-Sadr, but Sunni militants as well — the very people who say they are fighting to prevent Iranian domination. In Ledeen’s view, in fact, Sunni-Shiite conflict — the very thing that most observers think is tearing Iraq apart — is largely a mirage, because Iran controls both sides. And Al Qaeda is a mirage too, a mere front for the regime in Tehran. “When you hear ‘Al Qaeda,’ ” Ledeen writes, “it’s probably wise to think ‘Iran.’ ” Not surprisingly, he thinks the mullahs were probably behind 9/11. If this kind of statement sounds oddly familiar, it should. It’s the 2007 equivalent of the claims made in 2002 and 2003 about Iraq. The years between 9/11 and the Iraq war gave rise to a cottage industry — led by Ledeen’s colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, Laurie Mylroie — charging that Saddam Hussein was the hidden mastermind behind a decade of jihadist terror. While refuted by the 9/11 Commission and mainstream terror experts, these claims had a political effect. They offered cover for top Bush administration officials who were predisposed to believe Iraq represented the real terror threat.
Mr. Bienart wraps it all up:
One day, prominent conservatives will offer not merely new foreign policies for the post-Bush era, but a new style of foreign policy argument: lighter on character attacks and unsubstantiated generalizations, heavier on careful reasoning and empirical evidence. And when they do, they may find “World War IV” and “The Iranian Time Bomb” instructive, as object lessons in the kinds of books not to write.
For more poop on these two pants-wetting paranoiacs, click away. Norman Podhoretz. Michael Ledeen. Remember those names. If This Great Nation of Ours™ finds itself spinning faster & faster out of control, & about to smash itself into the ground, these two will be as responsible as any for an air disaster bigger than anything Osama Bin Laden could ever have imagined. P. S.: Roger L. Simon, CEO of Pajamas Media, has also reviewed Podhoretz' book. We haven't read that review yet, but we'll link to it, and perhaps add more later. Bet it's amusingly stupid & ignorant though.


Larry Harmon said...

Ah, 9/11. I remember that my first inkling that something was wrong was when I got up and found a message from you on my phone machine (yes, I'm one of those troglodytes who still has a 1980s-style phone machine and not voice mail) saying that World War III had started. So I turned on CNN and watched the building fall, saw "America's Mayor" bleating about it, and the rest has been straight downhill the last six years.

M. Bouffant said...

The Editor's Answer:
Heh. Indeed. That's The Editor. Always informative, whether through 19th century technology, or this new-fangled Infobahn stuff. Especially if it's bad news.