Of Cabbages, Cessnas and Kings

by WILLIAM S. LIND

Two weeks ago, a small, single-engine plane inadvertently strayed into the closed air space above Washington. The result was panic. Both the White House and the Capitol were evacuated, with police shouting "Run! Run!" at fleeing staffers and visitors. Senators and Congressmen abandoned in haste the floors of their respective Houses. Various RIPs (Really Important People) were escorted to their Fuehrerbunkers. F-16s came close to shooting the Cessna down.

The whole episode would have been funny if it weren’t so sad. As an historian, I could think of nothing other than the behavior of an earlier profile in courage, the Persian king Darius, at the battle of Issus. As the Roman historian Arrian described it,

The moment the Persian left went to pieces under Alexander’s attack and Darius, in his war chariot, saw that it was cut off, he incontinently fled ­ indeed, he led the race for safety . . . dropping his shield and stripping off his mantle ­ even leaving his bow in the war-chariot ­ he leapt upon a horse and rode for his life.

Not surprisingly, Darius’s army was less than keen to fight to the death for its illustrious leader. As one British officer said, commenting on U.S. Marines’ love of running for exercise, "We prefer our officers not to run. It can discourage the troops."

I suspect that more than a few of our soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, enjoying as they do a daily diet of IEDs, ambushes and mortarings, were less than amused at watching Washington flee from a flea. More importantly, what message does such easy panic send to the rest of the world? Osama bin Laden has whole armies trying to kill him, but as best I know he has shown no signs of fear. Here again we see the power of the moral level of war. In cultures less decadent than our own, few men are likely to identify with leaders who fill their pants at one tiny blip on a radar screen.

The episode also reveals what has become one of the main characteristics of America’s "homeland defense:" a total inability to use common sense. We have already seen that in our airport security procedures, our de facto open borders immigration policy and the idiotic "Patriot Act." Here, it seems that no one was willing to act on the obvious, namely that if a small plane is approaching Washington, it is probably because the pilot got lost (which pilots do frequently). Why? Because to bureaucracies what is important is not external reality but covering your own backside politically. Putting on shows serves that purpose well, even if the shows make us look like both fools and cowards.

There was also a message to the American people in the Cessna affair, and from a Fourth Generation perspective it was not a helpful one. The message was that the safety of the New Class in Washington is far more important than the safety of other Americans. As the first really serious terrorist incident is likely to show, America remains ill-prepared either to prevent or to deal with the consequences of a "dirty bomb" or a suitcase nuke or an induced plague. Not only will ordinary people die in large numbers, it will be realized in retrospect that many of the deaths could have been avoided had the New Class cared about anyone other than itself. But, of course, it doesn’t.

As I have said many times before, what lies at the heart of Fourth Generation war is a crisis of legitimacy of the state. In America, that crisis can only be intensified by any instance where the Washington elite draws a distinction between itself and the rest of the country. When the same people who have sent our kids to die in Iraq and left our borders wide open run in panic because of a Cessna, the American people get the message: Washington is "them," not "us." At some point, that gap may grow wide enough to swallow the state itself. Kings who become cabbages, like Darius, end up history’s losers.

WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.




















































 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece
Jeffrey R. Wilson
“It Started Like a Guilty Thing”: the Beginning of Hamlet and the Beginning of Modern Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Star Whores: John McCain, the Apache and the Battle to Save Mt. Graham
Pepe Escobar
The Eurasian Big Bang: How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
Charles Larson
The USA as a Failed State: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Robert Fantina
Israel and “Self-Defense”
John W. Whitehead
The American Nightmare: the Tyranny of the Criminal Justice System
Leonidas Vatikiotis
Rupture With the EU: a Return to the Cave Age or a New Golden Age for Greece?
Murray Dobbin
Harper is Finally Right: the Canadian Election is About Security Versus Risk
Brian Cloughley
Meet General Joseph Dunford: a Real Threat to World Peace
Manuel García, Jr.
The Trump Surge and the American Psyche
Pete Dolack
We May Have Already Committed Ourselves to 6-Meter Sea-Level Rise
Eric Draitser
US Targets Venezuela Using Border Dispute as Pretext
Michael Barker
The Challenge to Labour and Tory Extremism
Robert Hunziker
America’s Purple Politics
Ishmael Bishop
Decentering Whiteness in the Wake of a North Carolina Tragedy
Chad Nelson
Something About Carly: Fiorina and the Professional Political Class