FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Triumph of Crackpot Realism

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

The frayed threads anchoring the American government to reality have finally snapped, just at the moment radiologists are reporting that Americans are getting too fat to be x-rayed or shoved into any existing MRI tube.

The gamma rays can’t get through the blubber, same way actual conditions in the outside world bounces off the impenetrable dome of imbecility sheltering America’s political leadership.

Twenty-three years after one of America’s stupidest Presidents announced Star Wars, Reagan’s dream has come true. Behind ramparts guarded by a coalition of liars extending from Rupert Murdoch to the New York Times, from Bill O’Reilly to PBS, America is totally shielded from truth.

Here we have a Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who gazes at the rubble of Lebanon, 300,000 refugees being strafed with Israel’s cluster bombs, and squeaks happily that we are “witnessing the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

Here we have a president, G. Bush, who urges Vladimir Putin to commence in Russia the same “institutional change” that is making Iraq a beacon of freedom and free expression. Not long after Bush extended this ludicrous invitation the UN relayed from Iraq’s Ministry of Health Iraq’s real casualty rate, which was running at least 100 a day, now probably twice that number.

Iraq’s morgues reported receipts of 3,149 dead bodies in June; over 14,000 since the beginning of the year. Senior Iraqis in the government confide that break-up of Iraq into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish enclaves, each protected by its own militias, is now inevitable. Iraq as a viable country has been utterly destroyed, with even vaster carnage coming up over the horizon, and here’s the numbskull President touting it as an advertisement for American nation-building at its best, and inviting its prime minister to Washington to proclaim Iraq’s approaching renaissance, all in sync with the U.S. 2006 election campaigns.

Here we have a Congress which reacts with outrage when America’s picked man in Iraq, Prime Minister al-Maliki, states the obvious, which is that Israel’s attack is “dangerous” and that the world community is not doing enough to curb Israel’s destruction of Lebanon.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi rushes out a statement “Unless Mr. Maliki disavows his critical comments of Israel and condemns terrorism, it is inappropriate to honor him with a joint meeting of Congress,” Another twenty Democrats said al-Maliki shouldn’t be allowed to set foot in the place.

Actually, I’m not so sure Congress is impervious to reality, particularly if reality spells out as a threat of withdrawal of support from the Israel lobby in the next electoral cycle. The place is about 98 percent bought and paid for by the Lobby. How these transactions spell out on the ground was well described by Tom Hayden the other day (www.counterpunch.org/Hayden07202006.htm) as he explained why he felt it necessary for his political future in Los Angeles to stand, Jane Fonda at his side, next to Israelis gunners shelling Beirut back in 1982.

What we are now witnessing is the simultaneous collapse of two countries-Iraq and Lebanon-as sponsored or encouraged by America’s ruling bipartisan coalition and its ideological counselors-ranging from Christian nutballs like Falwell to secular nutballs like Hitchens. Wesley Clarke is now saying that back in late 2001 he visited the Pentagon and was told the planned hit list included Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan as part of a five-year campaign plan. Two down, five to go.

The attack on Lebanon was planned in detail at least a year ago. Israel picked the supposed provocation of the Hezbollah capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 25, but almost any excuse would have sufficed. In 1982 Israel lied flatly, and said it was responding to shells lobbed over the border, even though there’d been none for over a year.

With Bush and Rice and the policy-makers and intellectual courtiers surrounding them, crackpot realism is the prevailing mode.

“Crackpot realism” was the concept defined by the great Texan sociologist, C. Wright Mills in 1958, when he published The Causes of World War Three, also the year that Dwight Eisenhower sent the Marines into Lebanon to bolster local US factotum, Lebanese President Camille Chamoun.

“In crackpot realism,” Mills wrote, ” a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with an opportunist crawling among a great scatter of unfocused fears and demands. .. The expectation of war solves many problems of the crackpot realists; … instead of the unknown fear, the anxiety without end, some men of the higher circles prefer the simplification of known catastrophe….They know of no solutions to the paradoxes of the Middle East and Europe, the Far East and Africa except the landing of Marines. … they prefer the bright, clear problems of war-as they used to be. For they still believe that ‘winning’ means something, although they never tell us what…”

The Israeli elites, so habituated to selling intransigeance to their ever- receptive opposite numbers in Washington, are now crackpot realists themselves to the very core. Their generals bellow about dumping ten rockets on south Beirut for every one landing in Israel and are astounded when people start talking about the fact that exacting reprisals on a civilian population — which is what the onslaught has been all about — is a war crime.

Israel is systematically trying to destroy Lebanon as a functioning social and economic entity, cleanse the south and reoccupy up to the Litani River The head of Lebanon’s Industrial Association, Charles Arbid, told Agence France Presse on July 24 that Israel’s strategy is to destroy the whole chain of manufacturing, from production to distribution. Bridges, airports, roads, trucks, ports have been methodically attacked.

Israel’s hack legions here recycle the usual mad nonsense about extirpating the terrorist seed, just as they did in 1982, when Henry Kissinger, the crackpot realist supremo, announced after that onslaught that he could see “a fresh beginning” emerging from under the rubble. True in a way. What sprouted from under the rubble was Hezbollah. Only crackpot realists think they can suppress that inevitable cycle.

Note: a version of this column originally ran in The Nation, which went to press last Thursday.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
Tony McKenna
The Oily Politics of Unity: Owen Smith as Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary
Nizar Visram
If North Korea Didn’t Exist US Would Create It
John Carroll Md
At St. Catherine’s Hospital, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Singaporean Conjucture
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Trump: the Birth of the Hero
Jill Richardson
Trump on Cuba: If Obama Did It, It’s Bad
Olivia Alperstein
Our President’s Word Wars
REZA FIYOUZAT
Useless Idiots or Useful Collaborators?
Clark T. Scott
Parallel in Significance
Louis Proyect
Hitler and the Lone Wolf Assassin
Julian Vigo
Theresa May Can’t Win for Losing
Richard Klin
Prog Rock: Pomp and Circumstance
Charles R. Larson
Review: Malin Persson Giolito’s “Quicksand”
David Yearsley
RIP: Pomp and Circumstance
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail