By Chris Floyd-
April 28, 2004.
"The rule of law is dead.
Bob Woodward offers a few tastes of the bitter truth behind the Regime's war crime in Iraq. Homo sapiens is the only species that dreams of its own total demise. Our brief history of conscious thought is replete with vivid scenarios of the end of life on earth. The brain-fevers we call religions have produced most of these -- giddy, voluptuous nightmares of universal extinction, usually by fire, at divine order.
It seems that some ineradicable nihilism pervades us, like a virus, now dormant, now flaring: something in us that wants to die, to be done with the long, overhanging doom of mortality -- and to take the world with us. Our grand visions of the future seem to hide, at their core, a secret, desperate anxiety about the profound meaninglessness of existence -- an anxiety that often disguises itself in elaborate fantasies of the afterlife, in exaltations of one's "kind" (tribe, nation, faith, etc.), or in the eroticizing of death, war and destruction.
Instincts for preservation, sentiments of affection, the drive for pleasure -- from the most basic bodily urges to the most sublime creations and apprehensions of the intellect -- act as counterweights to this dark virus, of course. They provide for most of us, most of the time, enough fragments of meaning -- or at least sufficient distraction -- to get on with things, without too much resort to the extremes of nihilistic anxiety.
On the individual level, the calibration of these competing impulses can be intricate, subtle, ever-shifting, because the individual mind is so complex and all-encompassing, yet so enclosed, so unlockably private. But on the broader level -- species, nation, group -- human consciousness is, unavoidably, a far more blunt and brutal instrument.
There, our brain-fevers and anxieties rage more virulently, lacking the counterweights of individual feeling and the quick, intimate responsiveness of the private mind. In the group-mind, the fantasies that root in the muddy fear of meaninglessness can emerge full-blown. Thought and discourse are reduced to broad strokes, slogans, codes and incantations, with little correspondence to reality. Awareness of this tendency can mitigate some of its effects; but the group-mind's fundamental falsity often infects the actions of group leaders -- and many group members as well.
Thus we can sometimes say, not entirely metaphorically, that nations "go mad," hurtling themselves toward ruin, sick with nihilism -- although this sickness is always painted in the colors of patriotism or religious zeal, or both. Thus we can say -- again, with some accuracy -- that humankind has suicidal tendencies, manifested most clearly in the development of world-killing, species-ending nuclear weapons.
Now draw these dangerous streams together, and you have a portrait of the blunt and brutal group-mind at work in the leadership of the world's most powerful nation. The folly, fantasy and death-fetish of the Bush Regime -- long evident to anyone who cared to see -- were finally "revealed" in the mainstream media last week by the quasi-official Establishment writer, Bob Woodward. His latest insider portrait, Plan of Attack, offers -- in the usual, easily-gummed pablum form -- a few tastes of the bitter truth behind the Regime's mad, ruinous war crime in Iraq.
The corrosive nihilism at the heart of the enterprise ate through the gaudily-painted surface most tellingly in a single anecdote. Woodward asks George W. Bush how he thinks history will regard his adventure in Iraq. Bush, gazing out the window, shrugs and waves the question away. "History, we don't know," he says. "We'll all be dead." No fine, faith-filled talk here about God and Jesus and the immortal soul responsible for its actions throughout all eternity -- the kind of zealous patter Bush favors in public statements. This was just the cold, rotten, meaningless core of his grand vision -- "we'll all be dead." So who cares? AprĪs moi, le deluge.
Indeed, even as the world's attention remained fixed on the erotics of death in Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Bush's minions were quietly advancing his philosophy -- "we'll all be dead" -- with their geo-suicidal plans for more nuclear weapons. Last week, the Pentagon's influential Defense Science Board officially recommended the immediate development of a new generation of "tactical" nuclear weapons -- along with a new, Nietzschean will to use them, UPI reports.
Yes, this is the same group that developed a plan in 2002 for "provoking terrorist groups into action." The DSB wanted the Pentagon to foment terrorist attacks in order to flush the terrorists out of hiding so they could then be "crushed." The Pentagon never publicly rejected this morally insane scheme, first uncovered by the Los Angeles Times; perhaps we've already seen it in action, in Madrid, Riyadh or Bali.
In any case, the DSB's nuclear dreams are fast becoming a reality. This year, Bush quadrupled funding for key nuclear weapons development programs; at $6.6 billion, total U.S. nuclear weapons spending is now 50 percent higher than the Cold War average, California's Tri-Valley Herald reports. And Bush officials told Congress last month that the Regime is officially gutting the 2002 "Moscow Treaty" on arms control, The Associated Press reports. Instead of reducing stockpiles to treaty levels, the Regime is exercising the agreement's "get-out" option (which made the pact meaningless in the first place), in order to retain "sufficient warheads" for a "robust" posture in the face of unspecified "world events," officials testified.
What "world events" are they secretly dreaming of, these death-fetishists, these unconscious nihilists, mired in their group-mind fog? What voluptuous nightmares will require their "robust" attention? How many world-devouring warheads will be "sufficient" to at last quell their anxiety, their all-too-human craving for oblivion?
Bush: 'I Haven't Suffered Doubt,'
Newsweek, April 26, 2004 issue
Woodward on Bush
The Nation, April 19, 2004
US Not to Reduce Nuclear Arsenal to Moscow Treaty Levels
Agence-France Presse, March 25, 2004
Pentagon Wants New Generation of Smaller, Cheaper Nukes
UPI, April 2, 2004
Bipartisan Tension Rises Over Bush's Proposed Nuclear Program
Tri-Valley Herald, March 27, 2004
New Arms Race Not in the Offing, Bush Team Says
Oakland Tribune, April 15, 2004
Pentagon Panel Calls for New Nukes
The Daily Review, April 1, 2004
Nuke Test Resumption Feared by Senators
Pahrump Valley Times, April 16, 2004
Woodward Shares War Secrets
CBS News, April 15, 2004
The Secret War
The Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 2002
Into the Dark: The Pentagon Plan to Provoke Terrorist Attacks
Counterpunch, Nov. 1, 2002
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