Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Prince of Darkness, like his neocon minions, has a heart of darkness

On the NYT Op-Ed page recently, the Prince of Darkness outlined what he considered "An Appropriate Response" for Israel to Hezbollah's provocation.
Israel must now deal a blow of such magnitude to those who would destroy it as to leave no doubt that its earlier policy of acquiescence is over. This means precise military action against Hezbollah and its infrastructure in Lebanon and Syria, for as long as it takes and without regard to mindless diplomatic blather about proportionality. For what appears to some to be a disproportionate response to small incursions and kidnappings is, in fact, an entirely appropriate response to the existential struggle in which Israel is now engaged. -- RICHARD PERLE
He's not the only one. All the other neocon princelings seem to be, if anything, even more completely in the grip of war fever. And as Glenn Greenwald suggests in his overview, there's every reason to think the White House is listening to them. But what are they saying, really?

They see the current chaos, not as a disaster, but as an opportunity to finally remake the Middle East once and for all. Forget about Iraq. The problem there was, we were simply thinking too small, the solution was not far-reaching enough.

These are intelligent people who think they know the Middle East and its problems. They use their educations, their experience in government, and above all, the language of reason to create far-reaching utopian visions for the future of the Middle East. It sounds fantastic, until you start to really listen -- especially between the lines.

That's when, hidden behind the reasonable tone, the assured, worldly voice, and the self-confident air of pragmatic realism, you find an older, uglier voice, the Mr. Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll of European colonialism. Joseph Conrad wrote a book about the impulses contained in that voice, a book that brilliantly evoked another Prince of Darkness.
'By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded,' etc., etc. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence -- of words -- of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!'
Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" was fiction. We can only hope that, likewise, the neocon vision for the Middle East never gets beyond the realm of fiction. They've already hopelessly screwed up Iraq. We can't afford for them to do the same thing to the whole world.

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos.)

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