When we take our local hang-ups about winning and losing -- ultimately about machismo -- to the national level we are not in any way surprised to find that our own micro system of society is at least partially reproduced in macro. Although, the national culture is admittedly more Anglo and middle class, the current machismo-obsessed faux-persona who has proven the absurdity of our collective masculine imago, as a pandering reflection of our own "West Texican identity," is George W. Bush, who rode into town pistolas drawn while carefully guarding the secret that he is, in fact, afraid of horses. "All hat and no cattle," as they say.
Television and mass media play no small roll in socializing everyone to the conservative American radical individualist and materialist zeitgeist they are constructing on behalf of the corporatist-oligarchic powers they would impress and placate. Our fearless leader must not only be a man, he must be a winner.
Beneath this facade of American Machismo, the political and social perspective they promote and the leaders they choose to promote it amounts to a cheapened version of a Marlborough Man commercial for freedom and liberty, one that forwards behind the stage set the civil rights and economic interests of unrestrained corporatism, based upon a strained 19th century, Robber Baron influenced, Supreme Court interpretation of the 14th Amendment that defined a corporation as an individual citizen with all the attendant rights of due process and civil liberties.
No one played the leading role for them as well as Ronald Reagan; and even he was acting in a quasi-John Wayne persona. All the while, vis-a-vis the 14th Amendment's post-post-modern Neoconservative implementation, the Corporatist centers of political and economic power ignore, by virtue of their very radical individualism (Read: avarice and selfishness) the individual rights of the powerless lower and middle classes.
The Enlightenment notion of the common good is now lost to history. We are left only with the portrait of a thespian cowboy playing the rugged American individual atop a wheezened horse in a Hollywood backlot.
When radical individualists Bush and Cheney speak rhetorically about spreading freedom and liberty, what they actually mean, with no idea of the duplicity involved -- at least on the part of Bush -- is the spreading of unrestrained corporatism (to their personal aggrandizement as well, of course). "What is good for bid'ness is good for the country."
A staggeringly egregious example of the MSM's Corporatist complicity with this perversion of Republican Democracy is now being documented in a lawsuit by Dan Rather against his former employer CBS News. We are now beginning to see more and more evidence that this radical Corporatist Weltanschauung -- or worldview -- is purposefully and mechanistically protected, manipulated and promoted. Sydney Blumenthal is tracking the story closely at Salon, a story that reveals Dan Rather to be a victim of his own fear of financial insecurity and loss of status as he knuckled under to CBS corporate threats and intimidation, who were themselves under threat and intimidation by representatives of Karl Rove. In the immediate wake of his firing, even his professional colleagues in the press began to view him openly as a loser.
No more prominent example exists of the use of the press as propaganda then Fox News, Even by Rupert Murdock's own admission, their mission is to promote the goals and objectives of the Neocon foreign policy while spreading the gospel of fiscal belt-tightening at the domestic social level [Read: "middle & working classes] at the same time they bleed the treasury for the own designs. Anyone who disagrees with their foreign and domestic policy is attacked publicly as both unpatriotic and subversive of the goal of winning the "War on Terror," a completely absurdest political construction used for purposes of propaganda.
Triumphalism Reigns Supreme: We must not only win, we must win with our chests out, our chins up and our hearts singing of the glories of our God by whom we have been chosen to establish His Kingdom and earth and to whom we march within the honored ranks of his "better angels."
But our pervasive obsession with winning can sometimes cloak the truth -- or at least the Neoconservative version played out under cover that has attempted to placate that American obsession. Consider this insightful but ironically myopic article about "winning" and the related metaphor suggested by military medals. Tom Engelhardt, an independent journalist associated with The Nation Institute, writes in "Saving the Military from Itself":
When, in mid-September, General David Petraeus testified before Congress on "progress" in Iraq, he appeared in full dress uniform with quite a stunning chestful of medals. The general is undoubtedly a tough bird. He was shot in the chest during a training-exercise accident and later broke his pelvis in a civilian skydiving landing, but until he went to Iraq in 2003, he had not been to war. In the wake of his testimony, the New York Times tried to offer an explanation for the provenance of at least some of those intimidating medals and ribbons -- including the United Nations Medal (for participants in joint UN operations), the National Defense Service Medal (for those serving during a declared national emergency, including 9/11) and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (for… well, you know…). Petraeus is not alone. Here, for instance, is former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Peter Pace, a combat Marine in Vietnam, with one dazzling chestful of medals and another of ribbons.
Medal and ribbon escalation has been long on the rise in the U.S. military. Here, for instance, was General William Westmoreland, who commanded U.S. forces in Vietnam, sporting his chestful back in that distant era. But the strange thing is: As you continue heading back in time, as, in fact, U.S. generals become more successful, those ribbons and medals shrink -- and not because the men weren't highly decorated either. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who won World War II in Europe for the Allies seems, in his period of glory, to have chosen to wear between one and three rows. And General George C. Marshall, who oversaw all of World War II, after a distinguished career in the military, can be seen in photos wearing but three rows as well.It's hard to believe that there isn't a correlation here -- that, in fact, there isn't also a comparison to be made. For all the world, when I saw Petraeus on display, I thought of the full-dress look of Soviet generals, not to say the Soviet Union's leader Leonid Brezhnev, back in the sclerotic 1980s when, ambushed in Afghanistan, they were on the way down. Like the USSR then, the U.S., only a few years back hailed as the planet's New Rome, has the look of a superpower in distress -- and it's hard to believe that generals with such chests full of medals, whether in the former USSR or the present USA, have the kind of perspective that actually leads to winning wars -- or to assessing a losing war correctly. [Above Right: General Patton in combat]
Engelhardt then turned the article over to his co-author, Retired Col. William Astore:
Why are we spilling blood and treasure with such reckless abandon? One answer is the military itself. Our military is a funhouse reflection of ourselves -- purpose-driven, results-oriented, can-do, never-say-die, win-at-any-cost. Many commentators have noted that, in his recent testimony before Congress, General David Petraeus was hardly likely to criticize his own strategy in Iraq or, more crucially, the performance of the troops under his command. I have no doubt, however, that his belief in the viability of his mission reaches far deeper than that. Indeed, it surely taps into a core belief within the military that we can -- and must -- prevail in any conflict. We've been seduced by our own hype about being the world's "sole superpower," as if nuclear and technological supremacy had made us omnipotent as well as omni-competent.Notwithstanding the fact that Petraeus is finally being permitted to deploy a classic counter-insurgency strategy (admittedly one that is being deployed too late to win the hearts and minds of Iraqi civilians and is therefore doomed to the ignoble status of "Occupation Army") -- a military strategy that replaces the testosterone toxicity of Gen. Tommy Franks' conventional militarily blustering, muscled-up, artillery firing, pistol waving and bomb dropping Pentagon predecessors who killed over 100,000 civilians and were responsible for Abu Ghraib -- well meaning progressive writers Engelhardt and Astore are falling into the same fallacious trap of Cartesian dualism the Neocons themselves are afraid to reveal. It has been their tool of division and instigation - an effective one that helps them promote their infamous Noble Lies and Perpetual War. For to do so unveils their true imperialist objective as well as their Machiavellian use of evangelical triumphalism -- this war is not about "winning" or "losing."
Let me say that again: This war is not about "winning" or "losing." Corporatists could care less about "collateral damage" as long as we sit on top of one of the world's largest reserves of oil. Just sit, that's all. It's an easy game of risk on borrowed money they will never have to pay off.
Essential to their nature is that Straussians govern from the amoral perspective of Kissingerian Realpolik. The Iraqi oil fields are now theirs to keep and use later -- decades later when the peak-oil curve of world supply is heading downward and they need it the most. They do not have to use it now. Damn the doom-sayers who lament the terrorist attacks on refineries and pipelines. The oil is in reserve, and remaining in reserve helps Corporatists keep the price of oil inflated, thereby enriching them. This would be true even if they didn't actually control access to the oil fields. As long as no one else does either, their reserve status is maintained until such time as they require access.
This utilitarian principle, flying in the face of the extant dichotomously charged notions of winning and losing -- of "kicking ass and taking names" -- is to be applied in the case of Iran as well. The Straussian Neocon aggressors, now ensconced in the Office of Vice President and the Pentagon, do not have to "win" a war with Iran. They have only to destabilize Iranian control over a thin sliver of elongated real estate that runs north and south along the Iraqi border, no more than 50--100 miles in width and far from the center of power in Tehran -- the Iranian oil fields. American oil exploratory companies already have the geophysical technology to locate and "slant drill" for oil, hundreds of miles in any direction, which can easily be done from Iraq where US military installations are proliferating. Put if war comes, the main choke point over which to gain control will be the Strait of Hormuz.
Next, the Straussians have in their sights the Caspian basin, formerly held by the USSR but now somewhat in disarray due to CIA/Mossad/MI6 meddling in the region to create pro-western revolutions, such as the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia that resulted in a pro-western "democracy." There is a strong probability that, despite promises otherwise, U.S. encroachment into the Russian sphere of influence first in Georgia and Chechnya and now among the independent Islamic states surrounding the Caspian Sea, is being exploited by the Bush Administration as a bargaining chip in a game of "diplomatic brinkmanship" designed to illicit Russian's passivity regarding our hawkish posturing with Syria, Iraq and Iran. At any rate, the Russians have certainly figured out by now that American promises are worthless and meant only to pacify and placate them -- witness how quickly we reneged on Clinton's promise not to allow NATO to encroach upon the former USSR's eastern and southern borders. We have nearly completely surrounded them -- their greatest security fears come true -- and with European help, the U.S. could completely cut off Russian access via the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal, the economic and geopolitical nightmare of Russian vulnerability they have been working to defend since before the days of the imperial Czars.
All the while, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been played the fool, a chump and a Loser (notice again the capital "L" in the word "Loser"). He has lost all trust and, pressured by an angry military, has ordered the Russian air force to resume precautionary missions amounting to a state of heightened alert similar to their status and function during the Cold War. Regarding our once pristine diplomatic integrity -- or so goes the domestically inspired American myth of state -- The Bush Administration has no more to offer the United Nations than a wink and a nod to "the Noble Lies" that are required in the spirit of [Straussian] pragmatism, or "Realpolitik," to be precise.
In the meantime, this Straussian Neoconservative administration is so paranoid of the collective illusion of America's spirituality and its anti-corporatist Christian values of fair play and responsible world citizenship that they have been avoiding the inevitable demands of the situation: In order to maintain a US presence in Iraq they will eventually have to knock-off the Manichean dualistic games of pretension and provocation they have fostered through an apparently ephemeral device of evangelical triumphalism. After all, the Neoconservative movement is grounded in a stridently Straussian Zionism, not a zealot-Christian evangelicalism, even though they do at times appear similar. They should recognize before it is too late that a strategy that depends for its domestic support on the battle cry, "Lets-bring-Jesus-back-for-the-Rapture-to-defeat-Satan-in-the-Middle-East" can only work for so long before its zealous adherents turn on them for refusing to accept Jesus as the prophesied messiah.
The most painful of ironies is that the whole messianic construct came to fruition within a foreign occupied religious nation-state to begin with. Under George Bush, a cabal of mostly agnostic but nevertheless Zionist Straussians by philosophic temperament, known to the world as Neocons, have been dangerously pandering for the popular support of those who would place them under the dominion of a theocratic construct that demands their conversion against all ethnic, subcultural and familial traditions. This can only be understood in terms of the Machiavellian use of what classicist aristocrat and Zionist Leo Strauss called "the noble lie" required to rule such "unwashed masses." They are convinced it will not backfire.
Failing at this situationally demanded transparency -- that of an actual Republican Democracy -- Straussians are liable to encourage the equally self-righteous and politically disastrous interference by the Zealous Grand PhooBah Wizards of Rushdoony-inspired Protestant Reconstructionism and the religious right-wing dominionist mythology they foment from dulard, literalism-bound imaginations that grew up with the corn -- that same corn that was insensitively trodden over "back in the days" by circuit riders content to deliver unto them, with a whistle and a lisp through missing teeth, their most
deeply held prejudices and religious fantasies before moving on to the wheat fields and cow patties of the High Plains on a mission to evangelize the Heartland and protect its simple people from
Enlightened Reason -- all without even stopping to wipe their asses with the husks that were good for nothing else once they had passed.
Just in case you need reminding, the religious huskers above (John Hagee, James Dobson & Don Wildmon) are multimillionaires. Never let anyone tell you that hate is not profitable.
Yes, well, failing to relent from such high handed "noble" manipulation of the simple minded, and not willing to share openly and honestly their grandiose vision of Straussian infested empire, a reactionary American redux of the Inquisition, the Crusades and/or the Nazi pogroms -- falling short, one would hope, of the Holocaust itself -- would not be a lovely sight to behold in the "Land of the Free." Don't think this can't happen here, 'cause I'm telling you, my dear, that it can. Leo Strauss notoriously counseled that democracy is dangerous because it is too bound-up in debate and consensus seeking to set about the pragmatic work of governance in a timely fashion, to say nothing of the ignorance of its "unwashed masses." Lynch mobs, while every bit as ignorant, are just as efficient and timely at their volatile political and social work as those social and political organizations Strauss would prefer.
Ironically, by not confronting the classic "win-lose" apocalyptic mindset concerning the war, at one time before the current presidential primary campaign season got under way, they were being driven from power by it. Instead of being promoted as the man who insured political instability in the Middle East so as to both insure the security of Israel and that of the oil reserves underground -- which is their actual documented Straussian driven policy goals along with the establishment of Western control over the entire region including the Caspian oil basin -- Bush is going down as a Loser (notice the capital "L" in "Loser"?) and everyone is whining about how he blew it. [Actually, Bush is neither winning nor losing; he is stumbling, barely somnambulant through a narcissistic dream of his own grandiosity. It is Cheney who is the reckless and arrogant aggressor at the helm of state.]
But the Straussians are no longer being driven from office. They are preparing their future under a new presidential authority -- that of Hillary Rodham and William Jefferson Clinton, who once marketed themselves along with Joseph Lieberman as Democratic moderates -- "New Democrats" -- who reduced the size of government, gutted the welfare system and negotiated the Neoconservative designed economic package, the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Clintons, you see, live and operate within the power circles and money streams of the Straussian Corporatist Weltanschauung.
Make no mistake, AIPAC (the power center of Neoconservatism and the American wing of the Likud Party of Israel) is now the crown prince of lobbies, even stronger than the NRA and working cooperatively with them in their mutual support for the American arms industry, while the even more hawkish AIPAC, at times driven by an ethnocentricism that flies in the chagrined faces of more traditionally neutral state department officials, attempts to dominate the foreign policy of the United States though its extant power-centers in the Pentagon and the White House.
They are joined in power and political influence by JINSA and other hawkish neoconservative think tanks as well as a host of ethnocentric journalists who make no apologies for a Straussian form of Zionism that would commit the United States to actions in support of Israel in the Middle East that might at times betray the national interests of the United States itself.
No one gets elected without their support. Despite taking an anti-war stance, Democratic presidential primary candidates, Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson are not so foolish as to take them on directly. They could not withstand the political smearing they would undoubtedly experience in the coming months. Richardson, particularly, has a shot at the vice presidency but could never prove himself a "winner" without the support of AIPAC and its network of lobbies.
After all, American politics is no more the forum of those who would serve all of the People and our Common Good; it has consistently evolved, despite episodic progressive and populist reform, to become Le Théâtre de l'Absurde, giving vent to the lowest natures of the most unenlightened and philosophically decadent of our "heroes" and "winners" into the stagnant ponds and sewers beneath Olympus, the spellbound refuge of Narcissus.
--Will the Winner
& Widowmaker, his beloved