A View From The Handbasket

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:18 PM

1) Fiddle foreign correspondent Tyrone wonders: Has it occurred to anyone that the U.S. muddled response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon and the conflating of Hezbollah "terrorism" with the GWOT--rather than one more instance of Bush incompetence--is neocon "dumb like a fox" behavior? An Orwellian war without end suits their ends, doesn't it?

Yes. Yes, it does.

Atrios nailed this one a few days ago.

In case that image means nothing to you (in other words, if you don't get caught up in cult TV shows), here's the quick version. In his TV show Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski presented a universe where two ancient races oversaw the development of younger races (such as humans). One of these races, the Vorlons, believed that strict control was key to ensuring the successful development of the new races. They manipulated the newcomers (creating, among other things, religion) and affected an air of mysterious omnipotence/omniscience while demanding strict obedience of those few allowed to contact them (and those that crossed them paid a fearsome price).

The other race, the Shadows, believed chaos was the key to progress. At regular intervals, they would emerge from hiding and spark great galaxy-wide warfare (either overtly or by instigating hostilities behind the scenes), killing billions. In this way, they reasoned, unfit cultures would fall by the wayside and the stronger races would advance. (The picture above and on Atrios' post is a Shadow.)

These two races, naturally, hated each other and worked to foil the other's plans whenever possible.

For quite some time, the US acted as a Vorlon in many ways, using foreign aid and access to markets as a tool to extract obedience from a variety of countries, from the tyrannical to the vibrant. We justified this to ourselves by claiming that what we did was in the best interest of the poor benighted foreigners, who needed only to follow our orders to become as free and mighty and rich as we were.

When Condi Rice proclaims that the current carnage represents the "birth pangs of a new Middle East," she is placing the US in the role of the Shadows. We pre-emptively invade and occupy countries and expect to see peaceful democracies sprout from the blood-stained earth. We arm Israel, then sit back and watch as our bombs put more blood into the soil. From all this death, we say, peace will emerge.

In the universe of Babylon 5, this situation was resolved through a giant, cataclysmic war, which ended when the younger races banded together and denied both the Vorlons and Shadows and refused to submit to them any longer.

In some vastly oversimplified way, I suspect that may well be the endgame we're all hurtling toward.

2) Where the hell have you been?

It's been too damn hot to think, let alone blog. I've been busy. The news has been too depressing. I've been perfecting the perpetual motion machine. The dog ate my modem.

3) Do you have any audiovisual evidence that the rest of the world is both incredibly fearful of the perceived lawlessness of America and at the same time perhaps just a little bit barking mad?


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