Wednesday, July 20, 2005

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 

Well, the honeymoon was nice while it lasted. London Mayor Ken Livingstone, whose eloquence in response to the terror bombings in his city moved nearly everyone across the political spectrum, has found just how far decency gets you when it doesn't serve the interests of the lunatics running the asylum. Speaking on Radio 4 yesterday of what drives suicide bombers, he stated the obvious:
"You've just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil. We've propped up unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones we didn't consider sympathetic."
(via The Scotsman UK)

... and went on to hazard that the bombers just might have been motivated by concrete grievances, rather than free-floating homicidal rage. Really? Ya think? Four Arab youths with apparently no history of even political involvement, let alone radical activities, happily strap on backpacks full of explosives to kill as many innocent civilians as they can, and you think there might be an articulable motive (however morally unjustified)?

Certainly Tony Blair wants such DoublePlus Ungood thinking rubbished out, and the sooner the better. Doing what struck me as an uncannily creepy impersonation of President Pinocchio on CBC Television, Blair blathered on about the bombers' unappeasable armageddonite fantasies while familiar spasmodic smirks flickered across his face, his jaw periodically jutting foward like a barroom drunk trying to pick a fight. Is this tic diagnostic of the compulsive liar generally, I wonder?

Somewhere I read that one sign of the delusional mind is the conviction that the laws of the universe don't apply. And what else is this dogged belief that Western actions have no negative reactions, than a denial of Newtonian physics? On Riggsveda's recommendation last week, I went out and bought a copy of Paul Williams Roberts' A War Against Truth. Among its many virtues (controlled outrage, verbal dexterity, caustic irony) one that I did not expect was its merciless recounting of the cynical betrayal of the Arab world by the Western powers after World War I (and one that continues to this day)-- a story I, at least, knew only in general, if also unflattering terms. It was only then that I realized the larger actual scope of the book's title. Betrayed people have long memories.

A Canadian neighbor remarked to us the other night that during her years living in San Francisco in the late 80s, she was struck by how, even then, Americans still couldn't talk honestly to one another about Vietnam. I remarked that it looked like our collective neurosis was on its way to siring an offspring in Iraq. "Oh, but Iraq is even worse, because you have no idea how to get out."

As long as politicians can't even state the most elementary truths about the course they've set us on, that's not going to change.

UPDATE: Patrick Cockburn says much the same thing I was trying to, only better, here.

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