The Very Hungry Caterpillar
A Bedtime Story for Jimmy Carter
I enjoyed your September 5th piece in the Washington Post. It was reassuring to note that the alarm many of us are feeling at the scary new face of the Bush Administration has been felt by persons as distinguished and informed as yourself. The article was, of course, written before the Presidents United Nations speech, so although it is not even two weeks old it is already seriously out of date, as are my own jeremiads from the past year. I can cite four examples from just your first sentence, of things that might have been considered real two weeks ago which have since gone the way of the griffin: human rights (bestowed not by God, as it turns out, but by our federal government which can suspend then at will), the community of nations (foreigners who will now begin to do as they are told), the Middle East peace process (well, nobody ever did believe in that), and the administration (a high school civics euphemism for the ruling junta).
Like you, I have failed to examine the assumption that the Bush administration basically wants what the rest of us want: a less dangerous, more business-friendly world where everybody prospers and nobody has to abuse anybody else. I assumed that they were pursuing these goals in the same way Ariel Sharon was pursuing peace and security for Israel, i.e. stupidly. I have not been so naive as to rule out the presence of avarice or that special fixation on the alpha male dick that afflicts those cursed with excessive power. Dubyuhs bullying unilateralism could be explained as ordinary Texas pigheadedness coupled with an unusually simplistic grasp of global political dynamism. I might even have gone so far as to suspect Cheney & Co. of pursuing the demonization of Saddam Hussein for no other reason than to grab his oil wells.
The demise of the Soviet Union has resulted in a new game board which leaves the United States and its rulers in a position of unchallenged power. Except for yourself, I doubt whether anybody ever seriously expected that we would exercise this power to create a world of peace and multilateral respect, in which border disputes are resolved and human rights are the only condition of cultural autonomy. We are neither a wise nor a compassionate people, so it is understandable that we would do some chest pounding, settle a few old grudges and let it be known that we are now top dog and will not seek international approval to do as we please. At the limit of my poor imagination, as black as I could paint it, was Uncle Sam savaging the world like a rogue elephant, oblivious to the rights and wishes of foreign states. It was a rosy view of things, which I am now forced to set aside as the masks come off and the new world order looms into awful focus.
The new world order is not about big dogs and little dogs. It is about masters and slaves. It is not about peace or diplomacy, it is about war and the spoils of war. It is not about some future evolution of mankind, some quantum breakthrough into a mature, utopian kind of human organization. It is the new Rome, the perennial dream of which the insane history of despotism is woven. It constitutes a modern reassertion of the Same Old Shit conquerors have always imposed upon vassals: mandatory submission to the Empire. It embraces the essence of civilization at its darkest tribal roots: dominance, plunder and servitude. What is unprecedented is only that this time the goal is total control of the planetary sphere. The architects of this plan are not talking about the kind of fortifications that might repel invasion from some barbarian quarter outside our frontiers. There will be no frontier, no other, no foreign nation. Only a single, ruthless Orwellian society in which no beginning of rebellion will be tolerated. A global hive comprised of ruler bees at the country club, soldier bees to keep the peace and worker bees sitting at endless rows of sewing machines in the vast, homogenous fly infested industrial zones beyond the Hamptons. Got the picture Jimmy? These fuckers want to take over the world.
If our allies believe there is some safety or future advantage in supporting U.S. hegemony in these early stages, they should look again at the Presidents words. The community of nations is a joke to us. An irrelevance. We intend to act alone or with tagalongs to rid the earth of what pathetic rivals remain to challenge our authority. Then we will create a world of perfect transparency, on the conceptual model of a Texas maximum security prison, where hiding places themselves are forbidden. Any exemption from this will constitute a threat, for as we know from experience, emperors do not sleep easily and are given to preemptive poisonings.
Will cultural diversity be a thing of the past? No more so than biodiversity is a thing of the past here in the aftermath of mans war with untamed nature. You can still see tigers in zoos, and Im sure we will preserve Muslims in theme parks. What we have done with our defanged wildlife we will do with the Persians and the Chinese and the French. We wont do away with them. Well still be able to enjoy a nice, safe visit to Montmartre and order a nice bottle of Chardonnay from Jacques ze waiter.
Bush could not have made it much plainer to the U.N. He came before them not in a spirit of respectful petition, but as a visiting tyrant, the new CEOs first visit after a hostile merger. He left them all the dignity of a class of kindergartners, reminding them that their silly organization existed at our pleasure, and spelling out the new agenda purely for their information. Some described it as a masterful piece of marketing. It was in fact the end of marketing, the end of the illusion of voluntary compliance. A sort of stunned silence has set in this week. Who is going to challenge him? Who is going to present himself as a terrorist sympathizer? I expect heads to nod, heels to click and resolutions to pass right quickly, as Lords foreign and domestic drop to one knee and surrender their freedom.
The last bit of fiction that has fled my brain this week is that this coup is about U.S. hegemony. I think the core group of conservatives you refer to, and the business interests they represent, are the ones aspiring to be the puppet masters here. Just as nobody is asking the Afghans what they want these days, nobody is asking the American people either. This is the age of buzz words. Americans and their freedom provide the natural justification for aggression against anyone tainted with terrorism and evil. Before these magic words, civil rights dissolve and the rule of law is subsumed by the rule of survival.
It must be an amazing revelation to the comic book minds of Messrs. Rove, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Powell and Wolfowitz that this thing has been so easy to pull off. No evidence, no substance, no rationale, no consensus has been necessary at any point. Like Joe McCarthy waving his fake list of government commies at the Congress, they seem to be purely faking it! They must be downright giddy! With the news media in their pocket, successfully distracting us from the long-awaited notes of the Cheney-Enron meeting with costume contests on Times Square, it looks like they have written themselves carte blanche. Fully half of Americas retirement savings has vaporized without a whimper from us, without a dip in the approval ratings. By now they must be so full of hubris that the world appears like a herd of milk cows. Perhaps that is just what it is.
Jimmy, when the shit hits the fan I want to come to Atlanta. I want to be with you and Nelson Mandela and John Paul II and stand on the side of the angels. Except for that time when you boycotted the Olympic Games, you have always been my hero. Give my warmest regards to Rosalynn, and watch your backside.