It was, of course, nothing to laugh or gloat about. All of us remember that day in September: the shadow of it hangs over us, darkening our present with presentiments of disasters to come. Yet the reaction of the authorities and our leaders assembled in the mighty city of Washington was telling. Here was the capital city of the greatest, most powerful empire the world has ever seen, prostrate before the threat of a two-seat Cessna 152, which is smaller than most cars. How quickly the illusion of safety and strength dissipates.
After spending hundreds of billions of dollars in a “war on terrorism” in which no expense has been spared and no risk including the risk of alienating the rest of the world is considered too great; after sacrificing liberty to “security”; after following our war-maddened president into Iraq and, perhaps, beyond what have we got to show for it? Only the fear in the eyes of our government officials as they fled out into the street. Before the all-clear sounded, these lines from Yeats came to mind:
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ”
In Iraq, too, the center is not holding. Seventy dead in a single day, despite a brutal American offensive, as the death toll nears 400 after two weeks of terror. We turn again to Yeats for signposts, guidance, some sense of meaning:
“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned ”
In Afghanistan which the War Party once pointed to as pacified and happy under the U.S.-installed “democratic” government, a shining example of the “good news” that supposedly “antiwar” reporters wouldn’t cover riots are raging over a Newsweek report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo used the Koran as toilet paper. As thousands protested, the response of the Afghan police was to fire into the crowd, killing four. Three more died on Thursday.
This administration, meanwhile, has learned nothing and regrets nothing: they cover up their crimes and paint them as acts of mercy. The monsters of Abu Ghraib are tapped lightly on the head, while the war ghouls put forward one of their own to represent America in the United Nations. Yeats saw it all coming:
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
The War Party screeches for “military victory,” as one “libertarian” butt-boy of the neocons put it no matter what the cost, to the Iraqis or to the U.S. Fresh from his U.S.-government-sponsored trip to Iraq where he lectured the Iraqis on the virtues of “limited” government, even as his “students” began to erect a theocracy this longtime top official of the Washington-based Cato Institute supposedly a “libertarian” thinktank has enlisted in an army of banshees bent on blood. He and his ilk are part of what Pope Benedict XVI describes as a satanic force “still at work in the world unleashing ‘evil energy.'” I hope he enjoyed his taxpayer-funded $35,000 cab ride from central Baghdad to the airport because, come the (libertarian) Revolution, we’re going to make him pay back every penny of it, with interest.
We who have fought the War Party long and hard, and are now at long last! winning the hearts and minds of the American people, know that such hubris cannot but be repaid with divine fury and the sooner the better. We hope it will be soon enough, and that Yeats’ poem was a vision of the future:
“Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.”
The neocons’ comeuppance is imminent, or so we hope. How many investigations are even now tracing their treason? The battering of Bolton is just a warm-up for the main event. As the new Pope put it in an address on the meaning of the Book of Revelation in the Bible:
“‘History, in fact, is not in the hands of dark forces, left to chance or just human choices,’ he told thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square. ‘Above the unleashing of evil energy, above the vehement interruptions of Satan, above the so many scourges of evil, rises the Lord, supreme arbiter of history.'”
Against the everyday horrors unfolding in Iraq and on the floor of the U.S. Congress we have some hope that the power of evil is limited. Lately, we can bring ourselves to imagine that it can be pushed back and eventually defeated even as we remember that evil isn’t the norm, and that before Sept. 11, 2001, it was in retreat.
We can’t return to that halcyon era. However, what we can do is begin to understand that signal event, not only its meaning but the specific circumstances surrounding it. As we peel back the layers of the mystery, we get closer to the truth of how to forge a rational response.
The Bush administration’s response to 9/11 has been anything but rational. The worldwide wave of anti-Americanism created by our actions the invasion of Iraq, the threats to Syria and Iran, the arrogant posturing that has turned even the president’s Russian soul-mate against us is properly laid at the White House’s doorstep. Instead of keeping us safe, U.S. foreign policy is endangering each and every American, at home as well as abroad. That is why the threat of terrorism is greater today than ever. As members of Congress and other government officials ran from the U.S. Capitol, squealing with terror, surely an approximation of this thought must have crossed their minds.
For the first time since 9/11, the city of Washington, D.C., went into Code Red the highest state of emergency. It’s about time. Because ever since the neocon coup d’état that Bob Woodward wrote about in Plan of Attack, American patriots have been trying to alert the country that it’s Code Red as far as the future of America is concerned. The danger, not only to our liberty but to our physical safety and our survival as a free people, has never been greater.
The Yeatsian vision of the Second Coming as the final victory of Satan reflects the pessimism and sense of helplessness that enveloped the intellectuals of the 20th century:
“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
Perhaps we can abort this demonic birth. I am optimistic that the worst can be averted, if the people are awakened to act in time. The strategic orientation of the worldwide movement for peace and especially the campaign to corner and defeat the War Party on its home turf, the United States must be similar to that advice meted out to libertarians by the late great Murray Rothbard:
“The main task of the present epoch is to cast off his needless and debilitating pessimism, to set his sights on long-run victory and to set out on the road to its attainment. To do this, he must, perhaps first of all, drastically realign his mistaken view of the ideological spectrum; he must discover who his friends and natural allies are, and above all perhaps, who his enemies are.”