Saturday, January 31, 2009

To Russia, With Hate

Blofeld. Rumsfeld. Pussy Galore. Dick Cheney.

Lest any doubts remain that all the above are characters dreamed up by Ian Fleming for James Bond novels, Dick Cheney dispelled them when he showed up at the inauguration last week in a wheelchair wearing Goldfinger's black fedora. (The white long-haired cat? Psst:

Actually, I have it on reliable authority that Cheney is inhabited by a vengeful ninth-level cacodaemon named Contradictus, which is why his expressions on that fateful day betrayed thoughts such as these:
"I gather the darkness to please me, usurper-fool! You will surrender, and before the hoary spirits of the netherworld eat your soul, it will grovel before me."
Bush Junior is no longer a problem, and his thoughts on the inaugural dais were uncomplicated: "Beer on the helicopter...two more on the helicopter..." All demons aside, these other husks of tedious evil are not dead yet, oh no, and they're working on a sequel. Loyal minions are constructing an impregnable fortress under the seas off Chesapeake Bay, where they will celebrate Russia's destruction and sing "Happy Death Day To You" as they survive the necessary earth-roasting cataclysm.

Seriously, these guys have been running the same play for the last 35 years, and it's worked every time. Henry Kissinger incurred their wrath for bringing about detente with Russia during Nixon's presidency. They got themselves promoted in the Ford Administration to SecDef and Chief of Staff, and their payback was to marginalize Kissinger into resigning via the device of a confabulated Soviet super-sub which could snorkel up the Potomac undetected and eradicate the US government with its WMD-laser.
Ford bought it. When the CIA challenged, saying the Red October super-sub didn't exist, the James Bond guys squashed them with steamrollers and roared, "Prove it doesn't, you traitors!" Via Thom Hartmann's reportage in Common Dreams:

Rumsfeld and Cheney began a concerted effort - first secretly and then openly - to undermine Nixon's treaty for peace and to rebuild the state of fear.

They did it by claiming that the Soviets had a new secret weapon of mass destruction that the president didn't know about, that the CIA didn't know about, that nobody knew about but them. It was a nuclear submarine technology that was undetectable by current American technology. And, they said, because of this and related-undetectable-technology weapons, the US must redirect billions of dollars away from domestic programs and instead give the money to defense contractors for whom these two men would one day work or have businesses relationships with.

The CIA strongly disagreed, calling Rumsfeld's position a "complete fiction" and pointing out that the Soviet Union was disintegrating from within, could barely afford to feed their own people, and would collapse within a decade or two if simply left alone.

As Dr. Anne Cahn, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1977 to 1980, told the BBC's Adam Curtis for his documentary "The Power of Nightmares":

"They couldn't say that the Soviets had acoustic means of picking up American submarines, because they couldn't find it. So they said, well maybe they have a non-acoustic means of making our submarine fleet vulnerable. But there was no evidence that they had a non-acoustic system. They’re saying, 'we can’t find evidence that they’re doing it the way that everyone thinks they’re doing it, so they must be doing it a different way. We don’t know what that different way is, but they must be doing it.'

"INTERVIEWER (off-camera): Even though there was no evidence.

"CAHN: Even though there was no evidence.

"INTERVIEWER: So they’re saying there, that the fact that the weapon doesn’t exist…

"CAHN: Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It just means that we haven’t found it."

But Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted Americans to believe there was something nefarious going on, something we should be very afraid of. To this end, they convinced President Ford to appoint a commission including their old friend Paul Wolfowitz to prove that the Soviets were up to no good.

Wolfowitz's group, known as "Team B," came to the conclusion that the Soviets had developed several terrifying new weapons of mass destruction, featuring a nuclear-armed submarine fleet that used a sonar system that didn't depend on sound and was, thus, undetectable with our current technology. It could - within a matter of months - be off the coast of New York City with a nuclear warhead.

Although Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld's assertions of this powerful new Soviet WMD was unproven - they said the lack of proof proved the "undetectable" sub existed - they nonetheless used their charges to push for dramatic escalations in military spending to selected defense contractors, a process that continued through the Reagan administration.

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz helped re-organized a group - The Committee on the Present Danger - to promote their worldview. The Committee produced documentaries, publications, and provided guests for national talk shows and news reports. They worked hard to whip up fear and encourage increases in defense spending, particularly for sophisticated weapons systems offered by the defense contractors for whom many of these same men would later become lobbyists.

As long as the villains are alive and not driven to distraction by lawsuits or hauled before criminal courts, they're a serious threat to peace, prosperity, and low tax rates. There will be sequels, and I can read the scripts. They see themselves as the guardians of Republic, its last remaining Templars. To them, the choice is between abdicating democracy to the forces of globalization and monopolistic capitalism, versus the expansion of democratic systems, American empire, and a way of life informed by Christian benevolence.

Rumsfeld and Cheney read the Stanford Research Institute's classified 1974 study, "The Changing Images of Man," and they freaked out. (Do not click on that link if you're in a good mood, or if you're not prepared for the Abyss to stare back.) I have guzzled their motivations and pissed on their methods, but they were dealing with the same perplexing existential questions as we must. Whence democracy, must it be weakened and expanded to be preserved. Is mere Christianity enough. How do we insure continuing vitality against such long odds. That's what their motivations consisted of, so here I am, empathizing with murderers, and now their baton has thwapped into my hand.

Empathy for enemies. It's what you must do. Get inside their heads and understand. I don't think Rumsfeld and Cheney are intrinsically evil, although they embraced it in brutal services which fell far short and lost all coherence. Come to think of it, that's what evil is. But we now face the same questions, and I am Mr. No-Have-Answers. Whence the power of the nation-state, the ability of the good in people to re-aggregate and rise above the organizations, philosophies, and impulses which are draining, conquering, and killing us.

I remember how it feels to be truly alone with all my faith gone. Then it was the love of people who cushioned my fall and lifted me up. The answer is in social networks, in people, not in machines. Even if the blasted, bleak future of the Matrix becomes our present, even if we humans are a virus, Mr. Anderson, we will resist, we will mutate, and we will find others like us in Russia.


Naj said...

Do you think Kubrick knew these dudes when he made Dr. Strangelove?!

MarcLord said...

He knew their type, for sure, and he knew of their secret society urges. I believe that's why he waited until much later to make Eyes Wide Shut.

A. Peasant said...

If there is a nuclear catastrophe, the remaining creatures on earth will be cockroaches and Russians. And I say this with admiration.

A. Peasant said...

I just found this highly zoomable picture of the inauguration. There are a few sourpusses in the good seats. p

MarcLord said...

Miss Pez,

I linked to that gigapixel a while back, and it informed the construction of this post. Was too lazy to grab the baleful, macabre arrogance on display.

Going up against cockroaches or Russians in a contest of who's toughest is a bad idea. They'll win. As for me and my house, I've been to hell and back enough times to know the biggest prize is a modest, possibly normal life in service of good things great or small.

A. Peasant said...

Oh, sorry I missed the earlier link to that picture. My bad. Here's to life!

Naj said...

And my husband and I had all sorts of conspiracy theories when he so shortly died after Eyes Wide Shut!

MarcLord said...


No problemo, I'm glad the picture got viral enough it got to you anyway.

MarcLord said...


The coincidence of his death is somewhat less curious because he really, really nailed a particular long-running psy-op program, exposing it with both detail and metaphor.

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