Thursday, April 26, 2007

Looking For An Exorcism Kit

[Originally for Sadly, No!]

What's that sound I keep hearing amongst the stream-gurgle of projectile vomit the WingNet spews with such regularity? It's a familiar, yet otherworldly voice.. Oh, I have it now: It's recently deceased Jeane Kirkpatrick, who now functions as neoconservatism's more hectoring and slightly more melodiously-voiced Captain Howdy, speaking through so many head-spinning wingnuts.

The voice is saying to and through its minions: 1984 is Forever!

The key phrase in that speech, made when she was at the peak of her powers as international menace, is "San Francisco Democrats", cleverly repeated so the listening hordes of Republican dullards on the floor there in Dallas (the most Wingnut City Evar: tacky concrete & glass, nouvelle riche, Southern Baptist, JFK, lynch mob after poor Adlai Stevenson) would be sure to get the point -- which was: Yes, the Democratic National Convention of that year was held in San Fran, but double entendre absolutely intended!

Kirkpatrick: Satanic

See (or, rather, hear)? Captain Howdy Fucking Gaybaiting Doody, fer sure! Less Tourette's-spastic, of course, but the gist is still the same: "Cocksuckers!!!!"

But are the wingnuts (Re[a]gan's children, all) hearing what they're saying? How possessed are they? Blargh! Possessed enough!:

Uh-huh. Oooh look -- randomly, here's another:

"We're concerned about a leadership that now appears to be out of the mainstream," he said. "We think Nancy Pelosi would be proud of this selection, and San Francisco Democrats are now in control of one chamber of the General Assembly." Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco, became speaker of the U.S. House earlier this week.

[Max Von Sydow voice]: "Be silent!"

What else is the demon up to? Hmm, let's see. Oh, it's still shilling for Scooter's Defense. Well, whatever.

At this point I'm wondering how strong a demon we're dealing with here. Now of course many evil spirits -- Belial, Azazel, Richard Nixon -- are capable of multitasking even while possessing a great horde of wingnuts, but then noxious supernatural beings can easily have a strong influence on the weak-minded.

A case in point: Pamela Oshry. First, here's Kirkpatrick:
Q: Why is John Bolton the right choice for the job of U.N. ambassador?
A: Well, because Bolton has a lot of determination. He has a lot of energy. He’s smart. And he’s more likely to do the job well than anybody else I could think of.

And here's a famous Pam post, Ms. Shrieking Harpy as, simultaneously, a willing and supine vessel for Bolton's moustache-of-love (incubus) as well as of Captain Howdy's U.N/Bolton batshit opinion (succubus).

Above: "There is no Dana Pammy, only Zhoul Jeane!"

Yeah, that's a pretty awful case of demonic possession, almost certainly by the spirit of Kirkpatrick (though we can't discount the power of the Unholy Moustache), but I'm half-expecting worse; like, say, some wingnut to eat a Sandinista's liver with a bowl of fava beans and a nice Chianti as indisputable proof that we are dealing with Pazuzu/Captain Howdy/Mean Jeane here, but so far it ain't happened yet. (Or has it?!?!)

And maybe that's because, in life, this particular demon had already tried to exorcise herself? Maybe?:

In its obituary, the New York Times buried a surprising scoop about her last act of diplomacy, when she was sent by President Bush on a secret mission to Geneva in March 2003 to justify the invasion of Iraq to Arab foreign ministers. "The marching orders we received were to argue that pre-emptive war is legitimate", Allan Gerson, her former general counsel, recalled. "She said: 'No one will buy it. If that's the position, count me out'." Instead, she argued that Saddam Hussein was in violation of United Nations resolutions. Her hitherto unknown rejection of Bush's unilateralism and extolling of international order apparently was her final commentary on neo-conservatism.

Nice thought, but no: Even if Kirkpatrick had wanted to exorcise herself, or just to generally atone, she was just too ate up with wickedness to succeed at the task:

If this crew felt a compulsion to topple Saddam Hussein from power, it’s understandable. Since the early 1980s, these same individuals conspired to break and circumvent a passel of laws in order to keep Saddam as armed and dangerous as he could be. When Saddam was using chemical weapons to kill not just the Iranians, on whom he declared war, but the Kurds living in Iraq, we not only looked the other way, we provided him the military coordinates telling him where best to bomb. When the Senate passed a resolution condemning the gassing, then-president Ronald Reagan vetoed it. When the UN Security Council voted to condemn, U.S. Ambassador Kirkpatrick voted against it. Back then, Saddam was still one of our “good�? dictators.

Right. Now we are getting somewhere, and I suggest everyone have their crucifixes ready because here's where we begin to deal with the spectacular evil that was and is Kirkpatrick's ideology, her persona, her spirit, her legacy which wholly possesses Greater Wingnuttia. Back to Sidney Blumenthal:

Jeane Kirkpatrick first came to public attention when her article "Dictatorships and Double Standards" was published in Commentary in November 1979. The Georgetown University professor's slashing attack on the Carter administration, appearing just as the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the Iranian hostage crisis began, became one of the principal theoretical documents of neo-conservatism and platforms for the Reagan campaign. In this seminal piece, which immediately vaulted her to prominence, Kirkpatrick argued that Carter's adherence to human rights undermined traditional authoritarian regimes allied with the United States in the cold war. "Authoritarian" states, she posited, could slowly change into democratic ones, unlike "totalitarian" ones. "The history of this century provides no grounds for expecting that radical totalitarian regimes will transform themselves", she wrote.

History has not been kind to most of her ideas...

No shit. But before I get to that, just savor those lines, then think of the idiot wingnuts who insist the neocon-engineered War on Irak Is Ab0ut FREEDOM!! and DEMOCRAcY!!!1! Oh how we had to hear in those mad early days of the war how idealist the neocons were, how they wanted to rescue those poor Iraqis from Saddam, and how the eeevil anti-war leftists wanted to protect the tyrant!

All of which, of course, was self-evidently stupid and mendacious even by wingnut standards. Still, they kept (and continue to keep) the charade; neocon pundits tossed old Kirkpatrickian pieces down the memory hole, remember that? And in the memory hole those pieces remain, but the wingnuts never stopped being Kirkpatrickian even if the demon herself sometimes stepped back from her own vile formulations.

Timothy Garton Ash, who is usually better than the half-right he is here, says:

I'm waiting for someone to pen a new version of the late Jeane Kirkpatrick's famous article of 1979, "Dictatorships and double standards", in which she argued that friendly, anti-Soviet, rightwing autocracies should be treated differently from pro-Soviet, leftwing totalitarian regimes. Double standards? Yes, please. Today, a friendly autocracy will be defined partly by its positioning in the struggle with jihadist terrorism and partly by its readiness to sell its energy and natural resources to the west.

That is exactly the political situation, but a new 'Dictatorships and Double Standards' cannot be written because for one thing, the neocons & sundry wingnuts are commited to the Great Lie that their Iraq War is about a crusade for Freedom and Democracy (a Hitlerian lie so huge it has knocked the truth -- and often the very lives -- out of its Iraqi victims who have no fucking hope for real soveriegnty, the requisite of both F and D), and for another, because it would be pointless in the face of such frothingly demonised wingnuttery, as even the great demon could attest: even as wingnuts pretend idealism, they are more Kirkpatrickian than Kirkpatrick.

Which leads me back to Blumenthal's point about history opining that Kirkpatrick's ideas were for shit. Here's Hitchens, back when he was a human being, relating how wingnuts possessed by Kirkpatrickism blew-up like a trick cigar in her own face:

I can now claim to have lived long enough to hear Ronald Reagan's chief foriegn policy theorist, Jeane Kirkpatrick, defend a gradualist (read Gorbachevian) approach to independence for Lithuania, and this in the very week, late in April, when her former cheerleaders on Capitol Hill and the op-ed pages were crying 'Munich' and accusing President [G.H.W.] Bush of 'appeasement'. The place was Washington's Omni Shoreham Hotel, the occasion a week-long conference of the Committee for the Free World, the modestly titled parapluie of the movement styling itself neo-conservative. The advertised purpose of the gathering was to recast the long twilight struggle against the 'totalitarian' foe, but what actually transpired was a two-day confrontation between neo-conservatism and itself.

Words are watched and weighed carefully in this crowd, which makes them a pleasure to monitor... It is not unfair to say that their politics have mainly consisted of key words and phrases, uttered with the proper sneer... This scrabble of terms has suddenly tipped in chaos to the floor. And it has done so because of the demise of the neo-con Ur-word, the echt word: 'totalitarian'. What, in the wake of 1989, can it possibly mean? And, if it is deprived of its totemic power, how can one divine who, politically, is who?

The difficulty presented itself acutely at the first day's lunchtime session when Kirkpatrick uttered her Baltic heresies. Norman Podhoretz, who first published Kirkpatrick's 'Dictatorships and Double Standards' in Commentary, and who thus applied the forceps of the birth of Kirkpatrick as a public nuisance, was joining with Jean-Francois revel, author of the soothingly pessimistic How Democracies Perish, to arraign the West for its shameful cowardice over the captive Lithuanian nation. But the movement's one-time Jeane d'Arc was having none of it. Quiet diplomacy, she averred, was the stuff. Realpolitik, not anti-Bolshevik outrage, was the method by which the people of Lithuania would win their place in the sun. Now, in the old days of, say, midsummer 1989, that is how Kirkpatrick might have responded to events in an 'authoritarian' part of the world (South Africa, for example) but never in the 'totalitarian' Soviet Bloc. (Kirkpatrick won her post as Reagan's UN ambassador on the strength of this 'authoritarian-totalitarian' distinction.) Either the Soviet Union has metamorphosed from a 'totalitarian' to an 'authoritarian' state, impossible according to Kirkpatrick's theory -- but earning it a right to a Kirkpatrick defence -- or 'totalitarianism' had never been what it was thought to be; either way, the neo-conservative movement was now robbed of its theoretical undergirding; was an intellectual and moral shambles.

But even before then, Kirkpatrickism as a historically relevant ideology was obliterated by what happened to Marcos's regime in the Philippines, yet few could recognise the fact at the time. When Reagan reluctantly did not prop-up the decrepit dictatorship (and crush Aquino's democratic reformers) as Kirkpatrick advocated, this was not evidence that certain wingnuts within and without Reagan's administration were sudden admirers of democracy (as Paul Wolfowitz's sycophants like to claim) and won the senile old Teleprompter reader's ear, but rather that for realpolitik reasons -- the US got to keep what it wanted, control; not a sadsack marionette operation like it has in Iraq now, but control all the same -- a less-gruesome pragmatism won the day. Democracy was allowed in the Philippines not for its own sake -- which would be an idealist position, and the right one -- but because it was percieved to be less-threatening to the United States than if Marcos had been allowed further depravites eventually inspiring, the fear must have been, a revolutionary reaction against him and the government across the sea which long functioned as his patron. If Kirkpatrick had had her way, the US would have taken the chance on such a reaction -- anything to prop up a dictator!

Anyway, back to Garton Ash's anticipation. There can't be a new universalist match to 'Dictatorships and Double Standards' for reasons I've already given above, but there can be, and has been, specific arguments, however weaselly, demonstrating the same Kirkpatrickian logic. Timothy Garton Ash, meet the fantastically wicked Stephen Schwartz, who has his cake and eats it too. Here he is touting the new (Big Lie/Good riddance to Dictators!) neocon position, and here he is caught in the Kirkpatrick ('old') position in the service of the world's most famous dissident-boiler, Islom Karimov, Uzbek 'authoritarian' dictator and proud friend of the GWOT.

Incidentally, the example of Schwartz illustrates a larger truth than mere garden-variety wingnut hypocrisy. It shows why neoconservative foreign policy -- by which I mean, ruthless imperial power-flexing for the sake of both 'hyperpower' prestige and good ol' resource-looting, because that is exactly what neocons are and have always been about -- must be eliminated conclusively and forever lest more Iraqs happen. Kirkpatrick and the neocons actively supported Saddam Hussein before they were against him; they helped make the monster then created another monster in taking him out. When Hitchens became a neocon fellow-traveller, one of his better points addressed the fact of past US responsibilty for Hussein's regime. Fair enough, I thought -- at least he wasn't, Daniel Pipes-like, trying to sweep that under the rug. But then the counterpoint was better: fine, but the very people who fucked-up in creating him can't be trusted to correctly remove him (much less be trusted in their newly-found idealist, humanitarian rhetoric, so obviously depraved were they in coddling him in the first place); wouldn't be better if we just stopped this shit-cycle now? And so the counterpoint has proven correct.

Not that that's been any fun for anybody, save the most stridently batshit tribalists, sectarians, and ideologues among the wingnuts, who delight for reasons of ethnicity (Jews), religion (Christians), and ideology (Zionists of many stripes, true believers of 'American Exceptionalism', 'Clash of Civilizations' nutcases) in seeing as many Muslims perish as possible, whatever the cost. Many Iraqis have perished, but then for far too many enthusiasts of the war, the heart and truth of their dark advocacy can be summed with the phrase, "exterminate the brutes wogs."

No, I'm afraid Blumenthal's wrong. Though Kirkpatrick may have thought pre-emptive war was a sure no-sale, the Iraq War is still very much Rosemary's Jeane's Baby. Because the war sprang wholly from neoconservative agitation, it is absolutely the responsibility of that demonic woman whose cleverly mendacious, abominable formulations gave the movement such (literally) lethal force. And since I feel this way I can be tickled in a 'I totally expected it' way when I read such hilarious comments as this from the WSJ:

Jeane Kirkpatrick was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, in 1926. She was an ideologue, and her ideas would have come from Duncan. Their tenet was freedom for the human spirit. She dedicated a public life to protecting that freedom.

this from Emmett Tyrrell, a real laff-riot:

It was at Jeane Kirkpatrick's funeral this week that I finally heard of some good achieved by the United Nations amidst all its dithering and graft. According to Jeane's pastor, during her momentous tenure as our U.N. ambassador, Jeane was so wobbled by the international body's cynicism and moral emptiness that she forsook years of atheism and became a person of faith.

Mind you, she had always had an abundance of secular faith before President Reagan tapped her for the United Nations. Her faith in the American way of life, its freedom, democracy, and equality, was as ardent as it was intelligently conceived. But after leaving the house of hustlers on the East River, she became deeply Christian, and religion gently informed all she thought and did thereafter.

Jeane has been the paradigmatic 20th-century intellectual of the good sort. She began her intellectual life as a socialist and an atheist. As those two sacred cows revealed their barnyard primitivism she reassessed the evidence.

[Really? I'll have to ask Al Franken, the real authority on Kirkpatrick's intimate beliefs -- you might even say he knew her biblically!]

and this, even better, from one of Horowitz's creeps:

At no time, however, did her endorsement of unilateral action, her rejection of the World Court, or her seeming willingness to work with authoritarians stem from an amoral outlook. She recognized the fine distinctions between advancing liberty via unsavory alliances and retarding freedom through self-righteously castigating those allies.

She was, in her own words, “a serious Christian.�?

It's a demonic cacaphony! [Holding my ears] The mass-possession is outta control; quick, some person pull the whole Kirkpatrickian spirit into yourself then jump out the window! Because the noise, the vomit, the rancidity, the pervasive stench of evil and death is too much to bear! Oh, here now is Father Zizek of the Lacanian Parish to, if not volunteer for defenestration, at least isolate, with a crucifix of irony and rosaries of righteous socialist critique, what Captain Howdy has wrought:

Back in 1979, in her essay “Dictatorship and Double Standards,�? published in Commentary, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick elaborated the distinction between “authoritarian�? and “totalitarian�? regimes. This concept served as the justification of the American policy of collaborating with right-wing dictators while treating Communist regimes much more harshly: authoritarian dictators are pragmatic rulers who care about their power and wealth and are indifferent toward ideological issues, even if they pay lip service to some big cause; in contrast, totalitarian leaders are selfless fanatics who believe in their ideology and are ready to put everything at stake for their ideals.

Her point was that, while one can deal with authoritarian rulers who react rationally and predictably to material and military threats, totalitarian leaders are much more dangerous and have to be directly confronted.

The irony is that this distinction encapsulates perfectly what went wrong with the United States occupation of Iraq: Saddam Hussein was a corrupt authoritarian dictator striving to keep his hold on power and guided by brutal pragmatic considerations (which led him to collaborate with the United States in the 1980s).


One outcome of the American invasion is that it has generated a much more uncompromising “fundamentalist�? politico-ideological constellation in Iraq. This has led to a predominance of the pro-Iranian political forces there — the intervention basically delivered Iraq to Iranian influence...

Recall the old story about the factory worker suspected of stealing: every evening, when he was leaving work, the wheelbarrow he rolled in front of him was carefully inspected, but the guards could not find anything, it was always empty. Finally, they got the point: what the worker was stealing were the wheelbarrows themselves.

This is the trick being attempted by those who claim today, “But the world is nonetheless better off without Saddam!�? They forget to factor into the account the effects of the very military intervention against him. Yes, the world is better without Saddam Hussein — but is it better if we include into the overall picture the ideological and political effects of this very occupation?

The United States as a global policeman — why not? The post-cold-war situation effectively called for some global power to fill the void. The problem resides elsewhere: recall the common perception of the United States as a new Roman Empire. The problem with today’s America is not that it is a new global empire, but that it is not one. That is, while pretending to be an empire, it continues to act like a nation-state, ruthlessly pursuing its interests. It is as if the guiding vision of recent American politics is a weird reversal of the well-known motto of the ecologists — act globally, think locally.

After 9/11, the United States was given the opportunity to realize what kind of world it was part of. It might have used the opportunity — but it did not, instead opting to reassert its traditional ideological commitments: out with the responsibility and guilt with respect to the impoverished third world — we are the victims now!


Saddam Hussein’s regime was an abominable authoritarian state, guilty of many crimes, mostly toward its own people. However, one should note the strange but key fact that, when the United States representatives and the Iraqi prosecutors were enumerating his evil deeds, they systematically omitted what was undoubtedly his greatest crime in terms of human suffering and of violating international justice: his invasion of Iran. Why? Because the United States and the majority of foreign states were actively helping Iraq in this aggression.

And now the United States is continuing, through other means, this greatest crime of Saddam Hussein: his never-ending attempt to topple the Iranian government. This is the price you have to pay when the struggle against the enemies is the struggle against the evil ghosts in your own closet: you don’t even control yourself.

Gah! The old demon from hell's legacy has truly made the world into an inverse proof of the old occult law: 'as below, so above'.