War Of The Worlds
Fareed Zakaria is very, very shrill:
The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism." For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.
Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?
When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button. (Oh wait, Iran doesn't have a nuclear button yet and won't for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA, by which point Ahmadinejad may not be president anymore. But these are just facts.)
In a speech last week, Rudy Giuliani said that while the Soviet Union and China could be deterred during the cold war, Iran can't be. The Soviet and Chinese regimes had a "residual rationality," he explained. Hmm. Stalin and Mao—who casually ordered the deaths of millions of their own people, fomented insurgencies and revolutions, and starved whole regions that opposed them—were rational folk. But not Ahmadinejad, who has done what that compares? One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history's greatest mass murderers.
Doesn't Zakaria realize that today's enemies are the strongest, most evil threats the world has ever known? Stalin and Mao were a couple of girlymen compared to Ahmadinejad. And Hitler was nothing but a big baby compared to bin Laden. That's why we need the gargantuan, turgid, throbbing rhetoric of giants like Rudy Giuliani to save us from these monsters. Doesn't he understand that they are coming to kill us all in our beds any minute and we will have to run for our lives unless the Republicans protect us?
I actually find it rather amusing to read this. Those of us who've been following the scribblings of the panting, heaving 101st keyboarders from the beginning are all too familiar with these over-heated rants. (Their excited comparisons between the US and "terrorism" to the battle of Thermopolae after they saw the cartoon movie "300" were particularly enjoyable.) But even I have found it slightly disconcerting that these sophomoric ramblings found their way onto the campaign trail. Until now, this stuff was confined to the bowels of the rightwing blogosphere and the radical back pages of Commentary and The Weekly Standard.
I guess this is a reverse example of Dave Neiwert's thesis about how they push their most extremist rhetoric from the bottom up into the mainstream. In this case the most elite, intellectual right wing thinkers hold the most extremist views and have succeeded in pouring their deeply neurotic desire for a "war of the worlds" into the polloi. Or perhaps the rightwing intelligensia and the fundamentalists are just equally screwed up people who have a neurotic psychological need to create a heroic myth about their own lives.
Either way, it's disturbing. These people have access to the most powerful weapons the world has ever known and they have wokred themselves into a full-fledged delusion. I suppose in a way it's good that it's finally penetrated at least some members of the Village. The question is whether it's too late.