The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Glenn Greenwald - Face of a psychopath

Face of a psychopath

Neoconservative icon Norman Podhoretz followed up his Commentary article titled "The case for bombing Iran" -- excerpts of which were re-published in The Wall St. Journal -- with an interview elaborating on why he "hopes and prays" that we bomb Iran and how he envisions the bombings. Though he generously acknowledges that such an action would likely "unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world that will make the anti-Americanism we've experienced so far look like a lovefest" -- consequences to which he is transparently (and revealingly) indifferent -- he goes on to suggest that Europeans and even the Muslim world might be grateful for our attack; the bombs will be greeted as Bombs of Liberation and Protection:

It's entirely possible that many countries, particularly in the Middle East -- the Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, who are very worried about Iranian influence and power --would at least secretly applaud us. And I think it's possible that other countries in Europe, for example, and elsewhere, would be relieved to see the Iranians entirely deprived of the capability to build nuclear weapons, or at least have that ability retarded for five or 10 years or more.

As Think Progress notes, not only would a bombing campaign fail to stop the Iranian nuclear program, it would be far more likely to accelerate it, just as the Israeli attack on the Iraqi program did. And a military bombing campaign, guaranteed to kill untold numbers of Iranian civilians, would obviously unite Iranians in anti-American hatred and generate unified support for the most militant political elements in that country.

But beyond those rather obvious points, just contemplate the level of bombing and slaughter that would be required merely to have a chance of fulfilling Podhoretz's goal of "entirely depriv[ing Iran] of the capability to build nuclear weapons, or at least have that ability retarded for five or 10 years or more." How would that be remotely possible without bombing them until Podhoretz's real goal -- regime change -- were achieved, a goal which, if achievable at all, would require bombing so widespread and brutal that it ought to be unthinkable. Yet Podhoretz sits there, in the most smug and casual manner, and blithely "hopes and prays" that we do it.

Any doubts about what Norman Podhoretz is -- and what the movement is which reveres him -- ought to be forever dispelled by his answer, given in the same interview, to the question of what the British should have done in response to the detention of 15 of their sailors by Iran:

They should have threatened to bomb the Iranians into smithereens if the sailors weren't returned immediately. They should have threatened it. Whether they would have had to carry out the threat, I doubt, maybe they would have.


Just think about that. England should have threatened and then "bombed the Iranians into smithereens" if their sailors were not returned immediately. Contemplate the depravity required even to suggest such a thing -- that a nation of more than 70 million human beings be reduced to rubble, perhaps vaporzied, over an incident of that magnitude, which was peacefully resolved after two weeks. It is really warped beyond belief. And it's the tone that is almost as notable as the content -- the breezy, smug wave of the hand that signifies the brutal deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people, possibly many more.

And there is nothing unusual about Norm Podhoretz in the neoconservative world that he leads. Unsurprisingly, it is Norm's son, John, who -- beyond his garden-variety excitement over bombing Iran -- made one of the most reprehensible and deranged (though illustrative) statements of the entire Bush presidency:

What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?


At the time, Greg Djerejian said in response:

It's quite sad that the son of an accomplished, prestigious American intellectual would muse so innocuously about the merits of mass butchery--basically the wholesale slaughter of a broad demographic of an ethnic group writ large--a policy prescription that is quasi-genocidal in nature.


It may be "sad," but at this point it is certainly unsurprising. And the "accomplished, prestigious American intellectual" who is John Podhoretz's father shares the family enthusiasm for "mass butchery." And while all of our media stars solemnly lament how the "fringe" liberal bloggers are ruining our political culture with all of their naughty words and extremism, the genocide-craving Podhoretz Family sits at the epicenter of a political movement that is still as predominant and powerful as it is deranged, and they are treated with the utmost seriousness and respect.

In this week's Newsweek, Michael Hirsh has a worthwhile article reporting on his observations during his visit to Iran. While listing the internally repressive measures taken by the Iranian governemnt, Hirsh describes Tehran as "bustling," as "traffic crowds the streets and boulevards," filled with the "chic" Iranian women and the "meterosexual" Iranian males who seek greater economic security and prosperity. That is what Norm Podhoretz and his friends hungrily want to annihilate.

Matt Yglesias, in a recent post about the administration's "debate" over whether to bomb Iran, wisely included a random photograph of an Iranian street with civilians walking on it. These are the people Norm Podhoretz and his comrades want to slaughter:



Our ability to render invisible the people we kill when cheering on our wars is one of the primary mechanisms which make it so easy to embrace that option. Yesterday, a quite revealing exchange occurred during the White House Press gaggle; it is unnecessary to identify the reporter asking these questions because there is really only one White House correspondent who would (the one who is considered to be "crazy" by her "journalistic" colleagues as a result of disrespectful and annoyingly off-script outbursts like this):

Q A study shows that Iraq is the second-most unstable country in the world. Do we have anything to do with that?

MR. SNOW: Do we have anything to do with that? Yes, I saw the study --

Q -- the killing?

MR. SNOW: We don't -- I'm not sure I got the --

Q I'm talking about Petraeus, also, intensifying -- is he trying to build a kill record before September?

MR. SNOW: No. No. In point of fact, Helen, if you take a look at the record of the last two months, the people who have been trying to put together the kill record are al Qaeda. Go to the mosques --

Q Is everybody who resists our occupation a terrorist?

MR. SNOW: Do you think somebody who goes in and blows up 50 people in a mosque is resisting occupation?

Q What have we done for five years?

MR. SNOW: What we have been trying to do is to work with folks to deal with a highly volatile situation in Iraq in the wake of a murderous regime --

Q We've killed thousands of people, tens of thousands --

MR. SNOW: Many have died, and hundreds of thousands died under the previous regime. This is a place that has too long been wracked by violence. And the fact that in fighting --

Q We're not supposed to be comparing, are we?

MR. SNOW: Unfortunately, if we fought evil guys who simply would say, you caught us, we're evil, we give up, we'll be good -- that would be great, that would be wonderful.

Q Everybody isn't evil who fights for his land.

MR. SNOW: A lot of the people we're talking about, Helen, aren't fighting for their land, because it's not their land. They don't even come from Iraq.

Q Are we fighting Iraqis, inherently, in their own country?

MR. SNOW: Are we fighting Iraqis inherently? I think if you take a look at what General Petraeus is saying, is that increasingly Iraqis are joining with us to defend their country from the onslaught of outside fighters, whether they be from al Qaeda or Iran.

Q Good, but we have to admit we're killing a lot of Iraqis who are against our presence.

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure. I mean, that requires the kind of canvas of those who have died that I'm not capable of doing.

Nothing could be more boring to Tony Snow than the question of how many Iraqi civilians we have killed as a result of our invasion and occupation. His yawn is virtually audible. What could be less relevant than that? It is better if we do not know. We can just keep repeating over and over that we are "killing Al Qaeda" -- a "fact" which Michael Gordon and The New York Times will be happy repeatedly to re-inforce -- and we can ignore the rest.

What Norman Podhoretz is advocating -- blowing Iran into "smithereens" -- is criminal and morally twisted for reasons that should require no elaboration. But the far more significant fact is that such advocacy does not relegate him to the fringes. Quite the contrary, the movement of which he is an integral part, on whose behalf he speaks, is well within the political mainstream as depicted by our political press. And it is doubtful that there is anything he (and his comrades) could do or say which would change that.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/06/21/podhoretz/index.html

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