emulating the enemy

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Glenn Greenwald calls the Bush administration to task for its reprehensible tactics, observing that they are “Emulating the Enemy.” Greenwald identifies a central pathology of Bushism—its blind belligerence:

One of the hallmarks of the Bush presidency -- arguably the central one -- is that we have adopted the mentality and mimicked the behavior of "our enemies," including those whom we have long considered, rightfully so, to be savage and uncivilized. As a result, our foreign policy consists of little more than flamboyant demonstrations of our own "toughness" because that, so the thinking goes, is the only language which "our enemies" understand, and we must speak "their language" (hence, we stay in Iraq not because it makes geopolitical sense, but because we have to prove to Al Qaeda that they cannot "break our will").

Thus, any measure designed to avert war -- negotiations, diplomacy, compromise, an acceptance of the fact that we need not force every country to submit to our national Will -- are scornfully dismissed as "weakness," which, in turn, is "provocative." Conversely, war-seeking policies are always desirable because they show how tough and strong we are.

Greenwald excerpts Richard Hofstadter’s classic essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” which illuminated the same base bellicosity over four decade ago. In light of Hoftadter’s observation that “We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well,” perhaps we should be kinder to the long-suffering wingnuts. He concludes that:

Their obsessions with displays of power and their (quite related) intense fear of being perceived as weak are, as Hofstadter documented so conclusively, more psychological and personal than political…

I would say “pathological” instead of “psychological,” but that’s quibbling.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on February 25, 2007 12:10 PM.

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