The Triumph of Crackpot Realism

The Triumph of Crackpot Realism

The American government has lost its grasp on reality in Iraq and Lebanon. They seek out the bright, clear problems of war, leaving rubble and corpses in their wake.


The frayed threads anchoring the American government to reality have finally snapped, just at the moment radiologists are reporting that Americans are getting too fat to be X-rayed or shoved into any existing MRI tube. The gamma rays can’t get through the blubber, same way actual conditions in the outside world bounce off the impenetrable dome of imbecility sheltering America’s political leadership. Twenty-three years after one of America’s stupidest Presidents announced Star Wars, Reagan’s dream has come true. Behind ramparts guarded by a coalition of liars extending from Rupert Murdoch to the New York Times, from Bill O’Reilly to PBS, America is totally shielded from truth.

Here we have a Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who gazes at the rubble of Lebanon, at 600,000 refugees being strafed with cluster bombs, and squeaks happily that we are witnessing “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

Here we have a President, George W. Bush, who urges Vladimir Putin to commence in Russia the same “institutional change” that is making Iraq a beacon of freedom and free expression. Not long after Bush extended this ludicrous invitation, the United Nations relayed from Iraq’s Ministry of Health the country’s real casualty rate, which is now at 100 a day, probably nearer 200.

Iraq’s morgues reported receipts of 3,149 bodies in June; more than 14,000 since the beginning of the year. Senior Iraqis in the government confide that break-up of Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish enclaves, each protected by its own militias, is now inevitable. Iraq as a viable country has been utterly destroyed, with even vaster carnage coming up over the horizon, and here’s the numbskull President touting it as an advertisement for American nation-building at its best and inviting its prime minister to Washington to proclaim Iraq’s approaching renaissance, all in sync with the 2006 US election campaigns.

Here we have a Congress that reacts with outrage when America’s picked man in Iraq, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, states the obvious, that Israel’s attack is “dangerous” and that the world community is not doing enough to curb Israel’s destruction of Lebanon. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi rushes out a statement: “Unless Mr. Maliki disavows his critical comments of Israel and condemns terrorism, it is inappropriate to honor him with a joint meeting of Congress.” Another twenty Democrats said Maliki shouldn’t be allowed to set foot in the place.

Actually, I’m not so sure Congress is impervious to reality, particularly if reality spells out a threat of withdrawal of support from the Israel lobby in the next electoral cycle. The place is about 98 percent bought and paid for by the lobby. How these transactions play out on the ground was well described by Tom Hayden the other day ( as he explained why he felt it necessary for his political future in Los Angeles to stand, Jane Fonda at his side, next to Israeli gunners shelling Beirut back in 1982.

What we are now witnessing is the simultaneous collapse of two countries, Iraq and Lebanon, as sponsored and encouraged by America’s ruling bipartisan coalition and its ideological counselors–ranging from Christian nutballs like Jerry Falwell to secular nutballs like Christopher Hitchens. Wesley Clark says that in late 2001 he visited the Pentagon and was told the planned hit list included Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan “as part of a five-year campaign plan.” Two down, five to go.

The attack on Lebanon was planned in detail at least a year ago. Israel picked the provocation of the Hezbollah capture of two Israeli soldiers July 12, but almost any excuse would have sufficed. In 1982 Israel lied flatly, and said it was responding to shells lobbed over the border, even though there had been none for more than a year.

With Bush and Rice and the policy-makers and intellectual courtiers surrounding them, crackpot realism is the prevailing mode. “Crackpot realism” was the concept defined by the great Texan sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1958 (the year Dwight Eisenhower sent the Marines into Lebanon to bolster local US factotum President Camille Chamoun), when he published The Causes of World War Three: “In crackpot realism, a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with an opportunist crawling among a great scatter of unfocused fears and demands. The expectation of war solves many problems of the crackpot realists…instead of the unknown fear, the anxiety without end, some men of the higher circles prefer the simplification of known catastrophe…. They know of no solutions to the paradoxes of the Middle East and Europe, the Far East and Africa except the landing of Marines…. they prefer the bright, clear problems of war–as they used to be. For they still believe that ‘winning’ means something, although they never tell us what.”

The Israeli elites, so habituated to selling intransigence to their ever-receptive opposite numbers in Washington, are now crackpot realists to the very core. Their generals bellow about dumping twenty rockets on south Beirut for every one landing in Israel and are astounded when people start talking about how exacting reprisals on a civilian population–which is what the onslaught has been all about–is a war crime.

Israel is systematically trying to destroy Lebanon as a functioning social and economic entity, to cleanse the south and reoccupy up to the Litani River. The head of the Industry Association of Lebanon, Charles Arbid, told Agence France Presse on July 24 that Israel’s strategy is to destroy the whole chain of manufacturing, from production to distribution. Bridges, airports, roads, trucks, ports have been methodically attacked.

Israel’s hack legions here recycle the usual mad nonsense about extirpating the terrorist seed, just as they did in 1982 when Henry Kissinger, the crackpot supreme, announced after the onslaught that he could see “a fresh beginning” emerging from under the rubble. True in a way. What sprouted from under the rubble was Hezbollah. Only crackpot realists think they can suppress that inevitable cycle.

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