'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fascism 2006 

Joshua Muravchik in today's Los Angeles Times:

WE MUST bomb Iran.

It has been four years since that country's secret nuclear program was brought to light, and the path of diplomacy and sanctions has led nowhere.

First, we agreed to our allies' requests that we offer Tehran a string of concessions, which it spurned. Then, Britain, France and Germany wanted to impose a batch of extremely weak sanctions. For instance, Iranians known to be involved in nuclear activities would have been barred from foreign travel — except for humanitarian or religious reasons — and outside countries would have been required to refrain from aiding some, but not all, Iranian nuclear projects.

But even this was too much for the U.N. Security Council. Russia promptly announced that these sanctions were much too strong. "We cannot support measures … aimed at isolating Iran," declared Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov.

It is now clear that neither Moscow nor Beijing will ever agree to tough sanctions. What's more, even if they were to do so, it would not stop Iran, which is a country on a mission. As President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put it: "Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen…. The era of oppression, hegemonic regimes and tyranny and injustice has reached its end…. The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world." There is simply no possibility that Iran's clerical rulers will trade this ecstatic vision for a mess of Western pottage in the form of economic bribes or penalties.

So if sanctions won't work, what's left? The overthrow of the current Iranian regime might offer a silver bullet, but with hard-liners firmly in the saddle in Tehran, any such prospect seems even more remote today than it did a decade ago, when students were demonstrating and reformers were ascendant. Meanwhile, the completion of Iran's bomb grows nearer every day.

Muravchik's column is rife with fascistic sensibilities: a hypernationalistic belief that the US is entitled to unquestioned military superiority, that the US has the right to replace the political leadership, if not the political systems themselves, of other countries, that the US may undertake such action through either covert operations or overt military action, and that the US may use military force to prevent other countries from developing economic and military capabilities that the US itself already possesses.

In other words, the peoples of other countries live subject to the right of the US to dictate the nature of their societies, the right of the US to economically exploit them and, if necessary, subject them to military occupation, as in Iraq, if the indigenous populace objects. There is also the presentation of other major powers, in this instance, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, as feminized in the pejorative sense, as incapable of undertaking essential actions necessary for self-defense. Hence, there is the need for a strong father figure, the US, to administer the discipline necessary to preserve order, despite the emotional weakness of those incapable of confronting the threat. Countries that have been the victims of past US aggression, such as Iran, are recast as threats as our collective amnesia about such practices is exploited, suggesting an insecurity that can only be relieved through acts of explosive violence.

In the US of 2006, such sentiments are frequently disseminated throughout the mass media. They form the centerpiece of discourse about how the US should engage the rest of the world. Rarely, is there any warning that the attempt to intimidate others to conform to our wishes through militarism and coercion is dangerous and immoral, recalling the worst aspects of our own history as it relates to immigrants and people of color. Never is there any acknowledgement that it brings Hitler and Mussolini to mind much more quickly than it does the mythic figures of Adams, Washington and Jefferson from our own idealized history. Instead, there is only the tepid liberal response that evades this grotesqueness, an emphasis upon an antiseptic pragmatism that seeks to achieve the same ends while fulfilling a craven need to retain the approval of others.

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