Sunday, August 22, 2010


Frank Rich connects this month's big trumped-up controversy to possible consequences in the larger world -- but I think he's missing the point:

... Here's what's been lost in all the screaming. The prime movers in the campaign against the "ground zero mosque" just happen to be among the last cheerleaders for America's nine-year war in Afghanistan....

So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right ... that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus's last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?

You’d think that American hawks invested in the Afghanistan "surge" would not act against their own professed interests. But they couldn't stop themselves from placing cynical domestic politics over country....

But, see, the cheerleaders for war on the right don't really care about winning. They just care about fighting. They derive more benefit from having a permanent swarthy enemy than from defeating one.

They know that they never want to be rid of exotic-seeming enemies: they can blame the continued survival of these enemies on Democrats and liberals when the latter are in power, then, when they themselves wrest power from Democrats, they can use the exotic enemies to distract the public from their own failures of governance and transfers of ordinary citizens' wealth to the rich. They sure as hell don't want to be George H.W. Bush, declaring victory, going home, and then having no war to divert citizens' attention from their own financial woes.

The public complicated matters in 2008 by voting for a guy who promised to get us out of Iraq -- or I should say voting for him because he promised to get us out of Iraq. And now President Obama has complicated matters further by being gung ho for war in Afghanistan. So Republicans have chosen, for now, to rally the country against a swarthy "enemy within."

But that's for now. They're perfectly comfortable with the notion that the anti-Park51 campaign will increase the level of global Muslim anger against America and the West. That's just fine. They like the fight. They want one of their own to lead the fight after November 2012, with stirring speeches and martial music and embedded reporters in helmets and Kevlar going on missions in the name of Freedom. If they can rally the public around the "clash of civilizations," they'll be quite happy, using the very ordinary citizens they've stirred up, to fight forever.

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