On multiple prior occasions, some of which can be found in this blog, I have consistently made one prediction: that any attempt to question the ever expanding and increasing sclerotic U.S. militarism fostered upon the world would be the ultimate breaking point between those who recognize the desperate obsolescence of an insular and incestuous American foreign policy establishment, and those who would do anything to defend it. The past few days has proven my point to any who still somehow could have ever doubted it.
The new congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, found herself on the receiving end of numerous bipartisan attacks for daring to suggest that powerful lobbying groups, AIPAC specifically in her case, use money to wield disproportionate influence over the policy making process. In a world with the NRA, defense contractors, numerous astroturfed ‘tax policy’ groups, and Saudi cash to be found in almost every think tank in DC, this is hardly some out there allegation. Its simply fact. But likely because she is an anti-interventionist, and almost certainly because she is Muslim, an utterly hysteric reaction has consumed the establishment press demanding her contrition for peddling in ‘anti-semitism’. This was fueled by her retweeting Glen Greenwald, who himself is Jewish. The audacity of America’s gullible policy ‘wonk’ journalists and commentariat to the talking points of politicians never ceases to amaze me. This smearing continued today when Omar grilled Elliot Abrams on what his intentions towards Venezuela might be. Numerous denizens of the darkest caverns of mouthbreathing analysis sought to tie the two issues together by implying that any hostility to Abrams was also anti-semitism.
If you are familiar with this blog going back awhile you might gleam that while I might be opposed to intervention in Venezuela for a variety of reasons, Abram’s record isn’t one of them. I know ghouls because I *am* one, in a sense. The outsider ghoul. In the service of strategy or policy directives I supported I could take on all kinds of shady assignments for the sake of the art. Like those strategists of Warring States China or Renaissance Europe, there isn’t a single chauvinistic bone in my body towards foreign nations (unless its Saudi Arabia, of course) and I could, theoretically, offer my services from one group to another if we lived in such a context. I know that there will always be competing nations, and the art of grand strategy and diplomacy analysis is a cool job you can eke out knowing that and working with it. If someone presented me with an interesting project to undermine a country, or uphold one, I could do it making whatever broken eggs were necessary. I have never been anything but honest about this. I excoriate bad strategy, no matter who does it, and praise good strategy, no matter who does it. Hence why I am often impressed with how Iran, for example, plays a poor hand against a bumbling America. I would much rather live in America than theocratic Iran. But the Iranian foreign policy establishment of today is one I can *respect*. And I could still respect it were it my job to actively plot against them.
Abrams, however, shown by his indignant response to questioning, shows if he ever knew this he has clearly forgotten it. In the DC bubble, where careerists faun and flatter and boost each other into failing upwards regardless of skill, it might be an easy thing for one to do when they are complacent.
This brings me to what I really want to talk about which is related to the pure intensity and across-the-board ghoulery of this reaction to Omar’s comments. Because this howling chorus of lanyards, from the ever ignorant Max Boot types to the endlessly wokescolding ex Obama and Clinton staffers who always want to remind you to ‘believe women’ and ‘believe black women’ (unless they criticize AIPAC, the DNC, or the endless war state, of course) shows exactly the group think present in DC establishment institutions. This groupthink is not something I need to once again go over, but I need to specifically mention here is that it is not, despite what you may think, entirely cynical. Sure, some of it is. Party hacks on both sides of the isle have taken a cue from the Blairite melts in the UK who constantly smear Corbyn as anti-semetic for…well not being a huge fan of Israel. Leaving aside how they sloppily conflate an entire diasporic ethnicity with the governing elite of one country, this is a purely cynical move now taken up with relish by the Democratic establishment in particular who seek to prevent newer and younger elected officials questioning any of its canards. If such ridiculous call-outs continue to happen the fact is we will soon reach a point where to criticize wahhabiist terror or the Saudi monarchy will be conflated with anti-Arab racism…though I am sure some wokescold is already working on that thesis as I write this (its probably Shadi Hamid).
But not all of these howling bien pensants are so cynical. This is the core horror I can impart upon you, dear readers. After having lived in DC for over three years now I can say this with full confidence. Many of the people here, especially those in leadership positions of think tanks, nonprofits, and media organizations, but also low level people in government and business, actually believe their own bullshit. From American Exceptionalism to the magic of neoliberal markets, from ‘humanitarian intervention’ via the military to the view of America’s alliance networks as ‘values based’ to the cult of the billionaire entrepreneur…so very many of the people here actually believe this shit. Ever wondered how America could think going into Iraq with no post war plan and that few troops would work? Now you know. Libya? Moderate Rebels? And now the jaundiced gaze of the Beltway ghoul turns to Venezuela.
That is the true horror. Horror to the strategist not indoctrinated into the cult. Horror to anyone who wants reform or substantive change. I’m both. As you can imagine, being here can often verge on a type of stark dread only to be found when Lovecraft dreamed of Yuggoth- where puffed shoggoths splash. These may not be all of the people that influence who governs, but it is far too many of them. And that is why they howl and hoot and holler in such rage and indignation when called into question, because you aren’t just disagreeing with them…you are blaspheming against their religion. The ghouls will circle the wagons when heresy from outside threatens their genteel discussions of insular theology.
But the problem with this faith is that we don’t have the luxury of waiting around for their elders to die off naturally or them to learn from the real world. The clock is ticking on the next insane war they are planning and the planet is warming and we simply no longer have the time when dealing with such people. We have only the shock of heresy to wield to remove and replace them.
One thought on “Beltway Ghouls Circle the Wagons”
I wish this was news to me, but unfortunately I knew these guys drank their own kool-aid long ago