The Shock of Awe (Part Two)
It's bright in the heavens and the wheels are flying - Bob Dylan
When Oppenheimer said "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds," I wonder whether he could have imagined how right and how wrong he was, and that he was speaking for more than himself and his bomb, because no force in the world today - and arguably any day - is a more efficient instrument of Will to Death than the United States of America.
The Jackass War
Pat Dollard might agree, and say "Fuck yeah." The former Hollywood agent is now lionized by Fox and Republican revanchists for his midlife makeover to "War on Terror" propagandist. His time self-embedded in Iraq has become Young Americans, the trailer of which plays like Jackass goes to War, and includes footage of a Marine raising a severed Iraqi head to the camera to a thrashing soundtrack of "If you don't like it you can suck my dick!"
Dollard is profiled in the March Vanity Fair - the longest profile in the magazine's history - and when asked about the footage he laughs: "The true savagery in this war is being committed by the American left on the minds of the young men and women serving over there by repeatedly telling them that their cause is lost. My goal is to de-sensitize young people to violence." He calls liberals "nihilistic."
Tony Snow describes Dollard as a "true believer," while a 17-year old high school student writes that "the clips I've seen of Young Americans are an inspiration and its time someone tells the truth. Thanks for putting your life on the line for the better of the country."
But there's much more to Dollard. He's also a meth addict, an alcoholic and serial user and abuser of weaker hearts and minds. He screens for Vanity Fair's Evan Wright a documentary he'd just finished called Three Days, starring himself; a young Latino named Josiah Dollard whom he met in rehab and took in (initially, supposedly, to help remain sober and later to help score drugs), who is variously described as his "lieutenant," "houseboy" and "bitch"; and the love of Josiah's life, a former girlfriend whom Wright identifies only as "Sunshine" who unfortunately chanced to visit their house. The film's scenes of degradation, humiliation and boundary defiance make it sound like a madman's Salo. Or perhaps Paul Bernardo brought up short.
The face of a girl with long black hair fills the screen. Sunshine. Though she is of legal age, she speaks in a child's voice, plaintive and quavering, as Dollard, still offscreen, barks at her, "What's your job on the team?" She giggles. "To sexually satisfy you and clean the house."
Dollard enters the frame, totally nude, a decrepit satyr. A montage ensues of him performing various sex acts with her, intercut with close-ups of the girl smoking a glass pipe. There is unintended comedy: while Dollard is having sex with her on the couch, it catches fire, and the two fail to notice until flames engulf their feet. There is intended comedy: Dollard performs anal sex with her while simultaneously talking on the phone with an agent at William Morris.
In the film, Josiah, who serves as cameraman, does not have sex with Sunshine.... His most significant on-screen presence is to lean close to her and offer encouragements: "What's his name? Say Pat. You're fucking a rich man with accomplishments, not a fucking loser."
The film fades to black. Jim Morrison comes across the loudspeakers singing "The End." Dollard narrates in the background about immortality, death, and the horrors he witnessed in Iraq. It cuts to Dollard readying to make his money shot on Sunshine."
He turns to Josiah, speaking excitedly. "You love this girl, Josiah. But you know what? You wandered off into a room by yourself to fucking jerk off to a tape of her fucking somebody else. That's who we are. That's who people are! They're scumbags!"
"This is so fucked up," Josiah shouts, "but I like it."
"Exactly, dude!" Dollard claps his hands, like a teacher whose pupil is about to achieve satori. "That's what I told you! That's the whole point to everything around here, with this whole thing, all of it, beyond! It's what everything in my life is about. It's about finding all those truths and those fucking experiences that other people just don't get."
Josiah seems paralyzed, staring at the screen, his huge eyes unblinking. "This is so fucked up," he repeats.
"That's what we do here," Dollard says, pounding the editing table. "We take everything to its furthest limits. We go out. We get in cars. We fucking kill people."
And as awful as it is, Dollard is right. As right as Pasolini was when he had one of Salo's torturers say "We Fascists are the only true anarchists. Once we've become masters of the state, true anarchy is that of power." Transgressive brutality is a path of transformation, at least to a sociopath, and fascism is an ideology of sociopaths. Dollard is embraced by America's fascist elite because behind their paper house of flittering justifications for catastrophe, he's the exultant "Fuck Yeah!" the architects of mayhem still don't dare exclaim in public.
George Bush is not the architect of his wars, but rather another cowboy advocate, and like Dollard he can still delight in them even as he fulfills his job on the team by lying them into being. A couple of weeks ago Washington Life Magazine's Soroush Shehabi, a grandson of a Pahlavi-era minister of Iran, used a presidential reception to warn, Bush, as though he didn't already know, that "one US bomb on Iran and the regime will remain in power for another 20 or 30 years and 70 million Iranians will become radicalized." Bush answered, "I know," to which Soroush responded, "But does Vice President Cheney know?" Bush walked away, chuckling.
Of course, everyone wants to know what Cheney knows, and that's Cheney's delight. For one example some may find ridiculous, but which exists as an example nonetheless, when asked on April 11, 2001 about whether he'd ever been briefed on UFOs Cheney replied "Well, if I had been briefed on it, I'm sure it was probably classified and I couldn't talk about it." He then added, "I have not come across the subject since I've been back in government, on like since January 20th." In other words, he would only say that he hadn't met on the subject in 10 weeks, and any more must remain classified. He could have said much less, but he made instead a near-tacit admission and so strung along "Disclosure" junkies that he may be one of the keepers of the keys. Whether he is or not is a matter of speculation, but why he might like to subtly foster that impression ought to be self-evident.
The "Time of Jacob's Trouble"
One other thing: Dick Cheney also presents a problem for the broad, alternative consensus that America has been warring in Israel's service. There is a kind of truth there, but one which only accounts for the appearance of things rather than their depths, and can't account at all for Cheney's intent. As Joseph Cannon recently wrote, "Does anyone really think that Cheney gives a damn about Zionism or Jews or the return of Jesus or Islamofascism or any of the other religious motivations one hears about?" Radicalizing seventy million Iranians and baiting the entire Muslim world towards acts of retaliation doesn't seem like a sensible strategy for Israeli security, just as we have no problem admitting it isn't one to make America safe, either. So perhaps we should stop thinking that that's really what's going on here.
A couple of years ago I suggested that neoconservatives are the "Lone Gunmen of Iraq. They're the patsies who'll eventually take the fall for its failure, which will actually mean success to the real players who've allowed them the liberty to play their hand." Similarly and in turn, Israel will be sacrificed for the choices of its own patsy-elite who, as I wrote, are not themselves innocent, but neither should perfect blame be laid at their feet. The Dispensationalists' playbook - which is still in play for general consumption, even if few in power actually believe its prophetic narrative - calls for "the Time of Jacob's Trouble," which is the utter ruin of Israel.
"A careful examination of the prophetic Scriptures," writes evangelical author Ben Israel, "indicates calamities for Israel that are yet future":
I have the unwelcome task of giving an overview of what the Scriptures call, "The time of Jacob’s Trouble." It is a painful survey of the devastation and suffering, yet future, for Israel and the Jewish people.... Yes, there have been judgments, desolation, and expulsion in the past; this has been the characteristic pattern of God’s judgments on Israel’s sin, but this Scripture refers to a future and concluding judgment, because it ends with both Israel and the nations round about knowing that God is the Lord. No previous desolation or ruin has ever eventuated in this knowledge....
Part of my controversy with other prophetic spokesmen, who claim that the time of Jacob’s Trouble [Nazi Holocaust] is past, is answered by the fact that the time of Jacob’s Trouble does not have its inception in Europe, but in Israel itself, in the Land. And it indicates, therefore, something that has not yet taken place. But the stage is being set for that eruption and expulsion by the present Jewish presence in the Land that necessarily precedes it.
It's the Christian Armageddon, not the Islamic, which prescribes the annihilation of Israel. If America's Fuck Yeah! cowboy believes he is the Apocalypse President - or, perhaps, if some calved-away, compartmentalized aspect of himself is encouraged to believe such - then it's not for Israel's benefit America is carrying the fight.
For whom, then, should remain a valid question.