[Marxism] US Presidents acting nuts
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 20 10:18:00 MDT 2006
This morning my eyes popped out as I was reading Paul Kane's call for
reinstating the draft on the op-ed page of the NY Times. Kane is identified
as a Marine who served in Iraq and now is a fellow at the Kennedy School of
Government, a prime training ground for CIA agents, State Department
flunkies and other dark forces.
Kane states that if Bush starts drafting young men and women, then Iran
will get the message that we are gearing up for a major war and will step
down. Back in high school, we used to call this playing chicken. It was
dramatized in "Rebel Without a Cause" when James Dean bested a rival in a
drag race toward a cliff. Whoever stopped first was the chicken. When his
rival's jacket got caught on the car handle, Dean won by default. This kind
of behavior has characterized US foreign policy since WWII. Another example
was JFK's confrontation over Russian missiles in Cuba, which in his mind
must have had the aspects of a touch football game played for very high stakes.
Kane takes up the sports analogy and tops it with images drawn from the
world of abnormal pyschology. For him, the point of reinstituting the
draft--a wildly unpopular measure--is not just to show the Iranians that we
mean business, but to show them that the US President is basically *nuts*.
"President Bush has the perfect credentials overseas to execute this move,
and little political capital at home to lose at this stage. Polls confirm
that a wide majority of people in many countries view him and the United
States as the major threat to global peace. Why let them down on this
count? Go with the flow.
"President Ronald Reagan was the past master of using this strategy during
the cold war. Reagan capitalized on his image as the madman at the helm to
keep the Russians off balance, using the signs of war to dissuade our foes
and avert actual war. President Bush should take a page from Reagan's
Actually, President Nixon tried out the "madman" theory long before Reagan:
National Security Archive, 23 December 2002
Nixon "Madman Theory" Alert Revealed in Declassified Documents
In late December, 2003 declassified documents published by the National
Security Archives disclosed a worldwide secret nuclear alert Nixon and his
national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, stage-managed from 13 Oct. to
25 Oct., 1969. The alert consisted of a series of actions to ratchet up the
readiness level of nuclear forces hoping to jar Soviet officials into
pressing North Vietnam to meet U.S. terms in peace negotiations. The move
caused no change in Soviet policy towards North Vietnam.
The nuclear alert was based on a diplomacy-supporting stratagem Nixon
called the Madman Theory, or "the principle of the threat of excessive
force." Nixon was convinced that his power would be enhanced if his
opponents thought he might use excessive force, even nuclear force. That,
coupled with his reputation for ruthlessness, he believed, would suggest
that he was dangerously unpredictable.
Although Nixon favored this theory more than most, threatening excessive
force was nothing new. In the 1950s President Dwight D. Eisenhower, his
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and then-Vice President Nixon, had
overtly practiced a version of the Madman Theory by means of the
"uncertainty principle" and coercive nuclear "brinkmanship."
Such is the state of the world when Harvard University fellows urge the
President of the United States to act nuts. In the name of preserving
peace, George W. Bush is supposed to reintroduce the draft and god knows
what else. This kind of behavior was summed up in Orwell's "1984" as
double-think of course: "War is Peace". You can also add a new slogan, I
suppose: "Insanity is sanity".
With all proportions guarded, when I read Paul Kane's bloodcurdling prose,
I am reminded of what Leon Trotsky wrote in the 1933 article "What is
"Fascism has opened up the depths of society for politics. Today, not only
in peasant homes but also in city skyscrapers, there lives alongside of the
twentieth century the tenth of the thirteenth. A hundred million people use
electricity and still believe in the magic power of signs and exorcisms.
The Pope of Rome broadcasts over the radio about the miraculous
transformation of water into wine. Movie stars go to mediums. Aviators who
pilot miraculous mechanisms created by man's genius wear amulets on their
sweaters. What inexhaustible reserves they possess of darkness, ignorance,
and savagery! Despair has raised them to their feet, fascism has given them
a banner. Everything that should have been eliminated from the national
organism in the form of cultural excrement in the course of the normal
development of society has now come gushing out from the throat; capitalist
society is puking up the undigested barbarism. Such is the psychology of
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