Doomsday Book: Bush Literary Lunch Foretells Horrors Ahead

Stop what you're doing and go read – right now – Glenn Greenwald's account of the recent "literary luncheon" that George Bush held with a gaggle of extremist neocon "scholars" in the White House. Read of the poison flattery they lovingly smeared all over Bush's ego, of the brutal and ignorant prejudices they confirmed him in, of the unbridled military aggression they advocated. Read how they fed Bush's megalomaniac belief in his "divine mission," like Byzantine courtiers or al Qaeda groupies assuring the Leader that he walks in God's favor and is answerable to no one and nothing but the Almighty.

Read too of how Bush eagerly lapped up their "lessons," nodding in solemn agreement with their fawning assessment of his greatness – even adding to it, saying that he was greater than Winston Churchill because the British leader was a secularist, an agnostic, and lacked the rigid blinders of crude, unquestioned faith that gives Bush such an unwavering certitude in the rightness – and righteousness – of his actions.

(This is hubris indeed, given that Churchill is the tutelary god of the neocons and all the other militarists of the American Empire crowd. Indeed, the Claremont Institute – yet another extremist pressure group on the war-whooping Right – has just announced it is giving its Statesmanship Award to none other th
an that eminent ex-statesman and certified slaughterer of civilians, Donald Rumsfeld, at the Institute's annual dinner in honor of – who else? – Winston Churchill. The Claremont Institute is of course devoted to restoring "the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life." However, the Institute's view of these principles may differ slightly from that of the Founders themselves – a saucy crew largely made up of questioning, doubting, agnostic, non-blinkered secularists. For example, one of the Institute's most prominent board members is Howard Ahmanson Jr., the rightwing moneybags who for many years was the principal funder of the "Christian Reconstructionist" movement. This movement, many of whose adherents and allies now have ready access to the corridors of power and exercise great influence on the formation of government policy, advocates the imposition of a totalitarian theocratic state, with every aspect of public and private life governed by a Sharia-like blanket of religious law. Some of the fearsome strictures openly championed by the Reconstructionists include slavery for the poor who fall into debt, execution – by stoning -- for homosexuals and other transgressors, revocation of citizenship for non-believers, and a worldwide jihad to exert God's dominion over the globe. Bush, of course, is very much at home with such lumpish, grunting, primitive minds; but one suspects that Churchill – much less Jefferson, Madison and Franklin -- would find a dinner with these cretins pretty heavy going.)

But aside from the fascinating – if sick-making – spectacle afforded by Bush's neocon chowdown, Greenwald cuts to the deeper meaning of the event: we're doomed. The bloodthirsty baying of these servile ministers is the only voice that Bush attends to. Witness the "surge" in Iraq, launched in arrogant defiance not only of the will of the American people (neither party pays any attention to that) but also of a broad swathe of the Establishment elite, including the faction of Bush's own father. Instead, Bush turned to Frederick Kagan -- yet another well-wadded neocon courtier with absolutely no expertise in the Middle East, no knowledge of Iraq, no military experience, no qualifications at all save for his adherence to militarism, empire and the inherent greatness of George W. Bush. Bush will follow their lunatic agenda of "creative destruction" and imperial conquest to the end – because it is his agenda. Greenwald's conclusion is grim, but all too true:

Irving Kristol [husband of luncheon attendee Gertrude Himmelfarb] has written in the past about the need to exploit religious and moral concepts in order to manipulate the masses, and his intellectual North Star, Leo Strauss, has advocated -- as Strauss scholar Shadia Drury documented -- that "those in power must invent noble lies and pious frauds to keep the people in the stupor for which they are supremely fit" -- a view Kristol has endorsed. One can see that dynamic powerfully at work in the interaction between these neoconservatives and the President. They have seized upon the President's evangelical fervor and equated his "calling" to wage war for Good in the world with the neoconservative agenda of endless wars in the Middle East.

And the more unpopular the President becomes as a result, the more of a failure these policies are, the more strongly they tell him to ignore all of that, that none of it matters, that his God and history will conclude that he did The Right Thing, provided that he continues steadfastly to pursue their agenda. And the President believes that. That is why nothing will stop him in pursuing the path he created years ago when, in January, 2002, he became convinced to name not only Iraq, but also Iran, as standing members of the "Axis of Evil" (even though our relations with Iran were rapidly improving at the time) and cited the 9/11 attacks in order to all but vow war on those countries, despite their having nothing to do with those attacks. The President's "lessons" at the feet of neoconservatives continue, and he is as faithful a student as ever.