Monday, July 23, 2007

Creating Reality

Many of us have taken great delight in skewering the utter incompetence of the current administration, especially as it relates to foreign affairs. I'm quite fond of the "the gang who can't shoot straight" tag myself. However, Rosa Brooks suggests a different take, one that is absolutely chilling. From her July 20, 2007 column in the Los Angeles Times:

In a much-quoted 2004 New York Times Magazine article, journalist Ron Suskind described a 2002 conversation with a senior Bush advisor — widely assumed to be Karl Rove — who added an extra gloss to Kristol's aphorism, making it clear that "reality" can mean different things to different people.

As Suskind relates the story: "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.' " ...

In a very real sense, Suskind's "senior Bush advisor" has been proved more right than wrong. The administration did create realities to match its darkest visions, reshaping the world with remarkable speed and thoroughness.

In 2001, administration stalwarts suggested that Osama bin Laden rivaled Hitler in the danger he posed to U.S. security and insisted that Al Qaeda's power was so great that nothing short of a "global war on terror" was required.

At that time, most experts say, this description of Al Qaeda simply wasn't true. It was little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull. On 9/11, they got lucky — but despite the unexpected success of their attack on the U.S., they did not pose an imminent mortal threat to the nation.

Today, things are different. Thanks to U.S. policies, Al Qaeda has become the vast global threat the administration imagined it to be in 2001. Our ham-handed detention and interrogation tactics and our ill-advised invasion of Iraq have alienated vast swathes of the Islamic world, fueling extremism and anti-Americanism. Today, Al Qaeda is no longer a single organization. Now it's a franchise, with new gangs of terrorists around the world proudly seizing the "Al Qaeda" affiliation.

Other neocon fantasies have also come true. In 2003, there was no alliance between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and no Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in Iraq. Today, thanks to the administration's actions, Iraq has become a prime training and recruiting ground for Al Qaeda, and the NIE has declared Al Qaeda in Iraq one of the greatest threats to U.S. peace and security.


Ms. Brooks' analysis doesn't just work in the foreign policy arena, however. Domestically, this administration has worked diligently to expand the power of the president to the point that no constitutional rights are considered inviolable, not habeas corpus, not privacy, not free speech. What is inviolable is the position that the unitary executive is the source and the holder of all power.

In other words, it's their reality, we just suffer in it.

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1 Comments:

Blogger WGG, Rogue Scholar & Tokin Lib'rul said...

It's ALWAYS been 'their' reality, sweets.
we're just the furnishings and props. they've got the power, and they NEVER relinquish it...EVER...

5:45 AM  

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