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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Department of Book Reports 27: A Tragic Legacy

Glenn Greenwald, a Salon contributor and author of How Would a Patriot Act (Working Assets Publishing, $12.00), has penned a new book, A Tragic Legacy: How A Good Vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency (Crown Books $24.95) which lays out the ‘philosophical’ underpinnings of our Dear Leader's grasp of the world.

Greenwald ascribes the Bush world-view as Manichean. Basically W. posits that the world is a battleground between the forces of Good and those of Evil. The United States is on the side of the good. Islamofascists, and those who abet them, are evil. There is no middle –ground. There are many implications to this outlook. One, of course, is that if you don’t serve the side of good, well, then, you’re with them. Another is that any tactic in the service of the good, is in and of itself legitimate. Or “moral certitude trumps moral constraint”. If we must imprison our enemies without due process, or use some rather radical means of extracting information from them, then so be it. Above all, this mindset imposes a complex world into a simple formula, and you can leave your critical faculties at the door, thank you very much. If you can’t, you will be demonized as a traitor or a dupe by the administration. Being a good Manichean demands loyalty, and results often in a “kill the messenger” style of leadership. Witness several Pentagon officials. The domestic agenda is harder to cram into this world view, and is why nothing of significance has occurred in that arena. In fact, it is a legacy of gross incompotence. Witness the response to Katrina. And it explains why Bush doesn’t care about opinion polls. He has it right, and history will show that to be true.

Greeenwald explores how the Neo-Cons exploit this world view in a cynical way. Most of them don’t believe in Manicheanism, aren’t particularly religious themselves, but use the President to set-up this kind of agenda. In other chapters, he shows how the Manichean warrior led us toBaghdad and may yet lead us on the charge to Tehran. He provides a great discussion on Iranitself, its own political realities and its place in the affairs of the Middle East. As to Iraq, Greenwald makes a compelling comparison to Viet-Nam, where from 1962 on, the American military was always turning the corner against insurgents.

This is an important book, and of all the political books I’ve read this year, the one I’d urge people most to read. Greenwald is no mere polemicist. He is a good, clear analyst. Read him.

A Tragic Legacy and How Would a Patriot Act? are available at Jackson Street Books and other fine independent bookstores.

democommie™™™™®© is in New England, testing the Presidential waters. Expect an announcement from New Hampshire soon.

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