To Sniegoski's series on
9/11 and the Terror War

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Translating the shock of Michael Kelly
into the comfort of the Establishment




The Last Ditch always being ready to provide the other side of the story, I take pleasure in alerting TLD readers to some Establishment pro-war wisdom issued on May 29 by Michael Kelly, columnist and editor of The Atlantic. Mr. Kelly's piece, "Old, Old, Old. Tired, Tired, Tired," originally appeared in the Washington Post (p. A-17).

Since some of us wisdom-consuming peasants may be unable to grasp Mr. Kelly's profound ideas, I will go even further, risking humiliation at the hands of the Bicoastal magi, and exert my poor abilities to produce a translation.

Thus speaketh Mr. Kelly, War Intellectual:

The other day, reacting to not much of a story about not much of a warning that President Bush was given before Sept. 11, Democratic congressional leaders went a-shrilling all over the place demanding to know What the President Knew and When Did He Know It, and Republican congressional leaders shrieked in response their horror that anyone would Question the Commander in Chief in a Time of War.

The Democrats' reactionaryism was a great deal more offensive than the Republicans' — the latter merely stupid; the former obscene — but the essential nature of both was the same. In each case, you saw people trying to translate the shock of the new into the comfort of the known. The effect was not merely cliched but as if out of another time.

Now exactly what is Mr. Kelly saying? Well, one thing he says is that it's "obscene" to imply that the president knew something about a possible terrorist attack before September 11. TLD, for one, has never engaged in such an "obscenity," because, as should be apparent to all, Miniature George doesn't know anything about anything. However, as has been pointed out hereabouts, the same cannot be said for Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and the other people who actually run the administration.

Offering his own brand of New Ageism, the illuminated Mr. Kelly maintains that the 9/11 attacks somehow propelled the world into a new era — in about the same way, it seems, that the killer asteroid eliminated the dinosaurs and ushered in the age of mammals — which propulsion many other political commentators are unable to recognize. Presumably this means that all traditional means of thinking — logic, reliance on empirical evidence, and so forth — are now no longer applicable.

War Intellectual Kelly:

We are now entered into a serious time, a time of protracted conflict. To some degree, we will be engaged in this alone; certainly in the sense that a leader is alone. And we must lead. No one else has the capacity to direct what will become a fluid and shifting alliance between the nations that wish to promote democracy, trade, and order arrayed against the nations and extranational forces that wish to promote fascism, gangsterism, and smash-and-grab anarchy. We have a president who seems to understand this, which is helpful. We have a people who seem to understand it too, which is essential.

Translation: The U.S. empire must engage in perpetual, unilateral, global warfare because no other nation has the capability or desire to combat the forces of "fascism, gangsterism, and smash-and-grab anarchy." Note that unlike our down-to-earth president, who simply says we are fighting "evil," the more intellectually sophisticated Kelly names the specific evils.

Now, we at TLD are definitely against fascism and gangsterism, but, conditioned by our pre-asteroid mentality, we can't help pointing out that more than a whiff of those two "isms" is detectable in the American government right here on American shores — a quantity sufficient, we suspect, to fully occupy our time until the next killer asteroid arrives.

As for "smash-and-grab anarchy," although our editor-in-chief and senior editor admit to being anarchists, they profess not to be of the "smash-and-grab" variety. So, yes, we at TLD might oppose "smash-and-grab anarchy," too — if only we knew what it was. But just as in the case of Mr. Kelly's other two evils, we see no need to traipse to Araby, Baluchistan, the snows of the Hindu Kush, or other exotic places where he may have discovered it flourishing.

We await further enlightenment from Mr. Kelly on the question of how many far-flung realms groaning under the rule of the anarcho-smash-and-grabbists also happen to have oil wells or a prominent position on Israel's hit list.

June 2, 2002


Editor's note: I've always considered myself more of a "buy-and-sell" anarchist than a "smash-and-grab" anarchist. But I think I can speak for senior editor Ronn Neff in saying that both of us would indeed like to smash the state — assuming we didn't have to grab it while doing so.

Nicholas Strakon

© 2002 by WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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