A Mad Dream of Power

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I
read Nicholas Lemann's article, u201CThe
Next World Order
,u201D in the Easter weekend issue of the New
Yorker when it arrived and then again on LRC, where it was posted
yesterday. Lemann, is the magazine's Washington correspondent. His
article has a somewhat more tentative subhead: u201CThe Bush Administration
may have a brand new doctrine of power.u201D Ah, so.

What
caught my eye more than anything else in the piece was Lemann's
rendering of an interview with Ken Pollack, who was, he said, the
National Security Council's staff expert on Iraq during the last
years of the Clinton Administration. Today an AP story describes
him as current director of national security studies for the Council
on Foreign Relations. Big time expert.

Here
are Lemann's prize lines on Pollack:

When I went
to see him at his office in Washington, with a little encouragement
he got out from behind his desk and walked over to his office
wall, where three maps of the Middle East were hanging. u201CThe only
way to do it is a full-scale invasion,u201D he said, using a pen as
a pointer. u201CWe're talking about two grand corps, two to three
hundred thousand people altogether. The population is here, in
the Tigris-Euphrates valley.u201D He pointed to the area between Baghdad
and Basra. u201CIdeally, you'd have the Saudis on board.u201D He pointed
to the Prince Sultan Air Base, near Riyadh. u201CYou could make Kuwait
the base, but it's much easier in Saudi. You need to take western
Iraq and southern Iraqu201D – pointing again – u201Cbecause
otherwise they'll fire Scuds at Israel and at Saudi oil fields.
You probably want to prevent Iraq from blowing up its own oil
fields, so troops have to occupy them. And you need troops to
defend the Kurds in northern Iraq.u201D Point, point. u201CYou go in as
hard as you can, as fast as you can.u201D He slapped his hand of the
top of his desk. u201CYou get the enemy to divide his forces, by threatening
him in two places at once.u201D His hand hit the desk again, hard.
u201CThen you crush him.u201D

Nice,
vivid writing you will agree. Lemann is pretty careful not to advance
his own opinions directly, but it may be surmised that he was not
terrifically impressed with Pollack. And Pollack, anyway, is fairly
marginal to the article, which deals mostly with current Bush people.

Still,
what a fellow. Grown men used to play with painted lead soldiers
reenacting the Civil War or the campaigns of Napoleon. Clearly the
fun has not gone out of that kind of thing for men like Pollack.
You'd hardly think he was talking of human beings. Indeed he'll
SMASH the Iraqis. He and his army of two or three hundred thousand
people, two grand corps, whatever.

There
really are people who talk this way? For publication, no less? Still
Pollack is only one warmonger among what appears to be a whole city
full of them if you credit Lemann. As Lew Rockwell has observed,
there could be striking advantages for all of us Dwellers in the
Hinterlands if the War Capital were not in control.

It
now appears, however, that the War Capital is at last getting close
to the Big Show it wants, and so it is not about to change. The
Pollack type has now got off the leash in Israel. Sharon has cornered
Arafat like a rat, which he may well be, but he is also a symbol
of an oppressed people, and as such can not be dealt with as if
he were an nothing.

What
will come of this awful situation? One can hardly bear to read the
stories breaking on the Internet. Fighting in churches; street corner
executions. . . . The Palestinians cannot be bulldozed into the
earth, and their existence written out of history. If only the Israelis
had seen that the answer to Palestinian terrorism was something
quite other than crushing. Now I suppose we are approaching
the time when other people will have to pay for the mistakes being
made in the Holy Land today. There appears to be no one, no one
at all, to stand up and say Stop, and make it happen.

April
4, 2002

Tom
White [send him mail] writes
from Odessa, Texas.

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