Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Thoughts on "The Assassins Gate"

As I’m going back through George Packer’s excellent taxonomic account of our monumental failure in Iraq, The Assassins Gate, and revamping my notes, I’m even more shocked than the first time through. Packer’s invaluable work at reconstructing the pathology of the double-super-secret Bush régime from the roots to the fruits will, I’m sure, become the gold standard of investigative texts from this period of time. It rises above the slew of books that emanate partisan hysteria simply on its preoccupation with pure facts. And unlike the handful of other well-received administration dissection texts, Packer has no particular axe to grind and has put in the hours investigating, interviewing and fact-checking. The book gets very name and date heavy, but it’s entirely to his credit that he keeps it moving at a fast clip and those names and dates never threaten to make the read too abstract and boring.

But it is, after all, the facts that are important here. Though they get equal billing with the scene-painting interviews and anecdotes, the facts are what cut so close; what keep me up at night, trying to keep track of all the lies coming out over the TV and the internet. Through chasing down official documents, reconstructing timelines, and interviewing a massive number of players—both major and minor; Iraqi and American—the truth of the situation emerges out of the litany of perspectives, philosophies, and histories. Packer never pretends to entirely pulled the veil off, but what he gives us is an appraisal of the situation that rises high above the million little sandstorms kicked up by the spinners in Washington. And, sadly, it becomes painfully apparent that most of America is lost in those storms, kept factually blind by an intentionally deceptive government and a criminally complicit media.

Needless to say, I can’t recommend this book enough. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. After reading it, I’m far more comfortable with the altruistic reasons for the US going into Iraq, but far more dismayed, far more enraged by the Bush régime’s willful ignorance, sickening contempt, and overwhelming stupidity. It’s become obvious that theirs is a catastrophic failing of theoretical thinking over empirical thinking. The wide-eyed, GOP, right-wing, ivory-tower thinkers had more power to actualize their theories than any single ideological group in the history of mankind and they’ve completely shit the bit. Think about that the next time Fox News goes after some lone-wolf, powerless lefty professor like Ward Churchill. These sons of Leo Strauss were no sooner given the wheel than they steered this great vessel up onto the rocks.

Sending out an S.O.S….”
*UPDATE: Of course, Cursor has a piece relevant to today's theme:

The Memory Hole unearths reports on the State Department's "almost wholly ignored" Future of Iraq Project, and Raw Story parses National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley's 2005 revisions to a 1997 document spelling out the guidelines for determining access to classified government information.

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