The Slave and the God of Death

comment 1
crisis / democracy / freedom / idealism / imperialism

It’s so easy to act like you forget and get out of answering a difficult question, isn’t it? Politics, of course, provides innumerable and colorful examples, because most of the lying in politics is lying by omission, intentional or not. Take, for instance, white house spokesperson Tony Donahue’s response today to a reporters question regarding whether the bombing of the Iraqi parliament which killed three Iraqi MPs represented a failure of current security operations:

“The terrorists will do everything they can to try to undermine a government that is trying to bring peace and stability for the people of Iraq.”

But does it mean our security operations are in jeopardy? The question doesn’t (and hasn’t) resulted in a meaningful response from this administration, just a blurring of the lines of responsibility. The equivocation in this quote (“undermine a government”) underscores a neglect of responsibilities, a managerial imperialism, i.e., the Iraqi government is just like ours, trying to bring peace and stability, but running against “inevitable” difficulties because of terrorism. Instead of addressing the criticisms directed at their policies, this administration relies on an implicit trust in their mission, what Bush has termed his “mandate,” which validates, a priori, any activity they perform; basically, by not addressing this criticism, Donahue is in fact addressing it the most clearly: he is saying, “You asked for this. You voted for us. You put us into office and we took it seriously. You thought elections were a joke?”


For better or for worse, this “mandate” is conflated with aggrandizing a-historicism, a sort of pseudo-religious self-righteous globalism, which resonates well both with the religious right (“humanism”) and oil companies (“free markets”). Now, with scandals mounting and Dick Cheney about to undergo impeachment hearings, the transparent lies are beginning to be questioned. The obvious critique of this (or any imperialist) government’s desire to “bring peace and stability” to Iraq is slowly being reformulated. We swore never to forget; this administration seems only to forget, to break its promises and the law. Donahue’s comments give evidence to a widespread and intense aporia: specifically, he seems to be forgetting that we made possible the conditions which allowed the Sunni revolutionaries to rise to power, in fact, we are the ones who planted the seeds of these toxic inter-sectarian conflicts.

To wash our hands of it, even rhetorically, even to escape answering more difficult questions, is neurotic, amnesiatic, but worst of all, it’s cruel and irresponsible. It makes more sense to us than it is comfortable to admit that, to the citizens of Iraq, we are the God of Death. Not that Iraq would have been peaceful or not without us– but that due to our role in the history of the development of that country, we function as the rebel God who donates fire right into the hands of Saddam, one of the most dangerous and repressive rulers in history.

Fidelity to the event of September 11th requires not becoming or supporting terroristic groups or governments ourselves. How easily we forget, or pretend to! The immense spectacle of false images which were necessary and sufficient to provoke the otherwise extraordinarily apathetic American populace to war is already evidence of the fundamentally false premise under which this “war on terrorism” has been and is still presented, waged and represented six years later.


The fact that we had to be tricked to go along with this conflict means that the fight is wrong, and the ideology needs to be updated. This war is more about oil than it is about, say, democracy, September 11, or Christianity; however, more than oil, this war is about imperialism, it’s necessary and sufficient condition was a feverish, but short-lived and long-regretted super-nationalism. Iraq is about nation- and empire-building. But this is flatly contradicted by democratic ideals; aren’t we “all” supposed to build the nation? We “all” participate equally in free society, we “all” form the body politic in which the vox populi is lodged, etc, etc…

This idealism is what is taken to be true before anything else, and it is here that it pays most to be critical, and not to give an inch to superstitution and self-blinding delusion. The most generic expression of the current war is founded on a syllogism: since we are a democracy, we are able to institute it elsewhere. Besides the fact that this doesn’t even logically follow, it is begging the question via the preliminary presumption that we are indeed a democracy, that we value social equality, and so forth. From the mouths of aggressors and warlords, this is ultimately a blind idealism to empty concepts which allows us to forget about our hypocrisy, our deception, our narcissism and our imperialism. In fact: this leader, this administration, this “war”, are all spectacles, all justified by simulation, which represent an intervention against democracy.

The Author

mostly noise and glare

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Inter(esting)Net Elsewhere: Fractal Ontology « massthink

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