Creative Chaos

“The result in war is never absolute.” — Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Chapter 1

I’ve been trying to wrap my head about the neoconservative “creative chaos” theory. Apparently, the neocons believe that if the Middle East is thrown into enough turmoil, the bad old authoritarian governments will break down and nice democratic governments will rise up out of the ashes. There is more explanation here and here. From the second link, we find a quote from neocon Michel Ledeen:

Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence–our existence, not our politics–threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.

What is “our historic mission”? World domination? When did we vote on that?

This does explain why the Bushies didn’t think they needed a postwar plan for Iraq. They really did believe that once they removed Saddam Hussein, the chaos of instability would generate energy and creativity, and out of this a democratic and pro-western nation would rise. I assumed they believed in the Good Democracy Fairy, but it’s really more like quantum chaos theory applied to politics.

Glenn Greenwald asks if Bill Kristol is writing George Bush’s Middle East speeches —

George Bush’s radio address yesterday on the Israel-Lebanon war preaches pure neoconservative gospel. Every point the President made would fit very comfortably into a Bill Kristol Weekly Standard column or a Michael Ledeen Corner item. This speech leaves no doubt that, at least rhetorically, the President is still a full-fledged adherent to the tenets of neoconservatism, and thus considers the Israel-Lebanon war to be “our war” in every sense, merely another front in the Epic Global War of Civilizations (a/k/a The Long War, World War III/IV, etc.):

    1. As we work to resolve this current crisis, we must recognize that Lebanon is the latest flashpoint in a broader struggle between freedom and terror that is unfolding across the region.

For decades, American policy sought to achieve peace in the Middle East by promoting stability in the Middle East, yet these policies gave us neither.

    The lack of freedom in that region created conditions where anger and resentment grew, radicalism thrived, and terrorists found willing recruits. We saw the consequences on September the 11th, 2001, when terrorists brought death and destruction to our country, killing nearly 3,000 innocent Americans. [emphasis added]

Since that nasty stability gave us all these problems, Bush says, what we need is instability.

So, says the President, the Israel-Lebanon war is not about territorial conflicts or endless Israeli-Hezbollah disputes but, instead, is part of the glorious worldwide “struggle between freedom and terror.” It is but the “latest flashpoint” in the “broader struggle,” which includes the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and America’s hostilities with Iran and Syria. All of these problems are part of the same War, and are all caused by the one big neoconservative sin — stability. Exactly as Mark Levin pointed out yesterday — Mark Levin — the President claims that the reason 9/11 happened is because the foreign policy of both political parties for the last several decades was devoted to preserving stability (i.e., a state of peace, avoidance of war), and stability in the Middle East is our greatest enemy.

That, according to neoconservatives (apparently including the President), is what needs to be changed. Stability is our enemy because it breeds hatred and war. Only instability and war will breed a “lasting peace.” Thus, the more instability and war in the Middle East, the better. That is the central neoconservative warmongering tenet and it is what is coming out of the President’s mouth as he discusses his views of the new war in the Middle East. [emphasis added]

That’s just the beginning of Glenn’s thought-provoking post; you can read the rest of it at Unclaimed Territory. I also want to highlight this paragraph of Glenn’s written yesterday —

To neoconservatives, everything that made the U.S. a respected superpower over the last six decades is all obsolete and worthless. To them, foreign policy experts from both political parties are responsible for 9/11 and the rise of Islamic extremism because they believe too much in diplomacy and restraint. They didn’t wage enough wars and the wars they did wage weren’t ferocious enough. There weren’t enough Qanas, and as a result, we aren’t sufficiently feared. People around the world need to know that they either comply with our instructions or fire and brimstone will rain upon their heads.

IMO Neoconservative foreign policy seems rooted in two basic childish conceits. The first conceit is that every foreign policy problem can be resolved, once and for all, and if problems continue to fester after years, or decades, of diplomacy, then diplomacy failed. The second conceit is that we’re better than them, and deep down they know it, and once we knock some sense into them they’ll try harder to be like us.

Regarding the “failure” of diplomacy — when you’re dealing with matters like nationalistic, ethnic, and religious identities, and clashing cultural values, it may in fact take generations for people to stop fearing and hating each other. This is especially true when people have already been locked in a cycle of mutual retribution for many years. It may be that the best anyone can do is prevent war long enough for people to chill out and develop a little tolerance. This can take a long time, as witnessed by the history of racial animosity in America. But sometimes, I believe, there are no shortcuts.

Basic rule: Anything you feed will grow. If you feed hate and war, you get more hate and war. If you feed tolerance and peace, you get more tolerance and peace. It may take a lot of feeding for a warring people to develop tolerance and peace, but that’s the only way peace can get big enough to prevail.

Neocons, on the other hand, think America can force the simple native people to be nice, and that’ll be that. They think they can apply war and get an absolute result, which Carl von Clausewitz said ain’t the way it works. Instead, I believe, the neocon approach just grows hate and war, and it’s going to come back and bite us eventually. Possibly hard.

Who recognizes his limitations is healthy;
Who ignores his limitations is sick.
The sage recognizes this sickness as a limitation.
And so becomes immune.
Tao Teh Ching, Verse 71

7 thoughts on “Creative Chaos

  1. “They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.”

    The first part is pure projection.

    The second part of Ledeen’s betrays a child’s reason for smashing something – it/he didn’t do what I wanted.

    It also reminds me of a wife batterers reason for hitting his wife…..”I wanted to knock some sense into her head”

    These people are certifiable!

  2. They are moving closer and closer to “final solution” territory. Authoritarianism always does.

  3. Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning. These guys use it for a training manual. War will breed a lasting peace when everyone is dead. Only the cockroaches will be left to argue about it..

  4. How short-sighted and ethnocentric. I’m doubting that, deep-down, the powers that be in Iran want to be anything like us; they seem content to continue to enforce sharia and hate the West and stone women and all that jazz. But progress, schmogress! It’s not worth doing if you can’t get instant results to carry home to your constituents! War = Peace!

    No one who thinks like the neocons will ever make any progress in the Middle East. Anyone thinks more violence is the way to stop violence is seriously disconnected from reality.

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