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The Hounds of War: a Dedication to Our Leaders

Bill Kristol

Each morning we wake to the rabid wail of old defeated warriors, now no longer in halls of power, who prowl the studios of our infotainment industry and the commercial temples of our ministers of war to yelp and whine one last time before they succumb to the inevitable: a feast for maggots. How sad to witness that ancient soldier, Senator John McCain, shuffle before the cameras, one last glorious moment before the klieg lights finally go out, saliva dripping from his lips in curdled drops—“more war!, more war!, more war!”

How ironic to hear our former snarling Vice President, Dick Cheney, risen from the dead with a new heart, yet oblivious to the suffering and destruction he brought to the world, growl again for “more war! more war! more war!” How ignominious for Paul Wolfowitz to crawl from his cave to tell the American people to finish what he had brought to Iraq, a blessed democracy welcomed with flowers from the people there, his glorious little war that would be paid for by Iraqi oil profits.

How repugnant to watch Bill Kristol grovel before those he urged into war, not the dead soldiers or the dead Iraqis who suffered his disastrous thoughts turned into reality, but those he deceived into believing this was a war America should have fought only to realize it was built on deception and lies, all hidden as necessary for America’s security when in fact it was a war of proxy for his true country, Israel. How demented these hounds of war, defending the indefensible, blaming those who defied them, the brilliant intellects that strike hard the word processing keys as they sit in air conditioned offices surrounded by award plaques given to their brilliance by AIPAC and PNAC, and all the other think tank clones that keep wars going ensuring an incestuous birthing of rapid, deceitful, boastful articles to manage public opinion to their will.

For eight years I lived their lies as they, unelected, self-proclaimed experts on America and her future, crafted the foreign policy of this nation, turning it into a lawless state devoted to preemptive strikes, extrajudicial executions, torture and mass death for the people of the mid-east. During those eight years I wrote hundreds of articles attempting to clarify their deception. I have been gathering that material into a new book devoted to this destructive crew that hijacked the United States, and would you believe they have arisen from the slough of lies into which they were pushed by a world sick of their arrogance and hubris attempting yet again to befuddle thinking people into believing that they were right. Their very existence it appears depends on unending war; it is their identity without which they do not exist.

With that said, let me introduce you to An Age of Fools, the title of my new work, as it seems their hubris has forced it to be exposed before it is published. I’ll give a few passages from the Prologue followed by a soliloquy that seeks an answer to why, why “Men of War”?

An Age of Fools offers a record of the first decade of the 21st century as the newly appointed administration of George W. Bush entered the White House and inaugurated a decade of deceit and destruction that catapulted the United States into a totalitarian dictatorship that ravaged the world at will. It is not an historical study, nor is it a journalistic record, nor a study devoted to military strategies for world dominance. It is rather a literary record captured in poems, poetry, plays and polemics drawing upon the tools of the artist, reflecting therefore the attitude, the mindset and the devotion of those who record and archive the behavior of humans as they live out the values and virtues, aspirations and dreams, and desires of all who lived through these years as the perpetrators or the victims of those who ruled.

Over 500 years ago as Columbus bumbled his way to the “new” world, Sebastian Brant published broadsides describing recent events, often in satiric lampoons barbed with his personal philosophy, often with political significance, to enlighten the masses, wisdom crafted in verse dressed in caustic commentary. In 1494, just two years after Columbus’ fateful voyage, destined to inaugurate the greatest holocaust in human history, Brant’s masterpiece, the Narrenschiff, appeared, a collection of 112 verses in iambic tetrameter, each dressed out in rhyming couplets accompanied by magnificently carved woodcuts, companion pieces of polemical art that captured his times caustically and truthfully as the Holy Roman Empire entered the 16th century, a time of genocide abroad, of inquisition at home and of religious reform throughout Europe. Brant’s Ship of Fools conveys his lifelong desire to bring peace and harmony to his country by lambasting the fools-- their failures and their infirmities—that ruled and gave acceptance to an earlier age of fools.

It is Brant’s enveloping narrative that entices my interest in his work. While 500 years separates his efforts from mine, and the bridging of centuries offers parallels between the 15th and the 21st centuries, it is the embodiment of civilized progress in the hands of fools that captures his truth and awakens mine. That fools exist in the 15th century surprises no one; that they offer comparison with those in the 21st century offers delight for the cynic; but it’s the idiocy of today’s fools and their heinous impact on our lives, so much greater than that possible just 500 years ago, that must force us to contemplation of the word progress and the word civilized. Brant’s narrative journey remained in the Roman Empire with Maximilian’s mantle covering a land mass from the ports of Spain to the castles of Germany; today that narrative encompasses the entire globe ushered in by fools untethered to a government by election or appointment and hence but rogue officials officiating for the people as they led their nation to a feast of offal, the putrid detritus of millions charred by depleted uranium, white phosphorus, flechette bombs, “mother bombs” carrying their children, drones, assassinations and lawlessness beyond contemplation. Such are the fools that have taken hold in our world.

Today’s fools must be defined as they are not human, not sympathetic to their brethren, not resident in a shared universe, not conversant with the equality that resides in each and every human walking the earth, not sensitive to pain or suffering awaiting those who are the recipients of their calculated and devastating slaughter, not conscious of a necessity to share the fruits of this earth with all, to seek solutions to the waste and destruction imbedded in their control of forces that devastate the planet; no, today’s fools must be seen as devoid of human spirit, as creatures that find worth within the mortal flesh that envelopes their bones like a sheet of tissue draped as a shroud over their wasted minds bereft of emotions or hearts or souls, unable to think beyond self and the void that is their wasted life. Today’s fools would turn everything in the world into products for consumption, including any who obstruct their desires; Jehovah, God of War (see Exodus), and Saklas, the fool, the god of mindlessness, are false gods yet are their gods, ruthless and reckless our fools thrive on the misery and suffering in this world and negate the spirit that is the essence of existence.

Self-love propels them, flattery ignites their egos, pleasure and sensuality but givens as their rewards, lip service anticipated as they flaunt their entitlement to act without interference from those outside their exclusive club, nourished by vanity and intemperance, driven by madness and arrogance claiming “exceptionalism” as a birthright as they buy favors and privilege, stealing souls as larder for their enjoyment, scavengers on human kind finding in this world a banquet of riches for the few leaving the rest to the wasteland beyond the walls they have constructed to block out any memory of their evilness.

This “Age of Fools” deserves more than a scolding, more than a reprimand, more than a chastisement for the world-wide wreckage they have inflicted; they deserve absolute castigation, nay more, damnation forever in the annals of human discourse, and I offer in poems and in polemics my attempt to stamp that damnation on all the fools that have created the bloodshed, the mayhem, the absolute chaos that has attended the innocents of the world by these beasts that have roamed the world without a soul.

The offenses of these fools offend the sensibilities of common decency toward all humans even as they defy the guaranteed rights of all who live under the umbrella of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. Their minds and hence their actions are driven by demonic forces that cater to no one and nothing that interferes with their ultimate goals, goals which are anathema to the welfare of people everywhere.

There is need to understand these forces that seize a mind, freeze it against its fellows and seal out the natural sympathies of the heart. There is also need to comprehend the process by which these madmen took control of the United States, pirating the ship of state to policies and acts contradictory to its stated principles, turning it into an oligarchic, belligerent fascist monstrosity that sails the oceans of the world plundering all without mercy, a veritable Ship of Fools. To that end I offer this guide that we might track the deception as the Bush administration and its attendant fools began this corrosive and calculated destruction of the United States of America in the first decade of this new century.

Men of War

Are men who rise to power born to the task,
Offspring of some primordial curse,
Children of the first conflagration
That raged in the recesses of the universe,
Dividing creation into the twin Charons of Heaven and Hell?
Do they divine their dominion in the dungeon of despair,
And glower in delight at the magnitude of their power,
Monarchs of the souls harvested there?
Are they the demon riders of the red horses
Let loose by the breaking of the second seal?
Have they orders from some terrible force
To take peace from the earth, to slay their brethren
That the prophecy of ancient stories be fulfilled?

Or are they the horsemen of the fourth seal
Riding the winds of war, spreading disease and destruction
Across the sands and the seas and the cities
That dot the earth?
Or are they men devoid of heart, defective and deformed,
Whose chest is filled with cynicism and contempt
For those less fortunate, the desperate and deprived
That struggle to survive in a world unkind?

What manner of men can distance themselves from their kin?
What beast of prey have they become to devour so many
Without compassion or remorse, able to wield
Weapons of unimaginable force against unseen foes,
Who hear the screaming cry of the angel of death
Hurtling from the sky,
Where life itself should be the only force:
The warmth of the sun, the gentle cooling of the rain,
The promise of spring, the hope that comes again.

Listen to those who conspire behind closed doors the destiny of men;
See how they huddle amongst themselves, laughing to scorn
The voices of those who council patience and restraint,
Who caution against gut reaction, the antidote to passion,
The enemy of due deliberation that considers consequences
That destroy those we would save.

Listen as they conspire, like Richard of old, to create their empire
On the ruins of ancient castles and tombs,
The graphic symbols of life and death,
Oblivious to the reality they portray as they plot their rise to power.

Witness the arrogance that leaves a legacy of lost memories,
Where preservation is weakness and destruction is might.
Where once the silent dreams of ancient voices scrolled their beauty
Before our eyes, moist with sympathy for their expectations,
Recognizing our dreams in theirs though centuries have passed, 
Now they smolder, thoughts lost forever,
The very glory and magnificence of Mesopotamia.

These are the men who dismiss the misfortune of others,
Ignorant of causes that curse a culture
Into ruin by the ravages of time or wind or drought,
Leaving generations destitute and deprived, innocent detritus of wasted days,
Hostages of happenstance, fodder for the selfish, the savage, and the strong.

These are the men who have contempt for the poor,
Who understand weakness as evil, might as right,
Lies, deceit, and duplicity as strength against failure,
Who believe empathy, kindness, and compassion betray success,
Allowing the weak to survive as parasites on the strong,
And strain the juice of ambition from their loin.

Memory that gives life to identity must be destroyed
By those who conquer, or it will destroy the myths
That gave them purpose in their slaughter.
The baubles and slogans parroted by the powerful
Become the voice of reason and the spirit of violence
To subdue the weak and extol the strong,
And death becomes the gauge of success.

Morality lies dead beneath the sword of arrogance,
Slain by the seven angels of Revelation,
The ministers of god’s messenger,
Who unleash heaven’s candles to open the bottomless pit,
Spewing spasms of smoke back to the heavens,
Blocking the light of the sun,
Casting darkness over the faces of men,
Even as the locusts’ wings whirl their fury
Over the frightened hordes below who suffer the scorpion’s blow.

This must we know of those who rule by myth:
Their truth is imbedded in an icy heart
Frozen in time to a god of vengeance and retaliation,
Whose mission they serve by fulfilling their ambition,
And in that heartless world they find meaning.

 “NBC and ABC’s Sunday news shows turned to discredited architects of the Iraq War to opine on the appropriate U.S. response to growing violence in Iraq, without acknowledging their history of deceit and faulty predictions,” Media Matters’ Emily Arrowood opined, citing specifically the return to the airwaves of former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol (who never really disappeared from the talk show circuit in the first place).

“If you were asked to identify a single moment that best captures the failure of elite media outlets to act as agents of accountability, you could do worse than David Gregory asking Paul Wolfowitz on “Meet the Press” this weekend what we should do, “as a policy matter,” to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq,” Salon’s Simon Maloy vented.

Maloy goes on to rend garments over the gall of The Wall Street Journal daring to provide former head of the Iraqi occupation authority L. Paul Bremmer space in the opinion pages to weigh in on the crisis.

“Their argument for taking them seriously is to ignore everything they’ve said up to this point,” the Salon columnist continued. Finally, Maloy questions why American society has not whisked these and other prominent figures of the Bush-era off to the Leper Caves.

There are no consequences for being so wrong all the time. Kristol and Wolfowitz and all the other people responsible for dragging us into Iraq should be pariahs who labor under the expectation of doing some measure of atonement for their stubborn and wrongheaded pursuit of a disastrous policy. Instead they get invited on to Sunday shows to discuss what we should do next in Iraq.

“[P]eople who both supported the invasion, and believe further military involvement is the right course now,” The New Republic’s Brian Beutler wrote, crafting a slightly more thoughtful version of the Maloy’s take. “They should be regarded with incredible skepticism, and not simply because of the magnitude of their initial mistake.”

[I]t’s crucial for everyone to recognize that double-down interventionists have much more on the line than a desire to provide accurate, dispassionate risk assessments, and to price that into their arguments. We should set the bar for those arguments very high. Unfortunately, the substantive dispute about Iraq still lies on a largely partisan axis, and because the country elected and re-elected a president who was right in the first instance, the “opposition” is now composed of people who blew it over a decade ago. And so they’re the ones getting calls from reporters and network news producers looking for a fresh take today.

At least Beutler took a stab at informing his readers as to why they should be skeptical of the pronouncements of the Iraq War’s architects, but that is not the same as a case for their self-censorship.

These and others who populate social media with similar self-assured sermons denouncing the Iraq War architects’ self-assuredness are so utterly convinced that Bush allies should disappear in disgrace that they often fail to assert why.

“Why?” they bristle. There is no need to even dignify such an impertinent question with a response. History itself has repudiated the Iraq War’s supporters, they claim. Majority opinion in virtually every major institution in American – from government, to entertainment, to media, to academia – all are quite convinced that the Iraq War was folly from beginning to end, and cutting America’s losses was the only option available to Obama.

In fact, this consensus among America’s influencer caste has dulled the arguments of those whose very political identities were shaped amid the debate over Iraq. The Iraq War’s architects were self-evidently wrong, the closed circle assures itself. That fact alone should relegate them to the black list.

And the Iraq War architects issued many a faulty prediction, but wrongness alone on the complex issue of post-war Iraqi security is not really a disqualifier for this crowd. Obama, too, crafted and applied a demonstrably failed post-war model for Iraq.

As Mary Katharine Ham observed on Monday evening, Obama’s December, 2011 speech at Fort Bragg announcing the completion of the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq is riddled with “mission accomplished” moments.

“We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people,” Obama insisted. He contradicted himself just last week when he scolded Nouri al-Maliki’s administration for excluding the country’s Sunni minority from enjoying full representation.

“And around the globe, as we draw down in Iraq, we have gone after al Qaeda so that terrorists who threaten America will have no safe haven, and Osama bin Laden will never again walk the face of this Earth,” Obama added. According to Obama’s former acting CIA director Mike Morell, among ISIS’s goals is the formation of a state-like entity secure enough to facilitate the planning and execution of attacks on Americans in the United States.

On Sunday, the president informed Congress that he was sending nearly 300 combat-ready American troops back to Iraq to provide security for American embassy staff. They are considering additional measures which include airstrikes and an insertion of special forces to provide Iraqi troops with training. While the mission is circumspect, the promise Obama made to the American people to extricate them from Iraq’s domestic affairs is a failed one by any objective measure.

True, Obama might not have been drawn back into Iraq if the 2003 invasion had never occurred, though we are so removed from that event that any number of other factors could have intervened in the interim. History alone suggests that it unlikely that Obama would have been the first president since Reagan to avoid military conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. But it’s just as true that, had the president executed strikes on Syria in 2013 to pursue his stated aim of containing that conflict, Obama’s current predicament in Mesopotamia may also have been avoided.

Obama’s obviously failed approach to Iraq does not lead Obama’s supporters to demand his exile. The demand that people like Kristol and Wolfowitz disappear is not based in a noble regard for realist foreign policy. It is an expression of the increasingly desperate effort to hold on to a formative weltanschauung, one which was forged in Iraq and is now dying there.


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