Tuesday, March 23, 2004

From the Folks Who Brought You Weapons of Mass Destruction:

The conservative magazine National Review devotes a third of the main feature pages of its latest issue to contributing editor David Frum’s defense of his book (co-written with Richard Perle) An End to Evil. This is really unfair. A defense of An End to Evil would require a lot more space than that. It would, in fact, require an entire alternate universe in which Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In which Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were better at assessing external risk than Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Martin Sheen. A world where Judy Miller could get her facts straight.

The key to Frum’s argument is that the survival of civilization is menaced by terrorism, and that anyone who denies this hates America. This is foreign policy from the perspective of a speed freak in the midst of a moral panic. Frum’s is the voice of the paranoid leader of the kids in River’s Edge proclaiming that if they go to the police with the news that the fat, sweaty kid had murdered their friend the communists will take over the world.

It’s also the same voice that David Brooks hears inside his headwhen the President speaks. The voice says that fear equals truth, and belligerence equals security. Tony Kushner call your office, this is Angel Dust in America's Foreign Policy.

“Our manager’s crazy, he always smokes dust, he’s got his own room at the back of the bus,” someone once said. Those were the days. Today the dusted managers are in the Pentagon.

A sensible, conservative response to terrorism would be forumulated under the influence of booze or perhaps that perfectly acceptable conservative drug, opium. And it would sound like this: “Bombs kill and panic the panicky. But they do not undermine civilized society unless that society wants to be undermined. The destructive potential of these bombs is not remotely ‘mass’, nor is the threat comparable with that of the Blitz or nuclear weapons.”

That quote is from Simon Jenckins’ article in the Spectator. I’m not linking because it requires registration but if you’re in the states the issue is probably still on the newsstands.

[Earlier on Manhattan Transfer: I am a War Employee.]