Saturday, May 31, 2008

When was the last time you heard "lily-livered"?

Sir Simon Jenkins, writing for the Sunday Times of London, declares al Qaeda beneath the dignity of James Bond:
Oh do pay attention, 007, this enemy simply isn’t worthy of you.
Jenkins traces our need for a great enemy and laments that al Qaeda simply doesn't measure up to Cold War-inspired villains of the Bond books.

But the histrionics of the neocons, Bush and Blair has been a boon to this ragtag troop, Jenkins says, inflating al Qaeda "into a body of fiendish efficiency and global strength. Its cells had to be everywhere, its influence titanic, its fanaticism superhuman." They all but painted bin Laden with a mechanical hand and a white cat.
The West has not curbed Al-Qaeda.

The movement has been honoured by Blair, the neocons and the military industrial complex as the global antithesis to the once-vaunted new world order. Never can so wretched an outfit have been awarded so vast a dignity.

Al-Qaeda is thus an Orwellian classic, a necessary enemy. As portrayed by Philip Bobbitt in his new book, Terror and Consent, it is the ultimate Smersh, terrorist without aim or purpose, secretive, fanatical and blessed with an awesome arsenal on the brink of going chemical, biological and nuclear. Its alleged goal is to create mayhem as a prelude to some notional world theocracy.
Now if the loutish Yanks at Halliburton would just deliver that new Mach 2 jetpack, Bond could kick some Islamofascist butt . . . after a few, quick hands of Baccarat.

Jenkins concludes,
What I cannot do is join the pessimists in claiming that western civilisation is so enfeebled by immorality, as the Bishop of Rochester implied last week, as to be structurally vulnerable to bomb explosions, devoid as they are of any political programme or local support. Because a terrorist claims to attack western culture does not make the claim plausible. Conrad’s terrorist was equally grandiloquent in his demented ambition. This is childish fear-mongering.

I have more faith in western democracy than the lily-livered neocons. I believe in the robustness of its institutions, its traditions and its liberal outlook. They beat the real threat of communist totalitarianism. Nothing on the present horizon is remotely comparable to that. I rather agree with the St Petersburg comrades. That some people need the emotional prop of a Great Satan does not make Satan any more real.
Lily-livered, yet. All things old are new again.

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