For years Peter “Pe-Nart” Beinart has attempted to speak in complete gibberish. And he’s gotten closeâ€”70% gibberish, 86% gibberish, 93% gibberish. But it’s only in a recent Q & A with Kevin Drum about Beinart’s book The Good Fight that he has reached his goal of 100% (reg. req.):
Jihadism sits at the center of a series of globalization-related threats, including global warming, pandemics, and financial contagion, which are powered by globalization-related technologies, and all of which threaten the United States more than other countries.
This is outstanding work. The only way his point could be improved would be to put it like this:
Gerbil narcolepsy sofa-bed detritus squanders Bigfoot. Crapulent snurf machine? Crapulent snurf machine knob knobbler! Groucho lithe koala traipsing noreaster flange mucus. Mithril acne fluffernutter shamus fling-ding-a-ling-doo!
Seriously: in what sense can jihadism be said to “sit at the center” of global warming, pandemics, and financial contagion? In what possible way can these all be claimed to be greater threats to the U.S. than to other countries?
You may wonder, then, why Beinart’s saying something so blatantly absurd. The answer is that the “liberalism” he espouses is incoherent. The Cheney platformâ€”Let’s Rule The World By Hate And Fearâ€”at least has an undeniable internal logic. So too does a radical evaluation of U.S. foreign policy. They both tell coherent stories. But the mushy tale “I, Peter Beinart, will run the planet except I’ll be nice” simply doesn’t make sense. Thus he doesn’t have any alternative to saying preposterous things.
This preposterousness reaches its noisy climax when he argues the Bush administration has become “sincere in its commitment to democracy.” Specifically he has in mind Bush himself (!), Wolfowitz (!!), Elliot Abrams (!!!!!!) and arguably Cheney (!!!!!!!$#@#$????).
SURE. They’ve spent their entire careers thwarting democracy in the United States. This indicates their commitment to democracy. Elliot Abrams lied to Congress about Iran Contra. Why? I guess because of his commitment to democracy. Paul Wolfowitz berated the Turkish army, with its long history of coups, for allowing Turkey’s parliament to vote against assisting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That’s thanks to his commitment to democracy. The entire administration lied us into war, then ferociously covered it up. It’s the ultimate commitment to democracy.
Power really does corrupt. And we’ve been so powerful for so long there’s very little left in our political classes but intellectual and moral corruption. That is to say: we’re really in trouble.
BONUS: Beinart also informs us “understanding intellectual history is important not because the historical analogies are exact, but because most people don’t think of great ideas de nouveau.”
That’s right, de nouveau. As long as we have generals who talk like this, I can’t see anything but overwhelming political victory ahead.
UPDATE: Could I have been wrong about the precise nature of Beinart’s gibberish?
The “jihadism at the center of everything” part I still think is absolutely meaningless. But I believe Jethro, commenting here, is correct that I misunderstood Beinartâ€”that rather than meaning global warming et al are greater threats to the U.S. than they are to other countries, “Beinart was trying to say terrorism and global warming threaten the US more than any particular country threatens the US.”
Of course, this is still nonsensical. Among Beinart’s chorus line of catastropheâ€”terrorism, global warming, pandemics, and financial contagionâ€”only global warming might compare to today’s greatest threat to America, which is obviously nuclear weapons. The one thing that currently could actually obliterate us is ICBMsâ€”i.e., Russia’s and perhaps someday China’s nuclear arsenal.
So I may have incorrect about the exact way Beinart wasn’t making any sense. But I remain correct about the overall non-sense making.