THE BLOG

The Middle East Transformers - Chapter II

07/22/2006 11:37 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I'm quite bowled over by the language Team Bush members are using in relation to the new Middle East conflagration, especially Condi's "birth pangs of a new Middle East" line but also Dan Bartlett's confiding that the president believes "a moment of clarity has come."

Forgive me, but the only thing clear to me is that fools are rushing in where angels fear to tread. We know, of course, what Condi and Bush are trying to say--that force of Israeli arms (correction: U.S. arms in Israeli hands) will create those proverbial new realities on the ground and, presto chango, peace and justice and the American Way will prevail.

These views at the top are reported on the same day that General Abizaid says more troops will be required to quell Iraqi sectarian violence, which he now frankly acknowledges worries him than the insurgency.

Don't the neocons know it's not polite to make a new mess until they have cleaned up the old ones? Put another way, have they no decency?

Quite plainly we have reached Matthew Arnold's apocalyptic mode of ignorant armies clashing by night with the moral and practical sense switched entirely off. In this profoundly dangerous mode, all awareness of history is erased, all consideration of the sacredness of human life falls by the wayside, and just the reptilian brain stem keeps the killing and destruction pulsing along.

Apocalyptic as well in the original meaning of an opening up, a rupture in time, with the end of the human enterprise in full blood-drenched and fire-scorched view. We should never forget the huge numbers of Christian Zionists in this country (and doubtless in the Bush Administration) who are enthralled by this latest drama and are feverishly consulting the books of Daniel and Revelation to see whether this might be "it" or at least a prelude to the Big One on the plains of Megiddo. Although anti-Semitic at their core, these Christians are reflexively, even vehemently, pro-Israel because unless that Third Temple gets built where the Dome of the Rock is now, there's no Second Coming.

Laugh if you like, but this is serious stuff to millions within the Bush camp.

I write as a Christian who, perhaps foolishly, clings to the dream of a world transformed not by violence but by active nonviolence. One of my heroes, the legendary James Lawson who was Martin Luther King's mentor in nonviolence, told a small interfaith group meeting Friday in Los Angeles that we in the progressive faith community should be shouting from the rooftops, "Make them tell us exactly what they have accomplished over the past 75 years with all their violence and war! Make them show us just how much peace and security the Middle East now enjoys as a result of using these evil means!"

Savants like Lawson and Jonathan Schell know that the only real transformations toward peace and freedom and security taking place in the 20th century were all accomplished through active nonviolence--through the "force more powerful," as it is sometimes called.

Transformers of the Condi Rice and George Bush mode--together with their neocon "big thinkers"--have nothing but blood and tears and death to show for their apocalyptic dreams. Will we let such literally deranged people lead us over the brink? If we don't stop them, and soon, Chapter 2 of The Transformers could well be the last chapter, and not a happy ending. Not at all.