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Reading ‘An End to Evil’
Cat : End to Evil
Date : 2005-05-01 16:31:21                      Reader : 677
Richard Perle and David Frum, An End to Evil: How to Win the War On Terror, pg 279
If the others let a minority conquer the state, then they must also accept the fact that we will establish a dictatorship.
Joseph Goebbels, Knowledge and Propaganda, 1928
Tragically, a reoccurring characteristic of times of great upheaval, and looming mass destruction, is the failure of contemporaries to anticipate their future. Perhaps there is simply something human about the inability to fully grasp the seriousness of the situation, a naive unwillingness to trust that those who advocate total war truly want it. Likewise, it is hard to believe that when David Frum and Richard Perle advocate the creation of a new domestic intelligence agency under the control of Tom Ridge, a national identification system linked to DNA databases, an expansion of the Patriot Act along with expanded domestic monitoring, and the invasion of several more nations that they actually mean it. It is time to lay aside your skepticism, because they mean precisely what they are writing.
 
In 1933, John W. Wheeler-Bennett gave a talk to the Royal Institute of International Affairs about the alarming rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany. He drew explicit attention to the rein of violence that followed the burning of the Reichstag, Germany's parliamentary building, and implied that the Nazi party started the fire to pass their Reichstag Fire Decree which declared, "the constitution [is] suspended until further notice. It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights to personal freedom [meaning habeas corpus], freedom of speech, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of letters, mail, telegraphs and telephones, order searches and confiscations and restrict property, even if this is not otherwise provided for by present law." The resulting repression secured Hitler's total control.
 
One could imagine that the audience was alarmed by Wheeler-Bennett's description of Nazi Germany. Clearly, an anti-democratic leader had now seized control of Germany, anything was possible, and the worst was likely. And yet, only one member of the audience was able to believe that the Nazis would actually attempt what their policy, written 13 years before, stated. At the same presentation, Mr. Israel Cohen "expressed surprise that none of the speakers had mentioned Hitler's Mein Kampf, which contained a complete exposition of his philosophy, or referred to the twenty-five points of the Nazi programme which in 1920 the party had declared to be immutable." His fears were flippantly rejected by Wheeler-Bennett who declared he had not read Mein Kampf and "the twenty-five points of the Nazi programme were so contradictory that nobody could carry them out," further, "many parties had got into power and had then disregarded the programme on which they got into office." As we all know, it was Cohen who was right.
 
Now that America has invaded two countries during the course of one presidential term, perhaps the greatest challenge for those now alive is to trust that the neoconservatives mean precisely what they say. It is a difficult task, for what they are saying seems so "contradictory that nobody could carry it out". After attacking Iraq (and conceding that the attack violated international law) the neoconservative movement is once again adjusting public opinion toward accepting their continued total war. The task of writing the propaganda capable of doing this has been taken up by Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, and David Frum, former speechwriter for Bush who was partly responsible for Bush's "Axis of Evil" formulation.
 
Their book, An End to Evil, is blunt propaganda that Random House claims "will define the conservative point of view on foreign policy for a new generation—and shape the agenda for the 2004 presidential-election year and beyond." Having finished the 280 page book in a night of furious reading, I can only agree. An End to Evil is propaganda at its most crude, most deceptive, and most damaging. As such, this book can be read both as a masterpiece of contemporary propaganda and a policy statement with far reaching effects.
 
After first examining the propaganda techniques utilized by Frum and Perle, I will present a summary of the more important policy statements that they make. Do not be fooled by those who will argue that this book is not worth in-depth examination; Perle and Frum quietly deploy drastic rhetoric changes that deserve the movement's full attention.
 
Techniques of Propaganda
Let us recall another effect of such propaganda on democracy: an aristocratic category of men arises which has no common bond with democracy. The propagandist is a technician and a member of an aristocracy of technicians that establishes itself above the institutions of a democracy and acts outside its norms. Besides, the employment of propaganda leads the propagandist to cynicism, disbelief in values, non-submission to the law of numbers, doubts on the value of opinions, and contempt for the propagandee and the elected representatives: he knows how public opinion is fashioned. [...] Every democracy that launches propaganda creates in and by such propaganda its own enemy, an aristocracy that may destroy it.
 
One of the most fundamental functions of propaganda is to provide the mass with a set of beliefs that they can rely on to analyze the world. In the case of Frum and Perle, the goal is to homogenize American public opinion behind Bush. In a sense, the function of propaganda is to give the largest number of people the exact same talking points. As Jacques Ellul explains in Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, "answers to problems are clear-cut, white and black; under such conditions, public opinion forms rapidly, breaks loose, and expresses itself with force." (pg 206) Ellul provides an illuminating quote from Goebbels, the head of Nazi propaganda, who wrote "by simplifying the thoughts of the masses and reducing them to primitive patterns, propaganda was able to present the complex process of political and economic life in the simplest terms.... We have taken matters previously available only to experts and a small number of specialists, and have carried them into the street and hammered them into the brain of the little man." (pg 206)
 
This explains why An End to Evil is so simplistic. I originally ordered this book in anticipation of being treated to a sustained argument in favor of the political philosophy of neoconservatism. Instead, the book functions to set the limits of the debate and provide answers without justifications. Frum and Perle are less concerned with rational argument as they are in making the most terrifying of arguments palatable to the average citizen. To accomplish this they use many textbook techniques of propaganda, the most frequent being hypothetical questions and conditional statements that allow them to dodge making statements of fact and most importantly they present information they know is false.
 
Using sophistry, Frum and Perle are able to sidestep making the statement that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction while constantly suggesting that he did. Thus, the reader is left with the curious page 25, when we are first asked to imagine:
 
Where would Saddam be in 2004, 2005, and 2006? Would he obtain nuclear material from North Korean or from the Russian mafia? To what projects would he assign his team of nuclear experts? Would he develop ballistic missiles? Bioweapons? How would he use his weapons if he got them? Directly against us? Indirectly through terrorism? Would he try again to conquer Kuwait to seize its oil wealth - and this time learn from his 1990 mistake and threaten mass casualties in the United States if we intervened to stop him? Or would he seek glory in the Arab world by attacking Israel, possibly triggering a nuclear confrontation?
 
After contemplating this series of nightmares, and oddly enough, acknowledging that Israel has nuclear weapons in violation of international law, the reader is then informed that in fact:
The critics' emphasis on stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons as the central issue seems to us seriously misplaced. As David Kay has reported, there is overwhelming evidence that Saddam had extensive chemical and biological weapons programs [...] that would have enabled him to produce such weapons in the future...
 
This subtle shift from considering concrete fact and current reality that can be evaluated as true or false ("Saddam has WMD") to considering future hypothesis which can not be evaluated precisely because they are judgments on future events ("maybe one day Saddam would have WMD") is utilized throughout the book. It is a crucial shift because if war can be justified on future scenarios articulated by those who want war, than there is no way to stop war. Let us not forget that this rhetorical movement is new. Americans were originally sold on concrete truth. Cheney declared:
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.
 
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands."
 
(Although in retrospect, it's clear Bush's use of the past tense was carefully chosen.)
Frum and Perle construct many of their arguments through implying what they do not state directly. Readers should be particularly aware of their use of the words may and if. For example, in presenting the reforms they'd make in the armed forces they again imply that Iraq had WMD by asking whether American soldiers will need to "raid Syria to retrieve or destroy weapons of mass destruction that may have been sent there by Saddam Hussein for safekeeping?" (pg 211) The word may allows Frum and Perle to make assertions that they will not ever have to prove. Thus, they can say that Syria is hiding Iraqi officials by linking a statement with some ideological payload: "The Syrians provided weapons of war to Iraq in the months leading up to the U.S. campaign, and may have provided refuge to fleeing officials of Saddam's government."
 
Basing reasons for war on such obviously logically deceptive arguments indicates that Frum and Perle do not have rational reasons for their beliefs. The irrationality of their arguments is easy to demonstrate. For example, one could also say, using the same formulation as Frum and Perle employ, that "Uncle Bob lives in Michigan and may have given nuclear weapons to Iraq." Once I've tainted Uncle Bob with a claim that I don't intend to prove I can then argue that he must be destroyed by using the rhetoric device employed above: hypothetical questions. For example, in the following argument from page 26 I've only replaced the word Saddam with Friendly Uncle Bob. The quote begins, "President Bush had to ask himself:"
 
If I remove [Friendly Uncle Bob] and learn later that he did not have weapons of mass destruction after all, how would that compare to leaving him in place - and learning only after he used them, or enabled terrorists to use them, that he did in fact possess the chemical and biological weapons that all Western intelligence organizations as well as United Nations inspectors believed him to have hidden away?
 
Clearly the only option is to murder Friendly Uncle Bob, for as Frum and Perle note, "where intelligence is uncertain, prudent leaders will inevitably minimize risk by erring on the side of the worst plausible assumption. And rightly so." The aggressor nation and not international consensus, of course, is the one who gets to determine what is "plausible".
 
The result of such arguments is that the winner will be the one most able to rouse the hatred of the population based on an imagined future event: "We must kill them now to prevent them from killing us when they are strong!" By rejecting rational argumentation, Perle and Frum are forcing their adversaries to use violence instead of intellectual debate.
 
Perhaps one reason Perle and Frum are so fond of such arguments is that it allows them to hold completely contradictory policies. For example, although India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons we should:
 
Accept the subcontinent's nuclear weapons as an unwelcome but unalterable fact and drop all remaining sanctions against India and Pakistan. The sanctions were ill conceived from the beginning. There was never the slightest chance they would succeed in halting either the Pakistani or Indian nuclear program. Their only effect was to estrange the United States from both countries. (pg 262)
 
The reason? Because in their world vision Pakistan and India can be brought under the influence of America. The point is that there is no real political philosophy underlying which countries should be destroyed, and which ones should be aided, but instead a series of predictions by Perle and Frum. If they predict that a country will challenge us in the distant future, then that country will be destroyed now.
 
Frum and Perle frequently quote biased sources such as MEMRI and Daniel Pipes and they frequently lie as well. In fact, they lie about things that they know are completely false. For example, to offer their readers evidence of a link between al-Qa'da and Saddam they point to "the fact that Czech intelligence remains convinced that Mohammed Atta met Iraqi intelligence officer Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in Prague in April 2001." (pg 45) This was proven absolutely, 100% false by the New York Times over a year ago. On October 21, 2002 James Risen wrote:
 
The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, has quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed Atta, the leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague just months before the attacks on New York and Washington, according to Czech officials. Mr. Havel discreetly called Washington to tell senior Bush administration officials that an initial report from the Czech domestic intelligence agency that Mr. Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, in Prague in April 2001 could not be substantiated.
 
Frum and Perle must have known that this story was completely false, yet they know the average America won't. One more example should suffice, they write:
Likewise, our intelligence services could find no evidence to contradict the Iraqis when they told us after Desert Storm that they had halted their biological weapons program - until Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Hussein Kamel defected in 1995, and we learned of Iraq's continuing attempts to weaponize anthrax, plague, botulism, and smallpox. (pg 24)
 
They write this knowing that Kamel told the UN weapons inspectors:
I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons - biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.
 
Before moving on, I'd like to draw attention to what I found to be the most deceptive and dangerous argument used in this book. Although I haven't heard Bush deploy it yet, if he begins to use this rhetoric then there may be no chance to avert all future wars. The argument is that it was good we attacked Iraq because it prevented Iraq from being victorious against us. In other words, it was good we attacked Iraq because we won. In Frum and Perle's words, the third "great objective" America achieved "by toppling Saddam Hussein" was:
 
We denied our enemies in the Middle East the huge victory they would have won had Saddam been able to claim that he had survived and triumphed over us. (pg 33)
That Frum and Perle write this to justify war is terrifying indeed!
 
Intentional inaccuracies, deceptive language, and emotional arguments are the norm in this book. Unfortunately, this is what makes An End to Evil powerful. Through irrational arguments Frum and Perle are able to fan the flames of anti-Islamic feelings in the American populations, justify endless future wars and increasing domestic repression. Thus their book fulfills another characteristic of propaganda according to Ellul who wrote:
 
Under the influence of propaganda certain latent drives that are vague, unclear, and often without any particular objective suddenly become powerful, direct, and precise. Propaganda furnishes objectives, organizes the traits of an individual's personality into a system, and freezes them into a mold. For example, prejudices that exist about any event become greatly reinforced and hardened by propaganda; the individual is told that he is right in harboring them; he discovers reasons and justifications for a prejudice when it is clearly shared by many and proclaimed openly. (pg 162)
It is essential that we do not dismiss this as an unimportant work - instead, it is precisely the high level of propaganda that makes this book a terrifying reminder that America is close to being dragged into the depths of neoconservative insanity. Having looked at the text as a piece of propaganda, let us now turn to the policies that it advocates and the prejudices it reinforces.
 
Fear Their Plans
Propaganda gives the individual the stereotypes he no longer takes the trouble to work out for himself; it furnishes these in the form of labels, slogans, ready-made judgments. It transforms ideas into slogans, and by giving the "Word," convinces the individual that he has an opinion.
 
An End to Evil is written to provide people with replies to any foreign and domestic policy question that they will likely encounter in the simplified world of mass media and public politics. As such, Frum and Perle cover a wide range of topics very superficially. The goal is not to educate the public; the goal is to give the public an opinion about the diverse issues that Bush will tackle in his next term.
 
Instead of arguing with Frum and Perle, an activity that is not worthwhile if your opponent is not willing to use intellectually honest arguments, I want to instead highlight some of the more blunt policy statements that they make. There is much in this book that needs to be publicized, which is why I'd encourage you to get the book, read it, and give it to a friend and tell them to pass it on. Until then, here are some of the most important quotes in this book:
On Domestic Repression
 
To stop terrorists before they strike, we must do three things: deny them entry into the country, curtail their freedom of action inside the country, and deprive them of material and moral support from within the country. (pg 63 - 64)
 
We ought to learn a lesson from the most effective anticrime program the United States has ever seen: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's crack down in New York. Giuliani's core insight was this: People who break one law will break other laws. You want to catch a guy who's skipped out on a manslaughter arrest warrant? Stop every turnstile jumper and inspect his ID. You want to find the killer who left his fingerprints on a knife that stabbed a kid to death yesterday? Scan the fingerprints of everybody you catch smoking marijuana in the park today. (pg 68)
 
And there is only one system that will do the job: a national identity card that registers the bearer's name and biometric data, like fingerprints or retinal scans or DNA, and that indicates whether the bearer is a citizen, a permanent resident, or a temporary resident... (pg 70)
Law-abiding citizens value privacy. Terrorists require invisibility. The two are not the same, and they should not be confused. (pg 71)
 
Right now, American law bars the admission of aliens suspected of terrorist activity - but not of terrorist sympathies. (pg 74)
We may be so eager to protect the right to dissent that we lose sight of the difference between dissent and subversion... (pg 74)
 
A free society is not an unpoliced society. A free society is a self-policed society. (pg 77)
Nor should we exclude the possibility that Islamic terrorism may begin to make common cause with Western political extremists of the far Left and far Right. (pg 80)
 
New data assembly techniques can pull together inside a computer an individual's credit history, his recent movements, his immigrations status and personal background, his age and sex, and a hundred other pieces of information and present them to the analyst - without the analyst or any other human being ever knowing the individual's identity. (pg 82)
 
Noncitizen terrorist suspects are not members of the American national community, and they have no proper claim on the rights Americans accord one another. (pg 222)
But even a nation of laws must understand the limits of legalism. Between 1861 and 1865, the government of the United States took tens of thousands of American citizens prisoner and detained them for years without letting any one of them see a lawyer. (pg 229)
 

Domestic Political Reorganization

The transformation must begin with the single worst performer among those institutions: the FBI. But it must extend much farther: to the CIA, the armed forces, and, perhaps above all, the Department of State. (pg 196)


The determination of the State Department to reconcile the irreconcilable, to negotiate the unnegotiable, and to appease the unappeasable is an obstacle to victory. (pg 221)
The FBI must return to the job it does best: catching criminals. It should be fired from the counterterrorism job it has bungled, and its counterterrorism units and employees should be reassigned to a new domestic intelligence agency. This new domestic intelligence agency should report not to the attorney general, but to the secretary of homeland security. (pg 222)
George Tenet has been the director of central intelligence since 1997, time enough to have changed the Agency’s culture. He has failed. He should go. (pg 223)


It may be time to bring all of these secret warriors ["CIA personnel involved in paramilitary operations"] into a single paramilitary structure ultimately answerable to the secretary of defense... (pg 224)


No operational commander should have to assign a soldier a task that could be done as well by a computer, a remote sensor, or an unmanned airplane. (pg 226)
Next, we should increase sharply the number of political appointees in the State Department and expand their role. (pg 227)


 

 Comments on Islam and Islamic Organizations

 Militant Islamic groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR]... (pg 75)

People who live next door to a storefront mosque in Brooklyn, New York, will almost certainly observe more things of interest to counterterrorism officials than will people who live next door to a Christian Science church in Brookline, Massachusetts. (pg 79)

 

The lax multiculturalism that urges Americans to accept the unacceptable from their fellow citizens is one of this nation's greatest vulnerabilities in the war on terror. (pg 93)

 

The administration's solicitude for Muslim sensitivities might well have been interpreted by many Muslims as a vindication of bin Laden's methods. (pg 149)

 

...clerics whose own minds contain nothing but medieval theology and a smattering of third world nationalist self-pity. (pg 161)

 

... the social and sexual frustrations of unemployment may explain much of the fury that Muslim radicals direct toward women who dress too temptingly - and it may also explain the eagerness with which they seize on emotionally intense distractions, like terrorism. (pg 177)

 

The CIA is blinded, too, by the squeamishness that many liberal-minded people feel about noticing the dark side of third world cultures. (pg 201)

 

The CIA's reports on the Middle East today are colored by similar ideological biases - exacerbated by poor understanding of the region's culture and a politically correct disinclination to acknowledge unflattering facts about non-Western peoples. (pg 204)

 

Saudi-funded religious schools drill boys to memorize the Koran in its original Arabic language, a language few of them will ever understand. They learn no trade or skills, no math, no science, no Western language - only deadening rituals and murderous prejudice. [...] By the time they "graduate," they are unemployable, deformed personalities. Meanwhile, in city slums and unelectrified villages, Saudi-funded imams preach jealousy and rage to populations baffled by their country's backward slide and repeated military defeats. (pg 259-260)

 

Policy Towards "Enemies"

Iran is itself a terrorist state, the world's worst. North Korea has committed terrorist atrocities, too [...] Both regimes are nightmarishly repressive; both regimes present intolerable threats to American security. We must move boldly against them both and against all other sponsors of terrorism as well: Syria, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. And we don't have much time. (pg 98)

 

Any new agreement with North Koreans must begin by acknowledging that North Korea cannot be trusted to honor its promises. (pg 102)
We fear that the North Korean leadership craves a nuclear arsenal even more desperately than it hungers for international approval or American aid. If those fears are correct, then the United States must ready itself for the hard possibility that our choices really shrink to two: tolerate North Korea's attempts to go nuclear - or take decisive action to stop it. Decisive action would begin with a comprehensive air and naval blockade of North Korean, cutting it off from all sea borne traffic, all international aviation, and all intercourse with the South. (pg 103)
 
Next, we must accelerate the redeployment of our ground troops on the Korean peninsula so they are beyond the range of North Korean artillery and short-range rockets. President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld have already begun to do this. (pg 103)
Third, as we reposition troops, we should develop detailed plans for a preemptive strike against North Korea's nuclear facilities. (pg 103-104)
 
It may be that the only way out of the decade-long crisis on the Korean peninsula is the toppling of Kim Jong Il and his replacement by a North Korean communist who is more subservient to China. If so, we should accept that outcome. (pg 104)
 
In time, all of Korea will be united in liberty. (pg 104)
Iran wants a lot more than blackmail from us - and so poses a much larger danger than North Korea. (pg 105)
The mullahs are pursuing a bomb. Our idea of common sense is to stop them. (pg 110)
In any event, the problem in Iran is much bigger than weapons. The problem is the terrorist regime that seeks the weapons. The regime must go. (pg 110)
 
Above all, Iran's dissidents need the consistent and vocal support of the United States. They need us to make clear that we regard Iran's current government as illegitimate and intolerable and that we support the brave souls who are struggling to topple it. (pg 112)
If all our problems were as easy as Syria, the war on terror would have ended a year ago. Here is a regime that is surrounded by U.S. and allied forces; that depends for fuel on oil exports from Iraq; and whose economy is a pitiful shambles. Really, there is only one question to ask about Syria: Why have we put up with it as long as we have? (pg 114)
 
Libya should be regarded and treated as what it is: an implacably hostile regime. (pg 117)
National sovereignty is an obligation as well as an entitlement. A government that will not perform the role of a government forfeits the rights of a government. (pg 120)
The reason our policy towards Saudi Arabia has been so abject for so long is not mere error. Our policy has been bought and paid for by the Saudis - or else are looking forward to the day when they will be bought and paid for. (pg 141)
 
In the last chapter, we argued that we should apply every possible pressure to halt Saudi Arabia's campaign to spread its murderous version of Islam - including, if necessary, encouraging the secession of the kingdom's oil-producing Eastern Province. (pg 152)
In the Middle East, democratization does not mean calling immediate elections and then living with whatever happens next. (pg 162)
 
We can train Iraqi soldiers to combat insurgencies while respecting human rights, as we have trained armies in the Philippines and Latin America. (pg 165)
 
We had come to Iraq to liberate it from Baathism. We had zero interest in delivering power to the imams. And romantic as some might find the tribal sheikhs, they were not the men to govern a nation of 70 percent whose people lived in cities. (pg 166)
Former Allies, Now Enemies
The jealousy and resentment that animate the terrorists also affect many of our former cold war allies. (pg 236)
 
The same European governments that hesitated to confront terrorists were more than prepared to oppose us. (pg 240)
They [Europeans] resent America's ability to be generous, and they resent their need for that generosity. (pg 245)
First, Acknowledge that a more closely integrated Europe is no longer an unqualified American interest. (pg 247)
 
We should insist that all important NATO business be conducted by NATO's military council, on which France does not sit. (pg 249)
We should force European governments to choose between Paris and Washington. (pg 249)
We must do our utmost to preserve our British ally's strategic independence from Europe. (pg 250)
Few governments in the world, for example, praise human rights more ardently than does the government of France, and few have a worse record of supporting tyrants and killers... (pg 268)
 
The UN is not an entirely useless organizations. [...] It creates employment for the less employable relatives of presidents for life. It gives smaller countries a feeling that their views count. And when the chamber is empty and touring schoolchildren walk the halls, the extravagant building can for a quiet moment seem to give substance to the age-old dream of a world without war. (pg 269-270)
..., the UN must endorse our "inherent" right to defend ourselves against new threats just as forcefully as we are entitled to defend ourselves against old threats. If not, we should formally reject the UN's authority over our war on terror. (pg 271)
 
But if the UN cannot or will not revise its rules in ways that establish beyond question the legality of the measures the United States must take to protect the American people, then we should unashamedly and explicitly reject the jurisdiction of these rules. (pg 272)

Conclusion

The next four years, at least, will be a challenge for the movement. As is clear from An End to Evil the neoconservative movement is devoted to further domestic repression and continued war. Now is the time to read Frum and Perle's book and decide whether theirs is the future you want to live in. If not, make a commitment to act against them - and soon.
 

 
 
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