The return of the Keyboard Warriors

By Pepe Escobar

Waiting for the end of the world,
Waiting for the end of the world,
Waiting for the end of the world.
Dear Lord, I sincerely hope you’re coming
‘cause you really started something.

Elvis Costello, Waiting for the end of the world

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Return of the Keyboard Warriors – a prized Return of the Living Dead spin-off – is at hand. From Republican chicken hawks to public intellectuals, right-wing America is erupting in renewed neo-conservative revolt. The year 2012 is the new 2002; Iran is the new Iraq. Whatever the highway – real men go to Tehran via Damascus, or real men go to Tehran non-stop – they want a war, and they want it now.

Go ahead and jump
Exhibit A is an op-ed piece at the Wall Street Journal [1] – similar to countless others popping up virtually everyday not only in this Masters of the Universe vehicle but also in the Washington Post and myriad rags across “Western civilization”.

The festival of fallacies ranges from the usual “diplomacy has run its course” to “the sanctions are too late” – culminating in the right-wing weapon of choice; “Iran is within a year of getting to the point when it will be able to assemble a bomb essentially at will.” Why bother to follow what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is doing, not to mention the National Intelligence Estimates released by the US intelligence community?

And why not add imperial disdain tinged with racism, as in “Iran is a Third World country that can’t even protect its own scientists in the heart of Tehran”. Of course not; they are being killed by the Iranian terror group Mujahideen-e-Khalq, merrily trained, financed and armed by Israel’s Mossad, as US corporate media has just discovered. [2] Everybody in Iran has known this for months.

As a climax, still another fallacy – “the Islamic Republic means to destroy Israel” – unveils the real agenda; “the broader goal of ending the regime.” Oh, if we could only have our Persian gendarme of the Gulf back.

This is what passes for geopolitical analysis in Rupert Murdoch-controlled US corporate media – read and relinked daily by the Masters of the Universe. Scary monsters, super freaks
Exhibit B is an op-ed piece at Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast, [3] signed by Niall Ferguson, professor of history at Harvard, senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford.

Recently, I actually took the trouble of reading Ferguson’s latest book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, during my favorite West-to-Rest flight, the 16-hour New York to Hong Kong (from the American century to the Asian century).

Ferguson sets out to refute the reasons why Israel should not attack Iran. He assumes “the Saudis stand ready to pump out additional supplies” of oil (wrong). He assumes a “military humiliation” will lead the regime in Tehran to collapse (wrong). He claims that Tehran will not “become a sober, calculating disciple of the realist school of diplomacy … because it has finally acquired weapons of mass destruction” (multiple wrong; Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is very sober and calculating, and he has banned nuclear weapons as anti-Islamic).

Former US vice president Dick Cheney would have been proud to hire Ferguson as an apparatchik, as he states that “preventive war can be a lesser evil” and duly advocates “creative destruction”.

Ferguson ranks Israel as “the most easterly outpost of Western civilization”; not bad for an isolated, supremacist theocracy/ethnocracy armed with at least 200 (undeclared) nuclear weapons whose favorite sport is to terrorize Palestinians and now Iranian scientists. Talk about a sponsor of terror state springing from the womb of “Western civilization”.

Ferguson’s toxic fusion of arrogance and ignorance – about the Middle East, about Persian culture, about Asia, about the nuclear issue, about the oil industry, about, in fact, “the Rest” – would be just innocuous hadn’t he be hailed as a top public intellectual. The best thing about his piece are actually the comments, ranging from “I’m shocked that a research fellow at Jesus College would advocate the bombing of Muslims” to “What’s with all these Brits that look to the USA as a platform to re-inflate their dreams of Empire?”

If this is what passes for intellectual analysis in the upper strata of the Anglo-American axis, no wonder the whole business of Empire is doomed.

Far more insidious than The Invasion of the Keyboard Warriors is its effect on the warrior-in-chief, US President Barack Obama. Recently, Obama has been conducting product placement for Robert Kagan’s new book, The World America Made. Kagan, a neo-con stalwart, advises Mitt Romney – who may, or may not, become the Republican presidential nominee, assuming he wins over the visceral repulsion he provokes in extreme right-wing circles.

As Andrew Levine from the Institute for Policy Studies has shrewdly observed, [4] Obama the neo-con may be a very clever move to pre-empt Mitt and win even more votes. But it may be an exercise in transparency, as Obama, even before his State of the Union address, has been reciting Kagan to the letter, as in forget Asia, this will be another American century, and I will be at the helm; thus remember, it is I that coined the only change you can believe in.

And that’s when this really becomes a scary movie; if Obama the neo-con concludes that to get to his new, dominant American century first he needs to do some vacuum-cleaning in Southwest Asia, blowback or not, he’ll do it – to the delight of the Keyboard Warrior brigade.

1. (How) Should Israel Bomb Iran? by Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, February 7.
2. Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News, February 9.
3. Israel and Iran on the Eve of Destruction in a New Six-Day War February 6.
4. Why the Neo-Con Turn? by Andrew Levine, Counterpunch, February 9.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

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