The uncataclysmic events of August 22
/ lunacy in government /
Bernard Lewis, the old orientalist dean of Middle Eastern studies, and Bush cabal advisor, saw fitting to warn about a month ago, through the opinion pages of the WSJ (which are becoming ever more bizarrely nuts lately) that the End Is Nigh and possibly - though not definitely (as we all surely noticed) coming on August 22d 2006:
"...In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time--Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22. This was at first reported as 'by the end of August,' but Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise.
What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to 'the farthest mosque,' usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (cf Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind."
The Foreign Policy blog, notes that:
If a well-known orientalist hawk like Lewis - who believed that fraudster Ahmad Chalabi could save Iraq, who told the White House that "I believe that one of the things you've got to do to Arabs is hit them between the eyes with a big stick", and who now believes Ahmadinejad is on the verge of nuking Israel - is shaping the current U.S. administration's vision of the Middle East, then perhaps "there is good reason to believe that this government is actually a conspiracy within a conspiracy," as George Kennan once said about self-deluding Soviet policymakers.
It turns out that the Syrian Chalabi wannabe, was either Lewis source, or gazed at the same crystal ball. All this apocalyptic nonsense is quite funny of course, but were these the musings of an aging imperial apologist, nonwithstanding his ties to the current administration, it wouldn't matter that much (although one does expect from a Princeton scholar not to compete with the Weekly World News in predicting the Apocalypse). It turns out however that the Milleniarist, Armageddon-loving fundamentalists, are more conspicuous in the GOP camp, then among Teheran's mullahs, as Matt Taibbi writes in his latest Rolling Stone piece:
Anyway [B. Lewis' WSJ article] seemed to start the ball rolling on the August 22nd front. From there, a whole host of ostensibly serious commentators started appearing on American television braying horrible warnings about the coming end of the world. Worse still, some of them claimed real ties with the White House. Chief among those was probably John Hagee, a San Antonio pastor whose End Times credentials have already been reported in many outlets (among others, by Sarah Posner of Alternet).
The significance of Hagee is that he chairs a group called Christians United For Israel (CUFI) which believes that the U.S. must unite to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran to precipitate Armageddon, followed by the more desirable Second Coming of Jesus. Hagee would be just another sweating evangelist lunatic if it weren't for the fact that his group has the ear of the White House. RNC chair Ken Mehlman took time out from bashing Ned Lamont to speak at CUFI's inaugural banquet in Washington in July, and both Sam Brownback and Rick Santorum also addressed the group. Meanwhile, Hagee at the banquet reportedly read out greetings from Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush himself, who apparently said, "God Bless and stand by the people of Israel and God Bless the United States."
If that weren't scary enough, the Washington Post on August 4th published a story by Dan Froomkin suggesting that a certain Joel C. Rosenberg, another prominent subscriber to the August 22nd theory, had been invited to the White House. Rosenberg told Froomkin that he had spoken to a "couple dozen" White House aides on February 10th, 2005, and had been in touch with some of them ever since. Rosenberg said the meeting came after an unnamed White House staffer called him and said "A lot of people over here are reading your novels" -- novels which presumably include the recent The Ezekiel Option, which is about, God help us, a White House staffer who urges a highly religious president to bomb Russia and bring about the End of Everything...
... When the end of the world is being soberly predicted on most of our major television networks and in the Wall Street Journal, and a group dedicated to End Times fantasies can summon the attention of senators, a Republican Party chairman and the heads of two nuclear states, this matter stops being a conspiracy theory. We might have to face the fact that American politics has departed the world of the rational and has entered the realm of a cultist dynamic.
Consider this possibility: With its administration's earthly policies in shambles, and no way left to compete in the normal political arena in the upcoming elections, Karl Rove and Co. may be flirting with selling the same thing cult leaders throughout history have sold their followers: the afterlife. And who better to sell a Revelations storyline than the guardians of the world's biggest army, already deployed in the Holy Lands against the unbelievers? It's a crazy idea, but it's also inspired. And would you put it past them?
Quite. In a world were even Fareed Zakaria tells people to chill out as per the destructive capabilities of Iran, and the John Birtch Society (for Chrissake), calls the Bush administration "fascist", it's quite obvious that fire and brimstone is the only tried and true strategy left for the Bushites to follow. Hopefully they won't have the opportunity to turn Iran into a desert of fire and brimstone as well. Hopefully.