Radical Islam Russia: This summer’s hot new existential threat

A few days ago I wrote a post wondering aloud why modern conservatism looks so much like Manichaeism. That’s not really a new idea – Glenn Greenwald wrote a book on it.

What makes this whole worldview even weirder from a foreign policy perspective, though, is that it looks like part of this philosophy is that there’s only one Ultimate Evil at a time. Which I guess is why John McCain appears to be trying to position Russia as the new one and forgetting all about last week’s big Ultimate Evil.



The thing that confuses me here isn’t that McCain appears to be trying to paint Russia as Mordor – that’s kind of par for the course with him. What’s confusing is that he seems to have completely forgotten about Islamofascism, neoconservatism’s great bugaboo of the past seven years. If the conflict between Russia and Georgia is the first real international crisis since the fall of the Berlin Wall, then does that mean that massive, monolithic radical Islam never posed an existential threat to us in the first place? Because aren’t we currently engaged in two wars in the Middle East that were sold to us as part of the biggest East/West good/evil showdown since Sparta’s army of ripply-muscled slow-motion warriors faced Barack Oba- uh, the God-King Xerxes? Isn’t the battle against radical Islam supposed to be the defining conflict of our generation?

I guess not. We’re seeing a not-so-gradual shift to forgetting about the whole thing and moving onto the next epic conflict. But how to account for that? I have a few theories:

1. Neocons have the attention span of children after too much Count Chocula.
The movement’s most loyal pundits have this ongoing pattern of hyperventilating over Outrage of the Week and then dropping it and moving on to the next one before anything gets resolved. This is just a larger-scale version of that.

2. The Republican Party’s dualistic worldview requires that only one Ultimate Evil exist at a time.
Think of it like a few seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (with apologies to Joss Whedon). Every season you have a new Big Bad, who the Scooby Gang (or Republican Party, if you prefer), defeat, before moving onto the next one. You can’t have two Big Bads at once, though – from a narrative standpoint, that makes no sense. It makes the plot unnecessarily muddled.

So the solution is, either dump the previous Ultimate Evil, or consolidate it into the new one. That’s why those horrible, Commie-worshipping LIEberals who oppose the party at home were suddenly magically transformed into terrorist sympathizers post-9/11. Maybe we’ll see something like that happen with Russia too, where a future McCain administration will stumble upon top-secret photographs of Vladimir Putin and Osama Bin Laden high-fiving over a game of foosball.

3. McCain’s advisers realize that they botched the current climactic struggle against evil so badly that they just want to change the subject and get everyone to forget the whole thing as quickly as possible.
This is the one that makes the most sense to me. Besides the economy, the last thing Republicans want this election to be about is Iraq. Both that war and the larger War on Terror have been an unmitigated disaster. So at this point, they can either repent and try as best they can to fix the mess they made of things, or they can try their hardest to pretend the whole thing never happened and apply the same terrible philosophy to an entirely different situation in the hopes that the American people will be dumb enough to buy into it yet again.

What do you guys thing? And if you were running for president, who would your Great Satan be? I call Luxembourg!

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2 Responses

  1. I do not believe John McCain’s mind has the capacity to hold two complex concepts at once. Please note, I am not being sarcastic; there has been clear evidence of his intellectual infirmity throughout the campaign. He will boast of all the times he has had conversations with the president of Georgia, but what has he learned from these conversations? He still cannot pronounce Abkhazia (its in the video you display).

  2. Russia: The greatest threat since…Russia!

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