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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Washington Beltway « Previous | |Next »
September 12, 2003

I never really understood what the phrase 'Washington Beltway' meant. I knew that it referred to the Washington bureaucracy but which ones? The gist I got was that they had something to do with foreign policy and that the Republican conservatives had no time for them.

Now I know thanks to following a link from Abu Aardvark to Laurie Mylroie in National Review Online. She says:

'The Beltway is first the bureaucracies, above all the CIA and State Department, which developed a certain perspective on Iraq and on terrorism during the Clinton years namely that "containment" addressed the danger Iraq posed and that Iraq was not involved in terrorism. The Beltway also includes much of the media, as well as many Democrats.'

Mylroie says that opposed to this group is The Pentagon, which is on Bush's side, along with Congressional Republicans and the conservative media, generally. The American people side with Bush. Her latest book sums it up: Bush vs. the Beltway In terms of that dichotomy Public Opinion sides with the Washington Beltway.

I view Washington through the eyes of the Beltway. Why? Because I find the gap between the Bushies' (neo-con) Wilsonian rhetoric about freedom, democracy, elections (ie., the American ideals) and the self-interested behavior of the US as an imperial nation-state disturbing. As John Mearsheimer observes about the US:

"We behave in the world according to Realistic dictates on almost every occasion. What's affected by the point you're making is that rhetoric. In other words, we act according to the dictates of realpolitik, but we justify our policies in terms of liberal ideologies. So what is going on here is that in many cases, elites speak one language [in public], and act according to a different logic and speak a different language behind closed doors."

Link courtesy of Rodger A. Payne He runs a great blog. Check it out.

So what is the Bushie side saying according to Laurie? We've heard it before:

"Above all, the decision for war with Iraq was right; it was very courageous and it was absolutely necessary. Iraq was involved with al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks which is what nearly 70 percent of the American public believes. Iraq's involvement in terrorism, along with its weapons, particularly its biological-weapons program, made war necessary."

Say that again! Iraq was involved in 9/11? I must have misread the text. Intriqued I read on. Then I came across a suggestion that it was more Iraq and less al Queda or the loose networks of Islamic militants. Mylroie then says:

"It's more a matter of not wanting to know, self-deception, rather than clever Iraqi deception. By now a large cottage industry has grown up around militant Islam. If it were understood that Iraqi intelligence was involved in these attacks and that it provided the expertise for them, that might make ideology (militant Islam) seem less significant than capabilities, as represented by terrorist states like Saddam's Iraq. Those who made their reputations (along with a great deal of money) flogging the Islamic threat are joined with others in the Beltway in ferociously fighting this notion."

Did I read that right? It's Iraq, not al Qaeda that was responsible for 9/11? Surely not.

I checked back to Abu Aardvarkwho is more knowledgeable about what happens in Washington than me. He reads the text the same way.

My response was that this is mythmaking. Now this question presents itself. Do the Bushies really believe this myth? Or is this just something being woven by Laurie Mylroie?

I have no idea. The neo-cons (eg., Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle etc) do find her provocative, brilliant splendid and wholly convincing.

As for me I will stick with the Washington Beltway.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:14 AM | | Comments (3)


Actually, the "beltway" refers to the prevailing Washington cocktail party "conventional wisdom." You'd do better to refer to it as "what it is currently politically correct to believe." Those IN the beltway are unable to get a good look at themselves because all Washington mirrors are currently tilted left, and have been so for a very long time. This seems to make everyone look thinner and more astute than they really are, so nobody ever corrects the angle anymore.
(They think they really ARE thinner and more astute. They are actually just as fat and idiotic as ever.)

And, in case you are confused on the matter: There was a war. Israel won. That's why the Palestinians don't have a "state." If there is another war, they will lose again. Israel has a first class military and the "Palestinian Authority" is comprised of a bunch of amoral terrorists who don't have the balls & brains to write a declaration of independence, declare a revolution, and fight like real men.

Instead, they rove in smelly packs like hyenas, tails tucked under, preying on the weak and defenseless. Their propaganda is the bully's cowardly squeal and the incessant whine of MINE, MINE, MINE!

Listen closely and you will hear it, too. This is not a world in which to be so weak and piteously damned. That sort of snarling while showing the underbelly politics is OVER.

In a "real" war Israel will KILL Palestine because of the vermin within it's ranks. And woe to the Palestinian people! They have no patriots; only terrorists. And terrorists, being cowards in the end, never stand up for their beliefs.

Sad, maybe, but true.

Why do so many Americans tend to sympathize with losers these days? Whatever happened to those good ole Gen X notions of winner take all?

I'm quite happy to accept the added resonances to 'Washington Beltway'and the bit about distorting mirrors.

But we all live in a house of distorting mirrors do we not?
By that I mean we live in a media saturated society and the media's (conservative and liberal) mirrors are very distorting.

We have to deconstruct the media alll the time to figure out what is going on.

Re your Israeli and Palestinian remarks I refer you to my next post. There I argue that military solutions do not solve political problems.

Gary you might be over-analysing here. The Beltway - in reality, a cordon of interstate highways that encircles the greater Washington metropolitan area - simply delineates the capital insider's view in relation to that of the hinterland. The capital vs the provinces, the centre versus the perimeter, the politically engaged vs the politically disengaged, etc, etc.

It's an international concept.....