April 24, 2008

America the primitive tribe

Here's an article from Steven Pressfield, whose "articles on tribalism have been widely circulated throughout the military community." Pressfield is supposedly describing indigenous tribes, but it sounds more like Bush's faith-based administration, Rumsfeld's "see no evil" military, and the torture regimes at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay to me.

The Last Honorable WarIn Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, occupiers of the West are confounded by a state of mind that is utterly alien to their notions of liberality, inclusiveness, progress. The tribesman's mind is ancient. He is a warrior whose code is not law (which may yield change by reason or persuasion) but honor, which is eternal and absolute. The tribesman's code mandates revenge for any affront to pride; his memory is not years but centuries. Dissent is heresy to the tribal way of thinking; compromise is weakness. The tribe is perpetually at war with all other tribes. It reveres the past and is insular, impenetrable, implacably hostile to outsiders. The tribal mind is immune to the charms of "freedom," which it perceives as a threat to piety and to family cohesion, to tradition, lore and all that the tribesman holds dear. The tribesman's resolve is ineradicable. He will hate you till hell freezes.Comment:  For more on the subject, see Dubya-Speak:  Justice Means Killing People, Prison Abuse Shows America's Values, and The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel.


dmarks said...

This one seems like kind of a stretch. I wonder what Mr. Pressfield thinks of this?

Rob said...

Innumerable commentators have said Bush prizes loyalty above all other qualities, doesn't believe in reason or debate, etc. These views aren't my views alone; they're the conventional wisdom.

How exactly do you think the excerpt doesn't describe the Bush administration? Because I'd say the description is dead on.

Rob said...

For those who don't know about Bush's irrational decision-making process, here's a clue:


Insiders Offer Unflattering Accounts of Bush's Decision-Making Style

by Ron Hutcheson

WASHINGTON -- Accounts from insiders in the Bush White House describe a tightly controlled, top-down organization that pushes a predetermined agenda, shuns dissenting views and discourages open debate.

Tell-all books from former Bush counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, as well as accounts from other administration insiders, shed light on President Bush's decision-making style. Critics say the flip side of the legendary discipline at the Bush White House is a near-complete disregard for alternative opinions that sometimes leads to trouble.

In Clarke's view, Bush's reliance on a small circle of aides blinded the president to threats from al-Qaida terrorists and the negative consequences of invading Iraq. O'Neill said the tightly held decision-making process foreclosed any meaningful discussion about the impact of the bigger federal deficits that resulted from Bush's tax cuts.

Their complaints about the lack of robust internal debate echo the conclusions of some presidential scholars who study White House decision-making.

"George Bush tends to make decisions on the basis of hunch and intuition, and then pulls together groups that confirm his decisions," said Paul C. Light, the director of the Center for Public Service at the Brookings Institution, a center-left research center. "The only people who are invited to be on the team are people who agree with him."

Rob said...

DMarks adds:

I thought connecting the Pressfield article to Bush was a stretch.

However, Steven Pressfield said of your post, "I never thought of it quite that way, but you've got a damn good point!"