The Gods Must Be Crazy


Unleashing Wolfowitz on the whole planet? Jumpin’ Jupiter!

A red-state conspiracy: Jupiter‘s Great Red Spot is the largest storm in the solar system.


EMPIRES IMPLODE, AND the bigger their grasp, the sooner that’s likely to happen. George Kennan said as much for most of the last century before he finally died.

So what does that mean for the New American Century? Using a skinny popular-vote “mandate” as an excuse, George W. Bush‘s handlers seem to be hurrying to reshape the planet. They’re certainly acting as if their empire is already in its late stages: creating new crises to distract people from the current ones. (Whatever happened to the hunt for Osama bin Laden?)

The Imperial Neocons, or their allies, like to invoke God, but a more divine explanation rests with the gods. Plural.

Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank? What would Jesus do? Not that.

But these gods must be crazy. I’ll bet the common folk of, say, Indonesia are looking forward to more of Wolfowitz. As I wrote in late December, the former U.S. ambassador to Jakarta is a longtime pal of Indonesia’s particularly harsh military. I cited Jim Lobe‘s Asia Times piece about Wolfie’s continued zeal in 2003 to train Indonesian military officers—even though at the time the military was being investigated for its role in the killing of two U.S. teachers in West Papua.

At the other end of Indonesia, December’s tsunami was just the latest tragedy. Aceh province, on Sumatra, had already been devastated by Indonesia’s military during a long-standing rebellion there.

See my colleague Jason Vest‘s new piece rounding up the details of Wolfowitz’s previous Bali flops on the world’s most populous Muslim nation. As I pointed out earlier, activists in Aceh are very familiar with Wolfowitz—Indonesia Alert calls him the “Velociraptor.”

But Wolfowitz isn’t a dinosaur. He’s a god. Try to follow my twisted logic:

Assume that the neocons’ American empire is the Roman empire. Wolfowitz, the powerful deputy secretary of defense, is the de facto Mars—at least a Mars Jr. to Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Right? Wrong.

Don’t snicker, but I’d argue that Wolfowitz is more like Jupiter than Mars. Before he and the rest of these self-toga’d schnooks take the rest of us down with them, read this explanation from about Jupiter’s place in the mythological heavens, and compare with Wolfowitz’s place in the neocons’ empire:

[Myth:] Jupiter was one of the most important of the Roman gods, continuously evolving with Roman needs. In the early Republican era, when Rome was an agricultural city, he first appeared as an agricultural god in charge of sun and moonlight (Jupiter Lucetius), wind, rain, storms, thunder and lightning (Jupiter Elicius), sowing (Jupiter Dapalis), creative forces (Jupiter Liber) and the boundary stones of fields (Jupiter Terminus).

Reality: Farms, storms, sowing, stones, and fields—sounds like the Midwest. Particularly Illinois, which is where Wolfowitz acquired crucial knowledge while getting his poly sci Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.

[Myth:] As Rome developed into a city of commerce and military force, Jupiter evolved into a protector of the city and state of Rome.

Reality: No doubt. That’s the Wolfowitz we know, a civilian running the military—and not running it well. Remember the Shinseki-Wolfowitz dispute about the number of troops needed in Iraq? Refresh your memory with my December 2 item, “A Watershed Moment in the Iraq Misadventure.”

[Myth:] As with his earlier agricultural form, [Jupiter] could be invoked through a variety of titles, each dependent on the responsibilities being requested of him:
· As great god of the Empire—JUPITER OPTIMUS MAXIMUS.
· As protector of the Empire—JUPITER CONSERVATOR ORBIS
· As protector of the Emperor—JUPITER CONSERVATOR AUGUSTORUM

Reality: Well, that’s Wolfowitz. You could argue that John Negroponte is more versatile, jumping from his death-squad protector role in Central America to the U.N. to U.S. ambassador in Iraq to director of national intelligence.

But if Wolfie takes the corner office at the World Bank, he’ll be not only the great god of the empire—St. Simoleon, in Christian terms— but also the protector of not only the empire but also of the emperor. My, that emperor sure has been wearing some nice new clothes. I’m pretty sure that Wolfie’s World Bank will finance some new sweatshops in the Third World to keep Bush in fresh, fly threads.

By the way, if you think this Jupiter stuff is a stretch, at least I’m calling it mythology, which Ralph Epperson never did when he concocted a string of nutty conspiracy theories and actually got thousands of right-wing Americans to take it seriously. Along with William Pierce‘s Turner Diaries, Epperson’s The New World Order and The Unseen Hand, written as the millennium was approaching, were Bibles of the ’90s right-wing militia movement that spawned radical bomber Timothy McVeigh. One of Epperson’s scenarios: On January 1, 2000, “NASA is going to cause a nuclear explosion on the planet Jupiter” and “George Bush will be at the Great Pyramid near Cairo, Egypt, to see it.”

I must have missed that one. No wonder the militia movement lost steam. All the black helicopters are busy in Iraq, anyway.

Oh, and Epperson was talking about Bush Sr., of course. No one would have believed back then that George Bush Jr. would ever become powerful enough to even be a puppet in an imperial conspiracy.

But he did, and the planet’s facing Wolfowitz’s angry-looking red spot.