“What a Cute Little War”
Like Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had been elected to produce a “rebirth of spirit” through an internal sacrifice (recession) and an external sacrifice (war).
By the beginning of 1982, she had succeeded in her first task of reducing the prosperity of the Sixties and Seventies by almost doubling the British unemployment rate during her first three years in office. Yet the threat which prosperity posed for the near-Victorian consciences of most Englishmen had not been permanently removed, despite Tory pledges of austerity.” Sparked by increasing North Sea oil income and by the economic productivity of a vigorous new psychoclass, British economic indicators, including gross domestic product, had begun turning up after the summer of 1981, producing fresh anxiety which would somehow have to be purged.
Mrs. Thatcher was personally blamed for the malaise produced by the economic upturn. The Tories dropped to only 30 percent approval in the polls, and Thatcher was well into the “collapse” phase of her term by the beginning of 1982. Something would have to be done soon to deflect the anger from her to an appropriate “enemy,” who would then have to be convinced it must cooperate in a blood sacrifice that would, in fantasy, drain off the “bad blood” – the guilty conscience, the rage-which was increasingly felt to be polluting England. As one observer put it, “Maggie Thatcher needs blood for her constituency…”(1)
Like America, England was too civilized to start a war openly for sacrificial purposes. A developed nation usually begins a war by sending hidden messages to another country which has poor impulse control, messages suggesting that a war would now be desirable, and then sitting
back and waiting for the more impulse-prone nation to help it act out its unconscious wishes. The process is identical to the way parents often give their children hidden commands to act out the parents’ secret wishes and then punish the children for being “bad.”
Most modern nations keep several impulsive “children” around to be able to use when they need a blood sacrifice. England kept her dispute with Argentina over the Falkland Islands alive for decades for just this purpose, since a simple “leaseback” compromise had been worked out some time before which negotiators admitted made the problem one which “would take ten minutes to solve if both sides were willing.”(2) Through a series of hidden messages suggesting that they were emo-tionally abandoning the islands-actions ranging from the denial of British citizenship to the Falklanders to the abrupt removal of the British ship Endurance(3) – Argentina was unconsciously invited to occupy the tiny islands, while being led to believe that England would take no military steps to oppose the occupation.
The bait was an attractive one to Argentina. This was not because the islands had any real value to her, but because she herself was also in a “collapse” group-fantasy of such explosive proportions-including record unemployment and inflation-that La Prensa had to admit a month before the invasion that “the only thing which can save this government is a war.”(4)
Britain, however, was not the only nation encouraging Argentina to solve her internal emotional problems by military force. America had been telling Argentina’s General Galtieri to become more aggressive militarily ever since Reagan took office. Galtieri, like Reagan’s father, was an impulse-prone alcoholic, and Reagan knew how easy it was to provoke him to violence. America poured military supplies and training into Argentina’s small army in return for Argentina’s sending troops to Honduras for our “covert” war against Nicaragua and for promising help in a secret Reagan plan to blockade Cuba.(5) Although America did not publicly suggest an invasion of the Falklands, many of Reagan’s peo-ple openly encouraged Galtieri’s military impulsiveness. U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick told startled British diplomats the night of Galtieri’s invasion that it was “not armed aggression” because Argen-tina already owned the islands.(6) Similarly, Alexander Haig had so openly encouraged Argentina’s military adventurousness that her Foreign Minister, Nicanor Costa Mendes, bluntly told Haig, “If there’s a war, it’s all your fault.” America, too, was using Argentina as its “impulsive child.” When we later condemned the invasion, Argentina felt shocked and betrayed.(8)
The reaction of both sides to the invasion was openly jingoistic and filled with slogans stressing the need for “national sacrifice.” The British
|task force was sent off to the islands accompanied by the cheers of Parliament shouting “action not words” and jubilant crowds weeping for joy in the Plaza de Mayo. “Like two schoolboys itching for a fight,” said one observer, “they’ll not be satisfied until there’s some blood on the floor.”(9)American excitement over the war was almost as manic as that of Britain. “Bravo Britain,” one American newsman shouted. “Bash them!”(10) England had shown us how to relieve our group-fantasy dilemma. They, like us, were stuck in the “collapse” phase, unable to be reborn through the sacrifice of their unemployed. They, like us, were becoming filled with rage, along with fears that their leader was impotent to help them control their emotions. “The world is watching today to see what the Brits will do,” said American columnist Patrick Buchanan. “And the world will be a worse place if the Brits do not put up a fight.. As Maggie Thatcher must realize, if Great Britain accepts this humiliation, Great Britain is finished.”(11) The Brits seemed to know how to do these things better than the Americans: you set up your kid to humiliate you, then you “bash ’em.” It worked in the family, and it worked in wars.
Some Americans even fantasied that we could join Great Britain in her sacrifice. Why couldn’t we also have our “Glorious Little War” now? “Some U.S. ships sailing south would concentrate the junta’s mind on the fact that the U.S. intends to guarantee the success of its NATO ally,” suggested Newsweek’s George F. Will. The fantasy of England, America and Argentina all shedding blood together on one tiny island might seem odd, but it fits the fact that both Britain and America were shipping sophisticated weapons to
America became excited over the war and displayed an erect phallus and two testicles.
We felt that only a war could complete our rebirth.
Holding a sacrifice on a small island was felt to be cute.
|Argentina right up to the invasion, pumping both deadly feelings and deadly weapons into the same impulsive delegate. So confused, in fact, were all three countries in American minds that when ABC-TV commentator Carl Bernstein compared the Falklands battle to “the Battle of Yorktown” it seemed logical somehow.(13) Part of us was sailing south with the British fleet-our sacrificial wishes. We had had to sit passively and watch Star Wars movies for too long. Why couldn’t we be like the British and fight, not wait? “When Iran’s militants seized our embassy in Tehran and took our subjects hostage.. we might have responded as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher responded, by assembling an armada and mounting an invasion,” wrote columnist James Kilpatrick,(14) sending a message to the President.|
Sexual fantasies were put into the war zone.
|But it is not just beginning a war which requires a macho display of tumescent manhood. All aspects of war have hidden sexual content, and much of war’s excitement for both citizen and soldier is patently sexual. The British tabloids captured their sexual fantasies accurately as the fleet headed south: “STICK IT UP YOUR JUNTA”; “THE TIME FOR TALK IS OVER: OUR LADS WANT TO ZAP THEM”; “A PUNCH UP YOUR JUNTA”, and so on.War begins with a group-fantasy of rape because it is our own unconscious sexual fantasies which are put into the “enemy.” Just as the internal sacrifice of recession requires a two-step fantasy of seeing the unemployed as (1) containing our greedy wishes|
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and (2) being punished for those wishes, so, too, the external sacrifice of war requires us to see both our own “lads” and “the enemy” as (1) containing our sexual and aggressive wishes and (2) being punished for those wishes.
Like all sacrifices, wars are combats with our own id, whereby we first act out and then punish our desires in the person of those killed. The youngest and sexiest are chosen as victims, just as in many primitive cultures it is the most handsome warrior who is sacrificed, right after having ritual, sex. The group-fantasy is that their blood, their vitality, drains off our dangerous pleasures, our sexuality, into the ground.
Time described this basic fantasy well, just before we sent our first troops into Vietnam. In January 1964, in a special issue on “SEX IN THE U.S.,” Time saw a dangerous “demise of Puritanism” in America due to “Freudian psychology,” and imagined that
America is one big Orgone Box.. From innumerable screens and stages, posters and pages, it flashes the larger-than-life-sized images of sex from countless racks and shelves, it pushes the books which a few years ago were considered pornography [with] the message that sex will save you and libido make you free.(15)
The group-fantasy solution to this dangerous buildup of sexuality was that it could only be controlled by shifting it over to Vietnam. The fantasy could best be seen in the words of President Johnson, who saw Vietnam as a whore with whom he was having an affair:
I left the woman I really loved-the Great Society-in order to get involved with that bitch of a war on the other side of the world.. (16)
War is a “bitch.” You have to give her a “punch up her junta,” and then you have to kill her to wipe out your shameful sexual desires.
This is why wars are initially always a return of the repressed id, containing both heterosexual rape fantasies and homosexual fantasies, such as when Johnson said of his bombing of Vietnam, “I didn’t just screw Ho Chi Minh; I cut his pecker off,” or, “When I call a bombing halt…then Ho Chi Minh shoves his trucks right up my ass.”(17) That go-ing to war involves sexual excitement is not only made obvious by the use of such language as “carrying a Big Stick,” “displays of firmness” and “the stiffening of our national will” but also in the feelings of the average soldier when he is being honest about how combat feels. Here, for instance, is how one American soldier in Vietnam described his feelings about being in combat:
It’s absolutely the most intense continual excitement I’ve ever known in my life. I’m not sure how to describe the energy you feel.. .the excitement was there for everybody. You were using that finger to try to take somebody’s life, and that sends a real charge through you.(18)
Yet it is finally the superego, not the id-the punishment, not the sex-that wins out in every war. Occasionally this can be seen in the language that is used to conduct the war-as, for instance, when Secretary of State Dean Rusk said the reason why America built up its troops so slowly in Vietnam was to prevent Hanoi and Moscow from having “an orgasm of decision-making” which a fast buildup might pro-duce.(19) Usually, however, our need to punish the containers of our hid-den desires is too well defended to be revealed so openly. It easily gets buried beneath our rage at the “enemy” and our grief over the death of the “boys who have sacrificed so much for their countries.” Yet it re-mains our own sexuality-and, by extension, our vitality, our best hopes, our “life blood”-which is sacrificed through all those dead bodies, and our own sexuality and vitality which is mourned as the coffins return.
It was sometimes even possible to find the hidden sexual content in Reagan’s speeches on international politics. Just as earlier he saw “sexual orgies and communism” linked at Berkeley, so, too, as President he imagined that
The Soviet Union underlies all the unrest that is going on. If they weren’t engaged in this game of dominoes, there wouldn’t be any hot spots in the world.
Although the term ”hot spots’, is sometimes used as a synonym for “trouble spots,” during Reagan’s formative years in the Midwest it had a more frequent meaning: “hot spots” were sexy places, such as nightclubs or brothels, where one goes for some “action.” Similarly, the use of the “domino” metaphor is an image right out of childhood, for though Russians don’t play dominoes, most Americans did in their childhood. So when Reagan says that the Russians are having all the fun, playing dominoes and getting into all the “hot spots,” he is using the Russians as containers for his own repressed id wishes. And then when he asks Americans to join him in a crusade to wipe out these “Russian hot spots,” he is using the language of his puritanical mother, who taught him always to control his emotions and never, never give in to them lest he become like his alcoholic father.
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|When the Falklands became a ”hot spot,” therefore, America, too, became sexually excited. Our papers ran pictures of the British woman who had just “stripped off her blouse and bra to thunderous applause” and threw them to the troops aboard ship, under the headline “FALKLANDS OR BUST!”(20) The media made the war seem like a lot of fun. American columnists vied with each other over who could make up the funniest jokes about the sheep that would be killed in the invasion: “It’s a lead-pipe cinch a couple of sheep are going to be run over before the day is out. That’s where the feature writers move in for interviews with the weeping sheep owner,” said Russel Baker in the New York Times.(21)||
War was seen as more exciting than diplomacy.
When the thousand men who were indeed sacrificed like sheep began coming home in bags, the American press, like the British, was filled with the language of national rebirth, “the Falklands spirit,” evidence of a renewed national pride and self-confidence.”(22) It felt good for us to have a cleansing war around again, even if it cleansed only by proxy. Reagan’s first address to the nation after the Falklands war began opened with fantasy language startlingly different than the usual “collapse” language of his previous five speeches:
|pleasure.. warm.. clean out guilt.. happy.. .eat… heart.. life.. .renew||What a pleasure, how warm it feels, to have a war clean out our guilt. We are happy to eat the heart full of life to renew us.|
The imagery was identical to that of the Aztec sacrificial ritual, where the old polluted heart was “cleaned out” and the new heart, “full of life,” was eaten to “renew” the nation.
We learned a lesson from
“the Falklands spirit.”
Cartoonists began depicting Reagan
as a bird of prey after Falklands.
|All we saw in America was the group-fantasy lesson. No American paper mentioned the thousand dead, nor the large areas of the islands which were now closed to human use, nor the several billions of dollars the war and its after-math cost (tens of millions of dollars per Falklands householder). No American blurted out, as Denis Healey did in England, that Mrs. Thatcher was “glorying in slaughter.” All that we took from the carnage was the lesson of “the Falklands spirit” – that it felt good to sacrifice “the lads.” Mrs. Thatcher’s polls soared, and she would soon be re-elected by a landslide. Why not here, too? Would we not be as grateful to Ronald Reagan if he would sacrifice “our lads” in a war we could win? He had not promised us in his election campaign not to send our boys into battle. What he had promised was that “never again will we send our boys to fight and die in a war we do not intend to win.” Couldn’t we, too, find a little country we could be assured of over-powering so we, too, could get our sexual thrill and then bury our sexuality with the dead? Would we not be grateful, too, and reward our leader with a landslide reelection?When Reagan went to England and addressed Parliament right after Falklands, he thanked the British people for their wonderful example to America, for having shown us how in war “the forces of good ultimately rally and triumph over evil… Let us be shy no longer,” he proposed. “Let us go to our strength.” The British had shown us, according to Reagan, how “a great victory in war [could] leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history.” If we followed their example, we, too, could complete|
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|our rebirth and clean out our polluted nation.Beginning with the summer of 1982, after Reagan had said we should “be shy no longer” and “go to our strength,” cartoonists began regularly portraying Reagan as a regal bird of prey-an eagle or a vulture-and the White House as a phallic weapon, reflecting our growing preoccupation with war. At the same time, since car-toons, like dreams, contain wishes, these were messages to Reagan that we wanted a cleansing war, to complete our rebirth, to control our sexuality and to end the threat posed by our dangerous “permissive society.” Headlines like “Mideast Nightmare: Search for a Way Out” were paired with others saying “End of the Permissive Society” to make clear this link between our search for war and the end of sexual permissiveness.||
The White House turned into a phallic weapon in our fantasies.
|When Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982, American reaction was identical to what it was to the Falklands war. Israel, like Argentina, had been encouraged to be one of America’s impulsive children” for some time. Earlier in the year, Reagan had “winked” (24) at the bombing of Baghdad by Israel, and then secretly had given his agreement to Defense Minister Ariel Sharon that a “small” invasion into Lebanon would not be opposed.(25) In fact, it was an open secret among Washington reporters that Secretary of State Alexander Haig was backing an Israeli invasion of Lebanon and that the U.S. army had been promised that samples of Russian tanks and equipment captured in Lebanon would be sent to America.(26)Israeli group-fantasies also were well into their “collapse” stage at this time. Begin, using the “cleansing” and “purifying” language of external sacrifice, ordered his troops across the quiet Lebanon border, splitting all hatred off from himself into the enemy and sending his faltering polls soaring. American cartoonists reflected accurately the group-fantasy being played out on the international stage. Begin was shown as firing a||
The “nightmare” of war was felt to give us “a way out” from our ”permissive society. (23)
Begin was felt to be shooting Reagan’s phallus.
|phallic cannon, complete with two testicles.. but the cannon seemed to be growing out of Reagan’s groin. Israel and America seemed fused in our minds. “Israel had again done the West a favor,” said one observer,(27) accurately reflecting our delegation of wishes. Haig was so pleased at the invasion that he slipped when telling reporters that Israel had had only small losses, saying that “we” had had only small losses, another example of the fusion in our minds of our two countries.(28) Columnists commented on “Reagan’s refusal to utter a word of criticism of Israel’s bloody romp through Lebanon,”(29) and wrote columns like the one by Mary McGrory in the Washington Post headlined “REAGAN IS MELLOW ABOUT SLAUGHTER IN LEBANON.”(30)|
|America wished for wars without end.||American polls showed rising support for the Israelis during the invasion,(31) and Begin was so grateful for Reagan’s support that he called him the “best president for Israel since Richard Nixon. “(32) Israeli impulsiveness, termed “an example of spirit for America to follow” by columnist Max Lerner,(33) taught us the same group-fantasy lesson as Falklands – thousands of dead victims would be needed to cleanse us of our pollution, as the Israelis had been cleansed of theirs.Ronald Reagan and the American people both agreed that war was the only way out. The unconscious emotional decision to go to war was made that summer. Reagan’s June 30, 1982 press conference announced to everyone watching on television that we, too, would soon go to war to relieve our feelings of being stuck “dead in the water,” but that we would have to wait a while until he, Reagan, gave us the “green light.|
|President:||cruelly… cut… cut… cut… cut… hit… cut… mess… hope… hurting… strengthen||We must cruelly cut and hit someone to clean up the mess. I hope to end your hurting and strengthen the nation.|
|Question:||cut off arms? slaughter? killing?||Will we have to cut off arms, slaughter and begin killing?|
|President:||bloodshed… terror… sorrow… hot spots… tragedy… keeping the lid on… blood-shed… dead in the water||Bloodshed, terror and sorrow will be needed to drain the hot spots and prevent a tragedy. We have been keeping the lid on so far, but bloodshed is needed to stop feeling dead in the water.|
|Question:||attack? fight?||Will we attack and fight?|
|President:||Yes… hurt… hurt… dumped… relieves… day of reckoning||Yes, our hurt can be dumped into others. It relieves us when the day of reckoning comes.|
|Question:||green light?||Is this the green light?|
|President:||green light… surprise… starvation||The green light will be a surprise. Until then, it will feel like starvation.|
|Question:||blind? dangling?||Until then we’ll be blind? You’ll keep us dangling?|
|President:||blind||Yes, you’ll be blind.|
|Question:||bombs? war?||Then bombs and war?|
|President:||bomb… attack||Yes, then a bomb attack.|
From the summer of 1982 on, the group-fantasies of most of America slowly regressed into a full-blown paranoid delusion. Psychotic ways of thinking became more and more prevalent in the conduct of government,
exactly in the same manner as an individual who develops a paranoid delusion. Psychoanalyst John Frosch describes the typical stages of a paranoid delusion in his book The Psychotic Process:
A man becomes increasingly concerned about some bodily function. He goes from doctor to doctor and has all sorts of tests. Temporarily he is reassured by the negative findings. Eventually, however, he returns to the same symptoms and complaints, or variations thereof. Little by little his bodily functioning becomes his main preoccupation, in a sense his whole life and whole concern. If the patient remains at this stage, his clinical condition is characterized as hypochondriasis.
But further developments may ensue. The patient may become extremely worried about his drowsiness, his headaches, the way his stomach feels, etc. Suddenly one day, in a flash, it becomes clear to him when all this began. It was the day his neighbor offered him a cup of coffee. Now that he thinks back, he remembers that it really did taste kind of funny and as soon as he drank it he did notice a slight dizziness and confusion The coffee was poisoned; it affected his brain, his stomach, and other parts of his body. They have begun to disintegrate and deteriorate. Here we see the emergence of somatic delusions. With this retrospective falsification of the origins of his physical complaints, a familiar mechanism comes into play-projection. The patient’s somatic sensations, the peculiar way he feels, are attributed to external forces; they are something that someone caused to happen to him.
It is with this sudden realization-“Now I understand it”-that we see the beginning development of the systematized delusion. Yet this burst of clarification brings in its wake a shift of anxiety and the confusional state may subside. It is not beside the point that sometimes the initiation of a delusional system brings a kind of reintegration of the personality in other areas. Systematized delusions are sometimes considered to have an integrative effect on the ego.
The process may stop here. But let us see what happens if the condition progresses. The plot thickens. Groups of people are involved. The patient is the focus of a conspiracy, involving at first a few, then more people (both close to him and not). It may grow into a worldwide conspiracy. These people are out to get him, to hurt him, to stop some important function he has to per-form. But why pick on him? Why has he been made the focus of a worldwide conspiracy? Obviously he must be an important
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person. Now we begin to see the beginning evolution of the delu-sion into the grandiose stage. The patient’s own importance expands. Why are so many people involved? Little by little, the idea takes shape that this is all an attempt to interfere with an important mission entrusted to him. He is to save the world. He begins to see himself as the messenger of God, or even God Himself. (34)
Like the individual who goes through a paranoid episode, Reagan’s America would go through the same stages during the following years, as more and more of reality would come to be dominated by internal delusions. We had just spent several months worrying about staring eyes and being stuck in a birth canal, “dead in the water.” We would now spend the next several months feeling we were being poisoned, by Tylenol, by Dioxin, by herpes, by AIDS, by a profusion of poisons which would come to dominate our group-fantasies. Then, like Frosch’s patient, we would have a “psychotic insight” into where all this poison was coming from.
|We would become convinced that there was one central source of evil, and that a worldwide conspiracy was spreading the poison into “hot spots” around the globe which were dangerous to our body politic. Our delusion would then enter its final grandiose stage. We would believe it was our mission to save the world. We would instruct our leader to attack this dangerous poisoner in whatever guise he might appear, even in seemingly unthreatening places, to prevent the apocalypse which was about to over-whelm the world.Beginning in the summer of 1982, America would sink more and more into overt paranoid group-fantasies. Led by a group of men who believed the biblical apocalypse was near, from Ronald Reagan, who believed America was under attack by “an evil force that would ex-tinguish the light we’ve been tending for 6,000 years,” to Caspar Weinberger, who believed that “the world is going to end as in the Book of Revelations.. .by an act of God.. every day I think that time is run-ning out,”(35) America foreign policy was becoming more and more divorced from reality. During 1982, the White House began playing “worldwide nuclear war games” for the first time since 1956, with||
Apocalyptic fantasies began to proliferate.
Reagan, Weinberger, Bush and others directing nuclear exchange games while pretending they were flying safely above the holocaust.(36) It was after the first of these nuclear war games, during the summer of 1982, that Weinberger revealed new Pentagon plans “for fighting a long nuclear war”(37) which he said would be “far more survivable” than we had previously thought.
A year earlier, an army general had been fired for publicly saying that “the Soviets are on the move. They are going to strike.”(38) But from the summer of 1982 on, Reagan and his aides all began openly making statements equally as paranoid, so that soon we all became so frightened that, as The New Yorker put it, “the first thing that people want to know when they turn on the news is.. whether World War III has started.”(39) Books on the coming apocalypse began selling in the millions,(40) and Es-quire would soon report that “most Americans, says the Gallup poll, now think World War III may break out in the Eighties, that they themselves may not survive the attack, and that they would rather not think about the prospects.”(41) As Senator David Pryor put it, “We are entering a period of sheer madness. It’s time when the Unthinkable is becoming the Thinkable. “(42)
|Reagan said his best friend was an MX missile.||What was “unthinkable” to a few, however, was not only thinkable but unconsciously necessary to most of America. War and even a nuclear holocaust provided places for us to dump our violent internal fantasies, and thus were friends of ours, poison containers into which our worst psychotic delusions could be dumped. As Reagan himself said, during a picture-taking session with his MX commission members, “Some of my best friends are M,X missiles.”(43) Without them we would feel overwhelmed by our internal anxieties, helpless to combat their terrifying content. Better to put our fantasies outside us, where, we hoped, they could be controlled in the deadly ritual of war.|
Like the Aztecs, we would have to set up three sacrificial stages to provide for three group-fantasy levels(44)
1. Individual Sacrifice: Individual men, women and children were regularly sacrificed by the Aztecs in cyclical rituals in order to feed the voracious gods and prevent the sun from becoming polluted. America decided to hold its individual sacrificial ritual in Lebanon, where unarmed Marines would be delegated as victims.
Since individual victims would not really cleanse us, only providing us with more evidence of further humiliation for our paranoid fantasies, we also would have to set up a second sacrificial stage.
2. Mass Sacrifice: in addition to individual sacrifices, the Aztecs would engage in sacred wars, including “Flower Wars” where their army fought tournaments amongst themselves solely to provide blood for the gods. America decided to hold its mass sacrificial wars in Central America and the Carribean, where we would send our youth into battle against “the international conspiracy.”
Since enough victims to cleanse us still might not be produced by limited wars in Central America and the Caribbean, we would also have to ready a third sacrificial stage.
3. Holocaust Sacrifice’ Despite all the victims provided by individual and mass sacrifices, the Aztec sun still built up so much pollution that every 52 years they had to go through a fantasied holocaust, an apocalyptic end of the world, which their New Fire Ceremony was supposed to act out. America decided to prepare Europe as the main stage for our holocaust sacrifice, should it be needed, in a group-fantasy that this would “clear up the bad blood” by destroying the source of the international conspiracy, and that America would be able to survive the nuclear war and enjoy the cleansed earth once again.
|The sacrifice of individuals in Lebanon was relatively simple to set up. After a limited and well-defined mission in Beirut in August 1982 to supervise the withdrawal of PLO forces, the Marines were sent back into the warring city under pretexts so flimsy that the New York Times reported on them under such headlines as “Role Is Uncertain” and “Confusion Surrounds…Mission.”(45) Just as in Teheran in early 1979, during the setting up of Carter’s sacrificial stage, the security of the American embassy was kept in-sufficient as compared to other||
The Marines were sent back into Beirut as sacrificial victims.
embassies, so, too, in Beirut the Marines were the only forces instructed to carry “unloaded weapons even during Condition One alerts, the highest state of alert.”(46) Signs were posted outside their compound, in clear view of terrorist factions, saying “Unload weapons before entering compound,”(47) and American newspapers at the time printed the sacrificial invitation in bold headlines:
MARINES IN E. BEIRUT
Unloaded Guns Carried On Patrol
United States Marines carrying unloaded machine guns, rifles and pistols entered East Beirut for the first time yesterday.. The marines in Lebanon do not carry loaded weapons.. (48)
To further assure the sacrifice, 350 Marines were told to sleep together in a single building on top of an ammunition depot- rather than spread out as did other forces in the city- and were not allowed to build the usual “S-shaped” barricades which would slow down terrorist vehicles before reaching the building in which they slept.(49)
War in Central America was sexually exciting (fire),
but we had to avoid guilt over starting it (Vietnam syndrome.)
Setting up the mass sacrificial stage in Central America and the Carib-bean would take much more planning if we were to avoid guilt over starting the war, guilt which was encoded in media language as “the Vietnam syndrome.” Once we could accept the delusion that Central America and the Caribbean were not only part of the conspiracy but were also capable of poisoning us, we could “overcome the Vietnam syndrome” and have our mass sacrifice there.
Such a delusional conviction would not be easy to bring about. There was little new going on in Central America that had not been present in earlier years when we had paid no attention to the area and felt quite un-threatened by what was happening there. Reagan himself, when asked earlier, “Can you just envision any circumstances under which we would
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be sending U.S. combat troops to El Salvador?” thought the idea so laughable that he answered, “Well, maybe if they dropped a bomb on the White Rouse I might get mad.” Central American countries were simply too small to take seriously by anyone who was sane on the issue.
In a series of articles, public speeches and radio broadcasts in the summer of 1982, psychohistorian Casper Schmidt predicted that America would be ready to go to war against Nicaragua by the end of 1983, basing his analysis on American group-fantasies contained in the media and public opinion polls.(50) American excitement during the invasion of the
Ragan began to get excited about war in Central America.
Falklands, he argued, represented both a rehearsal and an authorization for future American invasion. The most likely area for the war would be Nicaragua and Honduras, where, he pointed out, cartoonists had already begun showing our intentions and military officers had already begun mapping out for Congress how such a plan could be accomplished. One army officer described in September 1982 to the Rouse Committee on Foreign Affairs how “One possible scenario for the outbreak of a con-flict between Nicaragua and Honduras” might be that “Sandinista troops or militia are in hot pursuit of a counter-revolutionary group that is escaping back into Honduras. . . they will likely confront a unit of the Honduran Regular Army. That confrontation would be an act of war… Such a war could easily spark off a regional conflagration involving all the nations of Central America, and perhaps the U.S.”(51)
Nicaragua would be an ideal place to locate our paranoid fantasies. Since the purpose of the war would be to wipe out our own sexual vitality and our feelings about our on-going revolutionary changes in lifestyle, we would have to go to war against people very much like ourselves,
people involved in their own revolutionary social experiments. Nicaragua was the Central American country most like America. It was a country which was, according to The Boston Globe, a “serious, popular, mostly well-intentioned and frequently competent national experiment not altogether unlike our own revolution.”(52) Killing Nicaraguans would be like beating up Berkeley students, our own sons, so much like us. We could first identify with their revolutionary vitality and then wipe them out to kill these desires in ourselves. For Reagan personally, it would be like killing in himself the revolutionary seventeen-year-old “Dutch” Reagan who led the 1928 student rebellion which had successfully ousted the President of Eureka College.(53)
Militarily, we had to import enough violence into the area to produce turmoil in the fragile institutions of each country and to justify our group-fantasy that there was what the State Department called “a conspiratorial outside power” which was “destabilizing our hemisphere…from the Panama Canal to Mexico on our southern border,” and which was about to threaten our borders.(54) To do this, we first moved to the Central American desks at the State Department seventeen out of eighteen of the most important people who had dealt with Vietnam during the Vietnam War.(55) We then began pouring military equipment into the hands of what even Time called “motley bands of rebels”(56) and death-squad leaders in several countries, counting on them to produce violence in the region. Like the violence-prone father who leaves loaded guns around the house and then feigns shock when his son uses them, we were not really surprised when much of the weaponry we sent to El Salvador ended up in rebel hands. Nor were we upset when the contras blew up civilian targets in Nicaragua – just as long as violence was created outside us, making the paranoid fantasies inside our heads feel more real. Marines pretended to invade an island which everyone knew was meant to be Grenada “to save American hostages,” practicing on the island of Vieques near Puerto Rico in a naval exercise known as Ocean Venture 81. We had to be ready to attack “the international conspiracy” which had “the head of an octopus” in Moscow with “tentacles” in Cuba and the Caribbean and “tips of tentacles” in Central America. All these countries were in fact so small they posed no real threat to a country like America, whose power was literally millions of times greater than theirs. Invading them would be like the case of an abusive father who viciously beats up his four-year-old boy “because he said ‘fuck you’ to me.”(57) Yet this type of psychotic thinking was precisely what was becoming an everyday occurrence beginning in 1982 for much of America. When The Washington Post headlined an article “New Dangers, Opportunities.. Central America Seethes,”(58) the real meaning was “America Seethes with New Dangers and sees Opportunities to dump them into Central America.”
For the first time since 1963, cartoonists began picturing Fidel Castro as being able to destroy the United States, this time through Central America, and thousands of articles and books began appearing claiming that various groups in Central America and the Caribbean were part of a worldwide conspiracy that was intimately threatening us in various ways. The delusion would take time to spread, but eventually most Americans would believe it implicitly.
Cuba was seen as possessing the power of destroying
the United States through Central America.
Like the Aztecs, America had been preparing its holocaust sacrificial ritual for several decades. By 1982, the main psychological condition for the holocaust had already been accomplished-a shared belief by most people in the central delusion that nuclear war was survivable. The scien-tific evidence against such a belief was overwhelming. Most scientists had agreed for some time that a nuclear exchange involving only a fraction of the 50,000 nuclear warheads that existed would kill hundreds of millions of human beings, and more recent studies have showed that the explosion of as few as 1,000 missiles would produce a radioactive “nuclear winter” that could easily end all photosynthesis and kill all human life on earth.(59) Therefore, all discussions and actions involving
“nuclear options” and “limited nuclear exchanges” required psychotic thinking, under the delusion that those holding the discussion would survive. The fantasy is the same one which many individuals have when committing suicide, imagining how good they will feel watching their families come to their funerals. Fantasies of surviving one’s own death and being “cleansed” by the experience – all “badness” being removed by death-are very common in suicidal individuals.(60)
Every aspect of current American nuclear strategy, every new warhead produced and deployed anywhere in the world, required the delusion that most Americans would “prevail in a limited nuclear exchange,” as official Pentagon policy statements phrased it.(61) Reagan’s 1983 Budget promised America could “successfully fight (a] nuclear war.” Reagan himself, when asked if America could survive a nuclear war, replied that it could: “It would be a survival of some of your people and some of your facilities and you could start again.”(62) So, too, public opinion polls showed that the majority of Americans shared the delusion that they would probably survive a limited nuclear war.(63)
Setting up the holocaust sacrifice would take longer to accomplish. Since it would involve too much guilt for either America or Russia to simply start a war out of the blue, war would have to be brought about by some other means. To date, conventional wars had been started by delegating the initial attack to a more impulse-prone group, so setting off the initial nuclear explosions would also have to be delegated to such a group. There were three main ways of accomplishing this delegation:
 by allowing terrorists to get nuclear bombs,  by putting nuclear bombs in the hands of impulsive Third World countries and  by reducing the reaction time to a nuclear strike to just a few minutes, less time than a human needs to respond reliably, so that computers, pre-programmed to react “impulsively,” could begin the holocaust.
Getting nuclear bombs into the hands of terrorists was the simplest task. Atomic bombs can be made from as little as four pounds of enriched plutonium. By proliferating unnecessary nuclear facilities and leaving them relatively unprotected, we have in the past three decades allowed tens of thousands of pounds of enriched uranium and plutonium to be stolen and unaccounted-for from American facilities alone.(64) There is also little question that terrorists are able to buy the technology needed to produce crude nuclear bombs from this material.
In addition, according to the most recent study on terrorist use of nuclear weapons, The First Nuclear World War,
Stolen nuclear bombs, mostly artillery shells taken from European arsenals, are also available for a price.. thirty-odd thousand U.S. nuclear bombs are stored in as many as two hundred domestic locations in forty states and several more in
Europe… security around U.S. nuclear weapons is apparently lax enough to warrant significant concern. . In 1979 journalist Joseph Albright testified that by posing as a fencing contractor he was allowed into two Strategic Air Command bomb depots in late 1977. He came “within a stone’s throw of four.. nuclear weapons while slowly riding in a jeep driven by a soldier (who had both hands on the wheel) armed only with a pistol. Albright noted that his briefcase was not searched before he toured the bomb storage areas, and he was allowed to keep it with him. He was later able to obtain by mail complete blueprints showing the depot’s layout, a method of disabling the alarms, and the locations of two unguarded gates through the inner-most security fence.(65)
The “carelessness” required to “lose” tens of thousands of pounds of fissionable material and complete atomic warheads is exactly equivalent to the so-called “carelessness” of adults who habitually leave loaded guns or poisons near little children – that is to say, it is motivated, not accidental. It is not surprising, therefore, that there have already been at least (65) terrorist threats to use nuclear weapons in the U.S. alone.(66) How many of these involved real bombs remains a highly classified secret.
Making nuclear bombs available to Third World countries has required a much larger effort, involving shipment to these countries of enormous amounts of nuclear facilities and material from which they can make nuclear warheads. In January of 1980, when asked about his coming policy on nuclear proliferation, Reagan had said: “I just don’t think it is any of our business,” and during his term he had reversed many of Carter’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act policies, allowing, for instance, the shipment of U.S.-enriched spent fuel rods and the export of reprocessing technology, even to nations like Argentina, which has open-ly stated that it intends to make nuclear weapons.(67) Such stepped-up exportation of nuclear equipment, fuel and technology-much of it financed by multi-billion-dollar American contributions to the Export – Import Bank – guarantees that countries such as Argentina, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Taiwan and South Korea will soon join India, Israel, South Africa and Pakistan as nations with nuclear weapons. Once this is accomplished, local wars between Third World countries – wars which have been increasing in frequency in the past decade due to stepped-up arms shipments by the major powers – can produce the first nuclear explosion. This, in turn, under any one of dozens of scenerios, could escalate into the full holocaust.
Since each of America’s thirty-one Poseidon submarines has enough warhead capacity to destroy all two hundred eighteen Soviet cities of one hundred thousands population, deterrence alone could be accomplished by having only a few submarines beneath the sea. Yet it would be wrong to conclude from this that all the remaining thousands of missiles, including the new MXs, cruise missiles and Pershing 2s, are aggressive
The world seemed dominated the nuclear vulture.
America imagined Reagan as a vulture sitting on human bones.
|weapons, motivated by macho display or redundant “overkill” purposes. In fact, their purpose is solely suicidal, not aggressive at all. The reaction time to Pershing 2 and cruise missiles is about six minutes. Bringing the reaction time down so low produces such a hair-trigger situation that, according to one member of the House defense task force, “most probably, the Russians will have to give a computer the authority to launch.. whenever the computer thinks it perceives a United States launch.”(69) In addition, putting the new missiles into Europe would encourage the Russians to put their SS20s and new cruise missiles even closer to by Europe and the U.S., into Eastern Europe, into northern areas close to the U.S. and into submarines in the Atlantic. This, of course, would reduce our reaction time to a few minutes, making it likely that we, too, will give a computer the authority to trigger the holocaust. The day will soon come when both the Soviet Premier and the American President – and of course the heads of all European countries – will be only pretending to have control over the holocaust.Setting the stage for the holocaust sacrifice by reducing reaction time to just a few minutes is often talked about as an “accidental” nuclear war. This is like calling the death of a little child “accidental” after the parent carefully places it on the edge of a cliff to play. In both cases the reduction of reaction time below that required to prevent disaster is the decision to produce the disaster.|
Thus, putting Pershing 2 and cruise missiles into Europe is the decision to begin the holocaust sacrifice. And since NATO military experts have recently said they can now easily stop a conventional Soviet attack on Europe without using nuclear weapons-as one NATO expert put it, “We have the technology to run circles around the Soviets”(70) – the placement of these new missiles is nothing but suicidal. Both the Americans who want the
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missiles there and the Europeans who agree to receive them are members of the older psychoclasses, sharing common anxieties about too much prosperity, personal freedom and sexuality in recent decades. Both are the same older psychoclasses who produced European wars every genera-tion for centuries. Both imagine a holocaust will cleanse the world of evil forces, rather as World War II cleansed Europe for postwar renewal. And both share the delusion that they will survive the holocaust.
In order for Reagan’s America to set the three sacrificial stages successfully, the most important condition would be to keep our real wishes from reaching consciousness, since it is only unconscious wishes which are compulsively acted out, beyond the reach of reality testing. Ronald Reagan – who, according to the polls, was turning out to be one of America’s most effective fantasy leaders of the century – knew intuitively just how to bring about the sacrifices needed without making our real wishes conscious. We first would need a renewal of prosperity, producing new fears about too much poisonous pleasure building up. We would then need a formal announcement of who the enemy was, and some humiliating incidents and martyrs to prove how threatening the enemy was. Finally, we would need an authorization by the American people for the sacrificial war.
For Ronald Reagan, used to carrying out so many of his parents’ unconscious desires, the grisly task which we would require of him in the months to come would be a labor of love.