If neoconservatives experienced the same level of fear that they seem intent on promoting, then it is possible that they might be suffering from what could be called pre-traumatic stress disorder. The fact is, they are far too calm and calculating to be victims of any kind of trauma, and given their focus on fueling widespread fear, the best way of understanding what they do is to say that they are artful practitioners of a particular form of terrorism. That is to say, their intent is to use blind emotion as the means for forcing the adoption of a political agenda that cannot withstand critical analysis.
For conventional terrorists, acts of violence are the means through which a small organization lacking a grassroots constituency can exert broad political influence by employing the instrument of broad-based fear. Neoconservatives, on the other hand, while no greater in number than say the membership of al Qaeda, have much more direct access to the levers of political influence and thus have no need to employ the crude techniques of the average terrorist. Nevertheless, like every terrorist, they see fear as the indispensable tool for furthering their political aims.
Their latest campaign, aimed at stoking hysteria in the Islamophobic West, is what The Observer describes as:
… a series of piecemeal leaks from US officials that gave the impression of being co-ordinated, a narrative … laid out that combined nuclear skulduggery and the surviving members of the ‘axis of evil’: Iran, North Korea and Syria.
Central to this narrative is an event wrapped in mystery: Israel’s strike on unknown targets in Syria and a “suspicious” North Korean freighter, Al Hamed, whereabouts unknown, cargo unknown, ownership unknown.
This is classic smoke and mirrors — there are no substantive allegations and thus nothing to refute. Everything is suggestive — suggestive of the possibility of a strike on Iran, or the outbreak of a long-feared war between Israel and Syria. Yet among the competing theories about what purpose lay behind Israel’s sudden strike — and one has to assume this occurred with Washington’s foreknowledge, consent and support — one detail provides a clear indication that whatever the physical target might have been, the target audience was not in Damascus. Dion Nissenbaum writes:
Hours before the Israeli strike, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly sent word to Syria that it had no hostile intentions. Syrian leaders complained bitterly this week that Olmert’s message was a diversion meant to get Syria to drop its guard before the strike.
Syria’s leaders would of course bitterly complain — after all they were being treated like fools — yet what Olmert seems to have done was in effect to provide Syria with a heads up whose purpose was to make it clear that Israel had no intention of starting a war. A game was in play, Syria’s sovereignty would be treated with contempt — as it has so often been before — but the audience for this performance was located outside the region, in Washington, Europe, and at the UN. If Syria was to protest too loudly, it would compel itself to retaliate. In the interlude, a contrived silence keeps the peace, but at the same time the authors of this peace are framing it quite intently as a prelude to war.