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Thursday, October 06, 2005

 

projection


in what may qualify as one of the silliest and most regrettable presidential addresses of recent years, president bush justified continued and even deepening american military involvement in the middle east by attempting to frighten workaday americans with paranoid visions of an islamic empire.

In this new century, freedom is once again assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. ... Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus -- and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.

... the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated: "The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.

... the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence -- the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.
never mind, i suppose, that little if anything in the iraqi political regime prior to american invasion had anything to do with propagating an islamist empire -- indeed, secularist pan-arabists like saddam hussein stood precisely against such ridiculous notions, a machiavellian potential ally to the west.

and never mind that such notions are utterly ridiculous -- even if osama bin laden actually subscribes to such claptrap (which is quite questionable, despite american government assurances), the rebirth of the saracen empire has as much chance of happening as a spontaneous reconstitution of the roman or alexandrian empires. even then, these barbarian war-bands such as al-qaeda represent are focused not on a return to the reign of suleiman but on expelling the cultural invader -- the west.

never mind these truths for a moment. consider the president's words for what they are -- a statement that says as much or more about himself and his worldview than it does about any externality.

freudian projection was first explored by the brilliant thinker over a century ago and remains canonical in psychoanalytics. we might define it quickly as when someone is threatened by or afraid of their own impulses so they attribute these impulses to someone else. in greater detail:

[P]rojection is assuming that others act or perceive similarly – according to this definition it is not necessary for a projected trait to be undesirable or unconscious [as it is in Freudian projection]. Projection is probably inherent in social animals and the single most important psychological mechanism. The following are given as examples:

  • Individual A assumes that B sees the colour red as he does, until informed that B is colour-blind;

  • Someone who never lies is easy to deceive because he projects his truthfulness onto others, assuming that others are honest also;

  • ‘It takes one to know one’;

  • An inept con-man fears that others are trying to cheat him, signals his fear and alerts others;

  • (Freudian) An individual who possesses malicious characteristics, but who is unwilling to perceive himself as a protagonist, convinces himself that his opponent feels and would act the same way.


  • Each of these examples involves an assumption that others exhibit an own trait, but various "defence mechanisms" exist. Counter-strategies for Case 2 include (a) being conscious of a tendency to project and compensating with increased scepticism, testing scientifically, and (b) lying as much as everyone else. Case 3 could occur if an individual is honest about his own characteristics and inhibits his tendency to project, in which case he may accurately recognize his own traits in another without error. Case 4 is an interesting scenario left open for discussion.

    In Case 5, offensive acts may occur when the projector (which may be an individual or a group), erroneously believing that their adversary is about to likewise, pre-empts the opponent – making the player of this so-called defence mechanism into an aggressive protagonist. This illustrates just one of several problems with the orthodox notion of projection. I hope to have demonstrated that the conventional definition of projection, here dubbed Freudian Projection, merely describes a specific instance of a more general, and important, human mechanism. Projection, combined with features such as denial of latent desires, accounts for a great deal of human behaviour and attitudes.
    so what is bush really saying when he spouts this rubric about "intimidating europe" and "enslaving nations"? need it be pointed out that the united states is the best-equipped nation on earth to pursue such ends thanks to decades of military buildup in response to paranoid fantasies? need it be pointed out that american military personnel now span the globe, with more than a millions troops dispersed over six continents and seven seas, manning an indirect global economic and military empire which exceeds in scope any which has come before it? need it be pointed out that the united states alone has embarked, under bush's instruction, on a policy of pre-emptive warfare against concocted false foes -- a classic symptom of a projector?

    this page is not a psychologist, and cannot claim to know what lies in the psychic heart of the administration. but neither are these observations mere coincidence -- projection is a consequence of hubristically assuming that the world shares one's own views, a pitfall into which this administration (and this nation more generally) has been incapable of avoiding from day one, much to its own detrement.


    DJ, I love it when you analyze.

     
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    Actually, Saddam was rebuilding his "empire" when he went ito Kuwait. His claim, that Kuwait was the 19th province back when the Ottoman Empire ran that neck of the woods, seems to indicate that he, the chief political authority in Iraq, thought enough of empire to use it as a reason.

    If you hold that Osama was a nice guy, who only resorted to terrorism when the US had forces in Saudi Arabia, you have to answer the question: Why did the US have forces in Saudi Arabia and/or Kuwait? The answer: To prevent Saddam Husayne from popping over the border and reestablishing his "imperial claims" to those countries.

     
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    If you hold that Osama was a nice guy

    i'll let the comment stand without further reply only after saying that such blanket reductions of complex points to emotionalisms and strawmen is characteristic of a vulgar mind.

     
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    Um.... it's not "paranoid visions" when they constantly assert they really are trying to establish an Islamic Empire. Duh.

    "secularist pan-arabists like saddam hussein stood precisely against such ridiculous notions"

    Wrong again, Saddam had a de facto alliance of convenience with the Islamists, and increasingly played the religious card after 1991.

    "even if osama bin laden actually subscribes to such claptrap"

    As opposed to actually subscribing to what, exactly? Do you even pretend to have a point with this remark?

    "the rebirth of the saracen empire has as much chance of happening as a spontaneous reconstitution of the roman or alexandrian empires"

    They're off and running in Afghanistan and Iran. That's 100 million people. Want to compare the numbers to the saracen empire? (Oops, scratch Afghanistan; we nipped that little Islamist bud.)

    "So what is bush really saying when he spouts this rubric about "intimidating europe" and "enslaving nations"? need it be pointed out that the united states is the best-equipped nation on earth to pursue such ends "

    ROTFLMAO!!! Take about your paranoid visions. Sheesh. You need to read that Freudian projection section again and up the meds, my friend.

    Thanks for the laughs.

     
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    in other words, mr talldave -- trust our government to do what is good and right?

     
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    Trust, but verify. And if they break that trust, throw them out. That's the eseence of republican democracy.

    I think it's great that there are so many liberals out there saying "Iraqis need more rights and better democracy" and "Bush needs to do more to guarantee freedom and democracy survive in Iraq." What I object to is the pessimism, paranoia and naysaying.

     
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    if they break that trust

    and, somehow, they haven't done this yet? in your view?

     
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    perhaps julian sanchez best illustrated how that presumption of trustworthiness can only be a product of blind fealty.

     
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