The palace of the end

Martin Amis writes some thought-provoking stuff today. This is a truly brilliant piece. He is making some claims I have not read anywhere before, here is his claim:

We accept that there are legitimate casus belli: acts or situations “provoking or justifying war”. The present debate feels off-centre, and faintly unreal, because the US and the UK are going to war for a new set of reasons (partly undisclosed) while continuing to adduce the old set of reasons (which in this case do not cohere or even overlap). These new casus belli are a response to the accurate realisation that we have entered a distinct phase of history.

Hmm. He sounds like Philip Bobbit. He goes on,

Who, on September 10, was expecting by Christmastime to be reading unscandalised editorials in the Herald Tribune about the pros and cons of using torture on captured “enemy combatants”? Who expected Britain to renounce the doctrine of nuclear no-first-use? Terrorism undermines morality. Then, too, it undermines reason.

Now he gets somewhat scary – but very insightful with regard to religion.

Why, in our current delirium of faith and fear, would Bush want things to become more theological rather than less theological? The answer is clear enough, in human terms: to put it crudely, it makes him feel easier about being intellectually null. He wants geopolitics to be less about intellect and more about gut-instincts and beliefs – because he knows he’s got them. One thinks here of Bob Woodward’s serialised anecdote: asked by Woodward about North Korea, Bush jerked forward saying, “I loathe Kim Jong II!” Bush went on to say that the execration sprang from his instincts, adding, apparently in surprised gratification, that it might be to do with his religion. Whatever else happens, we can infallibly expect Bush to get more religious: more theological.

This article keeps getting deeper.

A single untested nuclear weapon may be a liability. But five or six constitute a deterrent.

And now he is funny:

We hear about the successful “Texanisation” of the Republican party. And doesn’t Texas sometimes seem to resemble a country like Saudi Arabia, with its great heat, its oil wealth, its brimming houses of worship, and its weekly executions?

And he goes on…

There are two rules of war that have not yet been invalidated by the new world order. The first rule is that the belligerent nation must be fairly sure that its actions will make things better; the second rule is that the belligerent nation must be more or less certain that its actions won’t make things worse. America could perhaps claim to be satisfying the first rule (while admitting that the improvement may be only local and short term). It cannot begin to satisfy the second.

Up there with the best articles yet of 2003.

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