As It Was in the Beginning

Victor Davis Hanson argues that the Obama administration has become one big mass of scandals. The scar tissue has piled up and overlapped such that it is impossible to simply refer to them individually. Today the ‘IRS’, ‘AP’, ‘NSA’ and Benghazi are one big ink blot. And speaking of Benghazi, a British newspaper screams out these headlines: “400 US surface-to-air missiles were ‘STOLEN’ from Libya during the Benghazi attack and are ‘now in the hands of Al Qaeda’, claims whistleblower.”


Four hundred American surface-to-air missiles were ‘taken from Libya’ during the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, a former U.S. Attorney who represents whistleblowers claimed on Monday.

He added that the U.S. intelligence community is terrified they might be used to shoot down airliners.

Joe diGenova, whose wife Victoria Toensing – a former deputy assistant attorney general – also represents Benghazi witnesses and others with knowledge of the terror attack, told WMAL radio that the loss of those missiles is also one the reason the U.S. State Department shut down 19 embassies across the Middle East last week.

But of course we can’t take these charges seriously until the allegation of the missile theft is investigated by a grave and sober select committee.  Nor can we look into the Washington Post report that al-Qaeda is expanding in Syria and even Turkey. These scurrilous rumors must await their turn, after the IRS, AP, NSA, Benghazi and whatever other phony scandals are lurking about. Which means that in the nature of things it will never be investigated.

In the meantime, while awaiting results which may never be forthcoming, here are a number of books which might be worthwhile but which I will never have time to read. A reader who enjoyed the discussion on the Heart of Darkness over the weekend suggested hosting such events more often. So I’ve listed out some for those who feel like they might want to take a crack at them.


The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

Collusion: How the Media Stole the 2012 Election

A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State

The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die

Well why not?

Of course the books are unlikely to be classics, which are rare, though who knows? Nothing starts out as a classic. Besides, a friend pointed out the fundamental unseriousness of  literary discussions. If you want to be remembered by history burn books instead. Jorge Luis Borges recalled that “the man who ordered the construction of the nearly infinite Wall of China [the] First Emperor, Shih Huang Ti … likewise ordered the burning of all the books before him.” Borges has a theory why Shih Huang Ti did both together. Borges writes:

That the two gigantic operations—the five or six hundred leagues of stone to oppose the barbarians, the rigorous abolition of history, that is of the past—issued from one person and were in a certain sense his attributes, inexplicably satisfied me and, at the same time, disturbed me. …

Perhaps the Emperor hoped to recreate the beginning of time and called himself The First, in order to be truly the first, and he named himself Huang Ti in order to be in some way Huang Ti, the legendary emperor who invented writing and the compass.


It makes sense for the man at the bedrock of Chinese history to write himself into the first chapter, to pile its pillars on a blank sheet. Thus could Shih Huang Ti become first emperor and progenitor of the Great Wall. And who will gainsay him, since there aren’t any books that say differently? Maybe its the same with the Obama administration scandals. The foundation stone in the monument to his greatness must be forgetfulness too. And it simply a matter of convenience to lump the myriad scandals together in a huge ball the better to chuck it down the Memory Hole than to perform a hundred individual delete operations.

Perhaps the saddest headline in the last week belongs to the Wall Street Journal: A Primer on Japan for Caroline Kennedy. “President Obama’s choice as ambassador may find herself dealing with a Beijing-Tokyo military confrontation.” What’s wrong with the picture of an American ambassador to Japan, on her way to one of the hottest troublespots on earth, being offered a tutorial titled “Japan 101”? Why nothing. Nothing at all that the Obama administration will notice. What can be wrong in a world where knowledge is nothing and forgetfulness is everything?

Before the Would Be Greats can be assured of eternal fame, they must engrave that fixed idea on the minds of men, supposing of course that human memory is the only record that ever survives, and delete all else.  Then what they say goes. Borges’ insight was to realize that that some sense books and remembrance were always potential enemies of tyrants. They want no eyewitnesses to their pettiness to conflict with their pretensions to greatness. Maybe that’s Benghazi in a nutshell.


As to the proposition: can you truly position yourself at the beginning of time? I don’t think so, but every aspiring great will try.

Margaret Sanger Slee, the founder of Planned Parenthood, announcing her intention to remake the world. British Pathe was laughing then. Who’s laughing now?

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Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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