Friday, March 09, 2007


There is evidence that the Surge is working, as I noted in the two posts prior to this one. In fact, there is some interesting evidence coming out of Baghdad, and discussed at Iraq the Model and The Belmont Club , that suggests the Surge has created a "frenzy of political activity in Iraq."

Wretchard concludes from this activity the following:
I believe the Nancy Pelosi approach of threatening to weaken America on the ground in order to achieve changes in Iraqi politics is the wrong one. My intuition is that the precise opposite should be attempted -- that strengthening the position on the ground is likely to effect reform.

The truth is that Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha and the other Democratic leaders are completely uninterested in whether or not the Surge might work, primarily because they are wholly committed to American failure in Iraq.

Failure in Iraq means success for them, and a failure for President Bush and Republicans.

As I commented in the post just prior to this one: The Democrats are far more interested in "directly challenging President Bush" than they are in directly challenging the real enemies of civilization or the United States.

Let us, for a moment suppose that this behavior is not deliberately malignant and self-serving; and that it arises not from an incredible stupidity or naivete. This is a really big assumption, of course, and I have no doubt that there are those in the ranks of the Democrats and the left who fit both of those descriptions. But let us take them at their word for the moment--that they really and truly believe they have the best interests of the country at heart; that they are the real patriots; that they are acting to protect American civil liberties from egregious destruction; and that they "support the troops."

What we are witnessing then, in their indifference to any actual facts about the matter; or their casual lack of concern about the consequences of their thoughtless behavior and frenzied oppositional activity--is a psychological defensive maneuver that is probably the most common psycological response to the worldwide threat of Islamofascism since 9/11. This response is a very specific kind of psychological denial; and it is called displacement.

As I have mentioned before, it is the same defense that is at the root of Bush Derangement Syndrome ; and before someone tells me that a reasonable person can dislike President Bush and not be exhibiting a psychological defense, let me say that I perfectly agree with you.

Many people intensely disliked President Clinton for a variety of reasons--even prior to the Lewinsky scandal--but there was never the intense rage and unbelievable vitriol directed at him that President Bush has had to endure during his entire term of office. Disliking a President is perfectly normal and a part of political life in this country. But those kind of feelings should normally lead to a decision not to vote for him or the party that supports him; not to the constant, pervasive, and highly inappropriate behavior we observe every day by those who have gone so far over the top of normal political expression, that they have landed in an alternate universe.

The kind of inappropriate and nearly psychotic paranoid behavior that I am talking about is the same psychological dynamic that lies behind the dramatic increase in anti-semitism and general anti-American sentiment in this country and worldwide--even among those who are relatively normal and sane individuals otherwise.

You can think of psychological displacement as a process somewhat analogous to how an attenuated virus is used to immunize someone to prevent the catastrophic consequences of an otherwise life-threatening illness. Except that in medicine, the attenuated virus actually does prevent the real virus from causing damage. Displacement of the sort I am talking about is a method of temporarily attenuating a psychological threat--but the real threat is not halted in its advance; nor does it go away when attention is deflected away from it.

But the person using displacement believes he or she is now safe.

That is the reason that displacement is an attractive alternative to dealing with reality-- because it can work in the short term for the individual or group who uses it.

Psychotherapy itself revolves around, and works because of the temporary displacement of the patient's psychopathology onto the therapist. This is referred to as "transference." As an example, let's say, that the patient has a conflict with his father. For all intents and purposes, the therapist becomes the "psychological father" and the therapeutic relationship then plays out the drama in a less threatening, and more manageable setting.

The entire purpose of displacement is to gain control over a conflict that otherwise feels out of control.

By focusing on something you have some control over, the psyche is much less threatened. After all, you can always fire your therapist; you can express your animosity unreservedly; and there will not be the consequences if that emotion were directed toward the real object of emotional conflict.

You can even pretend, that if it weren't for the therapist, everything in your life would be perfect.

Displacement can be thought of as an slightly more mature type of psychological projection. In projection, the individual remains oblivious to the fact that he owns and is responsible for the emotions that he imagines are in the person or group into which he is projecting. In other words, ownership of the idea and/or affect is banished from the self.

In displacement, the idea or emotion is merely deflected from one object to another, less threatening one; but the ownership of the negative emotion or idea (e.g. animosity, anger) is retained--and is then often raised to a virtue. [For proof of this in BDS, note the righteous fervor of the sufferers who further delude themselves into thinking that their hatred and unparalleled animosity is "patriotic" and for the "good" of the nation as a whole.]

A common example of displacement that can be witnessed every day, is the person who is angry at a loved one, but settles for kicking the dog. The anger is evident in the action and is still owned by the person experiencing it.

At its most primitive, anti-semitism is a form of psychological projection (just as all racism is).

We see this infantile defense used repeatedly in the Arab/Islamic world. They seem unable to appreciate the irony of their labelling of Islam as a "religion of peace", for example, and dismiss the barbarism done in the name of Islam as misunderstandings or the actions of only "a few." In other words, they dismiss their own aggression in toto; asserting that it is the Jews who are always the aggressors; that it is the Jews who are out to destroy them; and that they are the poor, helpless victims of the Jews. By distancing themselves from their own aggression and projecting it onto Israel and the Jews; they have retained their honor as the peace-loving people they assert themselves to be.

It is essential to the success of the defense that they portray themselves as the victims and be seen as the victims in the eyes of the world. Even when their own behavior is responsible for the deaths of innocents, it is rationalized away and ultimately also blamed on the Jews.

Displacement, like projection, is an effective method for psychologically avoiding reality and facing one's own inner demons. It is a step above projection in being a less primitive and somewhat more mature method of coping; and is considered simply neurotic.

While projection can often appear to be completely uncoupled from reality, displacement has the advantage of allowing someone filled with unpleasant emotions to have an acceptable object onto which to express those emotions. Note that in projection, the individual completely denies that he or she even possesses-- or is capable of possessing-- the unacceptable emotions; it is the "other" who possesses them, and wants to inflict them on you.

Historically, the Jews have been the offical scapegoat (object of displacement) for many societies. If only the Jews were gone, then all would be well. The world would be perfect.

We see something similar in much of the rhetoric of today's left and their political mouthpieces in the Democratic Party. If only Bush were gone, they insist, everything would be perfect! None of these awful things--like 9/11, for example-- would have happened and the U.S. could go back to the idyllic days of the Clintonian utopia.

Likewise, if only the world put a halt once an for all to Israeli aggression, then the Middle East would be at peace.

When it comes to anti-semitism, you are witnessing possibly the clearest possible case of "blaming the victim" that you are ever likely to see. It is far too threatening to blame the real aggressor in the Middle East; the real source of hatred and genocidal intent; the real entity that is incapable of being rationally dealt with or deterred.

This real aggressor repeatedly states its intentions clearly and unambiguously. Yet, for some curious reason, those in the West to whom it is stated refuse to believe them! Their words are dismissed, and the actions that logically derive from their words are minimized or ignored.

In a perverse way, this defensive maneuver on the part of the West is understandable. No truly rational person is able to deal easily with persons or culures that glory in suicidal victimhood to a degree unparalleled in human history; and who scream "god is great"-- even as he blows you and himself up in a nihilistic frenzy.

To say the least, this sort of behavior is truly and incredibly frightening and completely inexplicable for the modern human to psychologically metabolize. Thus, it is only natural that it's unacceptable reality must be defended against and prevented from being digested and analyzed.
The dynamic and logic of displacement goes a long way to explaining the remarkable and sometimes lunatic appeasement of Islamofascist aggression and violence by so many individuals and governments and around the world, even as they trash the US (and particularly Bush) and Israel.

Denial and displacement give you the illusion that you are in control of the situation and that the solution is simple.

The only problem is that reality doesn't go away simply because you have found a way to satisfactorily (and temporarily) deflect it; nor does hiding the unpalatable truth from yourself make that truth disappear.

No matter what defensive maneuver is chosen, eventually the individual, group, or society must face reality, or they will face the consequences--which may well be catastrophic.

Pelosi, Murtha and the others may very well and truly believe what they say they believe. But by making the enemy President Bush, and focusing all their energy on fighting him, they do their country and the principles they claim to represent great--and possibly irreparable--harm.

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