we had to find an enemy (morris berman, part 1)

“The [first Gulf War] was basically unconscious. We live in a world of early childhood damage, of which George [H.] Bush is probably an excellent representative. Look at his stiff body language, his mechanical behavior. He got elected because he echoes our body language. When the opportunity arises to forget our internal damage, we embrace it.

The ego, in order to maintain its integrity and identity, has to have an enemy, so it becomes like a heat-seeking missile. After glasnost, we lost our enemy of forty years, the Soviet Union. For a few months, we talked about giving money to art or medicine or education. We floated around in ambiguity but finally couldn’t handle it.

If we can understand our inability to tolerate ambiguity and the fact that the ego must have an enemy in order to feel whole, then this war is completely explicable. We would have fought Ghana, Antarctica, it doesn’t really matter. We had to find an enemy . . . 

What emerges as strength in this culture? The person who wages peace or lives without heroism? No. Just the opposite. Watch the body language of our elected officials: it’s wonderful—I mean sad, but wonderful. When George Bush announced that we were going to war, The New York Times declared, ‘A somber President Bush . . .’ Somber? He was giddy. There’s a pathetic quality to our heroism, and eighty-seven percent of the country thinks that’s what strength is about.”


From an interview with Morris Berman for Omni magazine by Murray Cox (August 1991 issue). Of course, if Mr. Berman is correct, then this observation applies to Noriega and Gaddafi and our current invasions/occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. If Mr. Berman is correct, then there is more of the same, endlessly . . .

Aside from Mr. Berman’s books, he oversees a rather interesting blog, Dark Ages America. DAA is noteworthy not only for his observations, but for the many comments he receives from his readers and his interacting with them. Go ahead and give it a read.

Comments, suggestions, additions, and arguments welcome!