Matt Taibbi reviews Joel Rosenberg’s novel The Ezekiel Option:
[The book is] written in that childishly mechanical literary style peculiar to American blockbusters of the Da Vinci Code and Left Behind ilk — in which every character has a name like Mike Stormfield or Andrew Porchdale, romance is watching a White House aide plant a church-sanctioned kiss on a CIA agent, and human beings seemingly can only think in italics (“Now Jibril was finally making sense, thought Gogolov“). Moreover, the people in the book only come in two types — absolutely evil or absolutely good. The evil people are all Muslims, communists, Europeans, academics or lefties, and the good people are innocent peace-loving Americans who all have titles in the American or Israeli government or security services.
The book is a remarkable document if only because it is such an accurate depiction of mainstream delusional paranoia in the Bush era. In Rosenberg’s take on modern history, the Iraq invasion was a rousing success (“The White House could barely contain its optimism. A peaceful, prosperous, democratic Iraq . . . would forever transform the modern Middle East”), and the new democratic Iraqi president in the book is an almost perfect representation of Thomas Friedman’s mythical “Iraqi Thomas Jefferson” character — a man who under Saddam had published books full of coded messages aimed at helping readers find contraband copies of the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence in Baghdad’s public libraries.
Imagining that Iraqi Muslims under Saddam read the Declaration of Independence for inspiration is a little like an Afghan imam dreaming of Kentucky coal miners gathering at a diner to read Ibn al Taymiya before a strike. It’s nuts, but this is the way many people in our country view the world; there are people out there who think that even pygmies in Africa grew up dreaming of Ben Franklin’s kite.
More interesting, says Taibbi, is the nexus between Rosenberg’s world view, Republican politics and the strategic drift of President Bush’s Middle East policies:
All of this silly horseshit wouldn’t normally inspire anything but laughter in anyone older than four, except for one thing. Joel C. Rosenberg, born into an Orthodox Jewish family but a convert to Christ at seventeen, is a former senior advisor to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Think about it: a former high-ranking Israeli official returns to the United States and starts writing a new genre of End Times best sellers whose main ideological thrust is that the United States must stand by Israel to guard against a future invasion by a mega-powerful multinational Antichrist, one that includes the forces of the Arab world, Russia, Germany and those goddamned French — an invasion which, he repeatedly says in numerous television appearances, is about to happen at any moment.
Can you think of a more effective way to secure the support of the modern American Republican base? You take a group of people who’ve been softened up by fifty million copies of the Left Behind series and tell them that if you urge the president to keep supporting Israel, they can meet Jesus — next week! If I were the head of the Mossad, I’d be pissed I didn’t think of this first. Or, who knows — maybe I did.
Rosenberg was on Fox numerous times throughout this summer’s Israeli-Lebanon conflict, warning of a cataclysmic attack by Iran. He appeared on Neil Cavuto’s show on August 16th and claimed that the Iranian president was saying that “the end of the world is rapidly approaching and that it’s his mission to bring it about by destroying Israel.” At no time did he mention that he himself was the author of apocalyptic novels.
When the end of the world is being soberly predicted on most of our major television networks and in the Wall Street Journal, and a group dedicated to End Times fantasies can summon the attention of senators, a Republican Party chairman and the heads of two nuclear states, this matter stops being a conspiracy theory. We might have to face the fact that American politics has departed the world of the rational and has entered the realm of a cultist dynamic.
Consider this possibility: With its administration’s earthly policies in shambles, and no way left to compete in the normal political arena in the upcoming elections, Karl Rove and Co. may be flirting with selling the same thing cult leaders throughout history have sold their followers: the afterlife. And who better to sell a Revelations storyline than the guardians of the world’s biggest army, already deployed in the Holy Lands against the unbelievers? It’s a crazy idea, but it’s also inspired. And would you put it past them?
Full article here.