Hugo Weaving is Zarqawi
June 15, 2006
Via Lenin’s Tomb, a graphic from the Washington Post that may illuminate the recent publicity over the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. These are “Two slides from a briefing prepared for Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq” in 2004 (click for a larger image):
The slides are stuffed with Unspeak, but their meaning is remarkably clear . . .
The “offensive” or “aggressive” “Strategic Communications” recommended by the briefing are propaganda, accomplished through Unspeak and the broader means of “media operations”, “selective leak[ing]” and “PSYOP” (Psychological Operations). It is a good idea to foment fear and racism (to “leverage xenophobia response”). (Note that leveraging is a term of finance, under the aegis of which everything may be properly understood.)
The slides briskly explain the aim: if we manage to “villainize” Zarqawi (whom, however, no report said was a nice guy in the first place), he will, we hope, come to “represent” the entire insurgency (“potentially sympathetic”) as being comprised of “terrorism” and “foreign fighters” – not, of course, disgruntled folks. By implication, his death at the right moment will then come to seem a major victory for US forces, yes, even a turning point in the war. And so it has come to pass. The Washington Post reports one internal US military briefing boasting that “the Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date”. Quite so.
The Washington Post finds the reference to “The Matrix” obscure. On the contrary, it is obviously an allegorical reference to the sci-fi kung-fu movie series by the Wachowski brothers. Clearly Zarqawi is Agent Smith, a nihilist bent by the third film only on destruction. We may further suppose that Donald Rumsfeld is Morpheus, given his habit of dispensing gnomic philosophical wisdom. Condoleezza Rice is a shoo-in for the Oracle, with her talent for apocalyptic warnings (“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”), and her piano-playing standing in nicely for cookie-baking as an indicator of good-heartedness. Dick Cheney, it almost goes without saying, would utter marvellously sinister gobbledygook as the Architect.
If we consider this artistic analogy with the seriousness it deserves, however, it becomes alarming. Agent Smith aka Zarqawi was killed at the end of the first movie, but came back anyway, and developed the power to clone himself. By the time of The Matrix Revolutions, there are thousands of him, and killing just one makes no difference. In fact, the only way to defeat Smith/Zarqawi is through an act of self-sacrifice, of martyrdom: a kind of suicide-bombing of his code.
This is why I am having trouble finding someone to fill the role of Neo in the administration’s real-life remake of the Matrix films. The part’s analogies with Christ, someone with a hotline to God, might make me lean towards casting George W Bush himself. But I can’t quite see Bush pulling off the Shaolin and jiujitsu moves in the virtual dojo; and while Neo sacrifices himself, Bush prefers to let others do the sacrificing. Any better suggestions?