The 1979 film, "Apocalypse Now," based on the Joseph Conrad novel "The Heart of Darkness," is well know to film goers and/or readers of American fiction. The story is about someone who descends into the darkness and is changed by it, not the other way around.
I resist making the comparing the President and the current Administration to Colonel Kurtz, the Marlon Brando character who deep in the Cambodian jungle starts to mirror the butchery he encounters in his enemies, and then some. And when he finally starts to mimic it, calling it "genius," he loses everything that he ever stood for.
But I will compare the United States as a Republic, collectively sinking into the heart of darkness. That we would dignify torture in a Congressional debate and have rules of torture spelled out, shows that we, like Kurtz, have seen the "genius" of our enemies.
The President's Administration have been a disaster. He has destabilized the Middle East. Writing in The New York Review of Books, William Pfaff writes,
President Bush and Karl Rove, his propaganda packager, preferred the global cold war model—the "long war" —capable of being presented to the American public as a communism-like "struggle for the world," so as to mobilize Americans around George Bush, wearing his flight jacket.
Iraq now seems all but certain to be left broken as a state, immersed in sectarian violence and terrorism, in far worse condition than it was under Saddam Hussein's secular dictatorship (which would have come to an end when Saddam died, or when he was overturned by a coup, or a revolt, as has happened to all of modern Iraq's previous leaders)
Indeed, we have lost Iraq and may well lose more in this struggle. But there is more here, as well.
For those who like conspiratorial explanations, involving oil and Israel, consider that now Iraq will produce little or no oil for the United States, or anyone else, for years to come, and the Saudi monarchy and the Gulf oil-producer governments are newly threatened by fundamentalist militants.
Saddam Hussein has been eliminated as a distant threat to Israel, and a ring of aggressive Shiite states and movements has been substituted, with Hezbollah having already brought Israel under rocket fire, and humiliated the Israeli army. Iran's influence in the world has grown larger than ever.
These results are due in part to the amateur geopoliticians of the neoconservative New American Century initiative, and their Washington allies. Israel needed no such friends, nor does George W. Bush, who with their help, on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, looked more than ever as though he'll finish his term as the most disastrous president in American history.
One more thing, though that this has caused our people. We have been lead, however unwillingly, into the heart of darkness.