3quarks pal Tom Bissell tears Robert Kaplan a new one at the Virginia quarterly Review.
Kaplan is worse than a bad writer or thinker. He is a dangerous writer made ever more dangerous by the fact that he is taken seriously. Even his most hostile reviews have treated him as though his arguments are still within the pale. His worldview is, in many ways, that of the current administration, and shared by many Americans. These are people for whom the wider world means only acrimony to be dismissed and obstacles to be knocked over. People who care not for “exquisite subtleties” when it comes to matters of force and occupation. People who do not think in human terms, except insofar as those terms reflect their own beliefs, which are supremely correct. People, in short, who had no use for people, except as cannon fodder—lives whose passing they dutifully mourn on their side and gleefully celebrate on the others. “Kaplan is America’s Kipling,” reads one of Imperial Grunts’s blurbs. This is to slander Kipling, who nevertheless did write one Kaplanesque sentence: “All the people like us are We, / And every one else is They.”