The Real Vampires
Copyright © by Len Holman, 2/4/11
There is currently a real vampire craze in this country, and it’s pretty interesting to make connections between vampires and our culture: we have a great desire to be young, so great that the creams and Botox and wrinkle-potion firms are buying Gulfstreams for their execs and caviar for the cleaning crews. We are desperate to be young, look young, stay young, and to live a great, interesting , and very long and vigorous sex life, no matter how much it costs. And vampires fill the bill. We admire them at some Jungian level. We make films and TV shows about them and that’s not to mention all the weird clubs—public and private—where customers drink blood and wear fangs and convince themselves they really ARE vampires, and the various make-ups and vampire-style clothing. Those Botox and vitamin and rejuvenation shots could be the cosmetic and psychological equivalent of a vampire bite, the bite that turns us from mere mortals into super beings like vampires. I leave it to the shrinks and archaeogeneticists and various pundits to decide all that. But yeah, we love ‘em and emulate ‘em, but we know—in moments of lucidity, that they really (probably?) don’t exist. But there ARE real vampires out there. And the U.S. government does business with them every day—and has for many, many years.
Whatever happens in Egypt, don’t look for pure town-meeting democracy and a sudden flood of Enlightenment thinking. Whoever ends up on top in Egypt will be Our Guy, or Our Guys because we value “stability.” Of course we all know what happens next. We do the Vampire Tango with whoever comes out on top because that’s what we do. Over the course of history, we’ve done the same with whoever is running things in an area of American interest. We whine about not getting serious when it comes to what are gently called “human rights abuses,” but there is that old saying: There are no long-term friends, only long-term interests. Each of our very close friends who, over the years, has been a vampire (think “Papa Doc” Duvalier or The Shah of Iran or Manuel Noriega or Saddam) has sucked the blood out of his people, one way or the other: literally or through crippling economic policies—all the better to fatten up that Swiss bank account—or egoistic neglect. But these vamps sit on strategic resources, like oil, or—as in the case of Egypt—sit astride a volatile geopolitical region. Sometimes these vamps get the benefit of inertia, so that American interests are best served by not rocking the boat—not because Haiti, say, is so important, but because of the whole Caribbean and Latin America geography. So we send “aid,” which means money. In Egypt’s case, a lot of it: well over a billion dollars a year, which mostly goes to 1) prop up the current vampire, who provides subsidies for food and fuel to keep the peasants mollified and good salaries for the army to keep himself safe in bed, and 2) to build a nice retirement account somewhere just in case. We play nice with these creatures until they anger us by destabilizing our relationship…too greedy and it gets embarrassing even for us, or too democratic, which puts a kink in our base of operation for spying. Then we drive a stake through their hearts with CIA help or Special Ops insertions or all of the above. After the dust settles, we get a NEW vamp and start all over again. But fooling around with vampires has a down side, as every movie fan knows: they bite.
They don’t just bite their domestic constituents, they bite the hands and necks of those who deal with them. And also as every movie fan knows, they have two kinds of bites: one bite kills. Blood is sucked from the victim and they die. In the movies, this take but a short time (filming time and product is expensive), but in politics, this can take a VERY long time, as in the case of Iraq, Yemen, or Egypt, where the bleeding of the populace is slow, but inexorable, while we stand aside, throw money and get “stability” in return. The second kind of bite is even worse. A vampire can bite in a certain way and “turn” his or her victim and THAT person becomes a vamp (sex, for vampire, doesn’t follow the Christian ethic of being just for procreation), and this particular kind of bite can also take a long time—so long that the victim doesn’t notice he’s becoming a vampire until he is one. So when we give money to the Saddams or Mubaraks of this world, we risk being infected and the longer they bleed us, the dirtier and more evil we get, and the closer we get to being vampires ourselves.
Now, there have been several ways to kill vampires in Hollywood and in the literature, including burning them with fire, shoving them out the door into the sunlight (preferably at Malibu where they get a great view before turning to ashes), shooting them with silver bullets, or cutting their heads off. The best way, however, is to cut off their money supply. No vampire at the head of a nation—no matter how small—can live without the dollar. They need to pay themselves handsomely for their gracious acceptance of responsibility. They need to pay the military a handsome chunk. They need to buy French wine and build palaces and erect statues to themselves, and that all costs money. If they are especially crafty vampires and have an especially important chunk of real estate to rule, they take American money and buy stuff, like fighter jets and missiles, and the latest armored vehicles, all of which helps them stay out of the sunlight, biting their victims at will. We keep their Bentleys polished and tires inflated and don’t even blush. Of course, this is out of pragmatism, not a desire to be vampires ourselves, but the danger of being turned is always present. We are secure in the knowledge that we are special, untaintable, impervious to evil because we are a God-formed nation, and our Founders wouldn’t let us get turned—but certainly Adam and Eve have something to say about that line of thinking, and there are signs that we are beginning not to know daylight from dark. So we are careful, but we can’t seem to help ourselves. Egyptians will eventually get back to baking their bread and the next guy will behave for a while, telling us and the world he is democratically-minded until he gets run over by some rapacious, sunlight-avoiding Army colonel, who will immediately ban all cloves of garlic from his palace.
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