Mankind's only alternative 28   JAN.   23  
Mankind's only alternative

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Book Review November 13, 2003
Logic for Locusts
By John Dolan Browse author Email
"Sleeping with the Devil" by Robert Baer. Crown/New York, 2003

"Sleeping with the Devil" by Robert Baer. Crown/New York, 2003

Robert Baer, author of Sleeping with the Devil, not only claims to be a veteran of decades with the CIA, but writes with the irksome swagger stateside readers expect from a Langley man. I had to laugh at the farcical caricature of noir prose with which he begins his first chapter, as his trained eye picks up subtle clues that the Israeli resort he's visiting is full of Russians:

"The marble palace perched amid the olive trees...looked like a lot of other posh resort hotels I'd seen around the Mediterranean... It didn't take me long, though, to notice that a couple things were out of place: the pack of little blond boys running around on the front lawn, shouting in Russian, and the young girls wearing identical bandeau bikinis, reading glossy Moscow weeklies by the pool. When the bellboy greeted me in Russian, I knew I had landed in one of those Russian beachheads I'd heard so much about."

Baer's purpose in this extended description is to show the reader right at the start that he's in the hands of a trained intelligence agent, capable of sifting a mass of apparently meaningless detail for a few key clues. Let's try to follow the dazzling process by which Baer realizes he's walked into a Russian hotel.

"[a] pack of little blond boys...shouting in Russian";

"young girls...reading glossy Moscow weeklies [i.e., printed in Cyrillic script]";

"the bellboy greeted me in Russian."

At this point, Baer tells us, "I knew I had landed in one of those Russian beachheads I'd heard so much about."

We had an expression at my elementary school used in response to insights like this: "No shit, Sherlock!" Baer or his ghostwriter actually seems to think that the reader will be awed by this display of sleuthing, when in fact it reads like Leslie Neilsen's opening voiceover for the next Naked Gun.

To be fair, though, the passage did achieve one of its presumed aims: it convinced me that the author actually was a CIA veteran. Mere civilians rarely combine so much arrogance with such radiant stupidity.

Reading Baer's book means spending hours listening to a macho braggart of the sort you hoped you'd left behind in high school. This is a pity, because his topic could make a great tale: the inside story of America's long, doomed collusion with a corrupt, gangrenous, self-destructive Saudi Arabian oligarchy. Baer's thesis is simple: the Saudis are going down, and we've so overcommitted ourselves to them that we're going down with them. When the Muslim Brotherhood crazies who've been coddled by the devout, feeble Saudis finally turn on them and take over the oilfields, the world economy will crash, and we'll face a Jihad without even enough gas to go get a good look at our burning cities.

It's a simple, cinematic thesis, well suited to the corny noir menace of Baer's prose. The trouble is that Baer does little but strike Philip Marlowe poses, muttering about how it's all going to come crumbling around our ears any day now. He calls his argument "Devil's logic," a phrase which for all its adolescent strutting does get at a fatal flaw in his case: it's merely "logic," and when history goes up against logic, history -- chance, anomaly, chaos -- tends to win. Here, from the conclusion of his second chapter, is Baer's clearest summary of his case, in all its specious "logic": "If you've followed this devil's logic so far, then it's a small step to the conclusion that we in the West and the Saudi rulers themselves are in serious trouble. All the ingredients of upheaval are in place [in Saudi Arabia]: open borders, the availability of arms, political alienation, the absence of a rule of law, a completely corrupt police force, a despised ruling class, plummeting per capita income (and fabulously wealthy rulers to remind the poor exactly how poor they are), environmental degradation, surly neighbors, and a growing number of young home-grown radicals who care more about righteous murder [i.e. Islamic terrorism] than they do about living. The kingdom's schools churn out fanatics faster than they can find wars to fight. Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Angola, Somalia, and Sierra Leone succumbed to chaos under less volatile conditions. Why should Saudi Arabia escape this fate?"

SHARE:  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit

Browse author

Lord of the Swine : Censorship in Russia: Revenge of the Disenfranchised
Band Interview
Band Interview: The Mod Squad From Perm :

Al-Dilbert :
White Sikh Bitch
Your Letters :


Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442