Bush (Cheney actually) based US strategy on the trash talk and recruiting fatwas of fundamentalist freaks rather than a real assessment of their capabilities and goals.Why is the Bush administration so unsuccessful at foreign policy? Because it is all based on delusion. It has no connection to human reality. They pull imaginary levers, nothing happens, and they get frustrated and angry.Either Bush is making strategy based on a delusional goal of his opponent, which is idiotic; or he's saying he believes his opponent has the capability of achieving this delusional goal, which is idiotic. Neither bodes well for the republic.Well, Bush and Cheney are delusional themselves, in different ways, so we have been dealing with a triple whammy. And to make matters even worse, their strategy is based on a delusional goal of their opponents (which isn't even as delusional as they say it is) and they believe they are capable of it. Mushroom Clouds! Drone Planes! No wonder the whole world has a headache.
One obvious reaction many of the right-wingers suffering from these delusions will resort to is looking for scapegoats to blame. That's what the "We were stabbed in the back" rhetoric we are hearing from the dead-ender right-wingers is all about. There is also no limit to what they will do to create the society of their delusion. They are "true-believers" and consider it their mission to convert the deluded to the path of righteousness which only they, at this time, know and understand.
If you want to understand where the delusions delusions maintained by individual members of such a movement come from, that is the central idea of Paul Berman's book Terror and Liberalism. His key point is that there are delusional organizations, and those delusional organizations include Fascists, Marxist-Leninist Communists, Nazis and religious fundamentalists. The Moonies are another such delusional group. The core idea or "Ur-Myth" for each movement may be different from that of the others, but the groups all use such similar methods that they will work as allies. An example is the way the Moonies (owners of the Washington Times) are allies to the American conservative movement.
Each of the delusional organizations is built around the idea of a utopia of some sort. Berman calls those utopias "Ur-Myths." (They are also called "memes" by many of us, but "Ur-Myths" are memes with a specific function in delusional organizations.) The members of those movements design social systems to recruit new members and transmit belief in those "Ur-Myths" and the methods of maintaining and enforcing those Ur-Myths on the new members.
The most rigidly authoritarian of these organizations are strongly hierarchical and limit the permissible information available to their members. That can be done either by putting certain publications on a blacklist, by getting them removed from libraries and schools, or by training the group members to be extremely anxious when the start to get information that is forbidden to them, while providing approved sites for information that are "safe." FOX News, the Weekly Standard and National Review On-Line are all such "safe" sources of political news. In the religious organizations, the Bible and the Koran are safe sources because each has a massive educational organization behind them to explain to believers what those books really mean. The attacks on any book based on Evolution are a method of setting up personal anxiety in true-believers when they encounter books and ideas that are different (even if not directly opposed to) the accepted interpretations of the "Inerrant" Bible.
The logic of those attacks does not matter. What matters is the conflict and the resulting anxiety created in true believers when they encounter the forbidden ideas. Emotions trump logic every time. When a person become anxious every time they encounter an idea or a fact, they will avoid and dismiss that idea or fact out-of-hand. The few true believers who find themselves personally forced to overcome that anxiety cease to be true-believers, and if they allow the other group members to know of their change of heart, they will be one of the rejectees who provide examples of what is acceptable belief to the other true-believers. This is what happened to Trotsky when he rejected the beliefs Stalin deemed acceptable. He was expelled from the party and from the USSR, and when he continued to be a threat to Stalin, he was murdered.
A group defines itself by who it expels. Generally just expelling dissidents can solidify the group and harden the authorized beliefs of the individual members. The Amish practice this. One who abandons the Amish beliefs will be cut off from contact even with the closest family. Attacking non-believers, physically or otherwise, also works to solidify group cohesion and individual beliefs. Violence can be used, but is usually only necessary for those who fight back or who effectively oppose the group and its Ur-Myths. Then, like expelling the occasional dissident, violence is an example to the groups of what is acceptable. That is why it is rarely needed.
All of these delusional organizations recruit individuals likely to be amenable to adopting the Ur-Myth of that movement and acting on it. People who reject recruitment are not required, and again, they help define the beliefs of the members of the group. Then, once inside the movement, promotions and rewards go to those who best display belief in the Ur-Myth (or ideology.) Free speech and free transmission of information is a major threat to such organizations. That is why neither was permitted in the USSR, why Putin is taking control of the major media in Russia, and why the Communist Party USA was placed on the banned list in the United States. It is the usual reaction of any organization when they feel under attack. But it is also the breeding ground for delusional authoritarian organizations like the John Birch Society, the American conservative movement and the protestant evangelists who adopted the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy.
It is my belief that the American conservative movement is one such delusional organization, and that the John Birch Society was an earlier one. The similarity between the hierarchical structure and the authoritarian methods of those organizations and the structures and methods of their greatest enemies, Marxist-Leninist Communism and more recently the Islamic fundamentalist Jihadist organizations like al Qaeda is to be expected. The organizations have different Ur-Myths but they function socially the same way. Each is based on the same kind of group-induced delusion-based behaviors, and each either has become or is becoming a delusional authoritarian movement consisting of members trained to pass on the delusions.
The Ur-Myths behind each movement are very different, but that doesn't matter. Whatever the Ur-Myth, each Ur-Myth performs the same function for its respective movement. It really doesn't matter if the Ur-Myth a movement is based on is the Communist Utopia, the Muslim Caliphate, Free Market Capitalism (Ayn Rand provides the best myth of that type) or the Biblical God who is the Lord Jesus Christ and who speaks through the inerrant Holy Bible. It is enough that there is, in each case, a catechism for the members to recite to each other. After that, the authoritarian methods of maintaining the Ur-Myth and the methods of maintaining the movement based on it are the same. [*]
This is a rough summary of the group source and purpose of the delusions displayed by so many individuals in cult-like organizations or movements. Click through to Digby's post for more evidence of the individual behavior of the American conservative movement versions of this delusional set of group and individual memes.
[*][My apologies to Paul Berman if, in attempting to summarize his ideas and melding them with my own, I have severely misstated any of his concepts. I don't think I have, or I would have corrected them.]