Tue Sep 3, 2013, 08:03 PM
Purveyor (19,999 posts)
And Then There Was One: Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch
In an increasingly phantasmagorical world, hereís my present fantasy of choice: someone from General Keith Alexanderís outfit, the National Security Agency, tracks down H.G. Wellsís time machine in the attic of an old house in London. Britainís subservient Government Communications Headquarters, its version of the NSA, is paid off and the contraption is flown to Fort Meade, Maryland, where itís put back in working order. Alexander then revs it up and heads not into the future like Wells to see how our world ends, but into the past to offer a warning to Americans about whatís to come.
He arrives in Washington on October 23, 1962, in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a day after President Kennedy has addressed the American people on national television to tell them that this planet might not be theirs -- or anyone elseís -- for long. ("We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth, but neither will we shrink from the risk at any time it must be faced.") Greeted with amazement by the Washington elite, Alexander, too, goes on television and informs the same public that, in 2013, the major enemy of the United States will no longer be the Soviet Union, but an outfit called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and that the headquarters of our countryís preeminent foe will be found somewhere in the rural backlands of... Yemen.
Yes, Yemen, a place most Americans, then and now, would be challenged to find on a world map. I guarantee you one thing: had such an announcement actually been made that day, most Americans would undoubtedly have dropped to their knees and thanked God for His blessings on the American nation. Though even then a nonbeliever, I would undoubtedly have been among them. After all, the 18-year-old Tom Engelhardt, on hearing Kennedyís address, genuinely feared that he and the few pathetic dreams of a future he had been able to conjure up were toast.
Had Alexander added that, in the face of AQAP and similar minor jihadist enemies scattered in the backlands of parts of the planet, the U.S. had built up its military, intelligence, and surveillance powers beyond anything ever conceived of in the Cold War or possibly in the history of the planet, Americans of that time would undoubtedly have considered him delusional and committed him to an asylum.
Such, however, is our world more than two decades after Eastern Europe was liberated, the Berlin Wall came down, the Cold War definitively ended, and the Soviet Union disappeared.
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And Then There Was One: Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower (Original post)
Response to pscot (Reply #3)
Wed Sep 4, 2013, 12:51 AM
yurbud (34,283 posts)
4. Every time I hear al Qaeda, I add "he lied" in my mind
because so much of what is said about it is bullshit, that whatever is or was really there may never be known.