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9/11/01 and the Perpetual and So-Convenient Al Qaeda Threat

During the Cold War, the threat of the Soviet Union served as the great enemy, justifying the National Security State and all that it entailed in corporate welfare for the weapons industry. With the end of the Cold War, the "drug problem" was pressed into service as the great enemy, providing a pretext for assaults on civil liberties and interventions in South American nations that benefited corporate interests. The Drug War, however, did not provide the needed rationale for the next stage of American hegemony: control of large swaths of Central Asia, and the petroleum resources there.

The 9/11/01 attack would provide the needed pretext for the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. While the attack on Iraq was predicated on the fiction of Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction, it was the "War on Terror" that created the context for this so-called pre-emptive war. This new kind of war -- a war against a tactic instead of any identifiable target -- was explicitly defined as a war without end by one of its principal architects, Vice President Richard Cheney.

e x c e r p t
title: CIA Told to Do 'Whatever Necessary' to Kill Bin Laden
authors: Bob Woodward
During an interview in his West Wing office Friday morning, Vice President Cheney spoke of the new war on terrorism as much more problematic and protracted than the Persian Gulf War of 1991, when Cheney served as secretary of defense to Bush's father.

The vice president bluntly said: "It is different than the Gulf War was, in the sense that it may never end. At least, not in our lifetime."

The lynchpin of the endless war would be an elusive enemy that could never be defeated: al Qaeda. The parallels to the George Orwell's dystopia, 1984, are striking.

e x c e r p t
title: Happy New Year: It's 1984
authors: Jacob Levich
Seventeen years later than expected, 1984 has arrived. In his address to Congress Thursday, George Bush effectively declared permanent war -- war without temporal or geographic limits; war without clear goals; war against a vaguely defined and constantly shifting enemy. Today it's Al-Qaida; tomorrow it may be Afghanistan; next year, it could be Iraq or Cuba or Chechnya.
The defining speech of Bush's presidency points toward an Orwellian future of endless war, expedient lies, and ubiquitous social control. But unlike 1984's doomed protagonist, we've still got plenty of space to maneuver and plenty of ways to resist.

It's time to speak and to act. It falls on us now to take to the streets, bearing a clear message for the warmongers: We don't love Big Brother.

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