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But this is the defining mentality of Endless War. Enemies are never defeated; even when they are “operationally ineffective,” they “will remain a major security threat for years.” If their capacity to frighten fades, they just get seamlessly replaced by new Villains (“U.S. counterterrorism officials now assess al-Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen as a significantly greater threat”). When that doesn’t work, you just manufacture the Terrorists yourself: by converting, directing and funding them and/or doing exactly that which you know will ensure they continue to emerge. And when all else fails, you just find a brand new war that ensures the process repeats itself in an endless loop: the establishment bellwether Washington Post today expressly demanded “regime change” in Iran (“by now it should be obvious that only regime change will stop the Iranian nuclear program”).
The key trick of Endless War is to permanently maintain two contradictory official premises: (1) we’re on the verge of Victory!; and (2) the threat is grave and we cannot let up. Without both of those premises, the citizenry will wonder why endless war is necessary or wise. That’s been the dual-track propaganda that has sustained the Drug War for four decades and counting (yes, we’ve been waging this war for 40 years, but we’re making real progress, but the threat is still so severe that the war must continue into the foreseeable future), and it has been and continues to be the core propaganda that fuels the Terror War. Hence, (1) we have made Al Qaeda “operationally ineffective” and (2) they “will remain a major security threat for years.”
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The GOP foreign policy debate last night was really quite a spectacle, not because of what was said — all the candidates other than Ron Paul and, to a lesser extent, Jon Huntsmann, did what they always do: created a long list of countries the U.S. should bomb, invade, occupy, and otherwise subvert — but because of the cast of characters CNN dragged out as “foreign policy experts” to pose the questions. It was like a carnival of war criminals, warmongers, torturers, and petty tyrants: Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, best known for his 1980s war on pornography, was dredged up to demand that the government be vested with more Patriot Act powers (because he’s a believer in individual liberty and small government); there was long-time supporter of Ahmad Chalabi and a war on Iran, Danielle Pletka; Iraq War propagandist and torture regime architect Paul Wolfowitz; and Fred Kagan of the mighty Kagan warrior family. But remember: as the supremely “objective” CBS‘ Bob Schieffer made clear in his snickering, scornful interview on Face the Nation this weekend, it is Ron Paul who is crazy and bizarre for suggesting that U.S. aggression played a role in motivating 9/11 and for being worried that bellicose actions against Iran are making things worse and may lead to war.