A Brave New World had its oracle in George Orwell and Brave Neo-America has its own prophet in George Bush. There’s a certain poetic symmetry about this that suggests – on a cosmic level anyway – the possibility that life once again imitates art.
As we take this brave new step of adopting torture as the latest Good Intention on the road to wherever it is we’re headed, it’s worth taking the time to ponder the full import of what this means to us and what it may mean about us.
Why, for example, after more than two hundred years of temptuous and often tenuous existence as a nation are we now “forced”, as Vice-president Dick Cheney has put it, " . . . to work . . . sort of the dark side. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world we operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective."
What has fundamentally changed about the world around us that requires us to abandon the high road of our forefathers and now start “to work . . . sort of the dark side”?
Are we facing a new, more vicious enemy unlike any the world has ever seen?
That’s the official answer of course but I wonder what’s new and more vicious about Islamic religious fanatics willing to wantonly slaughter women and children – and themselves – for the kingdom of God, or their intepretation of the Koran as their heavenly license to kill?
Hasn’t Islam been around since the 6th century A.D. and haven’t Islamic fanatics been slaughtering innocent people by the thousands in the name of God almost as long? Even the particular brand of Islam which Osama bin Laden adheres to, Wahhabism / Muwahhidun, has been around at least as long as the United States.
What has really changed that wasn’t true in 1776, 1812, 1846, 1861, 1917, 1941, 1950 or 1963?
What if, just for the sake of hypothesis, it’s not something fundamental about the world around us which has changed but we ourselves? What if we have somehow lost our way as a nation and now find ourselves wandering the low road of world affairs and just haven’t realized yet that we’ve lost our way as a nation and now have fundamentally different “objectives” than we had before?