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Scarlett Nation » Terrorism, United States » A Decade On

A Decade On

As America reshaped its world into two defined camps, friends and enemies, the dividing line between the two became murkier and murkier. While the mass murderers and war criminals of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance had become clearly marked friends, NATO members France and Germany would slide towards the enemies camp as the War on Terror’s attention turned to its next target. America was thirsty for more vengeance and eager to expand its narrative of Western liberal democracy staring down the terrors of the world’s most notorious nations. The rhetoric became ever more bald and divisive. The Axis of Evil was termed, implying a bond of brotherhood existed between three states who had at one time or another fallen under America’s gaze but survived. Suddenly whole parts of the world were embroiled in an imagined international conspiracy to attack America fuelled by a pathological hatred of all that America was and all that it stood for. America’s self confidence had dissolved, where once it had known that it was loved, now it knew it was hated. Worse this new Axis had access to devastating weapons, America imagined these weapons only existed for one purpose, missiles, bombs, and vials primed and aimed at her heart. While America had been hurt by planes, now it feared nuclear bombs and anthrax. The War on Terror knew what it must do, they had to be disarmed. The Weapon of Mass Destruction was added to the new lexicon of war mongering. It may have been a pretence, an excuse or a reason, maybe all three to different actors in the White House theatre but its power to possess the debate was as awesome as its destructive threat. The cowboy and his posse convened at the ranch and cooked up a new meal for the War on Terror. The time for settling old scores had come to pass. Lines were drawn, resolutions requested, gained or denied, speeches were made and protests were marched but there could be no stopping the War on Terror gaining its new front. It was hungry, having only partially digested its last meal it needed the sustenance of another fallen regime, more images of American superiority, and the satisfaction of completing a job half done a decade before. Iraq and the Bushes; the new love that dare not speak its name. While the War on Terror prepared its feast, some convinced themselves that only good could come of it. The suffering of That Day would be turned to hope, it would derive meaning and no longer be simply cold blooded slaughter, troops would be welcomed into Iraq, democracy would flower and the Middle East would recognise what should become its natural state. With hindsight it is hard to know if they were lying or genuinely mistaken but whatever was found in Iraq there were neither WMD, nor any peace. Only the next quagmire in which American military might would lose its lustre.

Saddam’s information minister reminded the world that it was not only the West that could abuse language with his increasingly desperate and hysterical statements lending an element of farce to what was becoming a tragedy. When the statues fell and Baghdad was looted no one was quite sure what would happen next, it seemed not even the War on Terror knew what it wanted anymore. WMDs had been not so quietly dropped, the mission was declared accomplished and Regime Change became the new hip phrase. In the void where a plan was once assuredly place, a new manhunt was rustled up. Men who had tortured, maimed, gassed and killed were reduced to hiding in holes as America’s enforcers roamed the Wild East, lasso in hand. Finally the Ace of Aces was caught, examined, and presented to a whooping audience. Paul Bremer could not resist lowering the moment to the tone of the times. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we got ‘im,” he remarked, verbally dumping the outlaw on the floor of his saloon. They were the words of an America asserting itself once again. They had conquered the West and now they would conquer the Middle East, this was the swaggering arrogance they had missed since That Day. One of America’s longest standing bad guys had been usurped, hounded, captured and humiliated. Now he would be thrown to the Iraqis to do with as they pleased. America; the righter of wrongs, the superman it had come to believe itself to be. But then the turn happened, the conquered refused to accept the facts. They had been defeated, routed, reduced but still they came with new weapons, not the WMD as was so feared but the IED. The bomb that could be anything and anywhere, the bomb that made even the most humble car, and the quietest street untrustworthy. A device that, in its simplicity, destroyed the relationship between occupier and occupied. America was fearful again. It had not meant to be this way. America was to be loved, feared and respected in that order. These new weapons made a mockery of their massive military spending and state of the art equipment, but what really hurt was that again America was bogged down, trapped under the weight of its commitments. This America was no superman; it saw itself reflected in a new Batman. A violent, fearful character determined to use the power of its own fear against its enemies, driven by spite and discontent to try and make a better world but spurned by those it thought would support it.

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