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A Constantly Shifting Array of Official Enemies


After George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq ended up producing ISIS, which was quickly made into a new official enemy of the United States, I am sure that there were lots of Americans saying to themselves, "Oh my gosh, another official enemy. But once we vanquish this one, it will finally be over. We will finally have peace, tranquility, and prosperity."

Those people were living a pipe dream. Now that ISIS has been vanquished, is the Pentagon bringing the troops home? Is there going to be a ticker-tape military parade in New York City? Is George W. Bush going to do a painting entitled "Mission Accomplished"?

Of course not. Everyone needs to resign himself to the discomforting reality of living under a national-security state and an overseas empire: There is always going to be an official enemy or official enemies. It never ends. The process is perpetual.

How else could the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA justify their ever-increasing budgets, influence, and power? Official enemies are the coin of the realm. They never run out of official enemies.

That's what all the anti-Russia brouhaha is all about. It's really just an outgrowth of the Cold War obsession with the Soviet Union, a big official enemy — along with communism — that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA never thought would go away. Communism and the Soviet Union provided the national-security establishment with a gravy train that was supposed to go on forever.

The dismantling of the Soviet Union caught them by surprise. Convinced that the Cold War would go on forever, they didn't have a new official enemy in ready reserve.

But it didn't take them long to find one. Enter Saddam Hussein, who became the new official enemy during the entire 1990s. Recall the national obsession during that decade: "Saddam! Saddam! We have to get Saddam! He has WMDs! He's coming to get us!"

Saddam proved to be a lucrative official enemy. He kept the U.S. military-intelligence-industrial complex in high cotton for more than 10 years.

Other official enemies? The list is endless. The Taliban. Qaddafi. Assad. Terrorism. Al Qaeda. Drug lords.

It's possible to go from being an official friend of the Empire to an official enemy. And heaven help any American who doesn't flow with the tide and adopt the new official enemy as his own.

For example, in World War II the communist-controlled Soviet Union was declared to be an official friend. The Reds were made into partners and allies in the war effort.

Immediately after the war, however, the Soviet Union was converted into an official enemy. Even though they had just defeated Hitler — who U.S. officials said was going to come and get us — Americans were told that they now faced an even bigger threat — the Soviet Union, their wartime partner and ally. And Nazi officials were converted into official friends and secretly brought into the U.S. government.

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