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Empire of Nihilism

By any reasonable measure, the policies carried out by the U.S. government since 1990 toward the Muslim countries of the Middle East (democracy promotion, regime change, political stabilization, “peace process,” antiterrorism) have failed disastrously.  Not only is nothing better over there, but everything is worse over here, the home of the not-so-brave and ever-less-free.  Every sentient, reflective American over the age of 45 can remember that the country was safer and freer the year the first Bush, freed from the constraints of the Bear and eager to spend the Peace Dividend, unleashed the kraken on the world.  For all the needless wars and imperial adventures that followed, we are trillions of dollars poorer, are afflicted with homegrown Islamic terrorism, and live in what can be described, without hyperbole, as a not-so-soft totalitarian police state.  Yet undaunted by failure, immune from experience, and insensible to shame, our mandarins and policy wonks, enabled and protected by the press and politicians, push on and on and plunge ever deeper into the black morass of empire.

Why?  James Risen’s answer is simple: money.  There are fortunes to be made searching for monsters to destroy, and even more pretending to destroy them—so much so that it actually pays to create new monsters when the old ones prove to be unfrightening to subjects who have come to expect ever-new dangers...

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