A Limited Victory

Gore Vidal, award-winning essayist, novelist, and playwright, has been a keen observer of American culture and politics for several decades.  Yet when he originally submitted to major American magazines of opinion the essay that forms the first chapter of his new book, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, he found himself completely shut out.  No one wanted to publish his point of view or, indeed, much of anything that defied the government line—straight out of the Madeleine Albright Book of Inanities—that America had been attacked because some people just hate democracy.

Jang, the leading Pakistani daily, summed up the state of official opinion in the United States at the time: 

Not a single media commentary from the United States has hinted at a critical appreciation of the country’s foreign policy.  Only one statement is being repeated, that the terrorism against America will be responded to and the terrorists will be crushed.

But any intelligent person must at least be curious about what motivates the type of savagery we observed on September 11, and most people are surely capable of making the elementary distinction between explaining an event and excusing it.  When such questions are posed, however, our ruling class offers us “responses that ought not to satisfy a second-grader,” as Pat Buchanan recently put it.


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