What are we frightened of? Fear and Dread in the U.S.
Michael Brenner: The (Very) Few Proud and Brave
Fear and dread, deep and pervasive, are the abiding feature of these times.Existential threats from mysterious forces with no fixed address are most scary because they are not resoluble by focused action taken against a clear target. They gnaw at you as well as frighten you. That produces dread. Dread is free floating fear — it fixes on what might be, thereby magnifying anxieties of experiencing one more horrific events of the past.American actions in the ‘war on terror’ have been driven by dread. Dread that it may happen again, dread of the unknown, dread of the alien. It explains not only the radical thrust of Washington’s conduct in the Greater Middle East but also the dulling of critical faculties. That pertains to torture, kill lists and illegal surveillance as well as the ready resort to military power.
I thought this was one of the most well written and provocative single paragraphs I have run across in some years. It’s not just beautiful, it captures the mood of our current era. I have often thought the same thing although minus the eloquence.
From around the web –
From the web site, Sec Semper Tyrannis:
The Obama administration faces two fundamental decisions. First, should it rededicate American foreign policy to shoring up the shaky structure of alliances and understandings among the five that has been central to its vision of the region’s strategic future? Second, should it redefine American interests and expectations in ways that favor the emergence of a more durable structure build to accommodate a more realistic set of expectations? To say ‘no’ to the former, and to say ‘yes’ to the latter is to choose a challenging course – diplomatically and politically. For it means forming a highly differentiated view of Islamist elements in the Middle East, a loosening of the servile ties that bind Washington to Tel Aviv, beginning an intricate, multi-party project in the intricate project in the Gulf, and – perhaps most challenging – coping with uncertainty as a constant.