In George Orwell’s novel 1984, Oceania is in a state of perpetual war, with the official enemy shifting back and forth between Eurasia and Eastasia.
Whenever a shift in official enemies is made, the people are expected to automatically conform their mindsets to the new reality — that Oceania now has a new official enemy, one that has always been an official enemy of the nation.
Orwell’s novel provides a perfect description of U.S. foreign policy under the U.S. Empire.
Yesterday the New York Times suggested that Oceania —Whoops, I mean, the United States — might find it necessary to re-embrace a current official enemy.
Who is that current official enemy? Why, Syria! Yes, Syria, the dictatorial regime that the U.S. Empire has been telling us for the past few years constitutes a grave threat to “national security.” Yes, the regime that the CIA has been trying to oust from power by covertly supplies arms to Syrian rebels who are trying to violently oust the regime from power. Yes, the very same regime that just recently was going to be the target of a U.S. bombing campaign.
Impossible, you say. Not according to the New York Times. The Times reports that because the “jihadist threat” is spreading across the Middle East, including among Syrian rebels, it might now be necessary for the U.S. government to realign itself with the Assad regime as the lesser of two evils.
Ryan C. Crocker, who the Times describes as “a veteran diplomat who has served in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” put it this way:
We need to start talking to the Assad regime again. It will have to be done very, very quietly. But bad as Assad is, he is not as bad as the jihadis who would take over in his absence.
Guess who is one of the foremost of the “jihadist threats.” You got it: Al Qaeda, the terrorist group that the U.S. national-security state cited as America’s official enemy for several years after 9/11, justifying an ever-growing array of infringements on civil liberties and privacy.
But I thought that that was what the much-vaunted “war on terrorism” was all about — capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, kidnapping and renditioning people for torture, and assassinating people, all with the aim of destroying al Qaeda in particular and terrorism in general.
Are you telling me that after 12 years of terrorism warfare, the war on terrorism has still not been won and, in fact, is going so bad that the Empire now has to re-embrace a dictator who, just a few weeks ago, has been considered a grave threat to America’s “national security”?
Has anyone in the Empire given any thought to the possibility that it’s the Empire’s policies in the Middle East that have fueled the growth and spread of the “jihadist threat”?
Notice that I said “re-embrace” the Assad regime. What does that mean? That means that the Empire used to embrace the Assad regime, before it was converted into an official enemy. Don’t forget that the Bush administration, as part of its much-vaunted war on terrorism, made Assad one of its rendition-torture partners. Recall the CIA’s kidnapping of Canadian citizen Mahar Arar and his rendition to Syria for the purpose of torturing him into confessing that he was a “terrorist.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that nations have gone from friend to enemy under the Empire. Recall that during the entire 1990s the official enemy was Saddam Hussein. The “new Hitler” they called him. A grave threat to “national security,” they cried. WMDs, they exclaimed. Long before Americans were inculcated with a fear of terrorism and Muslims, and after the fear of the “communist threat” had dissipated in 1989 with the end of the Cold War, Saddam was the official boogeyman Americans were taught to fear.
Of course, by the 1990s everyone was expected to forget that throughout the 1980s, Saddam was a friend and partner of the U.S. Empire. Where do you think he got those infamous and scary WMDs? Why were Americans expected to love Saddam during that decade? He was killing Iranians, which made Empire officials happy. Why did that make them happy? Because after being a close friend and partner of the Empire for 25 years, Iran was now considered a new official enemy, owing to the Iranian people’s decision in 1979 to oust their CIA-installed dictator, the Shah, from power and replace him with a non-U.S.-approved regime.
Will Syria’s dictatorial regime be converted from official enemy and official threat to “national security” or will Americans be expected to maintain their current mindset of hostility toward Syria? Time will tell. But at least it all goes to show how America’s embrace of empire, interventionism, and the national-security state is as morally corrupt as Oceania’s.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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