Commentary: Epitaph for the ‘War on Terror’

Twenty years after the U.S. government declared war on terrorism, it consummated its own defeat in Kabul and Washington, in a manner foreseeable, foreseen, and foreshadowed in 9/11’s immediate aftermath. Fixation on itself and unseriousness about war are the twin habits of heart and mind that disposed the ruling class to defeat. The practical explanation for why and how it accepted defeat is found in the overriding interest each part of the ruling class has in doing what it wants to do. 

On the night of September 11, 2001, Muslim governments strictly forbade public celebrations of the carnage. The Palestinian Authority, anticipating that outraged Americans would destroy them to avenge the day’s events, even called the attacks al nachba—“the disaster.” But as the U.S. ruling class made clear that it was accepting defeat, the Muslim world’s media and streets celebrated.

Two decades later, after that defeat’s logic had worked its way through and transformed American life, and as the government’s self-humiliating exit from Afghanistan consummated it, much of mankind followed Muslim crowds in celebrating—including prominent Americans. 

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Commentary: The Third Worlding of America

Whether it is forest fires caused by decrepit infrastructure, the use of intelligence agencies to target domestic political opponents, growing inequality, or a rejection of our political traditions, America more and more feels like a third world country.

First, consider what it meant to be a first world country. This has always been a small club: the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and, more recently, Singapore and South Korea made the cut. 

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