Your Duty As A Citizen Is To Be Afraid Whenever They Say "Be Afraid!"
If a country is at war, and that war is an illusion, is there a cure?
The war we're at is the undeclared war that began, for all practical purposes, on September 11, 2001. It is the war on terrorism. It is a war on an abstraction, a tactic, an idea that can be embodied by anyone or everyone or no one. We are waging war on terrorism even as we embody terrorism. No wonder we seem sometimes to be at war with ourselves, and have been for most of the 21st century.
"We have now been at war for well over a decade," the president said in a statement so simple and broad as to include all the devastation we've wrought in Iraq and Afghanistan to so little useful effect, right down to the latest drone strike against some person we decided fits today's enemy combatant profile.
That much is obvious to almost everyone. Less obvious is that the same war has been turned inward, waged against Americans at home -- increasingly prisoners of the homeland and increasingly surrounded by homeland security, whether it's needed or not. The unchecked expansion of policing entities since 9/11, too vast to be easily or briefly described, continues unchecked, because we are at war.
No American Under 12 Has Lived In A Country At Peace
OK, so what does that mean? "Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces"?
Al Qaeda is a brand name, but there's little public evidence that it's actually a significant corporate entity. Al Qaeda may or may not be one thing or many things, and American actions may or may not be killing Al Qaeda members faster than it creates them. Whatever the U.S. government knows, or thinks it knows, is not widely shared with most of its citizens.
The Taliban appears to be a real, regional entity with real regional goals that mostly have never had anything much to do with the United States except when the U.S. came into the region. If the Taliban has ever posed a serious threat to the United States, the evidence for that remains secret.
America's Main Enemy Is Nameless, Shapeless, "Associated Forces"
That leaves "their associated forces," in the President's phrase, that exercises presumably purposeful threat inflation by using "forces" to refer to what we have no reason to believe are more than assorted gangs of malcontents with a range of grievances, many of which are legitimate and long-standing.
And who are these "associated forces"? The government won't say. The country may be at war, but most of the names of our enemies are classified, and subject to change without notice.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 16, a week before the President's speech, the committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, questioned Michael Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, about designating enemies with no more Congressional authority than the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks and giving the President effectively unlimited discretion to wage the war on terrorism, wherever he might imagine it to be.