Tuesday, August 02, 2022

The Post War on Terra Era

I'm not sure when the "war on terror" stopped being something that American politicians and American news sources stopped talking about. In the 2016 campaign, Trump was pushing his Muslim ban, and there was a lot of talk about ISIS. So I think of that as the late war on terror era. Even then it clearly was not as central as it once was. By the latter half of the Trump presidency, the right placed less emphasis on demonizing Muslims and Arabs while it got more openly racist about its perceived domestic enemies.

Yesterday's "targeted killing" (or whatever the current euphemism is for assassination) of  Ayman al-Zawahiri was like a brief war on terror reunion tour. But really that era is ended. Americans, both our politicians and our news media, have lost interest on the non-Israeli middle east. For example, the political turmoil in Iraq this week would have been a top story back in the oughts. I mean, the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, once America's Hitler of the moment, stormed the Iraqi parliament on Saturday and have occupied it for the past four days, but there has been zero coverage in the U.S. The fact that Sadr's current move is part of an even longer story of political deadlock and disfunction in the government that the U.S. created from scratch a short time ago is not enough to make Americans care.

I guess we have moved back into that September 10th mindset that people used to talk about as a shorthand for naivety or complacency. On the other hand, maybe we have a better understanding of our own domestic issues, that really are an existential threat to the survival of the U.S. in a way that terrorists of 20 years ago never were.