November 4, 2014
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: A little update on my new book,Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. Ex-CIA case officer and columnist Philip Giraldi recently reviewed it, calling it “a book I would have liked to have written myself... Engelhardt... gets it right. He cuts to the quick and never takes his eye off the ball.” It was also chosen by Truthout's book club as its “progressive pick.” (Check out the recent interview I did with Mark Karlin of that site on the nature of the national security state.) I hope TomDispatch readers will pick up copies of the book (and consider giving it as a gift in the coming holiday season). For a donation of $100 to this website, you can still get a signed, personalized copy of Shadow Government. Just check out our donation page for details and for other books similarly on offer, including Rory Fanning’sWorth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America. Tom]
The Pressure to Escalate
The Phantasmagoric World of Washington
Sometimes it seemed that only two issues mattered in the midterm election campaigns just ended. No, I’m not talking about Obamacare, or the inequality gap, or the country’s sagging infrastructure, or education, or energy policy. I mean two issues that truly threaten the wellbeing of citizens from Kansas, Colorado, andIowa to New Hampshire and North Carolina. In those states and others, both were debated heatedly by candidates for the Senate and House, sometimes almost to the exclusion of anything else.
You know what I’m talking about -- two issues on the lips of politicians nationwide, at the top of the news 24/7, and constantly trending on social media:ISIS and Ebola. Think of them as the two horsemen of the present American apocalypse.
And think of this otherwise drab midterm campaign as the escalation election. Republican candidates will arrive in Washington having beaten the war and disease drums particularly energetically, and they’re not likely to stop.
In 2015, you’re going to hear far more about protecting Americans from everything that endangers them least, and especially about the need for a pusillanimous president (or so he was labeled by a range of Republicans this campaign season) to buckle down, up the ante, and crush the Islamic State, that extreme Islamist mini-oil regime in the middle of an increasingly fragmented, chaotic Middle East.
You already know the tune: more planes, more drones, more bombs, more special ops forces, more advisers, and more boots on the ground. After 13 years of testing, the recipe is tried and true, and its predictably disastrous results will only ensure far more hysteria in our future. And count on this: oppositional pressure to escalate, heading into the presidential campaign season, will be a significant factor in Washington “debates” in the last years of the Obama administration.