There’s always a Looming Danger, an Ominous Threat lurking somewhere – that’s the War Party’s bread-and-butter. Back in the day, it was the Germans, who were going to cross the Atlantic and meet their Japanese allies somewhere near the Mississippi. Then it was the Commies, who were not only in the process of swallowing Asia but supposedly had their Fifth Column right here in the US, ready willing and able to take the Capitol at a signal from the Kremlin. After that there was some hesitation in deciding just who or what would take the place of the Red Threat, but that was decided on September 11, 2001, when Osama bin Laden’s Global Caliphate emerged as the Bogeyman of the moment. It turned into quite a long moment, as we have seen, one that still lingers to this day, even after bin Laden’s death and the crushing of al-Qaeda: Americans, being sentimentalists, hang on to their villains long after their shelf life has expired.
That’s because these dark eminences are alluring, in their way: the narratives we construct tell us a story we can be proud of, a tale of derring-do in which the American people are made of Heroic Stuff, holding aloft the Torch of Freedom lest it be extinguished by rampaging hordes of Orcs, sacrificing their pelf, their liberty – and, often, their lives – in the name of Saving the World.
The Threat has great value to our rulers: they cling to this narrative because it justifies their power, and their insatiable desire for more. President Barack Obama started out his recent state of the union address by invoking the Threat and holding up the military’s response to it as a shining example:
“These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s armed forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.”
Yes, just imagine if civil society was organized along military lines, with all of us taking orders from our commander-in-chief – what a glorious time it would be!
Our rulers invoke these militaristic metaphors as exhortations to get us in line: we hear much about “unity,” “unselfishness,” glorification of “the mission” (whose mission?). These are the bromides uttered by tyrants and would-be tyrants, who would love to turn society into a civilian army. Their vision of the future is of a collective marching in lockstep down the road to whatever hellish fate they have in store for us.
These days, however, they are having a harder time convincing us of the reality of the Threat. This is true for a number of reasons, but the main source of our skepticism is the overwhelming certainty that the Threat is coming not from without but from within. No, not in the presence of those Mooslims, in spite of the Israel Lobby‘s best efforts: no, not from the long-gone Commie Conspiracy or the “militias” that were the favored bogeyman of the Clinton era. Instead, the Threat springs from something deeper, a force connected to the way our society works and has been working since the inauguration of the modern era: it is the looming threat of national bankruptcy.
“’At times like these, survival is the most important thing,’ he says, peering through his owlish glasses and brushing wisps of gray hair off his forehead. He doesn’t just mean it’s time to protect your assets. He means it’s time to stave off disaster. As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of ‘evil.’ Europe is confronting a descent into chaos and conflict. In America he predicts riots on the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties. The global economic system could even collapse altogether.”
“A period of ‘evil’” – that’s what’s in store for us, says the man who broke the Bank of England and is one of the richest men on earth, an apocalyptic vision that will sweep away all we have known, and loved:
“As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. ‘It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.’”
On the other side of the political spectrum, we hear similar prophecies of doom, although there is nothing gleeful about Rep. Ron Paul’s reaction to his own dark vision of the future:
“There’s going to be anger, and there’s going to be riots in the streets as well. But this is all a consequence of the fact that — why and how do governments spend like this? It’s because they don’t have sound money. When we run up deficits, we tax, but never enough. We can’t tax, it would ruin the economy. Then we borrow, and we get away with that for a long time. But we rely on the printing presses from the Federal Reserve to create the money, and that’s where the problem is.“
The Pentagon agrees with the Soros-Paul scenario: the threat of an economic collapse has been in their sights since the crash of ’08. The most recent threat assessment points to “economic instability” as our rulers’ chief worry. The Army recently conducted a year-long war game dubbed “Unified Quest 2011,” centered around how to deal with a “large scale economic breakdown” in this country.
The “threats” of the past sixty years have receded: America’s military might is unchallenged. Yet a new Threat is rising, not from without but from within – an economic cancer eating away at the very heart of our society. We had a taste of it in ’08, and in spite of the Obama-bots’ Pollyannaish predictions of “recovery,” ordinary people see nothing but trouble on the horizon. This is a real threat, unlike the others, one that cannot be fought by our matchless military, or even negotiated with – and it is coming.
American’s national security is in danger, but to listen to our politicians (Paul excepted), you’d think we had nothing to worry about: it’s business as usual. Yet as dark clouds gather on the horizon, and lightning splits the sky, we shiver in our homes and wonder when and how the storm will break.