"You can learn a lot about a country in five years.
What I've learned (from 9/11, the corporate scandals, the fiasco in Iraq, Katrina, the Cheney Administration's insane economic and environmental policies and the relentless dumbing down of the corporate media -- plus the repeated electoral triumphs of the Rovian brand of "reality management") is that the United States is moving down the curve of imperial decay at a amazingly rapid clip. If anything, the speed of our descent appears to be accelerating.
The physical symptoms -- a lost war, a derelict city, a Potemkin memorial hastily erected in an vacant lot -- aren't nearly as alarming as the moral and intellectual paralysis that seems to have taken hold of the system. The old feedback mechanisms are broken or in deep disrepair, leaving America with an opposition party that doesn't know how (or what) to oppose, a military run by uniformed yes men, intelligence czars who couldn't find their way through a garden gate with a GPS locator, TV networks that don't even pretend to cover the news unless there's a missing white woman or a suspected child rapist involved, and talk radio hosts who think nuking Mecca is the solution to all our problems in the Middle East. We've got think tanks that can't think, security agencies that can't secure and accounting firms that can't count (except when their clients ask them to make 2+2=5). Our churches are either annexes to shopping malls, halfway homes for pederasts, or GOP precinct headquarters in disguise. Our economy is based on asset bubbles, defense contracts and an open-ended line of credit from the People's Bank of China, and we still can't push the poverty rate down or the median wage up.
"It's firmly etched in the bedrock of our political discourse that war in Afghanistan was necessary and desirable and that All Serious People agree with that. But, frankly, there really isn't much reason to be so sure about that anymore. The immediate post-9/11 dominant narrative was a good and proper one and the one little thing I actually give George W. Bush some credit for. Basically, the story was that Afghanistan had been taken over by bad people (it had), those bad people were harboring bad people involved with 9/11 (they were), and the country had been pretty much destroyed between the Soviet invasion and the Taliban rule (it had). So we were going to go get the bad guys (we got some), create a new democratic national government (now known as the city government of Kabul), free the people - especially women - from tyranny (not so much), and rebuild the country to such a fantastic degree that it would be an utter inspiration to the world and create democracy-and-America-loving people everywhere (not)."
it used to drive me mad that everyone would say 'i'm not anti-war - i was for the afghan war, but i'm against the iraq war.' people don't say that any more.
"But, anyway, just a big hearty fuck you to the White House and the news media who have decided this day is largely a personal narrative about George Bush, a man who was almost entirely absent on that day then had a big giggle before falling asleep early. It isn't about him, and unless you were in New York or Washington or were close to people who were directly affected, it's probably not about you either."