Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Purple State of John
Thoughts of a wordslinger…
One of the greatest cities in the world is burning this morning, and the smoke and flames should be seen by Americans as the beginning of the Obama era in foreign policy. At least eighty people are dead, and dozens more are missing. The Indian government remains this American Thanksgiving day in a stand-off with the militants. The Bush administration will deplore the attacks, but it will no longer dictate the response.
Two basic realities have already asserted themselves in the last twenty four hours. One, as scholars and other experts have been telling us for a decade, we no longer live in a world of state-sponsored terror. That’s why the Iraq invasion was misconceived at its foundation. States no longer tend to use terrorists as vehicles of political aspiration, and terrorists no longer need states to back their schemes. Though elements in the Pakistan or Iranian governments may give money to this or that terrorist group, those exchanges no longer drive the logistics or ambitions of violent factions.
The second reality is even more obvious. We no longer live in a world dominated by televised news.
The terrorists seem to come from some shadowy, post-Al-Qaeda realm of violence, transnational zealots with a familiar agenda, and our information about their action appears to flow from a similarly diffuse source, or rather from a thousand sources, via Twitter and Spy. The reporting by civilians with cellphones and Internet connections is fast outpacing that by reporters, at least the most immediate kind of reporting, the on-scene, blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute stuff. I can’t think of another story where the news had come from so many different sources at once.
Finally, this attack comes at roughly the same moment that we hear about planned terrorist attacks in New York City. Just in time for the holidays, blood and fear and horror are back on the radar. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. At the Obama White-House-in-waiting, I imagine they are beginning to brace for much, much worse.
On this Thanksgiving morning, I’m grateful for the fact that, in the midst of an economic implosions, bombs haven’t also started to go off in our cities.
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