Robert Fisk argues, elequently as ever, and better than I could, that it is fear of an imagined enemy that is consuming America. The seminar to which he refers is at Valdosta, Georgia:
Dr Michael Noll's students at Valdosta are as smart and bright-eyed as Dr El-Baradei's in Cairo. They packed into the same lecture I had given in Egypt and seemed to share a lot of the same fears about Iraq. But a sullen seminar that same morning was a miserable affair in which a young woman seemed to break down in anger. If "we" left Iraq, she said in a quavering voice, the jihadists, the "terrorists", could come here to America. They would attack us right here.
I sighed with frustration. I was listening to her voice but it was also the voice of the woman on Fox TV, the repeated, hopeless fantasy of Bush and Blair: that if we fail in Iraq, "they", the monstrous enemy, will arrive on our shores. Every day in the American papers now, I read the same "fear" transformed into irrationality. Luke Boggs - God, how I'd love that byline - announces in his local paper: "I say let the terrorists rot in Guantanamo. And let the Europeans ... howl. We are a serious nation, engaged in the serious business of trying to kill or capture the bad guys before they can do us more harm." He calls Guantanamo's inmates "hardcore jihadists".
And I realise that the girl in Dr Noll's seminar isn't spouting this stuff about "jihadists" travelling from Iraq to America because she supports Bush. She is just frightened. She is genuinely afraid of all the "terror" warnings, the supposed "jihadists" threats, the red "terror" alerts and the purple alerts and all the other colour-coded instruments of fear. She believes her president, and her president has done Osama bin Laden's job for him: he has crushed this young woman's spirit and courage.
But America is not at war. There are no electricity cuts on Valdosta's warm green campus, with its Spanish style department blocks and its narrow, beautiful church. There is no food rationing. There are no air-raid shelters or bombs or "jihadists" stalking these God-fearing folk. It is the US military that is at war, engaged in an Iraqi conflict that is doing damage of a far more subtle kind to America's social fabric.
Read the enire article.