It is interesting how yesterday’s major threat to civilization as we know it (al Qaeda) has suddenly become relegated to being an insignificant factor as soon as a new actor (ISIS/ISIL) came along. This is the usual pattern of the US always needing to have some boogeyman to scare the hell out of people so that wars can be promoted and executed.
During the Cold War the Soviet Union and China and the general commie menace played that role, however absurd the manifestations of that threat. Remember when Nicaragua was just a day’s drive away from Texas and was thus an existential threat? Or when the island of Grenada had to be invaded because Cuba was going to use it as a staging ground for the invasion of the US? When the Cold War ended, we had the drug cartels that became the major threat to the US. When al Qaeda came along, the drug cartels and the drug war got sidelined. And now ISIS has similarly eclipsed al Qaeda as the major existential threat to the US.
I don’t know what the next major ‘oh-my-god-they’re-going-to-kill-all-of-us’ threat will be once ISIS/ISIL is long gone, but I am sure there will be one. The US national security state needs to have a major existential threat at all times to justify its vast expenditure on the military and its efforts to control the population.
On the eve of president Obama’s speech, The Daily Show commented on the eclipsing of al Qaeda by its upstart rival.
(This clip aired on September 9, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)