Who is going to be the next big villain?

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.)


  1. says

    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.

    Except that the white house is bending over backwards to claim that ISIS/ISIL is al-quaeda so that the AUMF from 9/11 still applies and the War Powers Act doesn’t. See how that works? Never mind that they specifically separated from al-quaeda … If that ain’t “orwellian” nothing is.

  2. Lady Scientist says

    As a woman whose heritage is half Iraqi (from a non-Muslim religious minority, too), I have to say that I totally agree with you.

    In case you haven’t seen this interview, this man is absolutely correct about the situation and how it started. And, you know what? NO one in the U.S. military or government seems to give a damn about his informed advice.

    I can not even begin to tell you the grief that Iraqis have experienced due to U.S. (and British) meddling, especially since 2003. Iraq -- which is actually a very wealthy state and had so much potential, is now totally destroyed. ISIS is one more group we can thank the U.S. military for, as well. Where are their weapons coming from?

    Throwing more weapons and bombing campaigns into the mix is NOT going to help anyone except the weapons manufacturers.

  3. kraut says

    ” At the end of the day, the impression becomes unavoidable that the US continues to arrogate to itself the prerogative to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nation states on the basis of its self-interests. Indeed, that this hydra-headed war is going to assume many varied shapes as times passes and long after Obama disappears into history books is virtually guaranteed.

    Obama’s presidency has come full circle by reinventing the neocon dogmas it once professed to reject. On the pretext of fighting the IS, which the US and its allies created in the first instance, what is unfolding is a massive neocon project to remold the Muslim Middle East to suit the US’ geopolitical objectives. Call it by whatever name, it is an imperial war – albeit with a Nobel as commander-in-chief. ”
    same old, same old. The war continues unabatedly. If IS was not around -- someone would have to invent it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *