Does anyone else feel that cold wind? Anyone else notice that shadow that's slipped over everything?
It's a post-9/11 Cold War analogue. A feeling that, at any moment, the rug of reality could be pulled and down we'd all go. We're all dancing on the head of a pin, but angels we ain't.
Mr. Gobley is not big on political rants, but he must say this: someday, historians may trace the line of our decline from Viet Nam, through Watergate, the Clinton excesses, and then through this failed experiment in nation-building which we prosaically call the Iraq War. It's just starting to feel as though we applied old ideas and methods, and a few fantasies, to a radically new and unstable situation beyond our myopic view and limited understanding.
Unequivocal exit is not an option. Slow extrication is the order of the day. And, ironically, if beating a retreat is our only, or even our primary, objective, we will fail. Now that we're in, we're forced, by events, circumstances, and sheer momentum, to try to force the change we have no ability or experience to force: making democracy in one of the great anti-democratic bastions of the world, the Middle East.
We're minting terrorists over there. We are fulfilling their version of doomsday prophecies. We've created their Rapture. Our Shock and Awe has gashed a hole into their heaven, and in they're gonna pour like water over Niagara.
Maybe it's worked out well, in a perverse way: syphon terrorists away from our shores and into a smaller, denser, far-away country where we can find and confront them. Spotlight Guantanamo and get away with all kinds of murder elsewhere.
But from here it looks like we've taken 9/11 -- an ominous but still focused and now a comparatively primitive attack -- and we've helped it mutate into something larger and, Mr. Gobley fears we'll soon find, more deadly. Rather than focusing on Afghanistan, then getting ready to focus on Iran, we've drained a swamp in Iraq and been punished by the monster at the bottom.
Oops: this wasn't going to be political.
Well, ok, it's not, it's karmic. If, in some fashion, we helped create 9/11, either by missing signs, making enemies, bungling attacks, all of the above; then God only knows what we've unleashed in Iraq. But it's casting a long, cold shadow.