Reasons Not To Kill Yourself Today, No. 8: War On Terror is Over?

The big news broke on Twitter. Of course it did. Soon someone by the name of Oprah said, “Does this mean the war is over?” and then someone retweeted her, which is how I know. Don’t go thinking I follow people named Oprah! Now, either this woman is incredibly naive, or she’s developed a dangerously arid sense of humour, or she’s mildly retarded. Or, as is the way of Twitter, she just wanted to say something before everyone else did, even if that meant forgoing all kinds of “thinking” about it.

“…al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden…” – Hillary Clinton

Even if Sen. Hillary Clinton hadn’t said so, we would know that the “war on terror” would continue with or without Osama bin Laden. We’d consider how crazy-unlikely it is that al-Qaeda, with all of its decentralized power, was operating only at the command of a shadow figure, without which it would fall apart faster than Two and a Half Men without Charlie Sheen (fingers crossed). We might also feel like the war wasn’t so much about bin Laden, and we wouldn’t be feeling wrong.

It was the seeming impossibility of finding OBL that made the prolonged fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the perpetuating of fear and irrational patriotism and hatred toward the “other,” all so possible. Maybe they couldn’t find bin Laden because they didn’t want to, deep down, where terror resides. I don’t mean I know anything. Neither do you. I just mean “maybe.” Wasn’t it more effective, for the purposes of war, to dangle the “face of evil” like a carrot, always a few feet ahead of the horse? I mean, predator drone?

Being Canadian, I’m not so much “allowed” to have ideas about this (but if you made it this far, you might as well struggle on). When at the end of a long night I tweeted a David Letterman joke—Oprah? Uma? Osama? Obama?—one of my New York acquaintances replied, “get your own tragedy.” Sure. And yet. The event of 9/11 belongs in part to everyone who had been affected by the superpower of the United States before then, which is to say everyone, basically, plus anyone who had to go through airport security (body scanners!) afterward. This terrorist imagination inhabits us all. I didn’t say that; Baudrillard did. Go knock on his grave.

What made terrorists scary is that they challenged humanity’s most basic assumption: that, above all, we want to live. Don’t we? And yet “they,” the al-Qaeda bombers, the suicide missionaries, don’t. How can we understand that? If we don’t understand it, how can we not be terrified? In the simplest way, that’s how terrorism works.

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Dennis Rodman and Donald Trump, chilling

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You fight death with death, suicide with suicide. The images of people jumping from burning towers were horrific, and they were prophetic. The American empire is widely felt to be collapsing. The war in Iraq was, too, a suicide mission. It can’t succeed; it also won’t stop now. But inasmuch as it was and is a war on terror, there’s now a break in the fighting. Pay attention: I didn’t say, and no one really says, the war on terrorism. It isn’t that. It’s the war on America’s own terror, all of our own terror, the terror of the unknowable and the unthinkable: that we might not be right.

The revenge-killing of Osama bin Laden is hugely symbolic. It’s only symbolic. But then, symbols are all we have to believe in. Soon we, the West, will find a new face of evil. Maybe Gaddafi. Maybe, although it’s too easy, Trump. TC mark

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  • Fsdghoh

    this site is great and everything but TC trying to write political shit is like a Mother Jones article about the time they had a panic attack at a dirty projectors show

    • Suzanne Lindgren

      I like it. Pop culture can't be separated from politics.

  • dip

    The war isn't over. No one with any sense thought that it was.

  • dip

    The war isn't over. No one with any sense thought that it was.

  • fl

    +1

  • dubstepkelly

    FSDGHOH is spot on; plus, this article is plain retarded.

  • Longman

    You clearly have no idea why Osama, in the first place, chose to attack the United States. For hundreds of years the American government has been sparking, yes starting, wars in the Middle East for their own self interests (read: oil).
    Listen, not that I know very much– so please don't go tweeting about how much you hate anonymous comments just yet – but I haven't chosen to write about it either. Do you get this? Just because you write and are published doesn't mean you should be approaching matters with such complex historical motivations, that you know nothing about.
    You have remarked on several occasions about your IQ and how well your small town, home schooled Christian education has served you. Those who are decidedly smart don't keep telling people they are, they exhibit their intelligence through their craft and in their interactions with others. In both of these arena's you have the brains of a … no wait, I'll stop.
    Don't write fluff pieces about politics, that's all. I was going to end with 'Stick with what you know' but I'm just not sure what that is yet.

  • Longman

    You clearly have no idea why Osama, in the first place, chose to attack the United States. For hundreds of years the American government has been sparking, yes starting, wars in the Middle East for their own self interests (read: oil).
    Listen, not that I know very much– so please don't go tweeting about how much you hate anonymous comments just yet – but I haven't chosen to write about it either. Do you get this? Just because you write and are published doesn't mean you should be approaching matters with such complex historical motivations, that you know nothing about.
    You have remarked on several occasions about your IQ and how well your small town, home schooled Christian education has served you. Those who are decidedly smart don't keep telling people they are, they exhibit their intelligence through their craft and in their interactions with others. In both of these arenas you have the brains of a … no wait, I'll stop.
    Don't write fluff pieces about politics, that's all. I was going to end with 'Stick with what you know' but I'm just not sure what that is yet.

  • http://twitter.com/JosephErnest Joseph Ernest Harper

    Fuck you for bringing Dennis Rodman into this. The 'Rebound Hound' is a saint.

  • Clupbert

    There were some good and not-so-good thoughts in this essay but the conclusion is a joke. America is “widely felt” to be collapsing and our carrot to an imaginary war is gone? What would we collapse in to?
    In the end, it's a lot of just cynical and factless garbage. Very chic though, very chic.

  • Missa

    What a crock of doggy doo-doo. Are you being paid by TC to annoy the snot out of readers? Name dropping Baudrillard does not convince me that you fully comprehend his ideas. Your title, “Reasons Not to Kill Yourself Today” conveys an attempt to be witty. Ha. Ha. Clever. And yet. You're just not. I get that you're really cutting edge and post-millennial and while you often write as though you're, um, vacuous, you're actually, like, deep. Right? I'm not convinced. Now, please go away.

  • idon'tgetit

    Why did a Canadian write this article?

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