War is probably one of the last things one wants to think about as a new year begins.
As 2023 marks the 20th year of the second invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 and the 22nd year of the so-called War on Terror, revisiting the origins and origin stories of this ongoing, seemingly never-ending war is vitally appropriate.
For a generation born after the turn of the 21st Century, and perhaps for many who were born before Y2K, the War on Terror, the ubiquitous security apparatuses and police forces, the transformation of private and public life, anti-Arab feelings and actions combined with an avid rise in White Christian Nationalism, and the shifting economies of security capitalism, seem normal, unavoidable, timeless. Such is the consequence of silence, disavowed, distorted, and ignored historical narratives that present the United States as a victim, that the events of 9-11 have no history, and the total global war on anything anti-American as an exceptional moment.
"An entire generation of young adults has never known an America without the War on Terror. This book contends with the pervasive effects of post-9/11 policy and myth-making in every corner of American life. Never-Ending War on Terror is organized around five keywords that have come to define the cultural and political moment: homeland, security, privacy, torture, and drone. Alex Lubin synthesizes nearly two decades of United States war-making against terrorism by asking how the War on Terror has changed American politics and society, and how the War on Terror draws on historical myths about American national and imperial identity. From the PATRIOT Act to the hit show Homeland, from Edward Snowden to Guantanamo Bay, and from 9/11 memorials to Trumpism, this succinct book connects America's political economy and international relations to our contemporary culture at every turn."
Each chapter engages one of the keywords highlighted above, and according to Lubin, "Taken together, the keywords are intended to serve as something like a DNA strand, through which to understand the basic building blocks of the War on Terror."
An explanation of "why we fight," as well as an unpacking of how a "we" in society comes to accept, celebrate, and then ignore the history and consequences of war, is one of Lubin's significant accomplishments in this short, accessible, and revealing book.
Here is a link to a book discussion with the author from the Indian-based Observer Research Foundation.