Requiem for a narrative: Eight years of fake news

We were also told, again and again, that things were going well abroad. The tide of war was receding. Afghans and Iraqis were taking the lead. Osama bin Laden was dead, and al Qaeda was on the run. And people again thought, That just doesn’t seem right. As recently as this Tuesday, President Obama was still at it, telling troops assembled at MacDill Air Force Base (side note: polls suggest that a plurality in that room must have voted for Donald Trump) that, a few bumps in the road notwithstanding, things were going pretty well out there.

Characteristic of the head scratchers in Obama’s speech was this howler: “No foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland.” Elsewhere in the speech the president cited the “homegrown and largely isolated individuals” who killed Americans in Orlando, San Bernardino, Boston, and Fort Hood, and who were “radicalized online.” Never mind the fact that the Fort Hood terrorist exchanged a dozen or so emails with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American cleric who worked so hard to encourage American Muslims to murder their fellow citizens, or that al Qaeda and ISIS were actively calling for such attacks, and providing instructions for how to carry them out in their online magazines.

People listen to this sort of hairsplitting, and they think, that just doesn’t seem right. One hears the president, during the same speech, praise the campaign against the Islamic State as “sustainable,” and one can’t help but wonder, since when did we want a military effort against a trumped up gang of women-beating thugs like this to be “sustainable”? Swift, yes; crushing, sure; but “sustainable?” How about “victorious”? How about “over”?