Reasons of state

what is government for?

Americans are still trying to grasp what happened on September 11, and we don’t yet know how to talk about what comes next. “War” was one of the first things we called it, inspired by images of burning buildings and memories of Pearl Harbor. This would not be a metaphorical war on drugs, crime or poverty, but the real thing: a military response to aggression, pursued for an extended time, ending in victory over the aggressor. Then there was another image, invoked by President Bush, which came from another part of our past. It was the image of the frontier sheriff, imposing a rough order on an untamed territory, bringing criminals to justice with the slogan: “Wanted—Dead or Alive.”


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