The successful execution of your Global War on Terror (affectionately referred to by your defense contractors as The Eternal War of the Empty Policy) does not require toughness or resolve. All that is needed is for those in charge to achieve a sublime state of moral nihilism that transcends the archaic division between good and evil.
In this elevated state, consequences no longer exist. The dead are not dead; the maimed are not maimed. It is an ethical no-man’s-land scrubbed clean of the gore that is war’s traditional aftermath. Even after the most brutal bombing, children continue to play in the streets under the loving gaze of their mothers; husbands return home from their intact factories or offices; and the family sits down to its evening meal even thought their home has been reduced to rubble. For the morally atrophied, life in a bomb crater continues as before.
In a state of moral nihilism, slaughter is sanitized. A clean-cut young man sits at his laptop somewhere in Nevada and with his mouse directs the course of an unmanned drone until a collection of hovels is in his sights. He clicks the mouse and in a flash, the hovels are no more and their families that lived in them are no more. He closes his laptop, goes home to his family and gets a good night sleep, and as he sleeps he is blissfully unaware of the death and destruction he has wrought.
Moral nihilism works best in individuals devoid of a foundational core of values. This emptiness is achieved when the ties that bind an individual to a community and an extended family are severed. Into this void pour the facile symbols of the State, symbols that are effective because they have been stripped of their original meaning until only logos remains. The best example of this is the flag pin you wear in your lapel. This once proud symbol of freedom and democracy now signifies the moral void that has made us a hegemonic wonder to behold.
To reach its peak efficiency, moral nihilism requires an environment in which nobody is in charge. Instead of a single evil mastermind there is a collective mass of consensus that is more reminiscent of a pool of toxic sludge than a grand conspiracy. Its driving force is a blind momentum that drifts more from habit than from resolve. Any attempt to think outside the box is thwarted because the box is constantly growing and expanding so the mind is never able to step outside of its confines.
Language, stripped of passion, is the medium of this moral nihilism. The language of the nihilist doesn’t sing, it drones. Here is an example of its poetry:
A cluster bomb delivery will be examined to determine the optimum configuration of bomblets from a maximum probability of destroying the target.
The power of this passage rests in the absence of a child attracted to an unexploded bomblet. Nowhere in this tract is there a photograph of the child after the bomblet has exploded. The prose sits in a state of pure innocence without which war would be nothing more than a pushing and shoving match.
But, do not think for a minute that our moral nihilists are totally lacking in compassion. Leo Tolstoy had them in mind when he wrote, “I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means, except by getting off his back.” Of course, if the man throws me off his back, I have no choice but to kill him so the contagion of his freedom doesn’t spread to other carriers.
Life is good, George. Especially for those who don’t give a shit.