Those who have read Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 will be familiar with the following scene in it.
“Who's they?" He wanted to know. "Who, specifically, do you think is trying to murder you?"
"Every one of them," Yossarian told him.
"Every one of whom?"
"Every one of whom do you think?"
"I haven't any idea."
"Then how do you know they aren't?"
"Because..." Clevinger sputtered, and turned speechless with frustration.
Clevinger really thought he was right, but Yossarian had proof, because strangers he didn't know shot at him with cannons every time he flew up into the air to drop bombs on them, and it wasn't funny at all.”
The above lines make you feel that the situation described is sitting rather too well with modern day USA. Paranoia reigns free there, Too much so.
The latest attack or almost attack on unsuspecting Americans- An Underpants Bomb. Yes, underwear that can be blown up, taking no doubt the wearer as well as several around him to kingdom come. No doubt the underwear’ed guy’s kingdom come is called Jannah or Heaven.
As much as it may sound like a joke, it is not. The papers are full of CIA’s coup in getting its hands on a sophisticated underwear bomb that was intended to blow up several innocent people. The next part of the news is even more interesting. Officials say the informant was working for the CIA and Saudi Arabian intelligence when he was given the bomb. He turned the device over to authorities. The FBI is examining it to see if it could have ‘passed through airport security and brought down an aero plane.’ The device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector.
This is not the first instance of a strange bomb. In December 2001, a man was caught with explosives in his shoes on a Paris-to-Miami flight. As a result, travelers were required to remove their shoes during screening checkpoints. Passing through airports have since become a nightmare. No one is spared least of all a bearded man. The fact that he may be a Jew or a Sikh makes no difference.
A few days before Bin Laden’s death anniversary, the U.S. stepped up security at airports fearing commemorative attacks by terrorists including bombs surgically implanted under inside their bodies.
American governments have always been under fear of one form or another of threat, to its people and sovereignty. Over centuries, Free Masons, various immigrant groups: Chinese, Irish, German, Italian, etc have posed threat. They were followed by an entire era of Communists bent upon creating havoc in American lives. Islamic extremists and Jihadist readily and seemingly gladly took over as number one threat factor.
It almost seems that America needs a threat factor hanging over their head to function. An enemy all need to unite against.
There is something psychologically unhealthy about this tendency to fear outsiders, and to suspect that in the unknown lurk sinister dangers aimed at the Americans, just because of who they are and what their enemies are not.
9/11 was a nightmare for America and rightly so. Deaths of thousands of people in a series of coordinated hijack-suicide bombings was enough to leave any nation staggering, at least for a while. The Americans refused to sit back and take it from their enemy, promised action and justice. Rightly so. But what ensued was marginalizing of millions for the action of a demented few.
As David Rothkopf, a Clinton administration official rightly puts it, "We spoke of 9/11 as though it were somehow equivalent to Pearl Harbor ... We reorganized our entire security establishment to go after a few thousand bad guys. We went mad."
American governments seem to have a way of blowing every threat out of proportion. There are threats. There always have been, and always will be threats. But what is more damaging is the paranoia that America seems to cultivate and revels in!