“With Furrowed Brow and Humble Mien”

I’m still making my way through this excellent anthology but this chapter concluding passage by T. J. Jackson Lears sums up well the Obama approach to Afghanistan:

The president’s inflation of banality into “hard truth,” his invocation of a pacifist straw man as the only alternative to violence, and his bogus historical analogy (Hitler’s armies and al Qaeda’s leaders) all bent toward the perpetuation of that durable fantasy, the reluctant superpower, deploying its military force more in sorrow than in anger. In Afghanistan, as in the Cold War, the rhetoric of tragedy has yet again ennobled military interventionism, allowing imperial elites to do pretty much what they planned to do anyway, but with furrowed brow and humble mien. Another misbegotten crusade is now well advanced, its final act still to be written.

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