"A neoconservative is a liberal who's been mugged by reality."
--Irving Kristrol, a "founding father" of neoconservatism.
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."
--unnamed "senior Bush advisor" to journalist Ron Suskind in 2004.
In her Los Angeles Times column for July 20 entitled "A really bad case of 'reality'", Rosa Brooks juxtaposes these two quotations, and comments:
In a very real sense, Suskind's "senior Bush advisor" has been proved more right than wrong. The administration did create realities to match its darkest visions, reshaping the world with remarkable speed and thoroughness.
In 2001, administration stalwarts suggested that Osama bin Laden rivaled Hitler in the danger he posed to U.S. security and insisted that Al Qaeda's power was so great that nothing short of a "global war on terror" was required.
At that time, most experts say, this description of Al Qaeda simply wasn't true. It was little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull. On 9/11, they got lucky - but despite the unexpected success of their attack on the U.S., they did not pose an imminent mortal threat to the nation.
Today, things are different. Thanks to U.S. policies, Al Qaeda has become the vast global threat the administration imagined it to be in 2001. Our ham-handed detention and interrogation tactics and our ill-advised invasion of Iraq have alienated vast swathes of the Islamic world, fueling extremism and anti-Americanism. Today, Al Qaeda is no longer a single organization. Now it's a franchise, with new gangs of terrorists around the world proudly seizing the "Al Qaeda" affiliation.
The full-text of the column (highly recommended) is posted at truthout.org.