Peter Morgan's article 'Tales From The Tabloids' (January SR) illustrates how during war the government, the military and the media collude in a reconstruction of truth.
There is a further dimension to all this, however. As some commentators have noted, the US's military 'successes' in Afghanistan are encouraging the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Bank to push through similarly robust and abrasive measures in the economic sphere. These measures drive down living standards for the poorest and most vulnerable, directly creating the desperate conditions out of which so called 'terrorism' grows.
In the activities of the WTO and the International Monetary Fund we also see the other reason why states are using the 'war against terror' to extend and strengthen their own domestic repressive apparatus. They know that sooner or later they are going to have to face internal resistance to their economic policies. The military aspect of 'full spectrum dominance', with its panoply of advanced military technology, its B-52s and its 'daisy-cutters', is meant to intimidate and terrify, to persuade all of us that resistance is futile. On the non-military level, however, things are different. The US is in an economic downturn, and in Latin American it can see revolt and revolution unfolding. The massive uprising in Argentina is directed against the very neoliberal IMF policies which the US pushed through.
Ruling classes the world over depend upon the illusion of their own invulnerability, their own military might and power, to silence dissent and paralyse resistance. Bush's assault upon Afghanistan is part of this illusion. By carrying out slaughter and destruction on a mass scale he is sending out a message to all of us--'Don't mess with US capitalism or we'll destroy you.'
Despite the gung-ho triumphalism in the US, what is clear is that, while it is one thing for Bush to bomb Afghanistan, it is quite another for him to deal with the social and political chaos which his economic policies are creating worldwide. He may be able to bomb the caves of Tora Bora, but he cannot bomb the population of Buenos Aires. As IMF austerity measures, coupled with recession, destroy economies across the globe, revolutionary uprisings in Argentina, Zimbabwe, South Africa or eastern Europe can bring into play powerful social forces which can deny Bush the global 'full spectrum dominance' which he craves. Whatever the rhetoric since 11 September, it is not the spectre of terrorism that haunts the White House, but the spectre of revolution.