Tragedy as Political Opportunity

Jon SchwarzFor normal people, terrorism and wars are purely and only tragedies.

For our would-be “leaders,” however — in every country — the situation is different. Of course, they pretend to feel the same as normal people. They give teary-eyed speeches about sorrow and suffering.

And yet, behind their tears, there seems to be something else. When they think no one is looking, you glimpse another expression flitting across their face. You think it couldn’t be. But — yes, incredibly enough, they’re smiling. Because before the bodies are cold, before the mothers and fathers have stopped shrieking, our leaders are thinking:

This is really a fantastic opportunity.

And for them, it is. It’s an opportunity for them to do whatever they wanted to do before, but couldn’t get away with. It’s an opportunity for them to smear anyone who criticizes them as disloyal. It’s an opportunity for them to become much more powerful than they ever could be in peacetime, to implement whatever their favorite shock doctrine is. Leaders love war. That’s why there’s so much of it.

—Jon Schwarz
An “Enormous Opportunity”: A Short, Awful 9/11 Quiz

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