February 24, 2004

Superpower Syndrome

"Superpower Syndrome" is a new book by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a psychologist who specialises in analyzing group dynamics, often on a global scale.

"During the following months, the administration formed reactionary, poorly designed responses that would paradoxically make the world more unsafe and the danger of terrorism even greater...

Instead of planning a unified battle against a world problem, the Bush government ignored the concerns of other countries and the United Nations and squandered the goodwill that the United States had acquired after the attacks, polarizing the issue with its unyielding sense of mission.

'There had to be some response, but a restrained and international response,' says Dr. Lifton. 'Instead, the administration immediately polarized the work with our own apocalyptic orientation. They created an 'Us versus Them' dynamic, instead of identifying 9/11 as terrorism by a small group of determined zealots.'

And by defining their campaign as a 'War on Terrorism,' the administration added it to a list of past 'wars' (on poverty or drugs) that were categorically unable to be won.

The attack was also a catalyst that gave the administration the courage -- what it might consider a mandate -- to attempt to reshape the Middle East to its own political and economic ideals, the most obvious example being the invasion of Iraq. This cosmic sense of entitlement, according to Dr. Lifton, could hem the United States into an endless cycle of military intervention and violence."


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