counts on the war without end Even the occasional intervention of reality has no effect. In Afghanistan, the underground complexes turn out to be cramped, primitive caves rather than sumptuous subterranean cities. No matter. All it proves is that the real Al Qaeda headquarters are somewhere else — perhaps Yemen or Somalia.

In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the enemy of the state is personified in Emmanuel Goldstein. Goldstein is the Osama bin Laden figure of the novel, an elusive figure who is never seen, never captured but believed by all patriotic citizens of Oceania (Orwell’s fictitious state, an amalgamation of North America and Europe) to be an evil genius bent on their destruction.

Since Goldstein is never captured, Oceania’s battle against him must never cease. Sometime it wages war on one country said to be aiding the nefarious Goldstein, sometimes on another. The battleground may change but the war never ends. It cannot. The government’s very existence depends upon it.

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