Theater of War

In Which the Republic Becomes an Empire

America’s mainstream dissident questions the motive and feasibility, as well as the imperial pretension, of the Bush administration’s “war on terror”

“One of our most brilliant writers and thinkers.” —Annie Dillard

Nothing will be the same after September 11th. This is the wisdom, offered and widely received since the announcement of the war on terrorism: a permanent war declared on both an unknown enemy and an abstract noun. But in Theater of War, Lewis Lapham shows with customary intelligence and wit that the recent imperial behavior of the United States government is perfectly consistent with the practice of past administrations.

Finding skeptics in the battle against evil has been a rare achievement. For example, as Lapham points out: “Ted Koppel struck the preferred note of caution on November 2 when introducing the Nightline audience to critics of the American bombing of Afghanistan: ‘Some of you, many of you, are not going to like what you hear tonight. You don’t have to listen.’” Unpopular opinions seldom make an appearance on the network news, and during the months since the destruction of the World Trade Center, the voices of dissent have been few and far between. Lewis Lapham is an exception. Almost alone among mainstream political commentators, he has had the courage to question the motive and feasibility, as well as the imperial pretension, of the Bush administration’s infinite crusade against the world’s evildoers.

Books by Lewis Lapham

Pretensions to Empire
Notes on the Criminal Folly of the Bush Administration

Lewis Lapham