We’ve finally got a plan. We need plans and everyone like them, they put as at ease and it feels good to be at ease. Now let’s get on with the bombing and war.
On September 11th Eve, or—excuse me—Patriot Day’s Eve, the President announced a new plan, a campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy the ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorist strategy.” To me it sounds much like the last plan to degrade and destroy the terrorists and the plan before that, but, then again, I’m not a plan maker. I do like plans though. I like them very much. Conservatives like them. Liberals like them. Jihadists like them. Buddhists like them. Most everybody does. No one wants to go through life in a state of moral and existential ambiguity. We vote a man (or woman) into office to make plans for us to follow. For all the faults of the last President, he at least had the intelligence enough to know Americans like plans and to give them to us at regular intervals.
Orwell’s Big Brother had a plan too. The plan—which everyone who has been to high school in the United States understands and everyone who writes takes much pleasure in referencing—required perpetual war to be effective. Oceania had to be at war with someone otherwise they would begin to see what the world around them lacked. But what people who claim to be experts on 1984 don’t understand is that O’Brien only gives the people of Oceania what they want. O’Brien is the victim here, one of circumstance and fear. The people need war as much as war needs people. O’Brien tries to explain to Winston that this was what the people wanted, not him, and he simply provides them happiness, which is really just another word for fear. Does this make him a criminal? Giving people exactly what they most desire? He offers his people peace with his plan of war. He makes them fall in love with Big Brother, and in the end they do. The people cheer the bombs. And why wouldn’t they? The bombs hurt no one but those they don’t know. They lead to nothing but the elimination of their unease. They are imminently necessary given geo-political conditions. They do not use them; they simply stand back as the bombs do what they need to do.