In a review of Mark Danner’s latest book, Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War, Samuel Moyn questions the focus of Danner’s polemic: where Danner sees American war efforts around the world as a result of a “state of exception” generated in the early part of the War on Terror, Moyn contends instead that US military action is anything but exceptional—it is regulated, legalized, and controlled and therein lies the problem. “What if,” Moyn argues, “stigmatizing atrocity, making military sprawl less offensive to many even as it transcends all known chronological and territorial limits left the conflict harder to rein in? Indicting dirty war by itself [as Danner does in his book] does not reach the core of our spiral—indeed, doing so may help it continue to spin.” Continue reading
I am at work on a chapter that looks at war and civil religion in the 1990s. In the process of wading through literature related to this admittedly ambiguous subject, I read Mark Danner’s essay from the Fall 1997 issue of World Policy Journal, entitled “Marooned in the Cold War.” It is a powerful essay on the congruence of the war in Bosnia and the proposed expansion of NATO–a moment Danner observed acidly that arrived in full irony when he looked skyward and saw America F-16s “tracing their way elegantly through the bright blue sky” over a scene of carnage in a Sarajevo market.