Friday, September 9, 2011

With enemies like these...

The construction "[noun] gap", in American political discourse, has a specific implication, based on historical Cold War rhetoric:

The "bomber gap" was the unfounded belief in the Cold War-era United States that the Soviet Union had gained an advantage in deploying jet-powered strategic bombers. Widely accepted for several years, the gap was used as a political talking point in order to justify greatly increased defense spending. One result was a massive buildup of the United States Air Force bomber fleet, which peaked at over 2,500 bombers, in order to counter the perceived Soviet threat. Surveillance flights utilizing the Lockheed U-2 aircraft indicated that the bomber gap did not exist. Realizing that mere belief in the gap was an extremely effective funding source, a series of similarly nonexistent Soviet military advances were constructed in a tactic now known as "policy by press release." These included claims of a nuclear-powered bomber, supersonic VTOL flying saucers, and only a few years later, the "missile gap."

As early as the sixties, it was widely understood that talking about a [noun] gap means you're trying to stir up hysteria over a non-issue to justify calculated political maneuvering; Dr. Strangelove plays it for laughs with its "doomsday gap" and "mine shaft gap".

So. In 2011, we have a political advocacy group trying to tie its agenda into the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks by editorializing that we must deny Americans a fundamental Constitutional right without due process, because we must "close the terror gap".

Does that mean they're childishly ignorant of the history of that scaremongering term, or that they assume you are?

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