Chapter 3

9/11 and the Alien Within

Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, we’ve all been there.

—Michael Herr1

Real Life

By 2014, of course, events on the world stage looked very different from the relative peace of 1985 or 1992 or 1998. A short list of American war stories since my conversation with Mulisch includes:

  • 1990–1991: The First Gulf War, waged by a U.S.-led coalition of 34 countries to defend Saudi Arabia and free Kuwait of Iraqi occupation.
  • 1991 onward: The dissolution of the former Yugoslavia turns violent. Under NATO auspices, U.S. air and ground forces are involved at various times to the end of the century, with the United States taking a lead role beginning in 1995.
  • 1993: Battle of Mogadishu (“Blackhawk Down”), Somali civil war—U.S. ...

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