Hodder released The Strange Files today, an omnibus edition of the Strange Trilogy with the Fall and a brand new story, The Promised Land.
As part of the bundle I wrote a few articles about where the inspiration for the trilogy came from, and how things have and haven’t changed since I finished The Children’s Crusade almost five years ago. Then ISIS invaded northern Iraq and what I’d written became accidentally prescient.
The campaign of outright fabrication that led to the invasion of Iraq haunts the conscience of the UK and the US, a shadow that rightfully hangs over both nations when viewed by the rest of the world. But it also haunts us in a more literal form: the war criminals and their enablers are still part of the respectable establishment, still talking about what we should do about the country they threw against the wall and then pretended had put itself back together.
Paul Bremer, the viceroy of the Green Zone and the man responsible for disbanding the Iraqi army, is being given space in The Wall Street Journal. Tony Blair and Dick Cheney are on TV, and not in live updates from The Hague where they belong. They blame the current president for their own crimes and mistakes, which in any civilised world would have resulted in ostracism if not prison. Every hack and apparatchik from those bad years has come crawling out of the woodwork, so far from repentance that they won’t even recognise they were wrong in the first place.
It is this weaponised self-delusion that formed the core of Strange’s world. The foundations of democracy in America were relentlessly undermined by a clique that did not believe the peasants had a right to question their foreign adventures. The Neocons belief in an Imperial Presidency opened the door to authoritarianism, but in my world it was their allies, the Religous Right, that seized power and stepped through. The laws and powers they had created so the president had an unlimited scope to wage war were turned against the American people.
Cheney and his thinktank spawn may have been pushed to the margins during the Obama years, but they are still there, still pushing on that door. Unless they face the consequences of their actions, sooner or later it will open.