But it never happened. Instead of normalcy, we remained hunkered down in Cheyenne Mountain. We continued to look fearfully out at the world, while arming ourselves to the teeth. We became wedded to the idea of bunkers and barriers, whether fortified fences along the Mexican border, imperial military bases along the peripheries of a burgeoning empire, or, on a micro scale, security gates patrolled by small armies of private guards to keep the "have nots" out of "have" communities. (To these, the ultra-rich have now added "panic rooms" in their mansions – tiny domestic Cheyenne Mountains secured by mini-steel blast doors, monitored by cameras, and stocked with provisions.) After the attacks of September 11, 2001, it was as if we had "buttoned up" and slammed shut the blast doors to Fortress America.
How did the planet's self-proclaimed "sole superpower" in its moment of triumph become such a fearful country? In our endless face-off with the Soviet Union, did we come to resemble it far more than we ever imagined? After all, instead of the USSR, it's now we who are fighting a difficult war in Afghanistan; it's now we who are deflating our currency with massive deficits for weapons of marginal utility; it's now we who put forward unilateral proposals for earth-penetrating, bunker-busting nukes; it's now we who are often seen as aggressors on the world stage.