Whenever any country idealizes itself as the Savior of the world -- a problem that currently afflicts the United States -- there must be another country, or countries, that is scapegoated. This is a law of human nature, and as such, there are no exceptions. If there is a country that believes it to be a Savior, there is always a Scapegoat. They're opposite sides of the same coin. You can't have one without the other.
There is one man who avoided that problem and became a real Savior, and that is Jesus. In fact, he cured the problem, since he was the first scapegoat in history that was considered innocent. Before him, scapegoats and sacrifices were considered essential to keep Chaos at bay.
Unfortunately, his message was pretty much lost today, and in the past even his most devout followers have still scapegoated and murdered those who disagreed with them. In a nutshell, all scapegoats today are considered guilty, even if they're innocent. Even today, their deaths are deemed "necessary" to keep Chaos and evil at bay. So, then, in what way are we any different than Aztecs who ripped the living hearts out of people (which is something Mel Gibson noticed in Apocalypto)? We're worse, in numbers of people killed. And we have advanced technology.
This Savior Complex, as the late mythologist Maggie Macary termed it, consists of a fake innocence in which those who consider themselves as Saviors ignore their own guilt and what they have done to others. They deceive themselves. This is why Bush, in all seriousness, referred to the United States being attacked for its goodness. He's completely ignoring the 50 years of attacks the United States has inflicted on the Islamic world. I am sure he truly does not understand that when people are oppressed and murdered for decades, they will sooner or later rise up and attack their oppressors. It’s revenge.
When one group idealizes itself, it must necessarily demonize another group it defines as its enemy or enemies. That way, it can project all evil onto those Others and maintain the fiction of its own goodness and innocence. This means, and this is truly scary, that groups or countries that idealize themselves are always dwelling, in some degree, in a fantasy. Part of that fantasy is always projecting evil onto the innocent.
Most people don't know it, but one of the original meanings of "dwell" is to "deceive, hinder, delay; to err." As in the old A. Merritt novel, Dwellers in the Mirage.
Lee Harris, in an article titled, "Al Quada's Fantasy Ideology," writes: "This power of the fantasist is entirely traceable to the fact that, for him, the other is always an object and never a subject. A subject, after all, has a will of his own, his own desires and his own agenda; he might rather play the flute instead of football. And anyone who is aware of this fact is automatically put at a disadvantage in comparison with the fantasist - the disadvantage of knowing that other people have minds of their own and are not merely props to be pushed around."
Anybody or any country that lives in the fantasy of the Savior Complex will never see the Scapegoat as human beings, only as objects, and evil ones at that. Ones that must be eradicated. They become nothing more than "collateral damage."
The United States government now appears to be involved in a collective, groupthink, nearly insane fantasy, one in which it sees itself as wholly Good, and those it defines as enemies, as wholly Evil. As the egregious David Frum put it, "an axis of evil."
This fantasy of splitting everything into either Good or Evil, is, in my view, the main reason for genocide. We see ourselves as sacred and innocent, and those outside as guilty and evil. The logical and indeed inescapable result: annihilate them.
As Mircea Eliade writes, "Since 'our world' is a cosmos, any attack from without threatens to turn it into chaos. And as 'our world' was founded by imitating the paradigmatic work of the gods, the cosmogony, so the enemies who attack it are assimilated to the enemies of the gods, the demons, and especially to the archdemon, the primordial dragon conquered by the gods at the beginning of time. An attack on 'our world' is equivalent to an act of revenge by the mythical dragon, who rebels against the work of the gods, the cosmos, and struggles to annihilate it. 'Our' enemies belong to the powers of chaos. Any destruction of a city is equivalent to a retrogression to chaos. Any victory over the attackers reiterates the paradigmatic victory of the gods over the dragon (that is, over chaos)."
What Eliade is writing about is the archetype of the horror story: good attacked by evil. The sacred "Homeland" under assault by fanatical, insane, evil mass murderers who wish to destroy and conquer us. Heaven under attack by Satan. It's an old, apparently instinctive archetype, and many, many people fall for it. Always have, and probably always will.
Unfortunately, it is quite natural for people to kill anyone who they think is invading their sacred space, especially when they turn these "enemies" into monsters. Just because it is "natural" doesn't mean it's right. In this case, it's something that must always be opposed.
Or, as the playwright Arthur Miller put it: “It is always and forever the struggle: to perceive somehow our own complicity with evil is a horror not to be born. [it is] much more reassuring to see the world in terms of totally innocent victims and totally evil instigations of the monstrous violence. At all costs, never disturb our innocence.”