As viewed through the lens of work published in Social Text on the governmentality of terror] this essay proposes that the trope of the terrorist signals the departure of a reliable and calculable enemy and the “unleashing of the incommensurable— that we now know as asymmetric war, as the unending war of and against terror, and other emblematica of the immeasurable such as shock and awe. However, this is also a war of political effects and consequences deemed not worthy of measurement, such as collateral damage, the discounted Iraqi dead, and the unlimited detention of perpetual “terrorists” at various hidden black sites.

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