Instead of challenging the Bush Administration`s claims about weapons in Iraq, the cable news channels literally beat the war drums, using every inflammatory device they could think of. Like the Wall Street scoundrel saying greed is good, the cable channels said anxiety is good. It keeps the viewers coming back to the noisy, lurid screen like addicts looking for a fix.

The Obama Administration has proven subtler but no less dishonest. We`re in Afghanistan, why? To prop up Hamid Karzai`s demonstrably corrupt regime? To prove Afghanistan is indeed the graveyard of empires? To bring democracy to people who don`t even want government? To keep Al Qaeda out of Pakistan?

The problem isn`t just the cynical uses of anxiety by hucksters, it`s the sheer noisiness of our society. Trucks backing, horns honking, generators whirring, sirens blaring, talking heads yakking, loud television advertisements, martial background music, lawnmowers, tractors, whistles "the pervasive din of a society that fears turning down the volume might mean self-examination.

Our bones vibrate with this noise, our minds boggle. Can such a society make sound decisions about its future? Can it comprehend issues while plugged in to iTunes or hypnotized by a steady torrent of bad news? I think these questions are more for neurologists and neuro-scientists than anyone else. What is the effect on us of such an unrelenting assault on our nervous systems?

What if you flashed Jackson Pollock paintings and disturbing crawls at us around the clock, accompanied by blitzkrieg music? Blam, blam, blam "headline after distressing headline, warning after warning, whether they come from Homeland Security or Big Pharma. We`re going to be attacked, we`re going to get sick and die, we`re going to be cheated "all the official channels, the think tanks, the suits say so.

Such a society makes war more readily than peace, because everything is too loud and too bright and too big for reflection. And isn`t that just how the military-industrial complex likes it? Isn`t this why we have more defense contractors in Afghanistan than soldiers? Once you jangle a society`s nerves you can sell it any old tonic for its anxieties, including endless war and national bankruptcy.

Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.

The pioneering Online Originals (U.K.), the only online publisher to receive a Booker nomination, published his novella, Alice Miller`s Room, in 1999. Recent fiction appeared in Prima Materia (Woodstock, NY), vols. I and IV, and Breakfast All Day (London, U.K.).In his younger days his poetry was published in literary journals including Solstice (England) and Beyond Baroque and Phantasm (California). Recent poems appear in Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review (www.arabesquespress.org), Perpetua Mobile (Baltimore), and Attic (Baltimore). He is the English language editor of Arabesques Literary and Cultural Journal (www.arabesquespress.org).

He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.