I came across an old article about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Here is what was published in the Spanish newspaper El País:
»Each society is reflected in a story that, mysteriously, contains the code of collective instincts. The U.S. worships a strange tale of horror, obsession, purity, vengeance and catharsis written by Herman Melville in 1851: Moby Dick. On September 11, 2001, the metaphor of the monster seemed to be fierce and elusive reality. The white whale was transformed into a tall, soft-spoken man with which a whole country had something akin to an outstanding bill. … If Osama bin Laden took to the collective condition of cruel and elusive monster, Americans were put in the shoes of Captain Ahab: there was no other purpose than revenge.
Never mind the means, no matter the consequences. It was a moral issue with absolutely no possibility of nuance. … With Osama bin Laden, the American story took on a dark mystique. … A vapid president who came to the White House through a judicial fluke, George W. Bush was capable of things unthinkable. And these things he did, by popular acclaim. …
As in Moby Dick, the end of the “monster,” the man called Osama bin Laden, provokes a certain bitter stupor. As if waking from a nightmare and finding that the nightmare is still there.«
The state of Israel engaged in the same type of revenge. The Israeli secret service chased the members of the PLO that masterminded and executed the attack on the Israeli delegation to the Olympic Games in Munich. It was a bloody affair.
States can be Ahab too. Revenge is not anymore the realm of a disturbed individual. States, cooperations, religious organisations, political parties get into the ‘Ahab mood’ and wreck havoc on individual citizens, other states and commercial competition.
In Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal being Ahab is a virtue as long as you stay alive and gain advantage on your competitors. In this reading, Ahab’s mistake is not that he seeked revenge; his weakness is the failure to close the deal, that is, to kill the monster. (y)