I’m tempted to draw a lesson about hubris, paranoia, the place of cold and calculating intelligence in world politics, and the futility of global domination from — where else? — “Pinky and the Brain.” But I don’t think neoconservatism needs any further rebukes. Instead I’d nominate Scooby Doo.
Consider the Scooby Doo villains as rudimentary terrorists. They dress up as scary monsters, terrify the local population, and chase Shaggy and Scooby through endless halls and mismatched doorways. That they wear masks, and often are after financial gain, may make them seem to resemble old-school bank robbers, but the crux of their power is the terror they invoke in residents.
The mysteries are inevitably solved by the members of the team — Fred, Daphne, and Velma — who remain relatively calm and treat the monsters as criminals — not, say, “enemy combatants” of the beleaguered town. This is despite the fact that they are impersonating what is, in terms of fear-inducing presence, essentially a child’s equivalent of a bomb-laden terrorist.
But no lockdowns are conducted, there is no torture for information on the monster’s identity, and no pre-emptive strikes. (The only “operations” are limited to Rube Goldberg-esque traps that are conducted only once the team has accumulated enough evidence to identify the villain, who, naturally, “would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you lousy kids!”) The culprit is then arrested by the local police, and, instead of bundling him in the Mystery Machine and sending him/her to Guantanamo, s/he is presumably headed for a normal civilian jail.