In a “news analysis” article, The NYT‘s David E. Sanger offers up some media crit of a master narrative in the offing: “Mr. Bush’s own way of talking about the future,” he writes, “in Iraq and beyond, has undergone a subtle but significant change in recent weeks. In several speeches, he has begun warning that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to ‘establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.’ While he still predicts victory, he appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of cold war proportions.”

Whether or not one supports Bush’s policies, this is reductive rhetoric that equates the complexities of Indonesia, where “radical Islamists” struggle against a dictatorship-disguised-as-a-democracy — and one directly descended from a genocidal regime just a decade past — and Spain, now a fully democratic country. Not to mention the stretch in between Spain and Indonesia.

The question is, Will the media buy it? Sanger’s critique is fine as far as it goes; but he doesn’t really touch on the allure of such a powerful dichotomy to a press that has so long peddled stories dependent on “us” and “them” that it’s legitimate to ask, now, what’s driving this latest variation on the age-old “battle between good and evil” story — Bush’s politics, or the demands of the press?