Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The dirty dozen

With the passage of time comes perspective.  With perspective, it becomes apparent we have done far more damage to our society in the past twelve years than the hijackers of 2001 could ever have hoped to achieve...

It made sense to adjust the balance between liberty and security after September 11th. But America’s values ought not to have become casualties of Mr Bush’s war on terror. The indefinite incarceration of prisoners in Guant√°namo Bay without trial was a denial of due process. It was legal casuistry to redefine the torture of prisoners with waterboarding and stress positions as “enhanced interrogation”. The degradation of Iraqi criminals in Abu Ghraib prison in 2003, extraordinary rendition and the rest of it were the result of a culture, led by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, that was both unAmerican and a recruiting sergeant for its enemies. 

That, however, was only the tip of the iceberg.  Even before 9/11, America had begun to accept domestic militarization under the so-called 'war on drugs' -- part of a string of 'moral equivalents of war' on poverty, racism, etc, that lent a decidedly martial attitude and tone toward making public policy.  That trend was kicked into overdrive on September 11, 2001.  Today's teenagers have no memory of a time when there were not heavily armed security forces roaming freely around America's public spaces, or when people could board a train or an airplane without performing a striptease for a TSA voyeur.  A generation has grown up conditioned to unquestioning acceptance of an atmosphere of "your papers, please." 

Worst of all, it's arguable that Americans have received nothing in exchange for selling their birthright.  Despite foreign tips and being "one nation, under surveillance," two young Chechens bombed the Boston Marathon, maiming scores of Americans and causing a state of martial law in Watertown.  Nor did the all-seeing Eye of Sam prevent the shootings at Fort Hood or outside a recruiting station in Arkansas.  Despite this growing internal threat our borders are not secure, and the government has no interest in squelching the demographic invasion currently underway.  In fact, every new theater of war is accompanied by efforts to relocate aliens to the U.S. and its partner nations.  This is supposed to make us more secure?

World War I was supposed to be the 'war to end all wars,' yet it was followed a generation later by the greatest conflict in human history.   Our dozen-year obsession with 'Homeland Security' seems to have left us all more insecure than ever before... at home and abroad.

It's time to rethink the fundamentals...

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