At home, the American people are less free, less prosperous, more bitterly divided, and much less hopeful in 2011 than in 2001 because a decade of the War on Terror brought a government ever bigger and more burdensome, as well as “security” measures that impede the innocent rather than focusing on wrongdoers. Our ruling class justified its ever-larger role in America’s domestic life by redefining war as a never-ending struggle against unspecified enemies for abstract objectives, and by asserting expertise far above that of ordinary Americans. After 9/11, far from deliberating on the best course to take, our rulers stayed on autopilot and hit the throttles.
An fascinating and amazing essay. I don’t agree with everything in it, but can’t deny the strength of its general points. For example:
Because the Bush Administration took CIA director George Tenet’s snap judgment that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were responsible “game, set, and match” for 9/11 as a warrant for identifying them with America’s terrorist problem in general, it failed to ask the classic headwaters question: what is the problem? Had it done so, it might have noticed that the 9/11 hijackers were part of a wave of deadly disrespect for America that had been growing throughout the Muslim world—and not just there—for a generation. Had the Bush team focused on the realities that fed growing images of America as “the weak horse” (to use Osama bin Laden’s words), they would have had to consider who were the major contributors to that disrespect, what they and their predecessors had done to incur it, and then to decide what actions would restore it.
That would have pointed to the Middle East’s regimes, and to our ruling class’ relationship with them, as the problem’s ultimate source. The rulers of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority had run (and continue to run) educational and media systems that demonize America. Under all of them, the Muslim Brotherhood or the Wahhabi sect spread that message in religious terms to Muslims in the West as well as at home. That message indicts America, among other things, for being weak. And indeed, ever since the 1970s U.S. policy had responded to acts of war and terrorism from the Muslim world by absolving the regimes for their subjects’ actions. For example, when Yasser Arafat’s PLO murdered U.S. ambassador Cleo Noel, our government continued building friendly relations with Arafat, and romancing the Saudi regime that was financing him. Since then the U.S. government has given $2.5 billion to the PLO. Part of the reason was unwarranted hope, part was fear, and part was the fact that many influential Americans were making money in the Arab world.
I have always believed that when we went to war after 9/11, we needed to clean out all of the corrupt regimes in the Middle East, much as we did after World War II. Sadly, Bush did not. Had Bush fought World War II like he fought the “War on Terror” he would have stopped at the German border after Normandy and declared victory.
Read the whole thing. There is a lot more there, about freedom, government oppression, the TSA, and much else. The read is definitely worth it.