Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Slippery Slope of Decline

Just before 9/11, America “was in full bloom.” The economy was booming. George W Bush had “inherited a fat budget surplus.” The U.S. was “the indispensable nation.” The world rallied to the American cause. Even Yasser Arafat personally donated blood for the 9/11 victims.

“Even the French suddenly wanted to be Americans.”

And 10 years later?
The U.S. is unrecognizable. Bitterly divided against itself, the country has become “distrustful, fearful, and defensive--against Muslims, against foreigners, against anyone who is different.”

What a toll this decade has taken on the U.S. said Gregor Peter Schmitz, of the Hamburg Der Spiegel, a German newspaper.

If al Qaida’s goal was to goad the superpower into self-destruction,” the Bush administration succeeded admirably in complying.” By launching two wars, at a cost of trillions of dollars and rising, the U.S. carried out “a massive transfer of money and resources from the national treasury into the pockets of the military-industrial complex.”

Military budgets have ballooned to the point that the U.S. now spends more than all other countries in the world put together. And that’s not even counting the massive costs of the new Homeland Security Department and Transportation Security Agency. The financial meltdown facing the U.S. can be directly traced to this insane overspending on defense against a small band of terrorists.
The terorists won, said Bernd Pickert in the Berlin Die Tageszeitung.

There is also “another less tangible, cost,” said Neil Tweedie of the London Telegraph. America has abandoned its claim to the moral high ground--not just by killing 140,000 civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
First it violated the sovereignty of allies by kidnapping suspected terrorists … Then came the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” whereby those suspects were shipped off to other countries for torture.

Then torture was embraced as an American tactic, when CIA agents water boarded suspects at “black sites.” And finally we have outright assassinations, in the form of drone attacks. All these Bush administration policies “have sullied the country’s reputation” beyond repair.

Don’t blame Bush alone, said Tariq Ali in the London Guardian. Obama has deported more immigrants and prosecuted more whistle-blowers than Bush. He has failed to close Guantanamo, and he renewed the Patriot Act. He increased the use of drones, killing untold numbers of Pakistani families.

I would not go as far as the writer who said Obama started a third war in a Muslim land, Libya, but the words of new CIA Director David Petraeus, might be true (I hope not): “This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids lives.”

But what do I conclude from these references by mostly foreign editors? It remains obvious to me that we have paid a far bigger and heavier price than these wars were worth. Wars are anti-social behavior--failed diplomacy. Wars are never settled by force; they are finally resolved by intense diplomatic efforts. Wars result mostly from greed and the struggle for power, be it military, economic, or religious.

Moreover, I would agree: the decade since 9/11 has been one sorry downhill slide--decline.

From Warner’s World,
The American people have done themselves no favor by listening to the political and military leaders taking us down this slippery slope. I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

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