Who Will Rescue Us From Post 9-11 Thinking?
Who Will Rescue Us From Post 9-11 Thinking?
By Curt Day (about the author)
What is Post 9-11 thinking? What preceded it? Do inquiring minds really want to know?
Well, in case they do, we will start with pre 9-11 thinking. With pre 9-11 thinking, we treated terrorism like crime in that we didn't react to it until it occurred. And because we didn't pre-emptively act against terrorism, we didn't act against American citizens with today's surveillance. Thus, pre 9-11 thinking granted American citizens a few more rights and privacy than post 9-11 thinking did. However, pure pre 9-11 thinking really didn't exist. For example, our government had acted pre-emptively to stop "millenium" terrorist attacks in 1999. Regardless of how the would-be attacks were discovered, the Clinton Administration acted pre-emptively.
Then, tragically, the 9-11 atrocities occurred and we were asked to think in a new way, which was not really new to some in the Bush Administration or the rest of the country. The "new" way of thinking included more than just pre-emption, it meant that America could assume this dominating position over the rest of the world so that no rival would emerge. And a side benefit was that we would have more access to important resources and our products would have more access to markets around the world.
This new 9-11 thinking was based on then President Bush's analysis of the attacks. He claimed we were attacked because those who want our destruction were jealous of our freedoms thus implying that future attacks were a fixed cost. But Chalmers Johnson and others pointed out that our foreign policies, including our history of covert actions, gave more than adequate motivation to many groups, let alone Al-Qaida, for attacking us. In addition, interviews with Bin Laden pointed to policies like the Iraq sanctions, which caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, along with our unbalanced support for Israel in its brutal occupation and taking of Palestinian land as reasons for the attack.
But what stuck in the minds of the American people was the assertion that we were attacked because of our freedoms. It remained, despite our history, because it was based on how the American people wanted to think of themselves. It was also how the Bush Administration wanted Americans to think. That is because President Bush's response to the attacks included increased government power and authority and that would be a very hard sell if the attacks were due to the misuse of government power.
So President Bush started to implement post 9-11 thinking that amounted to an intensification of past American hegemony along with warnings to any future would-be rivals for power and he insisted that the U.S. would own space. This intensification showed that we were giving pre 9-11 thinking steroids. We should also point out that Bush's post 9-11 thinking drew largely from the pre-911 thinking resources of a 1992 Paul Wolfowitz paper and the 2000 Project For The New American Century paper called Rebuilding America's Defenses. We could further summarize post 9-11 thinking by saying that America's use of power would increase while America's accountability would further decrease.
And as it so often happens with empires, the policies practiced against people abroad eventually find their way home. The increased surveillance and elimination of Habeas Corpus has been seen and raised by the "liberal" Obama Administration with an increase in the arrests of activists and his signing of the 2012 NDAA. In that document, our government could indefinitely detain us without pressing charges and a following trial by jury. The theme from Bush's first actions after 9-11 strike again. That theme is less government accountability but more power. This sounds like a lite-beer commercial for governments.
What we find today is that this post 9-11 thinking is expanding at an alarming pace and it is bipartisan. The 2012 NDAA was not only signed by a Democratic President, it received substantial support from Democratic Congressmen along with their Republican counterparts. And the question we need to ask ourselves is if this government power trip continues, what will American life be like after the next 4 years? Does the movie Minority Report or the books 1984 and Brave New World give hints at our possible future?
So we come to the question posed in the title of this post. Who will rescue us from post 9-11 thinking? Who will stop the increase in power for and loss in accountability of our government? Historically speaking, there are only two solutions here, invasion by another country or resistance. My guess is that most people who favor change, favor the second option. And if we are the ones to stop this journey down the road to a more authoritarian society, we must readdress the reason why we were attacked on 9-11 and then reeducate.
This is necessary because Bush's faulty analysis, since it soothes the ears of patriotic Americans, is the foundation for our government's continual quest for more. For if future attacks are more contingent on jealousy than the abuse of power, then our government will feel more entitled to infringe on our rights and privacy especially as technology continues to increase the power of the individual. And we can add that more Americans will feel obligated to accept this growing government intrusiveness. But if the 9-11 attacks were because of America's abusive use of power, then the obvious solution to reducing future attacks would be to reduce the power our government has and demand more accountability. We might quip that our government is currently reducing the chance of attack by reducing our freedoms, which, in turn, reduces the jealousy that that terrorists have.
The necessary readdressing and reeducation will not occur by books alone. Rather, it will occur by our conversations with friends and neighbors, with letters and articles sent to the newspapers, and with demanding that our educators and politicians acknowledge the facts. We must make the abuse of American power and its consequences one of the top ten issues people think and talk about. Only then will the call for power and less accountability not only fall on deaf ears, it will be played before a hostile audience.