Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Terrorists Have Won

Since 9/11, America has lost not only the war on terror, but America itself. Before a shot was fired in Afghanistan or Iraq, the terrorists had won. The terrorists won when we allowed this administration and the Neo-Cons to hijack America and turn us into a tyrannical monster. I don’t know if it was by design or by happenstance, but when those planes hit with GW Bush in office it set forth a chain of events that caused our defeat. I know that we have the greatest military power in the world and in conventional tactics we could crush anyone, but we are a defeated nation when this happens.

The debate over how terrorism suspects should be held and questioned began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration adopted secret detention and coercive interrogation, both practices the United States had previously denounced when used by other countries. It adopted the new measures without public debate or Congressional vote, choosing to rely instead on the confidential legal advice of a handful of appointees.

The Bush administration had entered uncharted legal territory beginning in 2002, holding prisoners outside the scrutiny of the International Red Cross and subjecting them to harrowing pressure tactics. They included slaps to the head; hours held naked in a frigid cell; days and nights without sleep while battered by thundering rock music; long periods manacled in stress positions; or the ultimate, waterboarding.[1]

There will be those hawks, wing-nuts, and pundits that will claim the opposite that we are winning the war but once we crossed this line we lost. When we began spying on each other, disallowing habeas corpus, and torturing we lost. Many like Mr. Bush will claim that the ends justify the means; there have been no new attacks so it must be working. This is a false conclusion based on a false premise, the reason we defeated communism was not because of our military power, it was because of what we provided to the world.

What we provided to the world was a dream, a dream that no matter what your circumstances, your religion, or your status you could have a say in your life. Granted that dream was never fully realized and was tarnished for many, but it still existed as a light to walk towards. That light has been darkened by the Bush Administration. There are many things that this President has done that I have found personally reprehensible, but what he has done here is unforgivable. He has taken us across a line that no matter what the world was doing we would not cross, not because we couldn’t but because it was wrong. It was wrong in previous wars and it is wrong in this one.

The thing that troubles me the most is not that Mr. Bush did what he did; it was that we allowed him to. There were not enough principled and honorable people to stop this from happening, that good people went silent when we needed their voices the most. I have a hard time supporting any candidate for President, because they were all culpable in this transformation, to some degree. Worst yet are the Progressives, was there no one to articulate the dangerous waters we were swimming headlong into? Was there no sane voice of reason that could have turned the tsunami of 9/11 into an opportunity to demonstrate to the world what super power really means? I’m not sure it would have even mattered, but we owed it to our children to try.

Never in history had the United States authorized such tactics. While President Bush and C.I.A. officials would later insist that the harsh measures produced crucial intelligence, many veteran interrogators, psychologists and other experts say that less coercive methods are equally or more effective.

With virtually no experience in interrogations, the C.I.A. had constructed its program in a few harried months by consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods long used in training American servicemen to withstand capture. The agency officers questioning prisoners constantly sought advice from lawyers thousands of miles away.[2]

The terrorists have won not because they were smarter, stronger, or even right in their beliefs; they won because we defeated ourselves. We used the tragedy to unleash our paranoia and righteous indignation against a world that was becoming less and less compliant to our demands. The world had to be taught a lesson, noses had to be bloodied as Mr. Friedman has said and it came at a cost not only that was prohibitive to the world but also to our freedom.

We are not safer today than we were on 9/10; we are only more closed up. Travel to the US is way down, the world does not like what we have allowed ourselves to become. We may think we’re safer, but so is the guy on a deserted island. If isolation is what it takes to be safer, is it worth it? If being cut-off from the world is the answer, then we are asking the wrong questions. The opinion of the US in the world has never been lower, not only in the Middle East but even amongst our allies. We have imprisoned ourselves and shut out the world, because of this the terrorists have won.


No comments:

HTML stat tracker