[pjw] Analysis: How 9/11 triggered democracy's decline (Wash Post 9/11)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Mon Sep 11 13:17:23 EDT 2017

Hi and happy "Patriot day" to you all (irony intended)

Below is an opinion piece that ran in the Washington Post today (linked by 
the Portland Mercury this morning) outlining the shakeups of American 
institutions post-9/11. There's nothing in here about airport security 
(which I see as an apt symbol of people giving up their freedoms for 
so-called security) but it does touch on the militarization of police, 
domestic spying, and endless wars that cannot be won. The question of 
"collective sacrifice" for war is to me the weak spot, since I'd prefer 
questioning the institution of war itself--- however, the author does 
contrast previous Presidents' addresses to America with Bush's imperative 
for people to go shopping after 9/11. I especially like the closing line 
noting how few times President Trump talked about democracy when he 
announced the troop increases to Afghanistan, but how often he said 

We'll probably look at this, among many other items, at the meeting 
dan h
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

How 9/11 triggered democracy's decline
The attack spawned wars to export democracy abroad, while degrading it at
The attack spawned wars to export democracy abroad, while degrading it at
   By Jeremi Suri September 11 at 6:00 AM [22]Follow   @jeremisuri
    Jeremi Suri, professor of history and public affairs at the University
    of Texas at Austin, has just published a new book, "[23]The Impossible
    Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Highest Office."

    War has been an engine of freedom in U.S. history. The nation's biggest
    wars transformed the meaning of citizenship, creating new rights. The
    Civil War abolished slavery and made all American-born men citizens for
    the first time. World War II promoted welfare rights -- a social safety
    net, decent employment and higher education, among others -- what
    Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called "freedom from want."

    But over the past 16 years, war has imperiled rather than advanced
    American ideals by becoming about dominance rather than freedom. Our
    military actions, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria, have
    reflected increased investments in firepower, accompanied by diminished
    attention to political change, economic development and
    institution-building -- the essential prerequisites for democratic
    freedoms. Fear of terrorism has justified excessive and habitual
    suspension of good governance, ultimately creating a more fertile
    seedbed for terrorists.

    Abandoning freedom abroad has consequences at home. Dominance has
    emerged as the driver of domestic politics, as well. Demands for
    "border security" are used by the president and his core supporters to
    justify racism and domestic violence aimed at protecting white male
    dominance. Our leaders have nurtured what the Justice Department calls
    a crisis of "domestic terrorism" within U.S. borders, perpetrated by
    U.S. citizens, not foreigners.

    Osama bin Laden famously promised to expose America's decadent culture
    and destroy the United States. Despite his death at the hands of U.S.
    Special Operations forces in 2011, he accomplished many of his goals.
    President Trump said the military is "relentlessly pursuing and
    destroying" the "horrible enemies" of America, at the Pentagon's 9/11
    remembrance ceremony. (The Washington Post)

    The war on terrorism has made the U.S. presidency itself a threat to,
    not a defender of, democracy. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack
    Obama drastically expanded executive powers by combining secrecy with
    new technologies to incarcerate and kill hundreds of people, including
    numerous Americans, with little public oversight. They interrogated
    thousands of alleged terrorists without due process in military
    prisons, including Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca in Iraq, and Guantanamo
    Bay in Cuba.

    Presidential powers increased considerably at home, as well. Bush
    created a gargantuan new Department of Homeland Security, expanded
    domestic surveillance (especially through electronic technologies) and
    funded the militarization of municipal police forces. Obama continued
    many of these programs, and he pursued new efforts to limit
    media freedom by aggressively prosecuting alleged government "leakers"
    and the reporters who wrote about them. Anti-terrorism measures
    necessitated fewer freedoms at home under both of these presidents.

    These recent wartime actions drew on strong historical precedents, but
    they were not accompanied, as they were in the past, by enlargements of
    freedom in other areas. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln
    consolidated presidential control over the military, and he repeatedly
    violated due process protections for secessionists.

    But at the same time, he expanded federal land grants for citizens
    through the Homestead Act and public higher education through the
    Morrill Act. Lincoln also emancipated the slaves in Confederate
    territories and pushed for the final elimination of slavery in the
    United States.

    During World War II, Roosevelt incarcerated innocent citizens --
    especially Japanese Americans -- and limited media freedoms, but he
    also ended employment discrimination in defense industries and funded
    homeownership and higher education for millions of Americans through
    the GI Bill. Building on the New Deal, Roosevelt made the federal
    government a protector of citizen welfare. Despite serious setbacks and
    limitations, the Civil War and World War II left hopeful legacies for
    freedom in the United States.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, the opposite has been the case. The federal
    government has enabled increased surveillance of citizens, including
    phone and email usage, without a new body of law to ensure privacy.
    Aggressive interrogation and deportation of individuals residing within
    the United States have escalated during this period without necessary
    protections against intimidation, racial profiling and cruelty. As a
    whole, the federal government has pulled back from enforcing rights,
    allowing unequal treatment of citizens to deepen in law enforcement,
    housing, employment and education.

    The wars after the Sept. 11 attacks are also the first extended
    conflicts in U.S. history in which presidents have failed to call
    for collective sacrifice from the American people. At the start of the
    Civil War, Lincoln asked the governors of Union states to raise
    volunteers. By 1863, he turned to direct conscription by the federal
    government, creating a new obligation of federal military service for
    all male citizens between ages 20 and 45.

    During World War II, Roosevelt went a step further. In addition to a
    military draft, he used federally enforced rations and wage and price
    controls to mobilize resources at home for the battlefields. The U.S.
    Treasury relied on war bond sales to help fund the conflict, giving
    individuals a financial stake in it.

    After the war, during the early Cold War, the military draft remained
    in place while citizens paid the highest discretionary income taxes in
    U.S. history to fund foreign and domestic programs -- including the
    Marshall Plan, the GI Bill and the Interstate Highway System.

    A badge of honor for prior generations, the phrase "collective
    sacrifice" has become almost taboo in the early 21st century. Why
    should the most powerful and righteous country in the world have to
    sacrifice? We would beat the terrorists, Bush promised, by continuing
    to shop. We would defend our democracy, Obama thought, by replacing
    large armies with drones, private contractors and elite Special
    Operations forces.

    This aversion to collective sacrifice reverberates beyond the
    battlefield. The historical record clearly shows that the expansion of
    freedom demands shared work across social and cultural divisions,
    rather than license to do as one pleases. A world of individual
    assertion allows the rich and powerful to dominate the poor and weak,
    as happened on the early 19th-century frontier, in Gilded Age cities
    and in the recent American economy.

    The shared sacrifice of wartime once shaped domestic opportunity in
    profound ways. Redistributive tax policies and increased funding for
    public education -- legislated during the other great wars --
    rebalanced differences and created more choices for more people. As
    Lincoln and Roosevelt recognized, freedom for Americans has always
    meant opportunity (to live, work and learn), not license (to control
    and dominate).

    To raise one's station in life has always been at the core of the
    American Dream. The Civil War, World War II and the Cold War created
    new opportunities for millions of Americans. The wars since September
    11, 2001, have not. Each of the earlier conflicts opened the gates of
    American citizenship to formerly excluded groups. This was particularly
    true of the Cold War, and the passage of the Immigration and
    Nationality Act of 1965 in particular, which allowed tens of thousands
    of formerly restricted non-European immigrants to become American.
    Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has reversed course.

    In short, how we engaged our enemies mattered enormously for how our
    society evolved. And now our society has grown more fragmented and
    unequal because that is how we have chosen to fight.

>   From the first days after Sept. 11, 2001, we have missed a historical
    opportunity to turn our gravest challenges into sources of unity,
    creativity and self-improvement. Rather than encouraging a collective
    mentality with high income taxes and war bond campaigns, our tax
    policies now exacerbate differences between rich and poor. Our criminal
    policies have stigmatized groups in the name of safety, rather than
    offering opportunities for rehabilitation, hope and a new beginning.

    Most egregiously, our systematic underinvestment in public institutions
    and infrastructure has denied ambitious risers the resources they need
    to get started. Instead, so many Americans are stuck. And that is a
    policy choice we have made, again and again, since Sept. 11, 2001.

    Freedom has become as empty as the concept of sacrifice in our current
    political rhetoric. President Trump, explaining yet another escalation
    of war in Afghanistan, barely mentioned freedom or democracy. Both
    words appeared only once in his Aug. 21 address. He used the word
    "attack" eight times, "win" six times and "victory" four times.

    Victory for whom? Winning what? Like his predecessors, Trump did not
    offer much content for the purpose of American wars, other than
    protecting what we have. Our wars are no longer engines of freedom
    because our leaders fight for victory, not for a deeper purpose.
    Without purpose, we should not fight. Without purpose, we cannot win.
    Anybody notice that it has been a long time since we won a war? We are
    fighting wars against our own democracy -- and these wars have come
    home, from Kabul to Charlottesville.

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