Monday, September 5, 2011

Did Osama Win?

Andrew Sullivan posts a penetrating confession in Newsweek in this 9/11 decennial, commemoration week.

Sullivan explains the evolution of his understanding, arguing that Bin Laden hoped to provoke a civilizational war between Islam and the West. And we took the bait.

Amplify’d from
We saw an emblem of our entire civilization tumble to the ground in the middle of the city that had once brought the skyscraper confidently and brashly to the world. We also saw the mighty Pentagon violated by a few religious fanatics living in caves. The skies were silent. Nobody seemed to know if this was the end or just the beginning. But what we did know was that only one word really sufficed to define the scale and gravity of what had taken place: war.

And in that very formulation, in the depths of our psyches and souls, we took the bait.

The bait was meant to entice the United States into ruinous, polarizing religious warfare against the Muslim world, so that the Islamist fringe could seize power in failing Muslim and Arab dictatorships.
Our president, meaning well, did his best, and it was more than good, at the beginning. But in retrospect, he never mastered the fear or the moment either. Instead of calming the populace over the coming months, he further terrified us with drastic measures that only seemed to confirm the unprecedented gravity of the threat.
Department of Homeland Security was set up, as a system of torture prisons (beginning with Guantánamo Bay) was constructed ... many concluded the threat must be grave enough to justify shredding some of the Constitution’s noblest principles and precedents.
so much of our inherited moral wisdom—such as the absolute stricture against torture and the ideal of habeas corpus—were tossed aside.
The fiscal costs of our actions are one reason we find ourselves today in a lost, jobless, debt-driven decade. About $2.6 trillion was spent in a decade of war

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