Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Underlying Basic Blunder

Yesterday Katrina vanden Heuvel of the Washington Post asked:
What were the last eight years of lost blood and treasure about?

To this my my reply was:
They were about terrorist hysteria. The government and much of the public panicked and went to war over an attack which was visually spectacular and frightening but in no way comparable to a military strike by a powerful nation such as, for example, the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan. It was a gross over-reaction to treat the 9/11 atrocity as an act of war instead of as a particularly heinous cross-border act of mass murder. Now we are paying the price for that mistake -- not only in blood and treasure but in moral corruption, (as in toleration of torture of prisoners and excessive civilian casualties), and serious weakening of civil rights and liberties, (as in warrantless eavesdropping and a willingness to order executions of American citizens without trial).

It is discouraging that the "look forward" Administration has done next to nothing to undo the damage and in some respects is inclined to descend even further into amoral malevolence, lawlessness and ruin.
This is part of what I believe was Obama's main political misstep from the start: a naive hope to establish a new era of constructive bipartisanship with Republicans. At another time, this could have been an admirable endeavor but not when (A) the previous Republican administration had commited so much grievous wrong begging for correction and (B) Republicans were set on confrontation, not conciliation. One unfortunate result has been the misguided choice to retain many of the political hacks, neocon warmongers and corporatist minions installed in the Bush Cheney reign of error. The disgraceful failure of regulatory oversight and control by the Bush holdover officials at the Minerals Management Service in the case of BP and other company's deep offshore drilling programs is only the most current example of the poor wisdom of that policy.

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