February 13, 2003

If you're not following Warblogging you should be. It is a very good review of the dangers that American freedom is failing entirely to deal with in response to 911. All the freedom invading legislation, and the practices in the face of legislation are reviewed as is the current NATO crisis which is of course a sad case of no one doing the right thing. The decision by France and Germany to up the ante and force the decomission of NATO is the most terrible abuse of an international organization for local means I can think of. That the veto should be anything but is ridiculous. France and Germany must know that what is going to happen will happen regardless of the veto, they have only assured the destruction of NATO with the destruction of Iraq. It looks mainly like domestic policy use of NATO run amok.

In contrast - even if you do disagree with Bush - you can't really accuse him of doing this as a pure interior policy initiative since it might very well be political suicide. If the war drags on into 2004, Bush will not look good as the creator of the next Vietnam, i.e. an unclear conflict on unfriendly soil against an unclear group of enemies without a clear goal. Clearly a war that cannot be won.

The changes in legislation to curb terrorism are a lot scarier than this, since this is erosion of the democracy of the worlds only superpower - 'our former ally' as we may soon have to say. Arguments for the legislation and limitation of rights invariably invoke an image of martial law, i.e. a time limited voluntary restriction of rights to defeat the enemy. But the war on terrorism will not be won in any clear sense of the word. That's not saying that it shouldn't be fought -I think by and large it should - its just that it will never end, or it will not end as a result of American actions at least.So this legislation will never go away again. And that is a very real threat to democracy. It is not really important whether it is to protect the personal safety of a dictator or the public safety of most of the population; if a society is based on a basic and widespread fear of the anonymous citizen it can never be a democracy. The new legislation being proposed seems very much to be that.

The politics of George Paine (anti-Bush and anti-war) are clear, but even if you disagree the summary of the situation he offers is sober and worthwhile.

Posted by Claus at February 13, 2003 11:09 AM
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