Ground Zero to further the healing process and perhaps even that elusive "closure." But judging from the surrounding noise, bin Laden's death has not so much closed a wound as opened one.
For we're suddenly reliving the Bush years. While GOPers are back defending the efficacy of torture (while interrogation experts continue to say it's useless as well as the terrorists' top recruiting tool, and numerous people who should know--plus a New York Times investigation--affirm that torture played no part in gaining the information that led to bin Laden), Democrats are opening their eyes again to the costs of Bushwar. And they are even more tragic now.
On Tuesday, Lawrence O'Donnell compared John Kerry's 2004 position on terrorism and Iraq with Bush's, and showed that the years since have proven Kerry right. Plus if Kerry's approach had been implemented, it would have been far, far, far less costly in money and lives. But what O'Donnell doesn't say is that Kerry's prescription was at least in general the same as what Al Gore talked about immediately after 9-11.
Also on Tuesday, Rachel Maddow used her program's considerable skills in making a point clearly and visually. The point she made has been advanced by others ( most recently, the Washington Post reporter she quoted, Ezra Klein.) The point is this: Osama bin Laden's basic intent was to leverage terroristic acts to force the United States government to bankrupt itself. Literally, financially.
Bin Laden had actually seen this happen to a Superpower, when the Afghan resistance he was a part of (at the behest of the Saudi royals) effectively bankrupted the Soviet Union. He figured he could do it to the U.S., too. Sure enough, as Maddow showed, the U.S. government doubled its defense budget and spent untold billions on intelligence and other activities directly flowing from a particular U.S. administration's response to bin Laden. (This concludes Maddow's point and begins mine.)
For thanks to some unfortunate events in Florida and a politicized Supreme Court, bin Laden got a willing partner in the White House--helped by a cowardly Congress-- for this particular goal. The Bushites responded as they did for all kinds of reasons. That's evident from their resurgent talking points this week, as well as what they're not saying, which has to do with sustaining GOPer power and enriching their corporate partners.
But isn't it odd that bin Laden's goal and the stated goal of the Rabid Right--to so diminish the ability of the federal government that it can be drowned in a bathtub--is essentially the same?
Maybe that's a stretch for some people, but I submit the effect is pretty damn much the same. Look at where we are. Apart even from the thousands of dead, the thousands of wounded, the thousands of families and millions of people whose lives have been twisted if not ruined--there's the federal government, with huge debt and diminished abilities to respond to the real needs and greater threats that we face.
The ongoing needs--education, health care, infrastructure, investment in clean energy--that have only grown worse, and for which there are scant resources (and diminished ability within the federal government, systematically depleted in key areas for political reasons.) All of the needs that could have been addressed.
What this week has accidentally reminded us is how much we wasted in the past decade, and how tragically timed that waste was. Because we failed to address, even accidentally, the greatest threat to our civilization, even when it was more generally acknowledged: the Climate Crisis.
The news this week--ignored as usual--was that the most prestigious study so far (though not the first) indicates that UN estimates for melting of Arctic and Greenland ice were way too modest--the melting is happening much faster, and as a consequence they predict a greater rise in sea levels.
It's just one of the daily pieces of evidence. At this point our fate is probably sealed, whatever it turns out to be, but it's not likely to be good. But had we been addressing this for the past ten years, and even if we had the federal surplus to apply to getting ready for the effects, we might have gotten through this without the major dislocations we're facing. And so here we are, in so many ways, bankrupt.
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