Saturday, January 28, 2006

Finding a Place for 9/11 in American History

NYT In recent weeks, President Bush and his administration have mounted a spirited defense of his Iraq policy, the Patriot Act and, especially, a program to wiretap civilians, often reaching back into American history for precedents to justify these actions. It is clear that the president believes that he is acting to protect the security of the American people. It is equally clear that both his belief and the executive authority he claims to justify its use derive from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

And that is exactly what he has said.
A myriad of contested questions are obviously at issue here — foreign policy questions about the danger posed by Iraq, constitutional questions about the proper limits on executive authority, even political questions about the president's motives in attacking Iraq. But all of those debates are playing out under the shadow of Sept. 11 and the tremendous changes that it prompted in both foreign and domestic policy.

Whether or not we can regard Sept. 11 as history, I would like to raise two historical questions about the terrorist attacks of that horrific day. My goal is not to offer definitive answers but rather to invite a serious debate about whether Sept. 11 deserves the historical significance it has achieved.
Since the NYT would prefer that people forget about 9/11. Which is strange, because the greatest loss of life was in New York. But I guess since it was the Trade Towers, the Left Wing NYT may feel the Capitalists deserved to die.
My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic.
It is the most recent, and it represents an attack on this country, i.e. the original 48 states. We went to war when Pearl Harbor was attacked, but that was in Hawaii, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility.

Sept. 11 does not rise to that level of threat because, while it places lives and lifestyles at risk, it does not threaten the survival of the American republic, even though the terrorists would like us to believe so.
The Islamo Terrorists that attacked on 9/11 are just as great a threat to democracy and capitalism as Hitler was, and if they get nuclear weapons, they definitely will use them, while it is unclear that Russia would have been stupid enough to attack us from Cuba (they certainly were not stupid enough to let Castro have control of the missles).

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