Monday, July 29, 2013

Are Americans ready to end perpetual war?

My advice to Glenn Greenwald would be to be careful with the contortions he's engaging to pat himself on the back because he could do permanent damage to his arm. Prior to releasing his next so-called "bombshell" (which has been pre-emptively debunked very thoroughly by Bob Cesca), Greenwald is taking some time to give himself credit for the major opinion shifts in NSA surveillance from the latest Pew Poll. Here's his very favorite finding:

Govt Anti-Terror Policies

Of course, he totally ignores this one:
Nonetheless, the public’s bottom line on government anti-terrorism surveillance is narrowly positive. The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 17-21 among 1,480 adults, finds that 50% approve of the government’s collection of telephone and internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts, while 44% disapprove. These views are little changed from a month ago, when 48% approved and 47% disapproved.
Overall, as with other polling on this issue, the results are confusing at best (as they usually are on issue-polling as opposed to election-polling). But what I notice about the graph up above is that previous polling on this question preceded the killing of Osama bin Laden. One might be justified in wondering how much that event - coupled with the fact that there have been no al Qaeda attacks in the U.S. since 9/11 - might have reduced people's concerns about whether or not "government anti-terror policies have gone far enough to protect the country."

As with any human behavior, we have to be very careful about assuming causation. People change their minds as a result of very complex associations. But I agree with what President Obama said to Charlie Rose about all this.
I've got to tell you though Charlie, I think this is a healthy thing because its a sign of maturity that this debate would not have been taking place 5 years ago. And I welcome it.
I welcome not just the talk about surveillance, but also the President's suggestion that its time to talk about ending perpetual war.  It could be that our embrace of fear following the 9/11 attacks is finally coming to an end.
Neither I, nor any President, can promise the total defeat of terror. We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings, nor stamp out every danger to our open society. But what we can do -- what we must do -- is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us, and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend. And to define that strategy, we have to make decisions based not on fear, but on hard-earned wisdom.
Defining a strategy based on hard-earned wisdom is the task at hand. That means being engaged in a rational conversation that relies on neither the fear of terrorists nor the kind generated by those pedaling sensationalist hyperbole.

1 comment:

  1. This president is the first since Truman to challenge the 'perpetual war' manifesto set down in National Security Council memo #68 of 1947. We no longer rush to intervene, we respect other nations' and people's authority to ASK us for help before sailing in, and we no longer rely utterly on "American national interests" as if they totally trump everyone else's. Ron Paul pretends to agree, but he opposes ONLY war by government NOT by mercenaries directed by corporations. He has no use for governmental action both for cost and for democratic pushback. Note well that Monsanto just bought Blackwater - that's the Libertarian wet dream. A private army out of the control of government (or so they think). President Obama has been working toward this while balancing the mess Bush and Cheney left us, and now the public is thinking seriously about ending, once and for all, the Cold War imperialism that has made the US despised around the world. That's why many nations now respect us again. It's why war no longer HAS to be seen as inevitable. Right president for this to happen.