Friday, January 01, 2010

Fred on Panty Terror

Don't deny yourself the New Year's Day pleasure of reading a Fred Reed column. Here's an excerpt:
Now, who is winning the War on Terror? They are. The United States spends ungodly amounts on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing people right and left in Pakistan and getting sucked in ever deeper, bombing Somalia, widening the war on Islam into Yemen, threatening Iran. From Al Quaeda’s point of view, this must be peaches. The US, already in a grave recession, bleeding jobs to Asia, having become the world’s foremost debtor nation, now spends itself to death in a widening gyre.

New York was genius. Evil, but brilliant. A few guys with box cutters, a bit of training, and voila! Thousands and thousands of GIs dead or ruined, America dives into a half dozen wars, and there is no end in sight. As strategy, the terrorists have been masterly. They have perfected induced suicide. We have been Kevorkianed.

Further, and implausibly, Al Quaeda has transformed America into exactly what it was intended not to be: a frightened police-and-surveillance state. Wars subvert freedoms, and subvert the desire for freedoms, and then the memory of them. If this is what bin Laden and the gang set out to bring about, they have succeeded splendidly.

The Bill of Rights is largely defunct. Americans now accept random searches in public places, and NSA monitors everyone’s email. So much for the Fourth Amendment.

Police powers grow. Cops increasingly are militarized, ninja-ed out, jackbooted and unaccountable. Habeas corpus is doubtful. American embassies abroad cower behind bars, afraid to allow women to enter with a lipstick. (The world’s hyperpower is afraid of lipstick.) The ever-present loudspeakers in airports and subways urge us to watch each other: We are to be a nation of snitches. Carry-on bags on airliners are being forbidden. The FBI can pull your library records, and the library can’t tell you. As the twilight deepens, journalists hesitate to criticize the government. (This latter, amigos, is happening.)

Ours is not the America it recently was, and it gets differenter by the month. Who would have thought that so little effort would be needed to wreak such internal havoc on the world’s hyperpower, fearful of gel deodorants? The success of the terrorists is deplorable, but in strategic terms it has been magnificent. Never have so few done so much to so many so easily.
Happy New Decade, y'all.

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