Today is the seventh anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. It seems like so much longer ago, because of all the changes on the global scene. I can no longer call myself an expat American, because I became an NZ citizen some 12 or 13 years ago. Nevertheless, I have the unique privilege of seeing the event through both foreign and domestic eyes. Whichever eyes I use, the site is not pretty.
So what is the legacy, seven years on, for my homeland? Probably the most significant change, virtually unacknowledged, is the permanent suspension of habeas corpus. This thousand year old pillar of western liberal democracy has been replaced by presidential fiat, based on a secret list that grows by the thousands every month without the right of scrutiny or judicial remedies.
The nation’s finances are in tatters from record breaking deficits and the nation’s armed forces, still arguably the best conventional forces in the world, are stretched to the breaking point. All this for a pointless war of aggression in an oil rich land. Already those oil contracts are going to our geopolitical rivals, the Chinese, who financed this war and are set to reap the rewards. This is a clear sign of the impending end of American hegemony.
Also in tatters is America’s reputation as a defender of human rights and jurisprudence. The debacle that is Guantanamo Bay will stain that reputation for decades.
Finally, we have the rise of the police state. The Department of Homeland Security, named ominously like Hitler’s Office of Fatherland Security and set up in exactly the same circumstances, is the user friendly face of a many headed hydra of rights violating security agencies. The American Civil Liberites Union, or ACLU, has it’s work cut out for it just holding the line of further erosions of freedom.
This leads me to the rest of the world. Gordon Brown, the current leader of that other bastion of western liberal democracy, the UK, has called for draconian state surveilance that would make George Orwell proud. Meanwhile, today’s Herald reports that the French already operate such a database, called Edvige, and there is a huge hue and cry across the country. Incidentally, the Herald also reports today that the real reason for the Twin Towers collapse was ‘magnetic forces’. No doubt when it’s 9/11 tomorrow in America, this important new, newer, newest official explanation will be front page news.
Here at home, the recently passed terrorism laws have eroded our freedoms as well. What do you think of that?
I could go on, but I think I’ve said my peace. The real legacy of 9/11 is the roll back of the key pillars of western liberal democracy. We allow this to continue at our peril.