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The Lower Blogosphere Burns with the Intensity of a Thousand Suns.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It’s Worse Than You Think

September 11, 2001 marked a turning point in American history. It was a tragic day which will resonate well into the 21st century. As historian David Halberstam said, we first faced the “sheer horror of the event itself, destructive and violent…” which led us almost immediately into war with the Taliban government of Afghanistan. But as Halberstam continues, the trials we face as a nation are the “abrupt start of a new chapter in our lives.” This “new chapter” is the challenge of continually combating terrorism throughout the world. But is this any different from challenges we have faced in the past? How has September 11, 2001 actually changed America? One of the most notable changes is the way in which we prioritize.

Before September 11, domestic issues dominated the political landscape. People were largely unconcerned about what went on in other countries thousands of miles away. But by the 2004 presidential election, the top issue of the day was foreign policy. Instead of concerning themselves with who would better manage the economy or health care, the voters questioned the ability of each candidate to deal with the ongoing “War on Terror.” Polls consistently showed George Bush with higher marks on terrorism, and he managed a razor thin win. Foreign policy hadn’t been so important in a presidential election since 1960, when the United States and Soviet Union were standing on the brink of mutual nuclear destruction. If America could endure the threat of nuclear annihilation, can it not endure the threat of terrorism? Compared to global nuclear war, is terrorism somehow less threatening, easier to handle? While terrorism may not approach the destructive magnitude of nuclear war (for now), it has still had a drastic impact on how many people live each day.

Coping with a national disaster of dire proportions was precisely the reason the Department of Homeland Security was created after September 11. But is it prepared for such an emergency today? FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was brought into the DHS, but its appallingly slow response to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina makes many people question whether or not the United States can recover effectively and efficiently from future terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Experts say that a terrorist attack in the next few years is extremely likely. Even more likely is a global pandemic caused by the Avian Flu. Are the various government agencies prepared to deal with such looming threats? Has September 11 taught them to prepare for the worst, or have they learned nothing? The answer appears to be the latter. While countries across the developed world are stocking up on enough vaccines for anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of their populations, the United States only has enough for roughly 2%. In terms of preparedness, little if anything has changed since September 11, 2001. And that is the real tragedy.

Did September 11, 2001 mark a new chapter in the American way of life? Yes. It made people more conscious of the world around themselves. It altered the course of a presidential election. But in the long run, has it had a significant impact on our country—or is it just politics as usual? The sad truth is that our government is just as ineffective and unable to prevent a major disaster today as it was before September 11, 2001. It truly is a threat without end.

There have been 9 Cries of Anguish:

Blogger robmcj maliciously intimated...

Sept 11 has been great business for manufacturers of cameras and camera-phones. Everyone's hoping to get their own photo of the next big terrorist event. I'm a bit uneasy about this trend, but one useful spin-off could be greater citizen vigilance.

12/14/2005 11:23 PM  
Blogger Cabe maliciously intimated...

Duct Tape sales have skyrocketed since 9/11. It was a scheme!

12/15/2005 12:33 AM  
Blogger Bhakti maliciously intimated...

Having lived less than a mile away from the towers when they fell, I can tell you that MY life has changed. I make much more time for my family now.

With regards to Halberstam, he's one of my favorite historians. Not saying I always agree with him, but I enjoy reading his writing (I'm a teacher, and I tell ya, I don't believe half of what I read in any 'history' book. It's always got someone's bias, whether they're aware of it or not.)

As far as the country goes, I think the Cold War was a much 'trickier' war in that it was truly a war of semasiology. I mean, I thank God, as I'm sure even the most far-right of the right-wingers will agree, that George W. was not in office instead of Reagan. His lack of forming a decent sentence and misuse of vocabulary could have really worked against us. By the same token, perhaps it is good that George W. is in office now, instead of Reagan.

I don't know. I still hate the fact that politics divide this country. But, that's the good ol two party system. It all comes back to Beezlebub (Lord of the Flies---thanks for the maggot link yesterday). Different people will always vi for the position of ruler.

With regard to terrorism, what country has ever terrorized another country more devastatingly than us with the bombing of Hiroshima?? Not to mention the 100,000 innocent people that we slaughtered over there in one night, right before the dropping of the bomb.

It's all relative...this thing called life. We're now reaping what we sowed over the years.

12/15/2005 8:03 AM  
Blogger Gyrobo maliciously intimated...

I don't think people are buying cell phones because of terrorism. It's sort of a global phenomena, where people are switching from landlines to cellular. That's really the future.

Duct tape sales only skyrocketted after 9/11 because that crazy expert told people they needed it. Incidently, that duct tape guy is now in charge of FEMA. Be afraid.

And yes, a president's performance is usually dictated by the needs of the time. That's why we dumped Hoover for Roosevelt. In any other time in history, Hoover would've done great; he was actually a nice guy who just didn't have the advantage of sound economic training.

12/15/2005 2:55 PM  
Blogger His Majesty maliciously intimated...

Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

GyroboTime: expire function.



12/15/2005 3:36 PM  
Blogger Cabe maliciously intimated...


12/15/2005 9:23 PM  
Blogger Bathroom Hippo maliciously intimated...

Ever have the lights go out in Georgia?

Its go time!

12/15/2005 9:28 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo maliciously intimated...

By now, this post has lost its seriousness.

12/16/2005 12:31 AM  
Blogger L>T maliciously intimated...

The babe & I say Hi! Your Heinousness! We depend on you to protect us from terrorism & deadbeat dads!

12/16/2005 8:28 AM  

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