Propono (Latin): to put or set forth, to set or lay out, to offer, to place before, expose to view, display, point out, declare, represent, report, say, relate, set forth, publish, etc.

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Propono, ergo sum?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lowering the Temperature

A compelling piece by Ian S. Lustick, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His argument, in a nutshell: we need to "lower the temperature" on the so-called "war on terror," as elevating terrorist threats to such a lofty level actually serves terrorists' interests much more than it serves our own. He calls for agressive, deliberate, multi-faceted enforcement, as opposed to an inherently unwinnable "war" on something that, like crime, will always be part of the social fabric to some degree. By lowering the temperature and reducing the importance we give terrorists and their causes, he argues, we can create a world that is many degrees safer that it is today.

Full piece here:

A few excerpts:


The government’s loudly trumpeted ‘‘War on Terror’’ is not the solution to the problem. It has become the problem. The War on Terror does not reduce public anxieties by thwarting terrorists poised to strike. Rather, in myriad ways, conducting the anti-terror effort as a “war” fuels those anxieties. By stoking these public fears and attracting vast political and economic resources in response to them, the War on Terror encourages, indeed virtually compels, every interest group in the country to advance its own agenda as crucial for winning the war. As a result, widening circles of Americans are drawn into spirals of exaggeration, waste, and fear.


The first and most difficult step to take is to open up debate over the logic and appropriateness of the War on Terror that American opinion leaders and the public at large have been trapped into serving. As a self-powered system the War on Terror permits them criticism of the way it is conducted but not questions about whether it should be fought at all. In this way the War on Terror transforms almost all criticism into its own cannon fodder. Only by publicly debating the existence and justification of the War on Terror itself can we begin to expose the psychological and political nets that entangle us within it and begin to cut them away.

This will not be easy. Those who begin the discussion, especially politicians, are likely to pay a heavy price. Their message can easily be misunderstood or distorted as a refusal to take the problem of terrorism seriously, to learn the lessons of our lack of preparedness on September 11, or to recognize al-Qaeda as the force for evil it is in the world. Many will find their political, economic, and even personal interests so well served by the discourse, fears, and escalating expenditures of the War on Terror that, consciously or not, they will resist evidence of its counterproductive effects and destructive dynamics. Inexorably, however, as the War on Terror continues to expand, breaking every barrier in our constitutional system and budgetary system, it will overextend itself so grossly that even many Americans who benefit from it will be emboldened to think critically and speak publicly about it.



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