Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

War Crimes or Only Crimes

Why are conservatives (and some others) so bent on treating the atrocities committed on September 11, 2001, as acts of war rather than monstrous crimes? They don't look like acts of war. They were not launched by an aggressor nation with the intention of invading and conquering the United States, or overthrowing the government. Despite the enormity of the crimes, the viability of our society is not at risk in the least. Life has gone on rather normally, even allowing for all the ways politicians have exploited the situation in their quest for power. There just seems no good reason to respond by pretending "America is at war." Indeed, the reasons against this response could fill volumes.

So why the insistence that this is war? I think one big reason is that conservatives are, first and foremost, nationalists, and nothing makes nationalism (a form of collectivism) more real than war. Throw in the doctrine of "American exceptionalism" and you have a rationalization for an open-ended "war on terror" in which the world is the battlefield and civil liberties are a luxury we just can't afford.

The war footing also makes it easier to take attention off U.S. interventionist foreign policy, which has seeded the ground for terrorism directed at Americans. One need not excuse the inexcusable acts of September 11 to see how they fit into the big picture. Every empire was struck by terrorists because terrorism is the only low-cost means of retribution available to those who feel aggrieved by imperialism. Most Americans have no clue about what "their" government has been doing in the Middle East for the last couple of generations. It takes shocking ignorance or willful blindness to regard the United States as a gentle sleeping giant until September 11.

So . . . try the criminals in civilian courts. Meanwhile, bring the troops, the CIA, and the meddling diplomats home so this doesn't happen again.


Blackberry Insurance said...

One fairly convincing arguement I heard today against trying terrorists in civilian cours was to do with what would otherwise be classified information that would help Al Qaeda - from a 2003 trial - was later found in an Al Qaeda hideout in Afganstan.

davidncl said...

What is the view of the people who carried out the attacks?

Did they regard themselves as criminals or as warriors?

Do the attackers see themselves as acting in their own self interest or as agents of some other entity.

If the latter, what is that entity? Is or was that entity a state or form of state?

Edward said...

Though it would be good to know the answers to those questions, Do any of them matter to the controversy over the trial?

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