In this op-ed called "The Real-Life "24" of Summer 2008," the Grey Lady's Frank Rich does a nice synthesis of what (the few remaining!) regular readers here will vaguely recognize as one of the sort of the themes of this blog (as if there were any!), to wit, the unConstitutional and unAmerican abuses and outright war crimes committed by the Bush Administration have probably not made us any safer from the threat of Islamist terrorism, as well as being unacceptable to any people who call themselves bound to the rule of law.
This is not to say, of course, that if such measures as torture and trashing the Bill of Rights were effective, that we should engage in them; the fact is, moral authority had always been this nation's most effective ally in conducting its affairs. And of course, the goodwill of our allies had been another key ally. But by flushing both down the sewer-pipe of expedience (and of course for that vaunted "flexibility"), we have undermined our own security. Also, there is the factor of "how are we better than them if we behave no better than them." Ah, details, details.
Obviously, the biggest problem is not understanding the motivations of our enemies. The fact is, OBL's biggest and most cherished personal demand-- that we (meaning the US of A and our females, Jews, etc.) get out of "the Holy Peninsula" of Saudi, seems to have been complied with.
Obviously, as of 11 Sept. 2001, it had not. And so, we have to do a little more digging to see what exactly is sticking in the craw of our attackers these days.
While it may feel good to addled, overworked Americans to hear comic book terms like "evil-doers," it does not really serve us to forget that our opponents are human beings with their own motives and agendas... Certainly, as Frank Rich's op-ed points out, the signs-- a reconstructed A.Q. operating in Pakistan-- a state with nuclear weapons that will be somewhat harder to deal with than lawless Afghanistan should it be necessary to deal with re: harboring A.Q. after a significant attack on an American target-- but our own military has been weakened, both in real, material terms, and in moral terms, as a result of political expedience after political expedience.
Well, six months and a week left in the Bush Administration. Will it fly by... or will it be an eternity... this has been... "Dangling Conversation."