Saturday, December 8, 2012

Time To End The War On Terror Says Fareed Zakaria

In WaPo of 12/7/12 Fareed Zakaria calls for an eventual end to the officially designated "War on Terror."  I fully agree.  He notes that the US has been since 9/11/01 in a state in which the president has wartime emergency powers, the limits of which remain undefined, even though the US Congress has not declared war since 1941.  The mastermind of 9/11 has been terminated, and the core of his organization has been decimated, even if a shadow of it remains.  While offshoots crop up here and there, none of them seem capable of attacking the US itself, and indeed none have since 9/11.  It is time to end this unpleasant state in which presidents continue to expand their ability to monitor and control the most private details of the lives of US citizens.

This peculiar situation reminds me of a story that many consider to be quite silly.  During WW II, one of the most brilliant people who ever lived became an American citizen, the logician Kurt Godel, who was at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton at the time.  Accompanying him to the final installation in Trenton were Albert Einstein and Oscar Morgenstern.  They were well aware that Godel was worried that he would fail the exam and be denied citizenship and had been carefully studying such matters as who were the Chairs of County Boards of Supervisors around the country.  At the swearing in, the judge made the required speech about the duties of citizens and declared that the US was a democratic nation that could not become a fascist dictatorship of the sort that the US was at that time in a legally declared war with.  Godel interrupted the judge to declare that it was possible under the Constitution for the US to be a fascist dictatorship.  What followed that declaration remains in dispute as his companions intervened.  In any case, Godel was granted his citizenship, but we have never learned why he thought this unpleasant outcome was possible.  However, the current situation of 11 years in a row of presidents possessing emergency wartime powers without any war being declared or any attack upon the US during this time suggests that whatever Godel's own ideas on this were, he had serious grounds for his concern.

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