Home   Archive


No wonder we get confused

Jack Balshaw 5/29/02

In our ongoing discussions of what people do versus what people SHOULD do, we often overlook that we tend to operate on a dual standard. We know it and yet we ignore it. In each instance, we pick the position (pragmatism or idealism) that supports our beliefs.

Our positions in the political realm most glaringly demonstrate our dual standards. We disparage our elected officials' actions but we continue to re-elect them. We hold them in low regard in competence but we expect them to come up with perfect solutions to difficult and divisive problems. We "expect" them to do what is right but reason that they will represent special interests.

It's no wonder that political discussion is usually a no win exercise. No one gets convinced by the other side because they're arguing based on two differing positions.

The President can call for bipartisan cooperation while his party practices extreme partisanship. His supporters note his call for bipartisanship while his critics note his party's hypocrisy in the matter.

This current brouhaha about the 9/11 attack and what the President knew and when did he know it, is another example of dual standards. With hindsight and from newly compiled information, we can now pick out the right "dots" to connect. Professionals in his departments were aware of some of the dots. The departments weren't coordinated or didn't cooperate. He is responsible for the Executive branch. This proves he is responsible in some way for the disaster.

But from a pragmatic point of view, there are very few people in society (in government or out) who think outside of the box of previous experience. Accordingly, we will continue to be surprised by each initial use of a new, and most importantly, novel methods of attack. In reality, he couldn't have been expected to foresee the disaster.

His professionals in the FBI and CIA should have been aware of the possibility of using airplanes as vehicles of destruction. But even they couldn't have implemented procedures which would have stopped the 9/11 attack.

Prior to 9/11 the traveling public was criticizing check-in and flight delays. Without the experience of 9/11, there is no way the present procedures could have been implemented. Travelers would have revolted and Congress would have forced the FAA to rescind more stringent procedures. Let's admit it.

We are going to continue being surprised IF terrorism is really a threat, which I think is questionable. It's quite possible that there were only several dozen leaders and they have been forced into hiding. Governments that might have supported them will be very wary of doing so in the future. Any remaining terrorists are merely foot soldiers and can't function globally without the organization that leadership provided.

My concern is that our government will use the threat of terrorism for decades to push through legislation that will weaken the ability of the general public to control government. As it is now, the public is almost helpless in significantly changing government. With more and more "anti-terrorism" laws on the books and broader enforcement and secrecy procedures quietly developed within the departments, we will know less and less about what is really happening.

The excuse of the "war on terrorism" is being used more to affect domestic legislation than it is to eliminate terrorism. The Israelis haven't had an aircraft hijacking in many decades, but they can't stop suicide bombers.

In this country there will continue to be incidents just as there will continue to be school shootings. But the incidents will be minor in scope, random and infrequent.


Home   Archive