And remember the decision to build the interstate highway system? It was a great idea, that was started partly in response to the threat of nuclear attack. We suddenly needed a way to quickly evacuate cities in the event of a war. States added their own highway systems and as highways began to surround cities and towns, urban centers began to decay as middle class families moved to the suburbs and took their shopping dollars and tax payments with them.
That decisions have unintended consequences is well known and inevitable. Change is inevitable in any case, so decisions are made and the future emerges with all its surprises, but once it a while we ought to anticipate the downside risk. For example, we should have imagined that when the US intervened in the affairs of other nations, that it might bite us in the back some day. Thus the enmity of many in Central and South America should have been anticipated – highlighted by Venezuela and Cuba. So too the enmity of Iranians after we installed the Shah. And remember our gloating when the cold war ended. That was bad enough, but then we proceeded to add Russia’s neighbors to NATO, as if we were running up the score on a football game with an overmatched opponent. Did we think we would never need Russia again? Well we do. When world affairs get complicated, it is Russia we need, not Slovenia, Slovakia or Poland – as we have found out with regard both to Iran, who nuclear ambitions we want to contain, and with regard to Syria.
The Russians are historically ambivalent about the west and suspicious of our motives in any case, but after we spent the 1990s rubbing their noses in it, we should have guessed that eventually it would come back to us. And it has. Hence even as Syria collapses, Russia remain aloof to our desire to end the Assad government (of course there is no real alternative either). And Russia does all it can to subvert the West’s embaro of Iran.
Ok, so now we have drone warfare. A no brainer on the face of it, after all, no US soldiers need to die.
And there has been a flurry of outrage, but about a really minor issue – the killing of a few Americans whose demise took away their right to a day in court.* Oddly, few US news sources note the many killed who are innocent, or if not innocent, are hardly a serious threat to us. The real harm comes to the way drone strikes have converted Pakistanis and Yemenis from being merely hateful of the US to hating us with an urgency and venom that will keep the fires of terrorism burning bright. Yes, the Muslims grown lots of restless angry young men. Out continued attacks give them the motivation that they need to strike back at us. And over time, a few of them are bound to get through.
The lesson of 9/11 was not about freedom vs terror, it was about blowback. We still haven’t grasped this.
*I am not unaware of the legalities. But in the scheme of things, the numbers of US citizens killed in nothing in comparison to the real downside risk from increased terrorism.