I know what you’re thinking, because it was most likely what I was thinking when I read the headline. First, that Zakaria is a far left dupe and a terrorist apologist. Second, there are people out there who want to kill Americans. Buuuuuuut, he actually makes a few good points
As we debate whether the two parties can ever come together and get things done, here’s something President Obama could probably do by himself that would be a signal accomplishment of his presidency: End the war on terror. Or, more realistically, start planning and preparing the country for phasing it out.
For 11 years, the United States has been operating under emergency wartime powers granted under the 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force.” That is a longer period than the country spent fighting the Civil War, World War I and World War II combined. It grants the president and the federal government extraordinary authorities at home and abroad, effectively suspends civil liberties for anyone the government deems an enemy and keeps us on a permanent war footing in all kinds of ways.
How many times have we complained about the TSA and their infringement on our persons, as well as absurd policies? How about the Central Government voting themselves massive new powers to spy on citizens? What about SOPA, PIPA, the NADA, and others? How about the conservative notion of limited government? Certainly, law enforcement and intelligence should not forget about the fact that terrorists, mostly Islamic ones, do want to harm America and Americans. But, where does it end in terms of massive government?
If you want to know why we’re in such a deep budgetary hole, one large piece of it is that we have spent around $2 trillion on foreign wars in the past decade. Not coincidentally, we have had the largest expansion of the federal government since World War II. The Post’s Dana Priest and William Arkin have described how the U.S. government has built 33 new complexes for the intelligence bureaucracies alone. The Department of Homeland Security employs 230,000 people.
Well, there are quite a few other reasons for our deep budgetary hole, but that’s a damned good point about the expansion of government, which conservatives did complain about during the Bush years. And once a federal bureaucracy is entrenched, it’s almost impossible to do away with. Then you have to pay them all the expensive benefits and pensions. They unionize. So, maybe it’s time to ramp the war down.