The 'Us' and 'Them' of Counterterrorism
Posted by David Shorr
This passage of the president's remarks today is about the security - liberty balance, but for me the implied contrast with conservative hyperventilation is more interesting:
Here at home, we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans, because great and proud nations don't hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. That is exactly what our adversaries want, and so long as I am President, we will never hand them that victory. We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children.
The policy questions have to do with the dangers of making ourselves a garrison state; as a matter of political worldview, it has to do with how the terrorists ("THEM") loom in our consciousness. When it comes down to it, the essence of Cheneyism is that you can never overstate the threat from the terrorists, never be too dark in your assmptions, never do too much to counter them.
President Obama is saying that if we make these murderous glory-seekers our nation's main focus, we only build them up and diminish ourselves.