The apparatus


The New York Times magazine convenes a panel of contributors, including Michael Ignatieff, to discuss the ramifications of 9/11.

The most obvious consequence of 9/11 to me has been the creation of a new national security state, to rival the one created at the start of the Cold War. It is an archipelago beneath democratic scrutiny, and it has done liberal democracies real damage: rendition, torture, detention without trial, Guantánamo, military tribunals. Its justification is that it has prevented an attack on the homeland. But this is a strange kind of justification: the absence of apocalypse is held to justify a permanent state of emergency, extending indefinitely into the future…

The concern I have about the whole world opened up after 9/11 is this archipelago, not just of drones, but of communication intercepts, Internet monitoring, which preserves our security at the price of … what? We don’t even know. I’m relatively trusting, far from paranoid, but we do have a new institutional problem:  to subject special forces, cybercommand, the boys with the drones, to some form of democratic oversight and control, if we are to stay what we say we are.


The apparatus

  1. Mickey I. sounds, er, American again.


  2. AJP Taylor:

    Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. 

    He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction or limit. He could buy goods from any country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police ….. 

    All this was changed by the impact of the Great War. The mass of the people became, for the first time, active citizens. Their lives were shaped by orders from above; they were required to serve the state instead of pursuing exclusively their own affairs. Five million men entered the armed forces, many of them (though a minority) under compulsion. 

    The Englishman’s food was limited, and its quality changed, by government order. His freedom of movement was restricted; his conditions of work prescribed. Some industries were reduced or closed, others artificially fostered. The publication of news was fettered. Street lights were dimmed. The sacred freedom of drinking was tampered with: licensed hours were cut down, and the beer watered by order.

    The very time on the clocks was changed. From 1916 onwards, every Englishman got up an hour earlier in summer than he would otherwise have done, thanks to an act of parliament. The state established a hold over it citizens which, though relaxed in peacetime, was never to be removed and which the second World war was again to increase.

    The history of the English state and of the English people merged for the first time.

    • Point?

  3. A thoughtful discussion. No conclusions of course, but they all express a profound sense of loss. They’ve lost the Empire, they’ve lost the lead, they’ve lost the economy, they’ve lost the world…and they’re still not sure how or why.

    Perhaps they should have listened to what bin Laden said in 2004. 

    “All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two  Mujahideen to the furthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.

    This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the Mujahideen, bled Russia for ten years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.
    All Praise is due to Allah.
    So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah.”

    • Ah, the hero of the left wing lunatics.

      Although, I doubt you’d enjoy living under al-Qaida rule, you sure seem to cheerlead for them.

      • bin Laden clearly spelled out what he was going to do.

        Had you paid attention you wouldn’t be so confused now.

      • Suckers like you are doing his work for him. 

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