With Osama bin Laden killed, the United States’ ten-year mission to extract personal revenge is complete. At what cost? We’ve had our civil liberties taken from us bit by bit. We’ve spent countless dollars on warfare, while our schools, roads and hospitals crumble. The air travelers among us are subjected to degrading, humiliating and unwanted body searches. The American way of life has been forever altered, but it didn’t have to be that way. And I fundamentally believe that it’s not yet too late to change course.
While the euphoria of Osama’s death begins to fade over the next coming days and weeks, I believe the national discourse should be one of introspection and self-consideration. Are we really safer because of our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is our high GDP solely a consequence of the performance of the military-industrial complex? Why can’t we, one of the greatest nations in the world, also enjoy the highest life expectancy and the highest literacy rates amongst our peer nations? Should warfare continue to be our national priority?
These are the questions that need to be asked now, by every American. Now is the time to look back on the past ten years and really take a very close look at the path we’re traveling as a nation. I think we’ve made some great choices and some very, very poor ones – but correcting them is not beyond our capabilities. I hope and I believe that many other Americans will join me in asking such questions and demanding answers.
The political scientist in me believes that the next few months will provide the chance to move legislation that takes us away from the national security state model and back towards the economic opportunity model. For decades, the middle class has been seeing its wages and employment benefits slowly ripped away from them. Public schools are failing at an alarming rate. Alternative energy is appearing, but too slowly. We need, as a nation, to re-prioritize if we expect to continue to be the Land of Opportunity. There is little other choice.