I pay almost zero attention to politics, and the issues of the day, and the candidates. I’m as close to a-political as anyone I know. So I was surprised to tune in to radio coverage of the democratic debate in New Hampshire the other night. Moderator Charles Gibson asked a question that was really more of a pointed suggestion, saying (something like) ‘I think that the greatest threat to the United States is the potential detonation of a nuclear device in one of our cities. If you as President knew that Al Qaeda had nuclear capability and was in Pakistan, would you take military action, with or without the permission or cooperation of that government?’.
Not only was I shocked to hear each of the four front-running candidates essentially allow that they would, in fact, take such action, but even more alarming:
–No one questioned the logic, or the causal assumptions of the question.
–No one commented on the moderator’s assumption that this is, in fact, the greatest threat to our country.
–No one noted that Al Qaeda is a decentralized organization– even if you killed half of the agents of such an unstructured group, you would not stop it. In so doing, in fact, you might well fuel its growth.
–No one mentioned that perhaps our tendency to unilaterally visit death and destruction on various (other) parts of the world may have something to do with the reason that people want to do the same thing to us. It seems to me that there was a very sober, very quiet time immediately following 9/11 when we as a country asked, ‘why would people hate us so much?’. Somehow, we seem to have ignored that important question.