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American Policies in the Post-9/11 Period

Undoubtedly, the post-9/11 American domestic and foreign policies have significantly changed. Some of the experts note that the terrorists’ attack laid down the foundation of democratic failure. Racial profiling, in particular, is seen as violation of civil rights and liberties of people who are targeted for additional questioning based on their race and ethnicity. Others view policy changes as needed to protect the nation and ensure security and peace. The attack on September 11 became the starting point for reorganization of American policies and more emphasis should be made on protecting the national as well as global security even if the civil rights of some people are neglected.

Today, if to ask a person to define freedom, he will mention the liberties written in the Bill of Rights. Nevertheless, the events of September 11 have changed the idea of freedom and Americans started to divide the world on loyal people and traitors. War on terrorism raised hard questions about civil liberties in the wartime, the civil rights of foreigners, and set new boundaries of American freedom based on ethnicity. Trial by impartial jury, habeas corpus, right to legal representation and equality which have been granted equality despite of race and ethnicity have become dependent on national origin. Immediately after the attack, at least 5,000 foreigners were arrested without charges and public acknowledgment (Foner 1). The newly established laws allowed law enforcement authorities to hold military tribunals for suspected non-citizens.

Notably, recalling the basic premises of democracy as the rule of majority, the policies following the attack on September 11, were based on democratic principles. The vast majority of Americans supported the restrains on liberties for ethnically-identified segments of population (Foner, p. 1). Americans are proud of their national accomplishment, people are proud of being a part of American nation. Freedom is one of the historical accomplishments the Americans are proud of the most. Freedom, however, is used as an explanation for attacks and following invasion of Iraq, for widespread infringements on civil liberties, and for awareness of distrust to American actions. The domestic and foreign policies were changed to defend the freedom. As President Bush announced shortly after September 11, those who carried out the attack hated American freedoms, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom to assemble (Foner, p. 1). From this perspective, freedom and civil rights of Americans, not foreigners or aliens, is a justification for war on terrorism and for establishment of strict policies.

Nevertheless, not all people envision recent changes in American policies as freedom protection. In particular, James Traub notes that democratic voters are torn between the hope to reshape the world and fear of being vulnerable to the world they create. Moreover, he assumes that the United States has one national security strategy and one foreign policy which are shaped as a response to events of September 11. The strategy should be rethought to include more attention on why communities from different countries perceive Americans differently. American law enforcement agents should care more about the neighboring countries and their vision of American actions and policies. Traub stresses that Americans should not promote democracy, but rather strive to create a world of liberty under law.

Moreover, the response of the United States to events on September 11 revealed the weakness and insecurity of civil liberties (LaMarche, p. 1). In the result of repressive Patriotic Act hundreds of people of East Asian ethnicity were arrested and sent for military tribunals. These people were denied any due-process protections and were marked as enemy combatants even though the vast majority of them were American citizens. LaMarche characterized the action of American government as systematic torture and abuse. Israel, Britain and India were also face with terrorism, however, none of these countries detained suspects without granting them basic civil rights. Those who were responsible for abuses were not held accountable for their actions. This fact points out to the political weakness of American government. While the Americans challenge the race and class barriers to justice and equality, the foreign and domestic policies undermine all initiatives in this direction.

From Lakoff’s perspective, American culture consists of two competing views which correspond to strict and nurturing role of the parent (Iyengar, p. 2). The first view is based on the assumption that human nature is weak and there is a need for strict father who can resort the discipline to ensure security and national growth. The parent model is associated with the idea that governance is necessary to maintain law and protect society from threats, while domestic problems should be the matter of individual responsibility (Iyengar, p. 2). Prior to the events on September 11, the American policies were characterized by strict father model: people were poor because they were not willing to take initiatives, people were unemployed because they were not working hard to find work, etc. However, the recent policies fall under nurturing parent model. From democratic standpoint, under the appropriate parental care (government), all children (nation) have the potential to develop into productive secure nation.

Furthermore, Lakoff assumed that people vote because of their moral identity rather than self-interest. Thus, democracy should correspond to the moral needs of population. The vast majority of Americans voted for stricter foreign policies because they saw no other way to ensure their security and stability in the country. There was an attack and nation was looking for the way to protect itself and minimize the chances of terrorists to repeat actions resulting in death. In addition, Lakoff provided new definition of responsibility. Responsibility in political issues is attributed to governmental forces and individual actions (Iyengar, p. 3). Government is responsible for rising crime because young people are unemployed. Thus, the failure to prevent terrorist’s attack indicated that national policies were not strong enough to ensure security.

Currently, the main challenge faced by the United States is to ensure broad international support for preventing global disorder and underdevelopment caused by the lack of democracy in third world countries (Schwenninger, p.  1). Notably, the shift was done from dealing with terrorism to creating effective governance in other parts of the world. Many politicians claim that the threat to American security comes not from rivalries among the countries, but is rather caused by the lack of sufficient democratic institutions. The American foreign policy should be focused on encouragement of development of effective centers capable of ensuring peace and prosperity in all parts of the world.

The response to events on September 11 cannot be referred to as effective because the newly established policies did not resolve the conflict or maintained the greater national and international security. The foreign policies should be reorganized in accordance to nurturing parent model. In particular, the government needs to ensure that needs of all citizens are met despite of their race and ethnicity. At the same time, the government has to ensure security and protection from external threats such as terrorists’ attacks. As Eichengreen noted right after September 11, the American government had to focus not on its domestic security, but rather offer help to developing countries who want to establish democracy. He pointed out to specific actions – abolishing restrictions on sales – which can raise the rates of economic growth and improve their living standards. The United States cannot solve all problems of the world; however, it can contribute to protecting the global peace.

Finally, more attention should be paid to immigration reform. The hijackers who carried out the attack were illegal immigrants to the United States. It means that American immigration policies were weak and ineffective. Today, more emphasis should be made on ensuring that aliens are not allowed to live in the country. Immigration policy should be considered as a part of national security policy. The United States has the right to defend its nation against enemies whether they attack from within or from outside. Strict immigration policy is a solution which can prevent another terrorists’ attack from both directions.

In conclusion, the post September 11 foreign and domestic policies do violate the civil rights of some citizens. Moreover, the current policies neglect the freedoms of many foreigners. Nevertheless, the strict actions of government are fully justified from democratic standpoint because they reflect the will and needs of majority. The American nation experienced terrorists’ attack which undermined the belief in security and protection. Today, the government strives to regain the trust of people and ensure security protection from internal as well as external threats. Immigration policy should become more effective and prevent illegal immigrants from living in the country. Even though such policies are harsh and seem discriminative to many, they are the only viable tools available to American government today.

Works Cited

  1. Eichengreen, Barry. “Us Foreign Economic Policy After September 11th.” Social Science Research Council, 2001.
  2. Foner, Eric. “Rethinking American History in a Post-9/11 World.History News Network, 2004. Web.
  3. Iyengar, Shanto. “Speaking of Values: the Framing of American Politics.” The Forum 3.3 (2005): 2-9.
  4. LaMarche, Gara. “The Crisis of Democracy in America.” Resource Center Publications and Articles, 2005.
  5. Schwenninger, Sherle. “American Grand Strategy After September 11.” World Policy Institute. 2007.
  6. Traub, James. “Obama’s guide to leading a “post-post-9/11” America.” International Herald Tribune. 2007.