The citation of James Madison's view towards how war was to be seen as the fundamental threat to the liberties and promises of a great democracy is significant in the panel discussion. The panelists do seem to conclude that, in the decade that followed the September 11 attacks, the nation...
The citation of James Madison's view towards how war was to be seen as the fundamental threat to the liberties and promises of a great democracy is significant in the panel discussion. The panelists do seem to conclude that, in the decade that followed the September 11 attacks, the nation did move from a mood of trust in government to one in which most of the country's political institutions were perceived as unfavorable. The panel concludes that this move was large in part due to the construct of war as so much a part of the decade that followed the attacks of September 11. The panel argues that the invocation of war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, but also domestically is where the shift against the nation's political institutions to an unfavorable one. The use of Madisonian logic is powerful here. Madison is cited in the panel discussion as one who sincerely believed that the invocation of war hurts both the democratic experiment and the public faith within it:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.
The panelists argue that the growth of economic discontent, domestic discord, as well as the overarching reach of the government in the decade that followed the September 11 attacks happens because of the invocation of war. It is war that ends up becoming the force that defines American response to the September 11 attacks. Because of this, what was a moment of unity and trust becomes something of disconnect and alienation. Given the questions that end up emerging about the war and its rationale for waging, this becomes magnified, feeding the panel's belief that the public shift to mistrust is exacerbated by the questions of war.
Madison's words also help to enhance the panel's view of this when cited to talk about the increased power of the Executive branch:
In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
The panel makes clear through different viewpoints on the same idea that the Madisonian fear of war becomes a reality in American life in the decade that followed the attacks of September 11. The idea here is that the increased emphasis on surveillance, control, and the elusive hunt in the "war on terror" helped to enhance the "malignant aspect" of an increased executive, something seen economically in the "inequality of fortunes," something that the panel cites after the September 11 attacks. The inability to "preserve its freedom" in the midst of a "war on terror" that never seems to end is part of the legacy of the September 11 Attacks. It is a legacy that the panel members feels accounts for the shift towards mistrust in the decade the follows the attacks.