Most of us recall the firestorm that circulated around our presidential nominee in the wake of his 10/04 NYT Magazine interview, where he said the following:
When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''
As we all know, his hometown is currently under lockdown, w/ APC's and men in uniforms brandishing automatic weapons swarming the streets to capture 1 terrorist. His comments, accordingly, have considerable contemporary relevance. His current position as SoS arguably give them further relevance.
In Boston, today, 1 terrorist is the focus of everyone's lives. It appears that, until he is killed or apprehended, life will remain at a standstill. It has overwhelmed the fabric of life in the cradle of the American Revolution.
Many of us can recall sectors of LA, Detroit, and Newark being cordoned off by National Guard during the Long, Hot Summers of the 60's. I believe that there was a similar response to the Rodney King Riots in '92. In those cases, however, there was an orgy of shooting, burning, and looting that ripped apart the very social fabric. There was no other way to possibly start stitching it back together. Plus, the affected areas themselves were cordoned off, not entire cities. I don't, futhermore, recall daytime curfews being imposed.
Back when he was being eviscerated by armchair warriors for his purported naivete, I understood that our decorated Vietnam Vet was talking about the basic concept of proportionality. He clearly was talking about the difference between approaching terrorism as more of a law enforcement problem rather than viewing it as a military problem. This manhunt is clearly taking a military, not a law enforcement, approach.
Since 9/11, we've seen an increasingly militarized approach to public safety. I still recall taking my parents to the airport about 1 month later and seeing soldiers w/ automatic weapons spaced throughout the drop-off areas. I wondered then (and I wonder now) why crazed suicidal fanatics would somehow be intimidated by such a display. More recently, we saw the militarized approach in the crushing of the Occupy movement in 2011 and 2012. In how many cities did we see SWAT teams in riot gear rousting unarmed encampment residents in the middle of the night?
How long will Boston remain in a virtual state of siege if Tsarnaev isn't quickly aprehended? 1 day? 3 days? A week? A month? What if it appears that Tsarnaev has left town? Will the lockdown need to be widened? Should other parts of MA be locked down? What about RI and CT?
Why are we not taking even greater threats to life and limb this seriously? Why, for example, was the West, TX fertilizer plant not inspected by OSHA for 28 years? Why would only 40 senators vote for an assault weapons ban? We assume that there will likely be future workplace explosions that will kill people, and we know that there will be future Tucsons, Auroras, and Newtowns. Nothing is even attempted to reduce the frequency of those predictable and preventable tragedies.
Given that sad set of facts, the approach advocated by our 2004 nominee makes even more sense to me now than it did when I started drafting this diary.