Economic Civil War

Andrew Sullivan: America’s Cold Civil War

This country seems as if it is beyond dysfunctional. It looks like a banana republic on the verge of economic collapse. Now that Nixon’s dream has come true and the GOP is fundamentally the party of the Confederacy, it was perhaps naive to think they could ever accept the legitimacy of this president, or treat him with respect or act as adults in the governing process.

But this is who they are. I longed for Obama to bridge this gulf in ideology. But he cannot bridge it alone, especially when the GOP is determined to burn the bridge entirely, even when presented with a deal so tilted to the right only true fanatics could possibly walk away from it. And so the very republic is being plunged into crisis and possible depression by a single, implacable, fanatical faction. Until they are defeated, the country remains in more peril than we know.

The party of anti-terrorism becomes the terrorists. But we knew this already. A reminder: Al-Qaeda’s strategy of low-level warfare, meant to drain the U.S. economically, will continue to pose an underestimated threat long after its leader’s death

Bin Laden’s strategy’s initial phase linked terrorist attacks directly to economic harm. A prime example of this is the September 11, 2001, attacks, in which a major economic target (the World Trade Center) was destroyed. It’s clear that Sept. 11 was intended to create a serious economic setback for the U.S. In a wide-ranging interview conducted by Al Jazeera’s Taysir Allouni in the month following the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden spoke at length about the extent of the economic damage the attacks had inflicted. “According to [the Americans'] own admissions,” he said, “the share of the losses on the Wall Street market reached 16%. They said that this number is a record.” His continued musings reveal how much thought he had devoted to the attack’s economic implications. “The gross amount that is traded in that market reaches $4 trillion,” he said. “So if we multiply 16% with $4 trillion to find out the loss that affected the stocks, it reaches $640 billion of losses.” He knew as well that the damage to America’s stock market was not the only economic impact. Factoring in building and construction losses, along with lost productivity, he concluded that the cost to the United States was “no less than $1 trillion.” Bin Laden was known for overestimating his group’s military prowess and ideological reach, but his overall damage estimates were accurate, and may in fact have been conservative.

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