What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?Powell no doubt means this in the motivational we-will-survive sense. But the janus face is revealed when we place the remarks in the context of post-9/11 institutional restructuring. The administration has hammered home the fear of terrorism and as a result has been able to reconstruct institutions as it sees fit with little public input and run amok with a tragic, disastrous foreign policy. In the face of hugely consequential mistakes and incompetence, self-interested survivalism, and a public slowly awakening from its fearful stupor, the administration has created a giant shell game with domestic and foreign policy to try keep the public confused and to deflect blame (e.g., the troop drawdown - you do know this is simply a proposed reduction in troops to the level before this summer's surge, right? Now we see the goal of the surge...). This is all combined with a Cheney-led growth in the power and unaccountability of the Executive branch, granted to the administration in the early fearful years by Congress and the public, to the extent that the latter had any powers at all. Today, we have a quagmire not only in Iraq, but a growing one at home. And, as best as I can tell, this is all conducted in the name of holding onto power.
Now, what is the greatest threat we face? A political entity attempting to hold onto power by creating its own reality is historically a deadly thing. If the remaining tatters of American democracy cannot challenge that, then it's truly in dangerously fragile shape. That's the greatest threat we face.