American presidents have struggled with the balance between safety and civil liberties. But apparently, according to the Obama's inauguration speech that choice isfalse. The idea that no compromise is necessary between security and ideological commitments. But is it really true? Are those goals compatible?
Ever since thepassage of the Bill of Rights, there has been a tension between individual liberty and the quest for a secure nation. On a number of occasions this balance has swungdramatically toward national security with the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War or with the McCarthy witch hunt and more recently with thePatriot Act.
Following the 9/11, congress passed this act as a mean for protecting the country against terrorism. No doubt that in tracking phone calls or e-mailscommunications this law poses threat to Americans' individual freedom. But according to Obama's speech, it's time to repeal the Patriot Act. As an example, Obama's firstdecision is to close Guantanamo and put an end of torture. At first glance it seems that Obamama upholds America's ideals.
But with one hand, Obama decided to closeGuantanamo and end the abuse of detainees, and with the other he endorsed airstrikes against targets inside Pakistan. What sort of ideals does it take to concludethat causing the suffering of prisoners in the name of the national interest is wrong, but causing the suffering of civilians and the violation of Pakistan's sovereigntyis right?
As a conclusion, half-steps won't do, what Obama has derided as a false choice is in truth the biggest choice he can make as a president.
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