Quora is providing an interesting forum for posing and answering worthy questions. If discussions can emanate from these and not simply get forgotten in the stream, the site will really make a difference. In November 2011 one popped up that was way too tempting to pass on.
What decisions in American history did not appear to be very important at the time, but had absolutely terrible consequences for the nation?
In recent times:
a) waging war on a concept ‘terrorism’, and
b) not treating 9/11 as essentially an international crime.
c) to legitimise torture, and other acts in contravention of the Geneva Convention.
a) The broad policy decision to wage a war on a concept, the noun: ‘Terror’, and not a particular country or anything that could ever be defeated or dealt with by means at the disposal of the Government or Military. ~ Further, to inflame and confound the problem the initial responses in this ‘War on Terror’ was invading Iraq (almost certainly on false pretenses) with a campaign called unashamedly “Shock and Awe” … thereby subjecting an already traumatized nation to outright ‘terror’. The consequence of using the concept of “terror” as an official ‘enemy’, has consequently enabled a plethora of other nations around the world, from Russia to China to Syria etc to use the same rhetoric to leigitimise the same type of obfuscation of their actual goals, aims and victims.
b) To not treat the events of 9/11 as essentially a criminal incident, (albeit a massive consipracy, ostensibly by foreign nationals), and to not deal with the crime through the Justice system, Interpol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and/or the International Court of Justice. Further, by treating the events of 9/11 as an act of War, when most of the culprits involved were nationals of a close ally (Saudi Arabia), (and allowing a plane load of Saudis to exit to the USA within 24 hours of 9/11 when there was a no-fly command in place). Further to not effectively investigate the contributing factors within the USA, when there was ample evidence of clear disfunction between the Central Intelligence Agency and FBI, that contributed to not preventing the crime. Lastly to not conduct a detailed scientific forensic investigation of the crime scene, enabling many conspiracy theories to be promulgated (by credible people) to this day.
c) The legitimisation of the use of torture by Government, has been discussed as a most unfortunate and retrograde policy positon by the USA. ~ This was recently made obscenely obvious in the responses of a majority of Republican Party Presidential candidates at the most recent televised debate. The spectacle of politicians validating this barbaric and immoral policy to the applause of the cheering audience, was sickening. – Like most other mistakes recently made by the USA, it will only be when US Soldiers or ‘non-combatant’ civilians are demonstrably tortured by a foreign Government, or when a foreign power uses flying robot drones to attack the USA or US interests or allies around the world, that the outrage and hypocrisy will unify in a deafening discordant chorus.
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To extend on these answers, it was the notion that one countries actions to a) subvert the narrative context for War, b) to obscure the legitimate differentiation between criminal vs military prosecution and c) to overturn the US’s previous adherence to the terms of the Geneva convention regarding the use of torture has:
Undermining the standing of the US, and giving comfort to the enemy… these types of transgressions are akin to the essence of the prosecution’s case against Bradley Manning, and such conclusions have only been able to be made following these drifts in US policy. So, while they imprison and metaphorically ‘shoot the messenger’, who exactly is to blame?
Quora Ref: http://www.quora.com/U-S-History/What-decisions-in-American-history-did-not-appear-to-be-very-important-at-the-time-but-had-absolutely-terrible-consequences-for-the-nation