As the first anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the question that must be asked is: Is the world more secure today than it was a year ago?

If you are talking about the Middle East, the answer must be a firm no. Settlements in the occupied territories continue to grow; so do suicide bombings. Israel launches missiles and rockets into civilian areas, killing innocent women and children in the name of fighting terrorism. The frustration of Palestinians and the Muslim world is evident to all except perhaps Americans. (Listen to BBC World News to find out what’s going on in the world; more and more public radio stations are starting to carry it live.)

Given what is happening in Palestine (and what’s not in America), I have an uneasy sense that things are going to get worse. President Bush has no vision of his own for peace in the Middle East. What’s alarming is that his views are indistinguishable from those of Ariel Sharon, a man who has singlehandedly destroyed the peace process.

Here at home, there is greater focus than ever before on securing borders, public places, and transportation systems. But do Americans feel more secure?

I don’t know. Americans seem to be on edge these days. “Middle Eastern-looking” (read non-Caucasian, non-African) men and women of all backgrounds are being turned in for “suspicious” behavior. An Indian family visiting the U.S. was turned in recently for speaking Malayalam and looking excitedly down at the Statue of Liberty and other New York landmarks while on a flight from Chicago. Military planes were called in to escort the jetliner to LaGuardia airport.

Adding to the insecurity about terrorist attacks is the current state of the economy. As if last summer’s energy crisis was not enough, we have companies the size of Enron and Worldcom collapsing. Who’s next? Accounting scandal after scandal has eroded public confidence; stock prices are in a tailspin.

President Bush’s response to the crisis has been tepid at best. He has offered platitudes about corporate ethics, but done little to bring about fundamental change in the way business is done. Today’s morbid economy is a far greater threat to American security than any terrorist attack, but I am afraid he just doesn’t get it.

 

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