“Fortress America” is a derogatory term that usually refers to extreme forms of isolationism. Last week, however, CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria gave the idea a new and equally disturbing twist. In a thought-provoking column in the Washington Post, Zakaria described how excessive concerns for security are making the United States more “imperial” in appearance than the old colonial empires, with embassies, public buildings, and even the U.S. Capitol itself surrounded by barricades, moats, or fortifications. Instead of presenting a welcoming visage to the outside world and to the American people, one that conveys confidence, strength, and openness, America’s public face appears uncertain, vulnerable, fearful, and distant.
According to Zakaria, such concerns have also encouraged an excessive regard for secrecy, new layers of hierarchy and restriction, and a timid and sclerotic approach to public policy. In his words, “the U.S. government now resembles a dinosaur—a large, lumbering beast with much body and little brain, increasingly well-protected but distant from ordinary people and unresponsive to the real challenges that confront the nation.”
I couldn’t agree more, having noticed much the same tendency a few years ago. But the big question is: Why is this happening? Is it simply because the world has gotten more dangerous, or is there a connection between how the United States has been acting abroad and various threats to liberty at home?
I think there is. What follows is somewhat speculative, but there are several obvious ways in which America’s recent conduct abroad has led to greater insecurity, paranoia, loss of trust, and division within the United States, so much so that officials now have to erect barricades all over Washington (and in plenty of other cities as well).
Read the full article in Foreign Policy.