The World Trade Center has been reduced to rubble, but the whirlwind of political implications is just beginning.
Pearl Harbor was known as the largest attack on U.S. soil and sparked World War II; however, the magnitude of the attack on Pearl Harbor is nothing compared to Tuesday’s events.
The political implications of Tuesday’s attacks are not yet known. Only speculation exists about the problems that may arise because of the devastation.
Although declaring war is a possibility, no decisions have been made, and most officials are refusing to speculate about the government’s response.
“I will not say what happens next, but make no mistake – your armed forces are ready,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Henry H. Shelton said.
The U.S. House and Senate will meet at 10:00 a.m. today to discuss Tuesday’s events and compose a bipartisan resolution. Although there are no specific reports about what the resolution will entail, Jerilyn Goodman, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., was able to speculate on the contents, based on a press conference held on the steps of the Washington Capitol.
“The members of Congress are united behind the president; whoever tries to penetrate them will feel the full force of the government,” Goodman said.
UW-Madison political science professor Ken Goldstein stressed it is still early, and that any perceived implications are not concrete.
“It is so early, we know so little; but given what we know now, this is going to be the biggest historical day of our lives,” Goldstein said. “I don’t know how the world is going to be different, but the world is going to be different tomorrow.”
Others had more policy-oriented predictions regarding what would occur later.
UW political science professor Jon Pevehouse said deciding our role will not be easy; it will require much soul-searching. However, he predicted two issues would become prevalent.
“There will be calls for a more isolationist policy, and also a lot of calls to reassure the military,” Pevehouse said. “There will also be a lot of discussion about how to handle intelligence, because this was a failure in intelligence.”
President Bush obviously plays a large role in any action the country takes. He has the final say in nearly all policy decisions. This will prove to be a test of his abilities, UW political science professor Don Kettl said.
“How he performs, his ability to instill confidence in the government and his ability to confirm to America that he can solve the problem will make or break his presidency,” Kettl said.
There are also economic implications. With a struggling economy, any slight change in everyday life could alter the economic standing of the country.
The stock market was closed yesterday and will be closed today. There were no attacks specifically on Wall Street, where the center of U.S. economic interests lies; however, Wall Street will feel the effects of the attack.
“This could stir uncertainty that would push the economy into a recession or even worse,” Kettl said.