Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Twenty-First Century U.S. American Culture
Edited By Christian Klöckner, Simone Knewitz and Sabine Sielke
9/11 as “Climate Change”?
B er n d G r e in e r 9/11 and Its Transatlantic Legacies Without a doubt, terrorist attacks constitute a severe challenge to all democra cies. One need only think of Spain after the attacks in Madrid or Great Britain after the attacks in London and the debates in those countries about the integrity of their democratic institutions and the sustainability of their legal systems. But it was only in the United States that there was talk of a constitutional crisis or of the most serious challenge to the nation since the Civil War. There were even voices that asserted that the system of checks and balances - the fundamental mechanism for controlling and balancing political power - no longer functioned. Some spoke of an “out-of-control” presidency and an overpowering or even “imperial” executive, of the (self-)disempowerment of Congress and a paralysis of the third power, the judicial branch. Commentators from all parts of the polit ical spectrum asked helplessly: is our democracy really so fragile? Why and how did the “war on terror” weaken democratic foundations that really should have been strengthened against the terrorist challenge?1 Checks and Balances and the Rule o f Law With regard to the United States, critics first of all point to the fact that the ex ecutive asserted special presidential rights in what was declared a state of emer gency (Fisher 38). This procedure was based on an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Constitution, according to which the president can...
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