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The age of sovereign failure

In the Globe and Mail, Michael Ignatieff has an excellent column on the age of sovereign failure:

It is always good to be skeptical about what governments tell us. But we are beyond skepticism now, into a deep and enduring cynicism. There will come a day when they are not crying wolf and we will not believe them. Then we will be in trouble. Some trust in government is a condition of democracy and security alike. That trust has been weakened and can’t be rebuilt until sovereigns say what they mean, mean what they say and do what they promise.

While there are a lot of things a government might do, there are a few things that only a government can do: protect the people, rescue them when they are in danger, regulate against catastrophic risk and safeguard the full faith and credit of their currency.

If terror challenges democracy, the answer is more democracy, not less; more accountability and openness, not less. The question is whether the secret power we have allowed to spring up in our name is under any kind of democratic control. Do our elected representatives keep our secret agencies under sufficient scrutiny? Does the press know what is being done in our name?

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