Great piece in Slate, by Anne Appelbaum: The Worst Mistake America Made After 9/11: How focusing too much on the war on terror undermined our economy and global power.
She writes in part:
In our single-minded focus on Islamic fanaticism, we missed, for example, the transformation of China from a commercial power into an ambitious political power. [. . .]
We also missed, at least initially, the transformation of Russia from a weak and struggling partner into a sometimes hostile opponent. [. . .]
Thanks to the war on terror, we missed what might have been a historic chance to make a deal on immigration with Mexico. [. . .]
Finally, we stopped investing in our own infrastructure—think what $3 trillion could have done for roads, research, education, or even private investment, if a part of that sum had just been left in taxpayers’ pockets—and we missed the chance to rethink our national energy policy. After 9/11, the president could have gone to the nation, declared an emergency, explained that wars would have to be fought and would have to be paid for—perhaps, appropriately, through a gasoline tax. He would have had enormous support. It’s hard to remember now, but I could just about fill the tank of my car for $20 back in 2001. At the time, I’d have been happy to make it $21 if it helped the marines in Afghanistan. Instead, the president cut taxes and increased defense spending. We are only now paying the price.
There is much more in the piece.