Monday, September 11, 2006

The Ongoing Tragedy of 9-11

I wasn't going to write about the events of 9.11.01 today. Everyone and their mother is going to be trotting out their 9-11 emotional porn, and I have a hunch that a lot of folks would rather just go through this day as if it were any other. But then I reconsidered... perhaps if I don't do this blog about the tragic events of 9-11, then the terrorists have won... and I'm just not gonna let that happen (with thanks to David Cross for the inspiration).

In the five years since the planes hit the towers, that fateful day has been used to justify the complete revision of civil rights in the United States. The Patriot Act was bullied through Congress with the threat that anyone who voted against it would be made to look unpatriotic. The President and his aides have used this tragedy to instill fear in the citizenry, and promote a black-and-white, "us vs. them" mentality that alienates Americans from the world's citizens and each other.

This simplistic mentality has been used as a justification to invade a foreign country that presented no real threat to the United States. Bush and his executive branch presented a fallacious case, suggesting that the president of Iraq played a role in 9-11, that he harbored terrorists, and that he had "Weapons of Mass Destruction". In fact, Saddam Hussein had refused to assist Bin Laden in his war against America, and was on the record as being Bin Laden's enemy. He had no WMD, and was against (what are now being fashionably referred to as...) "Islamo-fascists". In reality, Hussein had actively attempted to capture and incarcerate Abu Masab Zarqawi- the former commander of "al-Qaeda in Iraq".

Unfortunately, the facts in this instance do not matter. As of last December, despite copious amounts of evidence and testimony to the contrary, 44% of Americans still believed Hussein had strong links to al Qaeda; 24% believed that one or more of the hijackers were Iraqi (none of them were); and 22% believed that Hussein "helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the US on Sept. 11." Who would deny the speculation that these numbers constitute the base of the dwindling support for Dubya and friends? Do you find it at all ironic that Hussein's trial was re-opened today after a layoff consisting of several weeks? Could that really be a coincidence?

If 9-11 truly changed the United States forever, it did so due to the reactions and strategies of the Bush administration and its craven congressional supporters. It gave this administration carte blanche to enact foreign policy intiatives that had been planned by the neo-cons since the early 1990's. The loss of over 3000 American lives has been used as a pretext to stifle civil liberties and wage aggressive war. Meanwhile, 3000 Iraqis die EVERY MONTH due to our Middle Eastern policies. And so we stumble perilously closer to a war of civilizations- an outcome that just so happens to be Bin Laden's originally stated goal and purpose.

We are now engaged in the "War against Terrorism". This Orwellian pursuit has no parameters that aren't set at the convenience of the ruling party, and enacted with the acquiescence of the "opposition party". It has no set goals and no practical strategy... but will last an indefinite period of time. Bush's friends and financers benefit as a result of the no-bid contracting of this adventurism, and meanwhile the insidious plan to drive the federal government into bankruptcy moves forward rapidly (recall Bush-buddy Grover Norquist's memorable quote..."I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.") Remember that Bush strategy when we face the very real threats of the coming century- natural disaster, global health threats and the compounding problems of a world energy crisis... we are explicitly not supposed to rely on our government to help us. Does that elicit any memories from a more recent American tragedy... (ahem...cough...Katrina?)?

And yet the country inexplicably continues to look toward the Bush adminstration to "keep us safe". Tonight he will outline the "threats" that face the nation. He may mention certain foreign governments he had previously identified (along with Iraq) as the "Axis of Evil". He WILL evoke the "fallen heros of 9-11" to muster our support for his policies. He will NOT apologize for his failure to capture the man responsible for the attacks on 9-11. He will NOT explain why exerting dominance in Iraq meant more to him than capturing Bin Laden. He will NOT address his administration's inability to follow the recommendations of the 9-11 commission- a bipartisan group asked to come up with a real, practicable plan to ensure the nation's safety.

We have been placed in a position of almost incalculable risk by the actions of George W. Bush, his administration, and its supporters. Keep that in mind when you watch his emotionally evocative speeches tonight.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dagrims said...

In fact, Saddam Hussein had refused to assist Bin Laden in his war against America, and was on the record as being Bin Laden's enemy. He had no WMD, and was against (what are now being fashionably referred to as...) "Islamo-fascists". In reality, Hussein had actively attempted to capture and incarcerate Abu Masab Zarqawi- the former commander of "al-Qaeda in Iraq".

Unfortunately, the facts in this instance do not matter.


Wow, when you look at it that way, Saddam's actually a pretty nice guy!

12:49 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I'm going to assume you are being facetious.

If we went to war with every nation led by a leader who is not "actually a pretty nice guy", we would live is a state of perpetual war of all against all.

Of course, we can only guess at what the objectives of the Bush administration were... but I would think an unstable Iraq is not in the geopolitical interest of the United States. The administration's actions over the last three years have simply compounded our problems domestically and abroad.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was an op-ed piece in today's paper that pointed that we were attacked on 9/11 primarily because we are seen as an imperialistic country (country, min this case, = government). Is it then any wonder why our approach (reaction) is seen as even more imperialistic. Therein lies the root of our current and future dilemna; i.e.; how to change the opinion of those who hate what we stand for (or at least the perception of what "we" stand for).

When I was in Germany, I had some good discussions with a liberal history professor and his even more liberal wife, who wanted to make sure we knew it was not the American people that many educated German's had problems with, but rather the government currently in power. They recognized the general goodness of the American spirit. I have this suspicion that the same sentiment of separation isn't as prevelant in the Middle East. Then again, what do I know.

Can't we all just get along? Unh uh. As they say, it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

anon,

There is definitely a disconnect between what our leaders say we stand for ("pssst... we're freedom-lovers"), and how we are perceived by most of the world. I'd say the problem is a result of one of two scenarios:

1. Perhaps we are terrible at public relations and marketing. We just need to frame the dialogue more effectively.

or

2. Perhaps our actions don't coincide with our public persona and stated ideals.

10:13 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home