Saturday, September 3, 2011

Remembering 9/11

We're all going to hear and read a lot over the next few weeks about how 9/11 changed America. The reality is that 9/11 did not change America; it was our leaders' reaction to 9/11 that changed America.

In 2006 I had the opportunity to go to Baghdad and ended up working there for the next two years. At one point I asked a coworker back in America if she had ever considered going there as well. "I don't think so," she replied. "I'm too much against the war to go to Iraq." My unspoken response was, "And you think that all of us who are out here thought the war was a good idea?"

A few months ago I was having a drink in a neighborhood Irish Pub. It is near a military hospital and some of our "wounded warriors" are bussed there once a week to get them out of the hospital for a few hours. (The expression Wounded Warrior, by the way, is an euphemism if there ever was one; it sounds so much more noble than truthfully describing someone as a triple amputee or a paraplegic). One young man was sitting there in his wheelchair. His legs had been blown away, and he was trying to manage a beer with his two prosthetic arms and hands. It was his face though, untouched by his physical wounds, that looked the most tragic. The look in his eyes was one of intense hopelessness and loneliness.

As I watched him, I felt a wave of anger sweep through me. What was there in Iraq or Afghanistan that was worth the loss of his arms and legs? What was worth the blown apart arms, legs, and lives of many more thousands of young men and women than those killed killed on 9/11?

Vice President Cheney's new book is just the latest of a series of accounts written by officials in the Bush administration. They all justify themselves and defend their publicly-declared reasons for taking us to war from the comfort of their million-dollar homes.

As I remember 9/11 a week or so from now, I won't be thinking very much about where I was when I first saw those planes crashing into the Twin Towers. I'll be thinking about Colin Powell informing the United Nations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and understanding the administration had already made their decision to go to war. I'll be thinking about President Bush standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier announcing that the Mission was Accomplished and realizing he did not have a clue about what he had gotten us into. I'll be thinking of President Obama's decision to send 30,000 additional forces to Afghanistan, and knowing that hundreds of them would soon be maimed or dead. And I'll be thinking of the young man at the Irish Bar with the incredible sadness on his face trying to drink his beer with his prosthetic hands.


Cyril Lucar said...

I wish that I still disagreed with you, but I now know you're right. I don't know what we should or could have done about the quagmire in Afghanistan. The Taliban were surely complicit in the attack on the US, but what do we do? What it would take to "win" these wars is beyond our will to do so. And it would probably morally bankrupt us. Thanks for this one.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree with you more on the tragic losses in the war on terror.
But have you stopped to think of the flip side? If the US had not decided to go to war against an act of war?
Al Qaeda and every other moron terrorist organisation would take it as permission to kill every infidel in their sights at will. Solely because there are no repercussions to their actions.
The handling of this stupid war is what has dragged it on for so long. 'Winning the hearts and minds' has no effect whatsoever on ppl who have been brainwashed to believe 1400+ years of nonsensical violence.
A good comparison is Nazism. We would all be reading and writing in German and Japanese if the allies had decided to win the 'hearts and minds' of Nazi Germany or imperial Japan.
There were many ways of handling the war on terror, going to war was a good decision. going to war with kid gloves on, not so much.

Quotable Quotes: said...

If the administration had gone after Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda after 9/11 with the same intensity they are using to eliminate the organization today, I believe it would have been wiped out years ago. The war in Iraq was a foolish diversion, and I still believe it was based on the desire to gain access to Iraq's oil which would otherwise have been controlled by Saddam and his sons for the next 50years.

I believe that the ideology that spawned 9/11 is much more dangerous than the Al Qaeda organization itself, and our greatest failure is our unwillingness to tackle that ideology which is based squarely upon the war strategy of Muhammad himself.

I agree that attacks on the Taleban
after 9/11 could be defended by their hosting bin Ladin. But to justify the present war by saying it is to ensure Al Qaeda never again establishes a base there is, in my opinion, untenable.

Shades of Gray said...

I remember seeing pamphlets we dropped in Iraq showing a picture of Saddam's presidential palace next to a mud hut with the caption "He lives in luxury while you live in squallor" and thinking "Suppose I were to switch out that picture of the presidential palace with the white house, and the mud hut with a picture of a row house in Baltimore - same thing, right?" It's amazing to me how many educated Americans bought into such transparent propaganda, and still believe to this day that we were the good guys and our invasion of Iraq was justified. I thinks it's a hard pill to swallow, especially for those who sacrificed so much - but it needs to be frankly acknowledged and harshly criticized not as an affront to, but for the sake of, those who gave so much to line the pockets of the elite.

ajlounyinjurylaw said...

Good point Shades of Grey.

Anonymous said...

Quatable Quotes
The ideology needs to be examined and exposed for the vile thing it is.
If that alone is done, the war would be over soon.
Soon, but not not take place.

aemish said...

Jacksonville's Finest: The Folio Weekly

I'm telling you, man.. *shrug*

"9/11 Blind" by" Tom Hayden