9/11 Times Ten

Al Qaida lost. But so did America

September 11th 2011

A lot of people are observing the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Most simply want to remember the people who died that awful day, and to resolve to make such events a remote part of human history. Some want to use it to spread hate, usually against Moslems, sometimes against Jews. (That crackpot theory about how all Jews were told not to report to work at the Twin Towers on 9/11 is still making the rounds, and a lot of people still believe the Iraqis had something to do with it.)

Others simply want to keep Americans scared and docile.

It’s right and proper that we mourn the innocent dead, and condemn the sort of sick thinking that leads to such attacks. We’ll celebrate the heroism of the first responders, and those on Flight 93.

Many will question exactly what did happen that day, since much remains unresolved and unknown. The Truthers will clamor for attention even as their numbers slowly ebb.

The attacks on 9/11 did reveal the face of the enemy of America. It is a face lacking in compassion or justice, scornful of individual freedom and resentful of American liberties.

The terrorists who staged the attacks? They’re all dead, and the leaders of their slimy movement are also dead or in jail.

The enemy of America is Americans. Frightened and cowed, Americans have done far more damage to the country than Osama dared dream of. Who, in 2000, could have seen an America dominated by the fascistic-sounding Department of Homeland Security? It really sounds like every vicious internal national secret police force in history, and that is what it is evolving into.

Who could have seen an America with Gulags at home and abroad? Strutting morons bray that the people don’t DESERVE Social Security and Medicare, and most of the American population feebly accept that as their due. Americans are duly chastened by howls that they have no business telling an utterly corrupt banking and financial system to fix its own house just because it bilked the people out of trillions.

Now it demands that the people cover its losses by sacrificing their good jobs, their pensions, the substandard health care they are allowed to have, and their freedom. How dare the people choose leaders when it’s corporations that dump most of the money into elections? Of course that choice belongs to corporations!

Just look at the disgrace of an election America faces next year. The Republican line up is the worst collection of crackpots, psychotics, religious whack jobs and crooks any major party has ever paraded before the public. The SANE one is the one who thinks there might be something to this evolution stuff! And the incumbent president is weak, indecisive, and basically exists in fear of his job, not because he is incapable, but because if he doesn’t kow-tow to the Republicans, they will destroy him and his presidency.

This, in the United States of America.

That state of affairs would have been unthinkable 10 years ago day. But here we are, and the country is sliding fast.

I knew what direction the country was headed the minute that piece of shit Bush, mere days after the attacks, said that Americans could show their patriotism by passing a big tax cut for the rich and going to the mall and buying stuff. Bush never, ever gave a shit about what actually happened on 9/11; he and Dick Cheney just saw it as a gleaming opportunity to extend fascistic government power over Americans.

The rationale for the war in Afghanistan was tenuous at best, and sold to the public on a false premise: that the US would go in, topple the Taliban, capture bin Laden, and get out. One thousand American dead and one trillion dollars later, the US is still there. Bin Laden is dead, a majority of Afghanis think they are better off under Taliban rule than American, and it looks like America will be there until at least 2024. Just in time to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Then the US attacked Iraq, based on nothing but pure lies, one of which was that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. He didn’t. Over 4,400 Americans died there, not counting mercenaries, and we’ve spent two trillion dollars.

Did any of this make America safer? Of course not. It made the middle east even less stable and put Iran on a drive to nuke up, since the American right was making it clear that Iran was next.

It doesn’t even serve American strategic interests all that well. For all the talk about the bases and the central location of the two countries, America has shown no increased influence in the region, and in fact has lost ground.

Who could have guessed, ten years ago, not only that revolutions would sweep the middle east (ok, that part is easy, I grant you) but that both the US and al Qaida would be ineffectual onlookers, watching the parade pass them by?

If the invasions failed as a diplomatic strategy, how about military? They showed that even a third world country like Afghanistan can bog the US down in a stalemate. And that’s if America is lucky. The Taliban will wear American down. The Taliban fight better, not because they are better armed or trained, but because they have a huge incentive. It’s their home they are fighting for. The rabbit usually escapes the fox because the rabbit is running for his life, whereas the fox is merely running for lunch.

At home, we have two wars nobody wants to pay for. They were off-budget under the Bush years in order to conceal the effect they had on the budget, and rather than spread the burden of the wars over a wider part of society, America adopted the hideous policy of returning the same relatively small number of troops in rotation, over and over and over. Some have done ten tours of duty over there now. It’s no wonder the suicide rate among American troops and veterans has skyrocketed. They didn’t die for their country, they died for their country’s convenience. It’s not the same thing, and Americans should be deeply ashamed of the crime committed against these young people who only wanted to serve their country.

The response to 9/11 cost America most of its free press, once described as the glittering jewel in America’s diadem. The media was already in deep decline before that day; now it’s at best a joke and at worst a savage servant to fascists. Much of it is owned out-right by psychotic right wing billionaires intent on placing themselves in control of the country. The rest suffered the free-market equivalent of regulatory capture, controlled by advertising revenue and political access from the very people they were supposed to have an adversarial relationship with.

There’s a reason American newspapers are dying, and TV and radio news is not long behind them: they’re nearly all crap, and people know it.

Control is a big issue in the US. More and more authorities and authoritarian interests have access to details of your life. Some of it is an inevitable result of the data revolution, but most of it is simply the government, with the complicity of business, sticking its nose in your life for the sake of control. Ever-increasing paperwork and red tape accompany everything. Credit checks are required for menial jobs, along with drug tests and even background checks.

Is America’s security really strengthened by testing to see if the janitor smoked weed on the weekend, and is America’s freedom supported by prying into his bank account?

In Florida, they finally got the fascist wet dream of drug-testing welfare recipients. Turned out that less than 2% tested positive. Even if you disregard the propriety of punishing addicts by starving them, the fact is the tests cost far more than the money they saved by screwing the addicts. But you don’t hear of anyone saying the tests should end. What, and give up control?

There will be memorial services across the country, and you’ll hear a lot of twaddle about how America met the terrorist menace face on and prevailed. It’s bullshit.

The terrorists didn’t win. That is true. The savagery of the attacks assured that al-Qaida would receive little support from other radical groups. They defeated themselves.

But their goal – and it’s the standard terrorist goal – was to make American authorities afraid, overbearing, authoritarian and inflexible, and in that they succeeded brilliantly. You don’t conduct terror to make the people afraid. You do it to make the government afraid, make it over-react, and make the people hate it.

No, al Qaida didn’t defeat America. America defeated itself.

And unless the next ten years follow a different course from the previous ten, then 9/11 did destroy America as a free and open democracy—the same free and open democracy that Bush claimed al Qaida hated. No doubt they did. But not, it turns out, as much as Bush himself.

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