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Twenty Years Later – A 9/11 Edition

by on September 11, 2021

After twenty years, many Americans can still tell you exactly where they were when the terrorist attacks happened on September 11, 2001.

The collapse of the Twin Towers and the the crash of Flight 93 in ‘a field in Pennsylvania‘ – along with the mysterious hole American Airlines Flight 77 left in the Pentagon – devastated thousands of families.

As devastating in the short term and the long term of the deaths of three thousand Americans are in one day, the short- and long-term effects on domestic and global affairs of 9/11 is far more tragic.

With every action there is an equally strong reaction, and the response to September 11 was to create the unwinnable, unending, War On Terror.

The U.S. government responded to 9/11 by invading Afghanistan in 2001 in an attempt to destroy Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, ignoring the fact that none of the nineteen men the U.S. identified as the terrorists involved in 9/11 came from Afghanistan (they came from Egyt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebonon). The U.S. relatively quickly mitigated the power of the Taliban in Afghanistan and other time installed an what appeared to be stable puppet government. Still, the U.S. stayed in Afghanistan.

It also became apparent that the U.S.’ occupation was about more than defeating the Taliban. A couple weeks ago Yadullah Hussain reminded us in the Financial Times that the ‘Gravestone of Empires’ – Afghanistan – is “resource rich, with an abundance of coal, natural gas, copper, lithium, gold, iron ore, bauxite and prized rare-earth mineral reserves”.

Hussain’s article was published five days before the deadline the U.S. had imposed on itself to brings it’s home from Afghanistan. For some, it almost appeared as if the U.S. was being pushed to stay in Afghanistan in order to control those resources. Instead, years after it first promised it would do so most U.S. troops were out of Afghanistan by August 30, 2021. Within days the Taliban had control of the government, which has created a huge ongoing humanitarian crisis. After years of trying, the U.S. replaced the Taliban with the Taliban.

In 2003 the United States invaded Iraq under the pretense that somewhere in Iraq there were “weapons of mass destruction”. That wasn’t the reason fro invading Iraq, and neither was “saving the Iraqi people” from Saddam Husein, according to Assan Butt’s article in AlJazerra. The invasion was because “a quick and decisive victory in the heart of the Arab world would send a message to all countries, especially to recalcitrant regimes such as Syria, Libya, Iran, or North Korea, that American hegemony was here to stay. Put simply, the Iraq war was motivated by a desire to (re)establish American standing as the world’s leading power”.

9/11 - Did You Know: BBC Reports on Building 7 - YouTube
BBC describes Tower 7 collapse while it’s still standing.

The collapse of Building 7 at the World Trade Center left many people, who were able to think beyond the state-sponsored narrative, wondering who planned what when.

The United States has long been a police state, at least against it’s “minority” non-white populations. September 11, 2021, turned the U.S. in a security state and led to an Islamophobia that’s never disappeared.

The ACLU informs us, the USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) “was the first of many changes to surveillance laws” passed 9/11. “Hastily passed 45 days after 9/11 in the name of national security,” the Patriot Act “made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans on the Internet.” Instead of being aimed at catching terrorists, the Patriot Act “turns regular citizens into suspects”.

A year later, in November, 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act, which created the Department of Homeland Security. This pretty much ensured that the U.S. would remain a genteel-looking police state and security state.

Submit your TSA joke for T-Shirt Hell T-Shirts... - Mustang Forum - Mustang  World
The iconic sarcastic shirt about the TSA

It seems that most Americans were okay giving up the relative ease of air travel that existed before 9/11 and submitted themselves happily to the existence of TSA.

It seems that most Americans gave little thought to the violations of basic civil liberties that the Patriot Act infringed on. The existence of what is nicely called a “detention camp” where many detainees were tortures and “thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, and other suspect foreigners were held without charge and without the legal means to challenge their detentions” in Guantánamo Bay seemed to never cross the mind of Americans, especially after Obama said in 2009 that he’d close the camp; twenty years after 9/11 Wlilliam Roberts wants to know why the camp is still open.

The Patriot Act is still law, and the Department of Homeland Security seems secure only in its continual existence, despite the fact that we have theoretically ended the War On Terror (or at least made it look like we’ve brought the troops home). These civil violations are a part of America that no one questions, except for some people the government would label “radical”.

Two years ago a study concluded that the U.S. had spent $6.4 Trillion on war in the Middle East and Asia since 2001. Sarah Lazare, for CommonDreams suggests that we spent twenty years fighting the unwinnable, un-endable, War on Terror instead of twenty years using the same money to fight Climate Change. She makes a strong case that the money spent on the military could have been used for other projects (“A sum of $1.7 trillion could eliminate all student debt, $200 billion could cover 10 years of free preschool for all three and four year olds in the country. And, crucially, $4.5 trillion could cover the full cost of decarbonizing the U.S. electric grid”) and reminds us that “dismantling the carbon-intensive U.S. military apparatus must be part of the equation”

To not continue to make the same mistakes, the well-informed and connected Kathy Kelly says, is that the the U.S. “must express true sorrow, seek forgiveness,” collectively recognize the horrors of the policies resulting from 9/11 and that in order to counter terror we must abolish war. CodePink made a similar suggestion.

Ending war and making meaningful reparations would be a start toward undoing the legacy of 9/11. Over the last twenty years it’s become increasingly obvious that maintaining “hegemony” is important to U.S. policy-makers, and that doing so is more important than having a semblance of not sacrificing civil- and human rights in the process. It’s time to support people instead of corporations, and peace instead of conflict.

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