It’s not too late to learn from 9/11. But soon it will be.

Summary: On 9-11 al Qaeda changed America in ways we refuse to see. We’ve helped set the Middle East aflame and given up important rights, both processes still continuing. On this anniversary of that sad day let’s try for a clearer understanding of what happened and what we did afterwards. The price will be high for our failure to do so. But it’s not too late to start.

“The purpose of an action is the reaction.”
— Said by RJH in a comment.

America tied up
We’ve bound ourselves since 9/11, but can break free.

On this day fourteen years ago, with a single strike al Qaeda changed the course of America and perhaps the world. We are the world’s hegemonic state, by many measures the most powerful nation (relative to its time) that the world has ever seen. Al Qaeda did this at a negligible cost in money and manpower. Never have so few changed the lives of so many with so little effort.

9-11 was not the usual kind of decisive battle, where thousands fight to determine the fate of nations. This is a dozen guys with box cutters deliberately setting out to change the course of a nation – and succeeding. The multiple of force to effect is astonishing, beyond anything I have seen in history.

The 9-11 terrorists were “super-empowered individuals” not because of what they did — planes often crash, buildings often burn, then life goes on — but because of what we did afterwards. The leverage on history came not from their actions but from our reaction.

Since 9-11 the law enforcement and intelligence agencies of America and its allies have damaged (probably crippled) al Qaeda, but its leaders see al Qaeda as the vanguard of the jihadist movement, not its body — and so perhaps expendable. They might consider its destruction a small price to pay for what it accomplished: starting the long war with America that has drained its resources, corrupted its soul, and turned many of the Islamic community against the West.

Islam = terror

Effects of 9-11

Al Qaeda manipulated America as a matador works a bull, waving a cape to so that the bull charges into position to meet the thrust of his sword. 9/11 altered the course of America, both its evolution as a society and its relationship with the world. These changes are almost certainly inimical to our long-term strength and prosperity.

Bush Jr. responded to 9-11 with large scale initiatives at home and overseas: militarization of our foreign policy, massive erosion of civil liberties (see this ACLU study), and cancerous growth of the US military and security agencies. Our foreign adventures helped set the Middle East aflame, with civil wars still burning in the nations we invaded and occupied and in those we’ve bombed. Al Qaeda has been replaced by a more virulent and extreme group, The Islamic State.

The massive growth of the secret security services has altered our society in ways difficult to see, as they watch and probably affect domestic protests such as Occupy and those against police violence.

The Obama Administration institutionalized these changes.  They have become bipartisan policies, which makes them almost impossible to change. As we see today, with most of the major candidates in both parties supporting them.

Conclusions

It has been 14 years, and still the long-term consequences of 9/11 remain difficult to see. They’ll continue to reverberate and spread until we decide to confront our actions since that day in New York. The longer we wait, the greater the damage to America, and to the nations we fight.

Learn from mistakes

For More Information

For a better perspective on 9/11 see…

As so often true during these Crazy Years, the most powerful insights come from humor: “9/11 Anniversary Marked By Confused Looks, Awkward Questions From Junior Military Members” — “We were attacked on 9/11 by a group of Saudis, Emiratis, and a Lebanese, led by an Egyptian. Which is why we’re at war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.”

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24 thoughts on “It’s not too late to learn from 9/11. But soon it will be.

    1. Bob,

      Can you explain that a bit more? What “oil business”? The role of American exploration and production companies (e.g., Exxon)? The larger oil business, referring to the role of the Middle East’s oil fields as a node of global influence? Or something else?

  1. Just listened to Salmon Rushdi on NPR. He said in his opinion the single dumbest move the U.S. made last century was installing the Wahabi sect in power in Saudi Arabia. These violent obscure and small players were thus catapulted into the oil financed big time with disastrous results for Islam world wide. The Devils excrement indeed.

    1. I thought that the Wahabis were given an unfettered run in Saudi by the Al Saud family in return for their support in gaining and keeping power. AFAIK the US weren’t involved then. Reading http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/loc/sa/saud_wahhabi.htm might make it clear just how long there’s been an association between them.

      A quote from the paper: “In 1744 Muhammad ibn Saud and Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab swore a traditional Muslim oath in which they promised to work together to establish a state run according to Islamic principles”

  2. Some thoughts:

    “Our foreign adventures helped set the Middle East aflame, with civil wars still burning in the nations we invaded and occupied and in those we’ve bombed. Al Qaeda has been replaced by a more virulent and extreme group, The Islamic State.”

    We look at Syria. But also in Yemen a humanitarian disaster is unfolding. I think that the role of Saudi Arabia – besides that of the western powers – has to be considered as well. Is it wise / sensible to provide it with modern arms? I don’t think so.

    Saudi Arabia played a prominent role in the rise of ISIL. Instead of, as you state, “militarization of foreign policies, massive erosion of civil liberties, and cancerous growth of the US military and security agencies”, a political campaign against fountainheads of religious extremism (in particular within Saudi Arabia) would have been preferable. The concoction of a “Casis Belli” against Iraq after the “9/11” events only courted disaster.

    A political solution – however much difficult it will be – has, I think, to include the participation of Iran, Russia and China. This would also put pressure on Israel and Saudi Arabia, and make them realize that a solution by means of massive force / violence will, in the end, bring them nowhere.

    Mazzel & broge / kind regards, Evert Wesker

  3. Some Comments:

    1) The neo-con faction is still in control and from their point of view things went well. Medium-sized states such as Iraq, Syria, and Libya have all been demolished. The bits will be easy to control and exploit, and pose no imaginable resistance to Israeli expansionism.

    2) The reason the are states like “Saudi Arabia”, “Kuwait”, and the UAE exist is for the same reason. Iran is the one exception.

    3) Our rulers now have no moral boundaries, “Post-Christians” like Dick Cheney. The MH17 was a likely false flag op, and sheds retrospective light on 9/11. (If you can kill 300, why not 3000?). I’ think that allowing the hijacked planes to fly unopposed over the very core of the empire for one hour and forty minutes seem improbable. (I don’t subscribe to some of the “truther” theories, just delaying a response would have been sufficient.) Perhaps neither case rises to the 95÷ level, but look probsble.

    1. Social Bill,

      A thought-provoking comment, as usual.

      “Our rulers now have no moral boundaries”

      I doubt that. Even psychos like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot had morals. History shows countless cases of rulers moral boundaries including acts of horrific barbarism (e.g., Churchill advocating chemical weapons use on rebels in Iraq). But you raise an always-interesting question: what are the moral boundaries of our rulers?

      “Post-christians like Dick Cheney”

      Did we ever have rule by Christians? As the old saying goes, Jesus had some good ideas. Someday we should try them.

    2. Over Moonbat,

      You must be kidding. Since Likud first came to office in 1977, Israel’s official policy has been to expand settlements into its conquests on the West Bank. They’ve expanded slowly, remorselessly, often brutally.

      This is obvious, public, information. That anyone doubts it (and I frequently see such comments) is yet more evidence that we don’t clearly see the world, preferring instead the pleasant blur of confirmation bias.

    3. Socialbill,

      “I’ think that allowing the hijacked planes to fly unopposed over the very core of the empire for one hour and forty minutes seem improbable”

      You have watched too many movies if you believe that (a) the US has fast-response fighter coverage over most of internal US airspace (it doesn’t) and (b) the US military can rapidly respond to a new situation (i.e., they’ve not prepared for). It’s not that kind of organization, especially with regard to events inside the US.

    4. Fabius, thanks for the response on Israel expansionism. It is right to look back to look forward, I was thinking more in terms of looking forward, again with regards to socialbill’s comment of connecting to weakness of Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Right now Iraq and Syria are moving under Iran’s sphere of influence, although what happens with the next U.S. administration after this one is up in the air.

  4. What you’d need to do if find other instances of incursions during the previous 15 yrs and see how the response went. I’ve read that interceptors reached golfer Payne Stuarts private jet in only 20 min.
    9/11 in retrospect fits so perfectly into what the PNAC group wanted to do that you suspect a false flag (or rathet a real one, allowed). Still for many years most people thought the Reichstag Fire was done by the Nazis because it fit so perfectly with Hitler’s plans for total power. Yet the most recent evidence says that the demented arsonist acted alone.

    1. Social,

      Stuart’s plane was intercepted over Florida. Florida is not the interior of the US. It’s one of the most heavily protected borders of the US, the only border area adjacent to a geopolitical active area (the Caribbean, a hot zone for centuries). It has long-standing strong USAF presence (back to the early 1960s), alert to threats from Russian activity in Cuba to drug-smuggling.

    2. Private jet is one thing, airliner something else. I’m sure there was no thought that they were going to crash those planes, or if they did, no-one wanted to be the person who gave the kill order so it got delayed as it was passed up the chain of command.

      For flight 11 I believe the timings are as follows: Depart 07:59, Hijack between 08:14 and 08:19, 08:24 Boston Centre learn of hijack, 08:38 Military get told, scramble at 08:46, flight 11 hits North Tower just before 08:47.

      Once over any substantially built up area an attempt to down the plane with thousands of gallons of fuel on board was always going to cause massive loss of life. Which would have added further to delays.

      I’m inclined to go with lack of preparedness, human fallibility and cockup rather than false flag.

  5. FM Editor

    Whether 9/11 was a false flag event or really just 19 guys with box cutters, the results for America’s freedom and our disastrous foreign policy response have been disastrous.

    We can all agree on that I would think.

  6. George W. Bush gleefully described the collapse of the Twin Towers as “I just won the trifecta.” That doesn’t sound like our leaders thought 9/11 was “disastrous.”

    Shortly after Sept. 11, George W. Bush interrupted his inveighing against evildoers to crack a joke. Mr. Bush had repeatedly promised to run an overall budget surplus at least as large as the Social Security surplus, except in the event of recession, war or national emergency. ”Lucky me,” he remarked to Mitch Daniels, his budget director. ”I hit the trifecta.”

    Source: “Hitting the Trifecta,” The New York Times, 7 December 2001.

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