Commemorate 9-11 by seeing the truth

Summary: Ignore the self-pitying blather you will hear today. Al Qaeda scored one of the biggest wins in history on 9-11. They spent almost nothing and lured America onto the path to new destiny. Since then, we have set the Middle East aflame and burned up important rights at home, with no end in sight to either fires. On this 18th anniversary of 9/11, let’s learn from our mistakes and begin the long process of repairing the damage we have done to America. They need not win.

Osama Bin Laden

“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.”

From DuffelBlog, one of America’s few reliable source of insight.

How will future Americans see our time?

“He [VP Cheney] would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it – Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. In other words, he thought the whole world had to be made anew, and that after September 11, it had to be done by force and with urgency. So he was for hard, hard power. … We’re coming after you, so change or be changed.”
— UK PM Tony Blair in his memoir A Journey: My Political Life.

What will 8th grade history textbooks in the 23rd century say about our time? Centuries strip away the trivia, showing future generations the key events of the past. For example, the events at Runnymede on 15 June 1215 seemed of little import to that generation. On August 24 the Pope declared the Baron’s agreement with King John invalid, the next month King John repudiated it, and it was one of a series of such compacts. Yet Magna Carta remained influential, and lives to this day.

I suspect that many prominent events, such as the Vietnam War, will be forgotten. Some, like the moon landing, will get brief mention (noteworthy, but of no significance in history). Children will learn only about those events proven to be inflection points. 9/11 will be prominently mentioned. It was one of the most effective single military operations in the history of the world, and probably the most cost-effective military operation ever (details here).

America burning on 9-11-01
AP photo/Daniel Hulsizer.

How 9/11 changed the world

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

On this day eighteen years ago al Qaeda changed the course of history. It was not a decisive battle in the traditional sense, where thousands fight to determine the fate of nations. Al Qaeda sent 19 men with box cutters in an attack to manipulate America, just as a matador manipulates a giant bull with a cape and his superior mind.

The 9-11 terrorists were “super-empowered individuals” not because of what they did – planes often crash and buildings often burn, then life goes on – but because of what we did after the attack. Their leverage on history came not from their actions but from our reaction. America’s long war has drained its resources, corrupted its soul, diverted attention from desperately need reforms, and turned many in the Islamic community against the West.

Our counter-strikes have almost destroyed al Qaeda, but its leaders may see al Qaeda as the vanguard of their movement, not its body – and hence expendable. Al Qaeda’s leaders might have deliberately or by miscalculation used it as a kamikaze against the West. We can only guess.

The Death Star brings change

What has the Long War done to America?

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”
— Aphorism 146 in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

The damage to our long-term strength and prosperity has only begun to appear. Our foreign adventures helped set the Middle East aflame, as we invaded Afghanistan (because of the big lie) and Iraq (more lies), joined the Saudi’s war in Yemen, and helped destabilize Libya and Syria. Africom prepares to involve us in still more civil wars.

At home the cancerous growth of the security services have eroded away our civil rights (see this ACLU study) and altered our society in ways difficult to see.

Obama institutionalized Bush Jr.’s policies, making them bipartisan policies.  That makes them almost impossible to change. Trump promised reforms, but has preferred instead to tweet.

9/11 put America on a new path; nobody can see its end.

A soldier: the face of America
The face of America abroad.


“The principle behind Tai Chi stayed with me: You can multiply the force of an act by giving way before the force of others; a smaller person can use the strength of a bigger one against him. Jump to 9-11-01 and its aftermath. Think of it as a grim cosmic joke – that the 9/11 attacks, as apocalyptic as they looked, were anything but. The true disasters followed and the wounds were largely self-inflicted, as the most militarily powerful nation on the planet used its own force to disable itself.”
— Tom Engelhardt in a TomDispatch.

The consequences of 9/11 will continue to ripple out through America and the world until we decide to confront our actions since that day. We hide these grim truths about the long war with lies. The longer we wait, the greater the damage to America.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about bin Laden, about al Qaeda, about jihad, and especially these …

Books to help you more clearly see our America.

All that has changed since Tom Englehardt wrote these books is that we have accepted the new America as our America.

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (2014).

The United States of Fear (2011).

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World
Available at Amazon.
The United States Of Fear
Available at Amazon.

14 thoughts on “Commemorate 9-11 by seeing the truth”

  1. How Bush Jr. turned 9/11 into a global crusade


    General Wesley Clark interviewed by Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now”, 2 March 2007.

    CLARK: Well, in a way. But, you know, history doesn’t repeat itself exactly twice. What I did warn about when I testified in front of Congress in 2002, I said if you want to worry about a state, it shouldn’t be Iraq, it should be Iran. But this government, our administration, wanted to worry about Iraq, not Iran. I knew why, because I had been through the Pentagon right after 9/11. About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in.

    He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.”

    I said, “Well, you’re too busy.”

    He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September.

    I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?”

    He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.”

    So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?”

    He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

    So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.”

    And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

    GOODMAN: I’m sorry. What did you say his name was?

    CLARK: I’m not going to give you his name.

  2. The PNAC (Neocons) wanted endless war in the Middle East, in the name of “democracy”. PNAC members filled Bush’s government. They were looking for anything that would be a “New Pearl Harbor” to justify endless war in the Middle East.

    Conspiracy minded folks can punch a million wholes in the official story, but we don’t need to go there. “Instead, by their fruits you shall know them.” No matter if the there is anything truth at all to the claims of the conspiracists, we got poison fruit in abundance.

    Patriot act.
    Trillions spent in war.
    Weakened military.
    Dead and damaged soldiers.
    Mass importation of Muslims since 9/11.
    Destroyed Middle East countries
    Deaths of despair and American carnage
    Decaying infrastructure

    I really hate the Neocons.

    The question is though “Did they succeed in their goals?”

    They failed in their stated goals, for sure, but those may not have been their real intents. If their goals were to get rich while weakening various Middle East countries and fundamentally transforming America, they succeeded beyond all measure, at least until Hillary lost.

    1. Gaius,

      I agree with your analysis, except for these two.

      “if their goals were to get rich”

      Which neocon advocates for war got rich? Many did get rich. From the billions in cash stolen from Iraq (the largest theft in history). From the wars. But I don’t think the neocons (ie, the usual suspects) got esp rich.

      “fundamentally transforming America, they succeeded beyond all measure, at least until Hillary lost.”

      As I have oft said, Bush Jr should be on Mt. Rushmore – in terms of impact on America. Obama’s primary accomplishment, dwarfing all else, was to institutionalize Bush Jr.’s changes. Trump hasn’t changed them, so I see no effect from Hillary’s defeat.

    2. The PNAC paper was about advanced weaponry systems for a possible conventional war with another superpower, and says noting at all about WANTING or NEEDING “a new Pearl Harbor.” The al Qaeda SUICIDE attacks of 9/11/2001 drew hundreds of billions of dollars AWAY from what the neocons wanted and spent it on asymmetrical warfare against insurgents in third-world countries.

  3. Larry, I wholeheartedly agree with Pluto. I’m also grateful for the advice Pluto has given me in the past.

    The advice you give about stopping this was taken several posts back and I’ve been hard at it. It’s penance for my prior errors.

    It has been a long day. First thing I did with my morning coffee was check your site as usual. I read the first paragraph and stopped. I couldn’t go on.

    At 6 this evening I came back to finish your post and the comments. I’m still here because I reviewed your links.

    You do a Hell of a job!

  4. Larry,
    If OSBL had gotten his hands on a low yield nook in that time period, do you think he would have used it instead of 757s? If not, why not? I mean, it would have done about as much as could be done to assure an American Reaction.
    And if 9/11 had been nuclur, what would you have recommended to Bush 2 to have done in response?
    I am being serious.

    1. Rum,

      From what little we know, 9-11 was a psychological operation. The impact was our reaction, not the pinprick damage done – making it a success of sorts.

      What would using a nuke have accomplished? Especially since US policy would have authorized use of nukes in reprisal. Nations would have mailed us the heads of every known AQ member. More likely, the Saudi Princes sponsoring AQ would have had bin Laden and co shot at any hint of them using a nuke.

      Such fantasizing has been a staple of American’s thinking about the world. Mexican cartels smuggling AQ terrorists into the US! Iran providing manpads to jihadists in Iraq (as we did to the mujahidin in Afghanistan). Poison in the water supply! Attacks taking down America’s power grid. And of course, EMP weapons built by terrorists, jihadists, and evil children – reducing America back to the stone age.

      In fact there are sound reasons that after decades, none of these things have happened.

      “And if 9/11 had been nuclur, what would you have recommended to Bush 2 to have done in response?”

      We should have done in that scenario what we should have done after 9/11. The Founders provided for this situation in the Constitution. We don’t pay attention to it, except to cherry-pick a few useful verses, so we didn’t use it. This option would have worked even better if AQ used nukes, since they would have had no friends. See details here.

  5. I read the links. I remain uncertain whether the right option being hinted at was a formal declaration of war or a constitutionally limited police-ing action of some sort.
    The reason that I asked the question is that, from some points of view, the 911 attack signalled :”We would use nooks if we had them because we do not fear your retaliation.” After all, our actual response to the 757s was to the max, regarding OSBL and his guys. Most all the leaders are dead and we made – at least an effort – to undo their cultural support in their home country.
    There were no additional meaningful targets for counter neukks, if it had gone that way.
    I think that the attackers strategy revealed by 911 implied that use of fizsonable devices was consistent with the plan, In the mind of OSBL AND Bush the 2nd.
    In retrospect, at least Bush was wrong, At the time, I think he believed we were in a race to stop OSBL -who appeared to have had a working doctrine for rationally using the worst things against the USA,

    1. Rum,

      “I remain uncertain whether the right option being hinted at was a formal declaration of war ”

      Most Americans are confused about this, but “war” is “declared” against nations. Not diseases (cancer), not tactics (terror). Al Qaeda is not a nation. It was barely an organization. (My guess is that AQ was destroyed largely by the Saudi Princes after it attacked them).

      We didn’t declare war against either Iraq or Af because we had no legitimate grounds under international law (i.e., the treaties we signed, under the Constitution are “the supreme law of the land.”

  6. Let me try again: If you were Bush the 2nd with a load of imperfect information in the late fall of 2001 period that was nontheless leading you to think that your new opponent had a fully worked out plan that conferred an immeniently rational basis for exploding (bribed or stolen devices from Paki and or black market USSR )
    devices intended to ‘I mean that would help everyone Alive

    smite “the enemy.”
    What would you have done.|

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: