9/11 mistakes and missing apologies
The day before the 9/11 anniversary Willow, Evan and i were in the Staten Island Ferry. The threat level was it’s lowest level. A yellow 1. It does not go lower. Yet when we got on the ferry there were perhaps a dozen Coast Guard agents in full combat gear, including machine guns.
It is a 30 minute ride and since there did not seem to be any imminent threats, i approached one of these exotically dressed coast guard sailors and asked if i could ask him questions. He agreed.
“The threat level is the lowest possible. Is it still necessary to have sailors with machine guns on board?” I asked, trying to be courteous.
“This is what we do before and after 9/11. It does not matter what you think.” He replied flatly.
It seemed unnecessary to bother him anymore with questions.
But it got me considering the 9/11 anniversary and how it has affected this country. I have written about my personal experience of the anti-globalization movement which was derailed by post 9/11 mock patriotism.
The following internet “meme” got me thinking about the origins of the second Iraq war. It is well documented that even before 9/11, key Bush administration figures (including Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) wanted to invade Iraq as a means for the U.S. to “play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security…”
Internal communications indicate Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was happy to use Sept 11 attacks as an excuse to invade Iraq, independent of the evidence. Wikipedia says:
On September 11, Rumsfeld asked for: “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit Saddam Hussein at same time. Not only Osama bin Laden.” The notes also quote him as saying, “Go massive”, and “Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”
Rumsfeld was clear that we were back calculating the rationale for attacking Iraq.
Later, in his February 2003 speech to the U.N. Security Council, Powell alleged that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction from inspectors and refusing to disarm. However, after the U.S. had invaded Iraq and overthrown Saddam Hussein, no weapons of mass destruction were found. Powell would later confess on the Daily Show “I, of course, regret the U.N. speech that I gave,” and “Of course I regret that a lot of it turned out be wrong,”
The mainstream media was also complicate in the run up to the invasion. Again from wikipedia:
A study coauthored by the Center for Public Integrity found that in the two years after September 11, 2001 the president and top administration officials had made 935 false statements, in an orchestrated public relations campaign to galvanize public opinion for the war, and that the press was largely complicit in its uncritical coverage of the reasons adduced for going to war. PBS commentator Bill Moyers had made similar points throughout the run up to the Iraq War, and prior to a national press conference on the Iraq War Moyers correctly predicted “at least a dozen times during this press conference he [the President] will invoke 9/11 and Al Qaeda to justify a preemptive attack on a country that has not attacked America. But the White House press corps will ask no hard questions tonight about those claims.”
These rationale for the war having been proved false, the Bush administration moved on to the reliable “We are installing democracy in Iraq” justification. Which has not worked terribly well.
So why does any of this matter? What bothers me most is that a relatively small number of US Americans died and then we went off and killed literally millions of the wrong people because of it. And we still think that the big problem with 9/11 is the US got hurt. The country generally has no shame or remorse about this tremendous mistake we made.
And because we refuse to learn from history, we appear about to make the same mistake again with ISIS. We are looking to return to Iraq and now Syria to start another war, because a tiny number of US Americans have died. In this war we will kill tens to hundreds of thousands of the innocent people (and some militant extremists). This is what ISIS clearly wants, for the US to attack them so ISIS can capture the regional anger and frustration with the US’s dysfunctional foreign policy, so they can recruit more and grow their movement.
Here is another cute text running around the interwebs:
Are you confused by what is going on in the Middle East?
If so, please let me explain it for you in clear terms:
We support the Iraqi government in the fight against ISIS.
We don’t like ISIS, but ISIS is supported by Saudi Arabia who we do like.
We don’t like Assad in Syria. We support the fight against him, but ISIS is also fighting against him. We don’t like Iran, but Iran supports the Iraqi government in its fight against ISIS. So some of our friends support our enemies, some enemies are now our friends, and some of our enemies are fighting against our other enemies, who we want to lose, but we don’t want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win.
If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they could be replaced by people we like even less.
And all this was started by us invading a country to drive out terrorists
who were not actually there until we went in to drive them out.
It’s quite simple, really.
Do you understand now?