Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later - What have we allowed ourselves to become?

Ten years ago, our country suffered the largest terrorist attack that the world had ever seen. Everybody remembers where they were on that day of tragedy. In my memory, that day still passes by as if it were in slow motion. I will never forget how it made me feel. Ten years later, I want to look back and write down some things that I think of as I reflect on that day and what has happened since. In that reflection, I believe and fear that the initial 9/11 attack has unleashed a far worse national tragedy than even those who carried out the attacks could have thought possible: the loss of our nation's self-identity, the continued – even quicker – erosion of our economic power, and most importantly, the loss of our freedom itself.

Before I get into that, we need to understand why we were attacked, and why those attacks were planned by a man, Osama bin Laden, who was an ally of ours in the Cold War. After the attacks, President George W. Bush stated that, “they hate us for our freedoms.” This is a dangerous and overly-simplistic view of international affairs that ignores our constant meddling in the middle east. Believing that the United States was standing idly yet triumphantly by, completely innocent, and was suddenly attacked for no reason other than our freedoms is essentially saying that we were attacked because we wear blue jeans and eat at McDonalds. This view is too simple, even for children.

Prior to the attack, a political scientist named Chalmers Johnson wrote a book that describes the growth in overseas militarism that the United States has carried out since the end of the Cold War, and states that our increased efforts to grow our empire will result in something called “Blowback” (also the title of his book). Examples are plentiful: In 1953, the CIA overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran and installed the Shah, who turned out to be a repressive military dictator. Historian Stephen Kinzer (author of All the Shah's Men) believes that, without our intervention, Iran would have developed into a stable, modern representative democracy. Instead, the people of Iran overthrew the Shaw in the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and installed the current Ayatollah government, which is a closed-down, repressive theocracy and is (for obvious reasons) unfriendly to the United States. We also installed Saddam Hussein to represent U.S. Interests in the Iraq/Iran war, and then turned against him in Operation Desert Storm. We were heavily involved in arming and supporting the Muhajadin (led by Osama bin Laden) in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the Cold War. Muhajadin, by the way, refers to Freedom Fighters who simply desire to be left alone by foreign powers. This organization eventually became the Taliban. It is probably only a matter of time before our “friends,” the so-called rebels, in Libya become our enemies, just as have countless other regimes we support when they do our bidding, and bomb when they try to act independently.

Today we use our military to tell countries what they can or can't do. If Iran pursues nuclear weapons , we will first starve, then bomb them. We refuse to even allow travel to Cuba, a country that has not been any threat to the United States for decades. Instead of trading with other countries, respecting their sovereignty and independence, and showing by example the fruits of liberty, we pursue a truly isolationist foreign policy wherein we attack (verbally or physically) any country that disagrees with us. This behavior is absolutely hypocritical. It seems as though any time an (especially Islamic) country expresses a desire to do anything that might negatively affect the American Empire, you hear the pounding of the war drums to threaten (or even force) the country back into compliance by means of sanctions (starvation, which repressive leaders easily blame on the United States) or outright war. Of course, those who committed the 9/11 attacks committed horrible crimes, but to assume that they acted without motive, is dangerous, stupid, and utterly defiant of history.

Finally, a word needs to be written on what we have lost since the attacks. We are less free and less prosperous:
  • We have lost more than 5,000 of our men and women in uniform and wounded tens of thousands more fighting wars that were largely unnecessary.
  • We spilled that blood and spent trillions of dollars trying to remake the political landscape of tribal cultures that we do not understand.
  • We have been the instrument of death of more than one million Iraqis and Afghans, most of whom were innocent civilians; and we have displaced millions more.
  • We have “given up essential liberties to purchase a bit of temporary security,” showing the prophetic Benjamin Franklin that we were undeserving of our liberty to begin with.
  • As Franklin prophesied, we will likely loose our security as a result of our lost liberty
  • We passed the PATRIOT act, allowing government bureaucrats to tape our phone calls and monitor our electronic communication without a warrant, and have given federal agents power to write their own search warrants. This is a disgusting breach of our right to privacy, in excess of any law passed since King George's tyrannical rule over the American Colonies.
  • We have, through the same abominable piece of legislation, given the FBI the ability to break into our houses, make it appear as though a robbery had occurred, plant bugs, confiscate evidence, and leave without a warrant, and without disclosing anything for 18 months
  • We have also given the government power to tap into our cell phones and use the microphone to listen to anybody within its range, again without a warrant of any kind.
  • We have entrusted our airline security to government agents, absent any market discipline, and have empowered them to either sexually molest us or photograph our naked bodies with heavy doses of radiation as a precondition of our freedom to travel.
  • We have allowed ourselves to become a nation that operates secret military prisons; a nation that engage in the kinds of torture that we abhorred when the North Vietnamese did it to us.
  • In short, we have become a mere shell of the free country that made us a beacon to the world. We are no longer an example of freedom or prosperity, as are thus likely destined to fade into the pages of history, just as every empire before us has. If in fact they did attack us for our freedoms, everything I mentioned above proves that they won.
I pray that we can overcome these severe deviations from our Constitution, and that once again we will be a beacon of liberty, but I fear that we may not.

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