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Thursday, January 11, 2007

9/11 -- The "Gift" That Just Keeps Giving

Let me say at the top that by putting the word "gift" in quotes, I am alerting you to the fact that I don't mean that word to be understood as it normally is. There was a significant loss of life on that day. There was a significant short term price that New York had to pay economically. And were some broader economic consequences, especially to the airlines. But the biggest cost was the damage to the psyches of the American people. This last thing was the only real victory the terrorists had on that day for people tend to personalize threats from from outsiders. We hear that a there was a house invasion in a neighborhood near ours and we go out and buy a gun for protection.

The gift on 9/11 was to George Bush. He has milked the 9/11 attack of all he can get out of it. Were I a friend or family member of someone who died that day, I would be furious at his cynical use of that attack. A reference to 9/11 is Bush's Easy Button. He evokes it whenever he wants to scare Americans into going along with his military plans or his dismantling of our freedoms at home. He used it to go to war in Afghanistan. That was an easy sell once people learned that Al Queda kept training camps there. And Bush used it to get us to support the invasion of Iraq, a war that was defended by a set of arguments all of which were predicated either on a lie or a falsehood. After Saddam was ousted, Bush continued to evoke our memories of 9/11 to justify a continuation of that war. And the other night, in an act of political desperation, he evoked it again to get us to go along with his "new plan" for winning the war in Iraq. As I told you in my last blog, Bush's vanity would not allow him to back away from "winning" the war in Iraq, that is, installing a democratic government capable of maintaining order inside the country. But only two things have changed. First, he wants to send more Americans to Iraq -- more targets of IEDs, more targets of RPGs, and more targets for snipers. Second, he is telling a new lie -- that the Shiite government of Iraq is both fully resolved and capable of terminating the sectarian violence with a little help from its American friends.

This latter goal depends on our embedding American troops with Iraqi troops to assist them as they secure the neighborhoods of Baghdad of Sunni and Shiite death squads and disarm the various militias. I can think of little that would be more dangerous than being an American soldier embedded in an Iraqi military unit that has divided loyalties and may even include members of Sunni and Shiite death squads, including, for instance, members of Al Sadr's militia.

Bush already knew that he had lost the confidence of the American people before the last election, but he defiantly stumped for his war policies. He must have thought that his Easy Button would help the Republicans maintain their majorities in the House and Senate.
Fortunately the American people had caught on to Bush's shtick. Bush's Easy Button didn't work. And now in an act of unimaginable arrogance, he thinks that evoking the threat of terrorist attacks initiated from within an Iraq ruled by militant Islamic fundamentalists, something that would be of Bush's own creation as I'm sure you know, he hopes to persuade us to invest more American lives and taxpayer money in what is, at best, a gamble much like going "all in" with a deuce and a seven. No thanks.

It is important for Americans to put the 9/11 attack in proper perspective. There was an earlier attack on the World Trade Center. Not many Americans died and it didn't affect the American psyche even though it was the sort of thing that could happen again. Timothy McVeigh's attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City hit Americans hard. A lot of people died. And it, too, was the sort of thing that could happen again. Yet, no one much talks about the danger from crazy people like the Oklahoma City bomber. The 9/11 attack killed a lot more people than did the Oklahoma City attack but this attack, unlike the earlier attacks on the WTC and the Murray Building, left a festering wound on the psyches of the American people. These murders were committed by people most Americans know little about and that fact must be part of any account of the fear that resulted from the 9/11 attack.

There have been a number of terrorist attacks before and since 9/11. None have been on American soil though there seem to have been some attempts. It is in this context that the 9/11 attack must be understood. It killed a very large number of people insofar as terrorist attacks go. But by now we have lost as many Americans in Iraq as we lost on 9/11. In the same year, there were more than 42,000 automobile deaths in the United States, more per month than died in the 9/11 attack. I don't mean to minimize any one of the 9/11 deaths individually. I mean only to put the event in perspective. It shouldn't have scared Americans as much as it did. Even the economic damage was slight viewed in the long term.

Americans need to understand that 9/11 was a criminal act. It did warrant the Invasion of Iraq and to my way of thinking, assuming the intelligence was sound, it warrants military attacks like the recent one in Somalia. But, in general, the fight against terrorists is best done, not by invading Arab countries, but by using the forces that we normally use to fight crime and by using greatly expanding the use of human intelligence in countries that provide support for terrorist activities. The Brits and other Europeans have been quite successful in ferreting out terrorist plots. I also believe that we should very greatly expand our various Special Forces. But most of all, we must never allow an American President exploit our fears the way George Bush has so cynically done.


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19 Comments:

Blogger L>T said...

for what it's worth, this is what I think:

I think regarding 9/11 Americans were complacent in feeling safe from the evils of the outside world. & Bam! very graphically(thanks partly to the media)we see we aren't as the twin towers come crashing down.
I blame our American Christian mindset for alot of the missplaced fear, because if we are after all a Christian nation, & we will naturally see Muslims as evil(anti-Christian), even if it's just in our collective subconscious.
This is how we, what you call, personalize threats from from outsiders. we americans have an idea of "evil"

Bush & his croneys just capitalized on that.

& people say religion isn't dangerous!

10:33 AM

 
Blogger L>T said...

My conundrum :
My son did not join the military. But alot of his friends did. Living in a small town where my kids have had the same friends since kindergarten, you get really close to all of their friends. Even if i oppose "Big Bad Bush" I can't seperate myself from the kids in my community that go over there. It makes it difficult to be "detached" I mean esp. when they come back & we sit around & talk about it, bringing up childhood games, etc...it all gets mixed together.

They have a perspective (well, a point of veiw, from being in their early 20's anyway) that is valid to me, because I care about them.

I feel as if I'm being asked to decide what is more important, my stance on politics or supporting these kids that I care about.

I guess I want to say, I HATE this fucking war!

6:12 AM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

You raise an interesting point as to how to deal with families who have people over there or with kids who have returned. It must be the case that, with 70% disapproval of Bush's plan right now, that many of these returnees are telling people what a mess it is over there.

Bush has screwed things up so very badly that there can be no happy conclusion to the war.

9:09 AM

 
Blogger Paul F. said...

I have to blame it on Satan. I mean the atheists.

8:04 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

paul, can you name some atheist politicians in the US?

6:02 PM

 
Blogger Paul F. said...

What's that got to do with the price of tea in China? I'm entitled to my own opinion.

3:51 PM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

You may be entitled to your own opinion but on this blog you are not entitled to express your opinion unless you are able to defend it. L>T asked for you evidence. You are required to provide a reasonably respectful reply or shut up.

9:08 AM

 
Blogger Paul F. said...

Maybe you can answer it for me if you have time to kill. That would just be a waste of my time. I find that question to be mere rhetoric and I don't waste my time with mere rhetoric.

3:58 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

If paul wants to hear it my question does have a point:

Paul you said; it( by it I assume you mean the war) was the fault of satan/atheists.

I asked if you knew of any atheist politicians because it's politicians who take countries to war & I don't remember any of ours claiming to be atheists. Remember also, the other side doesn't profess to be atheists either. You must be forgetting how small the percentage of atheists is in this country. Not anough of us around (although I'm an agnostic secular humanist, i'll go in that camp for the sake of argument)to do much damage in the face of all you people with God on your side. Go ahead & think we are all satanists. besides being agnostic, I'm not any more evil then you are. If what you believe is true, you'd think the prisons would be full of atheists & they are not. As a matter of fact there are hardly any atheists in prison!

8:05 PM

 
Blogger Paul F. said...

So, now tell me what's wrong with blaming Satan.

10:23 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

Blame anyone you want. Blame the great Satan...after all that's what the fundimentalist muslims types are doing, too.
Why do all you people blame Satan & go then kill each other? That doesn't make any sense, except in a "religious" context.

What's wrong with blaming Satan? I think it's ignorant & counter-productive. You would do much better to honestly examine the elements of religion in all this. Start with yourself.
Is being Christian whats makes you a good human? Is being non-Christian what makes me a bad human?

9:11 AM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

"Why do all you people blame Satan & go then kill each other?"

l>t, all you people?

5:05 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

Hi susie, O.k. bad choice of words.Thanks for drawing that to my attention. Let me rephrase & clarify:
"Why do some of you(you meaning religious) people(on both sides) blame Satan & then go kill each other?(Meaning other human beings)"

8:41 PM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

LT, I just think it damages peace efforts in the world to lay the blame for terrorism and all the havoc it has created at the feet of Christians, Muslims, and Jews when probably 90% of them do not subscribe to an ideology of hate and do not want to kill each other.

I think the Islam faith has been hijacked by some extremists and is being distorted in order to fool the people and serve the extremists' causes.

There is a website called Arabs for Israel which should serve as an example to all of us. Sorry, but I always have trouble creating links within the body of a comment. So, instead I am pasting their address here:
http://www.arabsforisrael.com/

I know this doesn't answer your question specifically, but maybe it will help clear up some misconceptions.

11:31 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

susie Of course the Islam faith is being "used"(I don't think hi-jacked is the right word, it's not like it was taken away from anyone) by extremists. Just like the Christian faith, & the Jewish faith, & the Hindu faith, & yada, yada...as essentially(?)all religions are.

You say this:I think the Islam faith has been hijacked by some extremists and is being distorted in order to fool the people and serve the extremists' causes. Doesn't that in it's self fault religion? & if extremists use religion so effectively, much MORE will Governments. If you don't realize that, you're naive.

& where, in what I said, do you get the impression that I'm laying all the blame for Terrorism at the feet of Christians/Muslims/Jews? I'm not that stupid. I realize there are other factors involved.
But...I will stubbornly insist that religion is a factor.

1:02 AM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

Hey LT, I know you are not stupid. :-)

"Hijacked" is a term I heard a moderate Muslim use when speaking about the Islam extremists and their efforts to turn Islam into a religion of hate. But why fault religion for this? Shouldn't the blame rest squarely on the shoulders of the extremists who promote this hatred?

You want to know why I thought you were trying to blame these three major religions for what is going on right now. I don't mean to give you too a hard time on this point, but it was when you said, "Why do all you people blame Satan & go then kill each other?" You used the term "all you people" twice, too. However, you did retract it and rephrase your statement in that one instance.

But it sounded to me like "all you people" meant Christians, Muslims, and Jews, with the killing each other meaning acts of terrorism, the war in Iraq, and the fighting between Israel and their Muslim neighbors. Plus I detected that you were hinting at the era of the Crusades when Christians and Muslims battled it out. I know you are studying the Crusades right now.

If I read more into your statement than you intended, I am sorry.

I think it is a stretch though to say that we have "misplaced fear" in America because we naturally see Muslims as evil due to our Christian mindset in this country. I don't see that as a driving force at all.

We are fearful because of what happened on that September 11, what happened before then, and what has happened since..all over the world. To our credit, we have tried very hard in this country to distinguish between the Islam extremists and the Muslims that mean us no harm. After all, we have a very large Muslim population here to consider.

We know, or at least I hope we know, that we need to protect ourselves from those who would do us harm, but we are not sure how to do it in the most effective and least disruptive and damaging way. Surely this perplexes us all.

Even though we have taken many protective measures here at home, I see that we are still very vulnerable to future attacks here. I don't want us to make the mistake of sticking our heads in the sand.

11:30 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

"Islam is a vibrant faith. Millions of our fellow citizens are Muslim. We respect the faith. We honor its traditions. Our enemy does not. Our enemy doesn't follow the great traditions of Islam. They've hijacked a great religion." Heres a quote by the president along those lines.

I know I've been accused of having an anti-Christian agenda, but that's not true, it is religion that I'm criticizing. Like I've said before, Christianity just happens to be the religion I'm most familiar with.

You said:"I think it is a stretch though to say that we have "misplaced fear" in America because we naturally see Muslims as evil due to our Christian mindset in this country. I don't see that as a driving force at all."
You don't see it as a driving force but, you acknowledge it's there. I think you underestimate the power of religion.

You also say: "To our credit, we have tried very hard in this country to distinguish between the Islam extremists and the Muslims that mean us no harm." That is so true. People HAVE had to think about how they really feel about Muslims. I believe the predominant Christian mindset in this country, has traditionally seen Christianity as the true religion & Muslims as ?(heathens? infidels?) So when a Nation with a predominate Christian mindset is attacked by what we are told is "extremists hi-jacking the Muslim religion" suddenly finds it's self in a war with a Nation(A muslim one, what's the distinguishing factor between a good Muslim & a bad Muslim?
& Religious tolerance means shit because it only goes so far. That's been proven in history, over & over.

Like I said: "I realize there are other factors involved.
But...I will stubbornly insist that religion is a factor." A big factor.

12:50 PM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

LT, even though the war in Iraq was a mistake, I think it was clear from the start in the collective American mind that we were not going into Iraq to kill Muslims. Our war all along has been with terrorists who happen to be Muslim and have manipulated Islam and twisted it to serve their needs.

Before September 11, few of us knew anything about Islam. After September 11, we were full of questions about the religion, and the experts came forward to educate us.

One such expert is Rabbi Reuven Firestone who was at the time anyway Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Here are a couple of excerpts from one of his articles which originally appeared in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, September 28, 2001. I found the article, which you can read in its entirety, at this Islam website though: http://www.islamfortoday.com/firestone01.htm

Rabbi Firestone said: "Islam is a noble and compassionate religion, but like all good things, Islam may be cynically used and manipulated. Misguided people may also manipulate it in good faith." .......................
Whom can you trust, if not God? But God has also been manipulated, and this is the saddest aspect of the complex we call the Middle East. God has been hijacked by terrorists. Islam is not the problem. Terrorism is the problem, and terrorists have hijacked both Islam and God."

"...but like all good things..." You see, LT, the difference between the two of us and why we don't see eye to eye here and probably never will is that I think religion is a good thing.

12:08 AM

 
Blogger L>T said...

Terrorism is the problem, and terrorists have hijacked both Islam and God." Look at that sentence...religious rhetoric meant to strike fear in the heart of? Jews?, & I'm guessing, Christians.

& God has also been manipulated, and this is the saddest aspect of the complex we call the Middle East. How in the hell do you manipulate God?

Susie, You can have your 'Pie in the sky God'. He's not too hot if he can be hi-jacked & manipulated.

1:17 AM

 

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