Sep 112007

I suppose no blogger can let 9/11 pass without a post reflecting on what it all means. Unfortunately, the Bu$hCo Administration has done everything they can to tie the events of this day to Iraq. They have gone so far as to ensure that the Petraeus report is delivered to Congress so as to coincide with the observance of this anniversary.

The attacks of 9/11 were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and ever since, Bu$h has been using the mantra to strike fear into the hearts of Americans and ensure continued support of his war. He and Dick have incessantly linked the words “al-Qaida” and “Iraq.” In a  recent speech about Iraq, Bush mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that the insurgents in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S.

We all knew what Petraeus was going to say before he said it. He was going to spend most of his time talking about how great things are in Anbar…again, never mind things were getting better there long before the “surge” started. We need also to remember that progress has been made there only by striking another “deal with the devil,” Saddam’s Fedayeen. Bush arrogantly attempts to play the alpha dog Commander and Chief with his, “we’re kicking ass,” comment.

 Everyone in America who gets any outside input beyond Faux News knows the real situation on the ground in Iraq. Read some of the blogs of the soldiers that are there. So just forget the absurd debate about progress. The questions to be asked are much more basic–Why can’t we bring ourselves to end the debacle, and why did we invade Iraq in the first place?

Congress cannot bring themselves to end the Iraq war because they haven’t yet grown the backbone to question the basic assumptions on which Bu$h’s “War On Terror” is based. To this Administration, 9/11 justifies everything and ends all arguments. As Gary Kamiya wrote at

Bush’s reaction to 9/11 was to declare a “war on terror,” of which the Iraq adventure was said to be the “front line.” The American establishment signed off on this war because of 9/11. To oppose Bush’s “war on terror” was to risk another terror attack and dishonor our dead. The establishment has now turned against the Iraq front, but it has not questioned the “war on terror” itself, or the assumptions on which it is based.

We chose this go-it-alone vigilantism over reason and justice. We responded from our biological instincts –“fight or flight” – we were hit, so we had to hit back. We responded like a drunk in a bar fight, and combined with our preconceived notions about the Arab/Muslim world, we ran up against our prejudices. The problem is we allowed Bu$hCo to convince us that instead of taking vengeance on the people that attacked us, we should attack the guy standing on the corner watching. It’s a male thing. On the school yard its called “bullying,” and for conservatives it appears to be a necessary reaction. Hence their bully-ish name calling of war critics as “wimps, girly-men and appeasers.”         

As mankind developed civilizations, Law arose to prevent every trespass from becoming an endless feud. Justice is the limiting concept for retribution. It determines the morally acceptable limits of retribution that society extracts. Unfortunately, while understanding the concept, Democrats have cowered when it comes to war because they may be seen as week on national security…afraid the Republicans will call them wimps.

Our bigotry against Arabs combined with this alpha-dog mentality allowed Bu$hCo to push through the most bizarre war declaration in history.

To be sure, the seeming increase in radical Islam and its cult of martyrdom combined with the on-going terrorists attacks certainly added to America’s prejudices. All stereotypes are based on some level of truth. But our nearly complete ignorance of the Arab/Muslim world contributed greatly to our misunderstanding and prejudice. Oil certainly played a role at the highest levels, but we Americans went along because of our fear, prejudice and lack of understanding. Kamiya goes on to say in his article:

One of the neocons’ main goals in invading Iraq was to “remake the Middle East” — a weirdly grandiose, imperialist concept of the sort that doesn’t apply anywhere except with Muslims. Only in the Middle East do lofty historical generalizations about why a world culture went wrong — like those of the right-wing Arabist and White House favorite Bernard Lewis — provide the intellectual underpinnings for unprovoked wars. Yes, the Arab-Muslim world has some serious problems, and yes, only a politically correct pedant would forbid all cultural generalizations. But when you go to war on the basis of those generalizations, you cross the line into colonialist prejudice.

Early on, Bu$h himself referred to the “war on terror” as a crusade….a Holy War. Two leading neo-cons, Richard Perle and David Frum, make clear the theological nature of their belief in this course of action by the title of their book, An End to Evil. You see, once you’re dealing with “evil,” minutiae–distinctions between secular and religious, differences between Sunni and Shiite, or even whether the country you invaded had anything to do with the attacks on America–can be ignored. The willingness of America’s establishment to sign off on a war based on this de facto bigotry and fear is merely insane.

September 11 was one of those pivotal moments in history. We had the chance to bring the rest of the world closer to us. We had the chance to build coalitions that would have made the entire world safer from terrorism. Instead, as noted earlier, we responded like an angry drunk in a bar. We demonized an entire culture in the Middle East and we lashed out blindly, self-righteously, and alone.

On this six year anniversary, we look back to find the global sympathy we enjoyed for a brief moment after 9/11 gone, used up by the arrogance and imperialism of this administration. The shining city on the hill that was once America is darkened for at least a generation to come. America’s moral authority, our most precious resource, is tarnished by torture, lies, and the erosion of our liberties. The ideals fought for and won by the founders lie in the dust, trampled by our own fears and laziness and prejudice. More Americans have died in the Bush/Cheney war than died on that fateful day. We are despised by the world, the Middle East is on the verge of erupting, and the threat of terrorism, that Bu$h promised to defeat, is greater than ever.

Six years later, as we mourn the dead, we need also to acknowledge the prejudice, fear, and laziness that drove our response to 9/11. Until we do, our entire foreign policy continues down the road to ruin.

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