By Christopher Lewis
As we solemnly observe the 13th anniversary of quite possibly the most horrible event in US history, a question begs to be asked: Have we learned anything?
Are we still under the childish illusion that the “terrorists” hate, and therefore mercilessly attacked innocent civilians (some military at the Pentagon) simply because of our supposed “freedom”? Do we still accept the neocon line that the “Islamists” preemptively slaughtered women and children in order to affect their idea of establishing a grand Islamic caliphate? Is it indeed possible that we continue to accept such false pretenses while ignoring the obvious truths which sit directly at the edge of our noses?
2,999 American citizens are confirmed to have lost their lives on that darkest of days, or as a direct result of it. Sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, all maliciously, and some torturously murdered. But why? In the gruesome conflicts comprising the so-called “War on Terror” (Afghanistan and Iraq), acontinually growing total of 6,717 US soldiers have been killed, while another 50,897 are left wounded; some beyond recognition while still others are never to return to any semblance of normalcy. The ever-rising American death toll beginning on that black day should be a cause for concern, better yet, a reason for inquiry. We, as a supposedly educated people, can not afford to turn a blind eye to causality.
Only those with their heads buried deep within the sand (or those who profit) can be so ignorant to the fact that we are somehow to blame for what has, and still is transpiring. Recent events here in New Jersey can provide a much needed glimpse and wake-up call. In the early morning hours of June 25, 19 year old college student Brendan Tevlin was shot multiple times while his car was stopped at an intersection in West Orange. According to recently released investigation documents, his murderer, Ali Muhammad Brown, referred to Tevlin as a “just kill”, “vengeance” for the “lives taken every single day by America, by this government.”
Perhaps Brown can be written off as a nut; as not truly indicative of anything more than a sicko murderer looking to justify a senseless killing that he committed. But I wouldn’t be so sure. There is no such thing as a “just kill” in this country, so his story cannot currently be seen to have any sort of ulterior motive. Furthermore, Brown’s sentiments echo those reportedly of bin Laden: that his actions, those of the “19 freemen (Sept 11 bombers)”, and those of all his other fellow “terrorists” are in response to US interventions in the Middle East.
Perhaps even bin Laden can be seen to be posturing; appealing to a certain, anti-Zionist, segment of the population for a sort of sympathy toward the motives of Al Qaeda. Perhaps, however history tends to support the indictment of US foreign entanglements, especially when it comes to the Middle East. Regardless of one’s beliefs regarding the legitimacy, or lack thereof, of the State of Israel, the blowback suffered due to our interventions there and elsewhere in the region should not be disregarded.
Ignoring that the first US casualties in the Middle East occurred at the hands of Israel during the USS Liberty incident, one will find that the first attack on US citizens came as a result of our meddling in Iranian affairs. Then, in 1981 the Navy shot down 2 Libyan jets. In 1982 Marines were dispatched to Lebanon to effect regime change. In 1983, Reagan sent US military equipment to Chad to aid against Libya. In 1984 US military equipment aided Saudi Arabia in shooting down Iranian jets. In 1986 Reagan authorized the bombing of Tripoli, Libya due to Gaddafi being allegedly responsible for a disco bombing where 2 Americans were killed. In 1987 the Navy attacked Iranian oil platforms due to a Kuwaiti vessel being attacked. In 1987-88 the Navy became the protector of Kuwaiti oil tankers. In 1988 the Navy attacked an Iranian frigate to retaliate for Iran mining the Persian Gulf, and also shot down an Iranian commercial airliner. In 1989 the Navy shot down 2 Libyan jets for allegedly displaying hostile intentions. In 1990 Bush I ordered Operation Desert Shield to protect Saudi oil fields. In 1992 he ordered Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in an effort to reclaim Kuwaiti oil fields. In 1996 Clinton ordered Operation Desert Strike to bomb Iraq in an effort to defend Kurds escaping to Kuwait. In 1998 Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox, another bombing of Iraq.
Do you see a pattern emerging there? Aside from the Iranian hostage crisis (which can hardly be seen as terrorism), there wasn’t a single “terrorist” attack until 1998, when the Kenyan and Tanzanian embassies were bombed in an effort to mark the seventh anniversary of US military entry into Saudi Arabia. Nearly a half a century of US meddling, going all the way back to US support of the Shah of Iran, would pass before “terrorists” would first attack us “because of our freedoms.” If you are still buying into that line, I have a bridge to sell you.
It’s time to re-ask our original question: have we learned anything in these past 13 years? And the answer? It is painfully, painfully obvious that no lessons have been learned. Since the “end” of the Iraq War, and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, our ingenious leaders have prosecuted bombing campaigns in 4 additional countries (Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia), creating untold numbers of current and future enemies for this country. But it is not just the leaders who clamor for bloodshed. Even as President Obama was preparing his speech to the American public on his intention to add Syria to that list, a move his Republican adversaries find “encouraging,” a new NBC/WSJ poll was released showing that almost two thirds of the population supports the senseless bombing, and unnecessary intervention!
Ali Muhammad Brown. Osama bin Laden. History. All three clearly evidence that it is we who cause our own misfortunes. The war hawks, the profiteers, and their sycophants agitate for more and more war, more and more bloodshed, more and more opportunities for power and wealth.
As we look back today, we should keep in mind Randolph Bourne’s famous quote: “war is the health of the state.” It is the health of the state, yet the detriment of the people. Americans had it right this time last year when they overwhelmingly voiced disapproval of meddling in Syria. Do you want a near guarantee of a 9/11-esque event recurring? Keep supporting the meddling, the interventions, the murders. For those who want to truly honor those who fell 13 years ago, stand up and demand our government withdraw our service members for all of our foreign entanglements. Now.
september 11 2001