(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
In the late 90’s I shared an office with a Chinese academic who, because of the fact he belonged to a family of scholars going back many generations, was put in a work-camp on the Mongolian border during the Cultural Revolution during most of his adolescence. This was not a happy experience for him and had left deep scars in him. But he still was a Chinese patriot and we would have friendly arguments about Chinese/American conflicts. He expressed doubts that the U.S. would respond to provocations or crises in any muscular way–he saw us as “soft.” I told him that should we ever be attacked the perpetrators would experience a storm of violence beyond their imagining.
I felt, in those days, an underlying sense of frustration and repressed violence that was a result of being the lone superpower in the world yet, we weren’t able to just assert our superiority and, so it appeared to us, not get the proper respect and deference we deserved. I sensed this in American culture. Here we were, the most successful people on earth and we had no national mission like we did when we “fought” and won the Cold War. Capitalism triumphant, prosperity, but what did it mean? Who are we? Why was the most important news story for months a blow job? Neo-conservative intellectuals did write that only a “a new Pearl Harbor” would bring the U.S. out of its lethargy. They made much of our moral decline and need for a unifying enterprise and I think they were right–they saw us as drifting into hedonism and triviality which we were then and still are doing only now much poorer because of the way we reacted to 9/11.
It happened. The first reactions were mixed–people asked on call-in shows that I listened to almost without stop post-9/11 what had we done to get people so upset. But the tone, particularly in the news media started to change very dramatically–I believe it was, in part deliberately instigated by the government but it was also genuine. Here was a chance to compete with the “greatest generation” and come together as Americans with a single-minded determination to “beat the enemy.” Sadly that enemy was a rather indistinct group of terrorists. No country, no government had anything to do with the matter. The Taliban regime (which we had played footsie with) was blamed though an ultimatum was set and the Taliban regime was given no chance to respond to the ultimatum (it was a phony ultimatum–the U.S. had no intention of waiting for an answer or would accept an answer) the goal was War.
America desperately wanted War in my view or anything that gave life some meaning People were giddy with delight, it showed in the MSM to be Americans–everyone was flying flags. The left and the right were one in this struggle against evil. There were a few doubters like Amy Goodman who then was considered on the fringes but most people were “ready to roll” and, though they did not say so, ready to make an Empire and change the world. Americans did not any longer need to be obsessed with blow-jobs we could now deal with really important matters like killing a whole bunch of people. It was all kind of narcissistic and it showed. We were wonderful and the Muslims were evil. They hated our freedoms. Who were these people? A few hundred people who really should have been dealt with as criminals. These were people against whom the idea of spending two trillion dollars to combat seems, in retrospect, a little silly particularly since the U.S. government took a detour to pick up Iraq which had no connection whatsoever with the attacks but on the weird pretext that maybe they might think about harming us. It got so ridiculous that military planners actually saw theoretical threats as real threats and went about designing ways (and writing contracts to their favorite contractors who then would hire them when the quit their gov’t job–hey I know this because I was a contractor).
This air of unreality has suffused the whole enterprise called the “Global War on Terror” is so obvious. The term is a completely Orwellian notion that should have been laughed off the stage yet here we are still engaged in War, War, War. Now, they wised up and realized that, facing a debt crisis, it was more cost effective to use JSOC and CIA to carry out covert wars around the world, which is an improvement though we still favor using the Air Force to shower people with shrapnel and high explosives but it’s ok because they aren’t worth much, the people we kill that is.
I would characterize the collective reaction to the 9/11 events as “stupid and cowardly” if I had to use a few words. We were asked to make no sacrifices other than to continue shop, refinance our houses or buy bigger and bigger and bigger ones. We could have “guns and butter.” We became culturally obsessed with “security.” We sent SWAT teams to arrest lonely drunks who had a gun and were shooting their mouths off. We made America the new land of King Draco–feeling up little kids, subjecting air passengers to possibly dangerous radiation and humiliating searches. We gave law-enforcement incredible powers and started a new orgy of incarcerations. We stopped effectively enforcing laws on Wall Street and almost completely moved the FBI away from enforcing anti-fraud laws there as well. We killed perhaps hundreds of thousands of people mainly non-combatants in our several wars with very little risk to our own soldiers. We kill twenty civilians to kill one “terrorist” who, it turns out may not have been anything of the sort maybe just the enemy of some informant. We made torture legal. We hold people in a secret Gulag without rule of law. We execute people without trial around the world and feel no need to justify it or to offer proof that the person we killed was an enemy or meant harm. It could just have been someone that stole an agents girl-friend.
We have, in a sense, ruined this country and changed its trajectory–I think we’ll come back “green shoots” and all but in a different format. We have spent trillions on mainly ineffective wars when we could have spent much less using diplomatic, intel assets, and law enforcement agencies to get justice for 9/11–which was never really investigated as a crime using forensic evidence–at any rate no heads rolled–everybody was promoted and no good deed went unpunished. We did not need to do what we did. 9/11 was used cynically by political forces that really wanted only one thing. To steal our money! We have nothing to be proud of an much to be ashamed of.
This diary was posted on DKOS–I’m not allowed to write about alternate views on what happened on 9/11 and who was resposible. But here I can write it.
Even a fairly cursory examination of the fact surrounding 9/11 indicate that something was very fishy. Why weren’t these planes intercepted? How did the buildings collapse including a building that never was hit, Building 7. All collapsed in such a way that looked like a demolition at free-fall speed. Since the towers were designed to sustain a hit by an airliner how come it just turned into dust? It could have been coincidence, it could be that cell phones in those days worked at high altitudes. It could be the hijackers could have flown those airplanes at those speeds and hit their targets. But there is enough direct evidence that points to other explanations and these were never explored. In fact, even mentioning some minor skepticism about official reports of the events will turn you into a drooling conspiracy theorist who needs to get on medication fast.
More compelling that the events themselves, the myth of 9/11 has to exist so people believe it–I think they believe it and would believe it no matter what facts show. We need to believe 9/11 was done by a small group of not very intelligent people at the behest of, by all account I’ve read, a pretty mediocre commander of guerrilla forces. If we don’t than our slaughters and wars will have meant nothing. But the cost of fables and living in denial are very large and we are paying that cost right now not just collectively but on a personal level. I have never been alive at a time when people are less interested in rational discourse. We are unable to deal with any major problem on a collective basis because we have lost our minds–we can’t reason collectively. There is only force and muscle.