9/11 Revisited

September 11, 2007

Since this is the Chamber’s first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I thought I’d post a few thoughts since a) I have a few, and b) I know a lot of other bloggers are probably doing the same, so I figured that visitors might be interested in how my views compare and contrast to those of other bloggers.

Six years have gone by since the attacks, which is quite a bit of time in the realm of reflecting and analysis of one’s personal feelings on what is undoubtedly one of the most tragic days in American history.  Incidentally, it wasn’t just the loss of life or the  magnificent towers that I find tragic, because I find certain aspects of our reaction to the attacks to be equally harrowing (namely, our ill-conceived and completely unnecessary invasion of Iraq).

First off, I thought I’d mention that I find many people attempt to portray the attacks as more than what they actually were.  My opinion is that, at it’s most basic, the attacks were nothing more than a fairly elaborate stunt carried out by members of a deranged and sadistic cult.  I view it as and in the context of a criminal act, as opposed to some grand event that signaled the beginning of a clash of civilizations (a characterization, I might add, that I find particularly troubling as well as an exercise in giving the perpetrators exactly what I believe they had hoped to achieve). 

Also, I don’t believe that it was merely an attempt to kill as many Americans as possible.  If that were the case, I think they would have picked a more deadly target than the Pentagon.  The killing of Americans and destroying recognisable and iconic structures was the means to an end, as opposed to the end itself.   It was bold attempt to force a response when previous attempts had failed to generate the desired outcome.  Our ideal reaction (as far as al Qaeda is concerned) is probably a matter of debate.  After all, I can’t speak for OBL, and it’s hard to know for certain whether what they’ve said publicly on the matter has been an honest statement of their goals or a deft use of the tactics of subversion.  I think there is little doubt, however, that 9/11 was a provocation

In many ways, I feel that our reaction was appropriate.  For a little while at least, Americans were united in a feeling of sorrow and anger.  We asked the questions why?, who?, and how can we prevent this from happening again?, and took some reasonable steps to address those concerns.  We attempted to bring the culprit to justice.  We took steps to fill the gaps in the safety net that we had developed over the last few decades to detect and prevent this sort of thing.

Unfortunately, there were many aspects of our collective reaction that was wholly inappropriate and/or downright irresponsible.  We allowed our leader to exploit the attacks and the emotions attached to it by pursuing a policy of war whose perceived benefits weren’t based on the best interests of America, but rather of a political party.  “War” was viewed as a winning platform and support for it as a partisan weapon, sold to us as an attractive policy, and executed in a breathtakingly reckless and arrogant manner.  In addition, 9/11 was exploited as an excuse to expand presidential power and twist the Constitution.  All too often, it was evoked as the rationale behind the support for policies that otherwise would have had little support.

Sometimes I can’t help but feel ashamed and humiliated that we’ve given this “stunt” so much weight.  As I noted in the previous thread, the fact that -even after 6 years- Osama is gloating and relishing in what he’s managed to accomplish should prove that, to him, 9/11 is the gift that keeps on giving.  Al Qaeda’s goal was to do something big, but we’ve managed to make it even bigger.  In that respect, we’ve played right into their hands.



  1. Nineteen Arabs (none of them from Iraq) so hated the USA that they sacrificed their lives to kill 3000 Americans.

    GW Bush put his finger on, arguably, the worst possible reaction to 9/11 by invading an oil rich Arab country that had not attacked the USA and was no danger to the USA.

    How anyone can believe that was going to make Arabs less inclined to commit terrorism against the USA is beyond me!

  2. “My opinion is that, at it’s most basic, the attacks were nothing more than a fairly elaborate stunt carried out by members of a deranged and sadistic cult.”

    That’s where I whole heartedly disagree. I’m pretty sure, that it was an elaborate plan. Not necessarily aiming at killing as many Americans as possible, but aiming at American symbols of power. In the case of the WTC buildings financial power and in the case of the Pentagon military power.

    That’s a sure way to provoke a Gung Ho reaction with little brain involvement on the American side. And I may point out again, that Massud has been killed by AQ two days before the 9/11 attacks. As opposed to the Bushites, Bin Laden and his staff were expecting retaliations, since that was the real goal of the attacks. It is a first class recruiting campaign for their cause. The only thing I don’t think they were expecting in their wildest dreams was the Iraq opportunity. That’s where they were seriously underestimating Bush’s stupidity.

  3. The interesting question that was positioned by a relative few is why do people consider 9/11 the start of something? Many say that it is symbolic of the clash of civilizations, others have called it the start of the war on terror. What few have stated is that this was nothing more than a reaction that was caused by a reaction that was caused by a reaction and so on and so on. In essence 9/11 was just a group’s attempt to raise the ante and it worked. The United States and many other countries went after al-qaeda and attempted to knock out as much power as they had, until of course someone waved a shinny object in front of George and he got distracted.

  4. It’s like the Reichstag-fire all over again. But this time on a more tragic scale.

  5. reff- You’re right on that point. It’s not like the attacks just came out of nowhere. It was something that those in the intelligence community had feared might happen for some time. Heck, Clinton formed a group within the CIA specifically focused on bin Laden back in 1996 (IIRC). Hollywood had been making movies about bold terrorist plots crafted by fanatical jihadists for years.

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