9/11 RevisitedSeptember 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.