Posts Tagged ‘9/11’
Historian Juan Cole was one of my must-reads in the wake of 9/11. Had more of us paid attention to Professor Cole’s line of thought regarding what al Queda was trying to accomplish, the US might have been saved going to war in Iraq.
In response to the gruesome murders in Paris, Cole offers this analysis Sharpening Contradictions. Much as with 9/11, this attack, Cole argues, was less an act of revenge as much as yet another attempt to horrify and to provoke. What could be a better recruitment tool to rally the vast and largely disinterested Muslim world to their cause than goading the West into taking violent and indiscriminate measures against Muslim populations and countries. These are classic agit-prop tactics, employed to great effect by Stalin during the Russian Revolution, and revolutionaries of all stripes since. See the classic film The Battle of Algiers.
Time will tell whether the recent atrocities in Paris provoke a further and violent tilt to the extremist right parties in France and other European nations.
Ten years ago, we invaded Iraq. Funny how little media attention this is receiving. We will be paying off its estimated $3Trillion price tag for a generation or more. The 4500 American soldiers who died and the more than 100,000 Iraqis paid a higher price. I find it hard to put into words my thoughts on the series of decisions led to what is considered one of the worst US foreign policy decisions of the modern era. US media outlets seem as quiet today on the topic of this sad anniversary as they were enthusiastic boosters at its inception. For a painful look back, see the International Herald Tribune.But for the complete painful narrative, the UKs Guardian is the place to turn.
500 Days:Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars is the just-released backstory of the War on Terror by the NYT writer, Kurt Eichenwald (“The Informant”). A couple of warnings: This is a very political book, enough said on that. And many of the
torture interrogation session narratives are, as you might expect, extremely disturbing.
Al Qaeda spent roughly half a million dollars to destroy the World Trade Center and cripple the Pentagon. What has been the cost to the United States? In a survey of estimates by The New York Times, the answer is $3.3 trillion, or about $7 million for every dollar Al Qaeda spent planning and executing the attacks. While not all of the costs have been borne by the government — and some are still to come — this total equals one-fifth of the current national debt.
From the NY Times excellent overview of 9/11
On the morning of September 11, 2001, America’s prospects appeared as bright as the clear blue sky over Lower Manhattan. The price of Brent crude oil was $28 a barrel, the Federal government was running a budget surplus, the US economy was turning (albeit imperceptibly) after the dotcom crash. The most powerful nation on earth was at peace.
Ten years on, the oil price hovers around $115 a barrel, the US is projected to run a budget deficit for 2011 of $1,580bn, the largest in its history; the economy remains deeply troubled after the financial crash of 2008; and America’s military and intelligence services remain at war, battling insurgency and radical Islamic terrorism, from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Niger and Yemen.
From the Financial Times’ “The end of US hegemony”. In a sweeping and quite cogent analysis, the author traces the political and economic events of the first decade of the 21st century as regards the diminishing power of the US. Well worth a read, the article concludes,
Gerard Lyons, chief economist of Standard Chartered Bank, says the three most important words in the past decade were not “war on terror” but “made in China”. On present trends, he adds, the three most important words of this decade will be “owned by China”.
That is the latest estimate by a group of researchers from the Watson Institute at Brown University on the costs of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. $3,000,000,000,000 is nearly 25% of our accumulated national debt and a tidy $10,000 per man, woman, and child in the US.
The report finds that in addition to 6,000 US troops killed, some 99,000 US personnel have been reported wounded. And the VA reports a staggering 550,000 in new disability claims since 9/11. The linked site has all the details and more.
After so many years of waiting for the arrival of this day, we have at long last extracted what we sought – revenge (not justice) on the mastermind of the worst foreign assault ever on US soil, on the man who had repeatedly sworn to destroy our country and our liberal democratic way of life. Our gratitude is due the planners of this strike, and to the military personnel who risked their lives to successfully execute it.
Like most Americans, I was deeply traumatized by the events of September 11, 2001. The world, for us, irreversibly changed that day. This weekend’s killing of the perpetrator of those attacks some ten years ago comes as welcome closure. But it is also a vivid reminder of the losses of those tragic days, as well as of the subsequent inexplicable turn that events were to take, and of the deep divisiveness the country was to endure in the years to come.
I am left to wonder how things might have turned out differently for our nation’s financial well-being and for our moral authority had we not squandered so much of our wealth, manpower and global goodwill on an invasion of Iraq that diverted us from our real purpose and instead, at infinitely less cost, relentlessly pursued bin Laden with the full force of the US’ military and intelligence capabilities until we had successfully secured his death or capture.