Requiem: Is This the Last 9/11 Article?

Wait, stop. I know it’s almost October, but I’m not done with 9/11. I know we just had the 20th anniversary, promised for a day to never forget whatever, and then an old-looking Bruce Springsteen rose to sing about everyone dying around him (read the room, Bruce.) Missing was a hard look at what happened over the last 20 years. Before we move on, can we address that? Because after the symbolic Big 2-0, and with Afghanistan sputtering out of our consciousness, this might be the last 9/11 article.
Part of the reason for the lack of introspection is the MSM went back to the same people who screwed everything up for “takes” two decades later. It’s kind of like inviting students to grade themselves. It was familiar, like the parade of generals following the Vietnam war who blamed the politicians and vice-versa. I’d like a browser widget that blocks 9/11 commentary from any of the people who were wrong about WMDs, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and the like. The last thing anyone’s life needs right now is to hear David Petraeus’ or Condi Rice’s take on anything.
Yet as if to create the anti-widget of my dreams, the Washington Post created a review of the sprawling literature to emerge from 9/11 over the past two decades — what they generously called works of investigation, memoir, and narrative by journalists and former officials. The books included were written by people taking post-mortem credit for issuing warnings they themselves never acted on, agencies blaming other agencies as if all that happened was the FBI lost a pickup softball game to the CIA, and of course journalists who helped sell the whole WMD line profiting off their mini-embeds to write a new “classic” war book about What It’s Really Like Out There, Man.
WaPo left my Iraq book off the list, an accidental omission I’m sure. I joke but I don’t. I wrote ten years ago, as it was happening, how nation building was going to fail in Iraq. It would have made good reading a decade ago for anyone headed into the same situation in Afghanistan. So while WaPo’s article does a good job with the “celebrity” books of the era, it ignores the people who saw through it all at nearly every step. I guess many of them did not write books, or at least not “Washington Post” books. So the list includes Petraeus’ U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the Bible behind the Surge which outlined how nation building was gonna work (update: he was wrong.) But nothing from the weapons inspectors who told the world quite clearly Saddam had no WMDs and the whole premise of the Iraq War was a lie. Nothing explaining how the Afghan War was reinvented to cover-up not finding bin Laden. Nothing about drone killing American citizens, bombing wedding parties, torture, collateral damage, or any of the things that actually caused us to lose multiple wars of terror. Ironically, the last official drone strike of the war killed innocent civilians the Pentagon pretended were terrorists.
I’ve read almost all the books on WaPo’s list. They would make for a decent but obviously incomplete undergrad survey class syllabus, something like “Opportunities and Losses: America in the Middle East post-9/11,” lots of facts amassed without the necessary critical thinking applied. So here’s what’s missing, the conclusions we do not want to see in black and white 20 years later. Think of what follows as a B+ final exam submission for that imaginary survey class.
— Nobody trusts the government about anything. Partisans support their guy but with a wry “Hey, they all lie.” Any rebuilding of trust post-Watergate died with the WMDs, etc. and is unlikely to be restored in our age of social media/manipulation.
— They didn’t make mistakes. They lied. They lied about how 9/11 happened, they lied about WMDs, they lied about intentions, they lied about goals, they lied about Pakistan’s role, they lied about the strength of the puppet governments in Baghdad and Kabul, they lied about the vitality of ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban, they lied about our progress, they lied about it all. They lied to make Pat Tilman’s death seem like Captain Miller’s. No one was ever punished.
— On a simple material level, my God what did we waste in lives and money in all the wars, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and the havoc of refugees let loose? And yet we demand the point of 9/11 be our victimization alone. We even appropriated the term Ground Zero, which once referred universally to Hiroshima.
— American foreign policy credibility and our post-WWII imperialist strategy has finally been shown to be a farce. A lesson that should have been clear post-Vietnam needed to be relearned. That means we the public are stupid and gullible. We the nation are still a big, mean dog, but our ability to influence events around the world is limited to barking and biting and only works when barking and biting is the solution. When anything beyond threats is needed, say when dealing with peers, near-peers or non-allied countries with shared interests, we have few if any tools. That’s why we have no idea whatsoever how to work with Iran or China, and why our strategy with North Korea is hope fat boy slim dies before he (likely accidentally, think Chernobyl) blows up half of Asia.
— They don’t hate our freedoms. They don’t want to be like us. We based policy on finding a handful of Afghan women who wanted to wear mini-skirts when the bulk of them simply wanted to be left alone. The lesson was always obvious; they didn’t want to be British, either.
— Americans pretend our little journey to the dark side of torture was over years ago, our bad! but lots of others remember and Gitmo is still open. We will never unstain our reputation globally. Like that one-time little sexy business trip affair, it just becomes a thing polite people don’t talk about.
— We emerged from 9/11 a “paranoid, xenophobic and martial society.” We’ve let the easy certainty of “you’re either with us or against us” morph into students being taught not to think but “being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues.”
— America became a massive surveillance state. The government (and many large corporations) monitor your communications and interactions. You cannot opt out. We willingly purchase electronics to aid the government in monitoring us. Here’s one in pink!
— We willingly gave up our privacy out of fear. That fear now exists in the body politic to be summoned like a demon and manipulated by whomever wishes it for whatever purpose, say to imagine Trump is a Russian spy, or your neighbors as Nazis because they oppose what you support, or Covid survival demands further loss of freedom.
— The media, which served in times past as a counterpoint, instead fully adopted the role of promoting Bush’s wars and WMDs, Trump the spy, etc. They allowed Obama to wave away questions about torture, drone assassinations, and new wars because he was their chosen one. No one sees the media as anything but partisans now, albeit our partisans and their partisans depending on which channel is on. The result is we are ever more uninformed and simultaneously more opinionated. What part of a doctor’s day is spent dealing with knuckleheads who value their degree from the University of Google more than what he has learned in a lifetime of practice?
There, that’s it. I predict the 9/11 commemorations will become lower and lower key in the years to come, much like America lost interest in the space program in the later years and rocket launches were no longer even televised. But each year the anniversary rolls around and we’re admonished to never forget, remember how much we already seem to have very purposely forgotten.

 

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15 Comments

  • John Poole on said:

    It is of course exasperating for you personally to have diligently and creatively written how this nation can’t face up to its criminal temperament and be stiffed at the awards dinner. I’m wondering if we need to create another Greek goddess- a drinking companion for Cassandra. The name would suggest an affliction for seeking a deserved and honorable validation but never receiving it during one’s lifetime. Any name suggestions from readers here? Validoloros?

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    We, the people who are not rich –

    The we, the people who did not have to send our children to their deaths in these illegal wars didn’t raise arms in protest.

    The corporate media was complicit. It got rid of dissenting voices in its ranks so as not to upset the rich people. Yeah Judy Miller. and get the fuck out Phil Donahue.

    The federal government also sought to discredit dissenters in its ranks by threatening security clearances. OMG, write a book about this fiasco and you are burned. Patriotism became a word to keep your mouth shut.

    And these assholes are still in their cushy jobs bitching about the dead people we left on the way out of Dodge.

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    It was about oil. Call “Three Days of the Condor” prophetic.
    It sure as hell wasn’t about the threat Iraq represented to US.

    Oil was not the only goal of the Iraq War, but it was certainly the central one, as top U.S. military and political figures have attested to in the years following the invasion.

    “Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agreed, writing in his memoir, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Then-Sen. and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same in 2007: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.”

    Chevron, Exxon and all the rest got rich. The rest of US got fucked.

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    What if there is a rogue element within the CIA that turned a blind eye to the Saudi 9-11 terrorists and gave the neocons the excuse to invade Iraq?

    What are they doing now?

  • An excellent analysis, which sadly almost no one will see. Keep in mind though that 9/11 was “merely” a (huge) catalyst for many of the developments that PVB has discussed. For example it was World War 2 that gave birth to the MICC and the Cold War which nurtured it through its adolescence, not 9/11. And it wasn’t lies about WMDs or our progress in Iraq or Afghanistan that began to erode public trust in our government, it was Watergate and Vietnam. 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan will all fade away, but the systemic problems that thrived on or were further exposed by those events won’t – so while this may be “the last 9/11 article.” it (hopefully) won’t be the last about those underlying problems.

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    This article is a good summary of following another ex superpower’s footsteps in the Afghanistan minefield. Nice to know we are not alone in proving our stupidity in avoiding dangers. Our Covid fiasco is just the latest.

    Item: Russia broke its daily coronavirus deaths record Wednesday, passing 900 fatalities as officials warn that new case numbers have tripled since last fall and are on course to pass the 30,000 mark.

    The government tally said 929 people died from Covid-19 across Russia in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll based on daily figures to 212,625 — Europe’s highest.

    Russia has now reported all-time-high numbers of one-day Covid deaths for seven out of the last nine days with no signs of the outbreak slowing down and the country’s vaccination drive stalling at 30% of the population.

    If you can’t beat them…

  • John Poole on said:

    One perspective: The human concern for cherished progeny ending up a battle casual may soon end. My grandson is not going to be drafted or even have the chance to serve empire as a soldier. War and killing will most likely be completely mechanized-even the operators of the killing machines will be mechanized. No human is going to go nuts in their Nevada trailer after inadvertently targeting innocents. Humans will most likely still relish killing but hopefully it will all be like a giant virtual immersive video game with no actual flesh and blood being spilled. A hope at best I know.

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    Don’t know why “intelligent” people refer to 9-11 as a pivotal point when it was just an excuse for the 1% guys behind the curtain to sacrifice American blood for oil in Iraq. RICH shitbags like the Kochs are still calling the shots. They just told McConnell to shutdown the government shutdown talk, lest it affect their stock portfolios. Same for the tax the rich talk. The Dems answer to the same shitbags.

    So this wont be the last 9-11 article because these RICH shitbags will use it again and again to manipulate the dumbass Americans. If you think they are on your side….

  • John Poole on said:

    Bauer- it is not outrageous to think that a small cohesive and like minded group of natural born killers would exist within the CIA which would relish the idea of running its own covert operations I suspect it happens all the time. There were probably squads in Vietnam of like minded born killers who went out on free fire zones just to see how many targets they could kill. It would easily be accommodated at company headquarters of most battalions.

  • John Poole on said:

    Peace and Prosperity is an American MICC oxymoron. Conflict is the ticket to prosperity for America. If the CIA and the Pentagon run out of overseas boogie men to justify their protection shakedown racket they’ll let a few into the homeland to make things dicey again. MICC motto: Don’t make the sheeple feel too safe or they might just cancel our service contract.

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    Probably ex INTELL rogue agents supported by wealthy rightwing fringe lunatics.

    And are we to believe it was a coincidence the Anthrax letters were mailed with “Death to Israel” implicating the Usual Suspects like Iraq?

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    Seven days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, anonymous letters laced with deadly anthrax spores began arriving at media companies and congressional offices. Over the ensuing months, five people died from inhaling anthrax and 17 others were infected after exposure.

    Sept. 11, 2001: Terrorists hijack four airline jets and crash them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Virginia and a field in rural Somerset County, Pa.

    Sept. 18, 2001: The first letters containing anthrax are mailed.

    Plan A and followed by Plan B

  • John Poole on said:

    Bauer: I think most of us vastly and tragically underestimate the lack of traditional morals in guys who leave government employment with impressive security and skullduggery skills and then offer their services to the private sector (while collecting a hefty pension no less!). They might head security for a large company or as you suggest offer their services to the rich who are intent at exploiting the lax affairs of foreign businesses or governments. Guys work for the IRS, retire and then “sell” their expertise as tax consultant to corporations. We know that super skilled military guys can and do eventually go “private” and that doesn’t mean just becoming a cop in a Midwestern town. F14 pilots retire and eventually fly jumbo jets but such a move is innocuous. A neurologist might switch from private practice to be on the medical team of a large company. A hurting worker doesn’t realize that the diagnosis by the company’s medical staff is meant to combat workplace lawsuits. He foolishly thinks the neurologist has the worker’s interests at heart. We are a strange species-we’re mostly grifters with a few nice critters thrown so the gods can get a good chuckle on occasion.

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    Morals in the CIA is disqualifying. Career before country. The truth will send you to the unemployment line.

  • Rich Bauer on said:

    The Anthrax Rogue Agents Act 2

    Assume the anthrax letters were a false flag Op by rogue intel agent designed to drive the US into armed conflict with Iraq, the Usual Death to Israel Suspect, what are they doing now for their second act? Since they have mined the Iraq War for all its worth, the MIC needs a new boogeyman. How about Russia? Notice the Havana Syndrome is popping up all over the world. Russia does have a sordid history of targeting the Moscow embassy with pulsed microwave.The symptoms certainly match the tech. But why would Russia target diplomats in countries they certainly would know have no critical Russian intel value? Just imagine the CIA hard at work to get a new curveball to throw before the UN Security Council. The MSM will die for the ratings.

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