17 Years Later

Like many people, I remember where I was. When such massive tragedy occurs, there is a sort of national trauma that sticks with us I think. It is good to remember such things, but it is equally good to examine what has been the result of such things.
Since the war on terror began, hundreds of thousands of good men and women have gone to war.
Since the war on terror began, there is now an entire generation of adults who have grown up not knowing a nation at peace. The child surely has been lost.
Since the war on terror began, as a direct result of the 9/11 tragedy, the cost in dollars of military action has been at least 5.6 trillion dollars. (source). That is about 25% of the national debt.
Since the war on terror began, 10.1 million Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani people are living as war refugees. (source)
Since the war on terror began, “370,000 people have died due to direct war violence, including armed forces on all sides of the conflicts, contractors, civilians, journalists, and humanitarian workers.” (source) “It is likely that many times more than 370,000 people have died indirectly in these wars, due to malnutrition, damaged infrastructure, and environmental degradation.”
Since the war on terror began, at least 200,000 civilians have been killed as a direct result of military action by the involved parties. We, as a nation, are responsible for more civilian deaths in the war on terror than lives that were lost in the 9/11 attack.(source)
Since the war on terror began, over 6,800 US soldiers and likely over 6,900 US private contractors have lost their lives. We do not know the full extent of those who returned home wounded, physically ill, or with the scars on the soul that violence causes. (source)
Since the war on terror, “The US military is conducting counterterror activities in 76 countries, vastly expanding the counterror war across the globe.” (source). For some perspective, that is 39% of the world’s nations.
Since the war on terror began, there has been a drastic reduction in civil liberties, not to mention that the torture of individuals is a national disgrace. Whatever moral high ground we may have lost, we gave up with applause. (source)
Since the war on terror, not only has an obscene amount of money been spent on killing, a great deal of money has been spent in reconstruction. In Iraq the total so far is 61 billion and in Afghanistan it is 104 billion. Significant amounts have gone to Pakistan as well. Over half of this money went to arming the nations. Most of the remainder that was for humanitarian efforts has been abused at best, or lost and stolen at worst. (source)
Since the war on terror, the US economy has suffered as a direct result in everything from lack of infrastructure spending, to rising interest rates. (source)
Since the war on terror, women in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer crippling unemployment, are largely barred by political power, and are adversely impacted by war widowhood. (source and source)
What happened on 9/11 was horrific, but the result of our response is just as horrific. The war on terror has already claimed more civilian lives than the initial attacks did. The TSA pretty regularly violates civil liberties, not to mention people’s dignity, and has been shown to be largely ineffective. (source) Let’s not forget the secret surveillance for no particular reason what so ever. (source)
Can we finally say that we have our pound of flesh? Can we finally admit that our response, no matter the intentions behind it, have been disastrous? Can we be honest and admit that our policies have destabilized nations and made things worse and not better? Can we stop and repent of the sin of women being sold into chattel slavery? No, not in our past, but in North Africa’s present. (source) Can we, as a nation, finally get over our obsessive blood lust and stop finding reasons to drop bombs? 9/11 was a tragedy that we are right to commemorate and to not forget, but our response to it is nothing less than a dishonor to the lives that were lost. Can we, as a nation, finally be better? Please?

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