Remembering 9/11

When the World Trade Center was attacked, 3,000 people died as a direct result, not to mention those rescue workers who were made ill  and the trauma that it inflicted on countless families. Nothing can be said of this other than it is a tragedy. Our response was, and has been, the so called war on terror. 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. Most of them did not choose to, the war just came to affect them in some horrific way.

In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria, the combat zones most directly affected by the war on terror, the cost is staggering. To date, over 6 trillion dollars has been spent on the war on terror. The cost in human life is staggering as well. Over 7,000 US Military personnel, 21 Defense department civilians, over 10,000 PMCs (Private Military contractors)*, 110,000 national military and police, at least 270,000 civilians, at least 115,000 opposition fighters, 360 journalists, and 570 relief workers, for a total over 500,000. This figure is likely low as civilian causalities are thought to be much higher from U.N. and NGOs.  Added to this are the 12.5 million displaced people (asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced, etc.), not to mention the countless wounded (over 32,000 American soldiers alone), the trauma inflicted on lives, etc. At the end of this, Iraq is a mess, so is Syria. The Taliban controls more of Afghanistan today than it did before we started fighting there. The United States has a military presence in 40% of the world’s nations directly related to the war on terror. That boils down to 80 nations on six continents. We regularly decide to initiate drone strikes on the regions of North Africa, the Persian Gulf, etc. None of this serves to remember or to honor the dead, it just gives them more company.

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.

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. Let’s not forget the secret surveillance for no particular reason what so ever.
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.  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? Can we finally honor those who died on 9/11 by firmly and proudly declaring that there is peace?

*The exact number of PMCs will likely never be known. The trade publications and companies that deal in PMCs say the number is higher, likely to be about twice the number of US casualties.

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