Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years of Revenge

All of the reflection on today's events ten years ago will be about America, about remembering a grim day, about stories of mothers and fathers and brothers lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings. What will not be told is the unfathomable loss of innocent life overseas, or the stories of Afghan mothers and fathers and Iraqi brothers and sisters lost at the hands of Western forces exacting revenge under the guise of a global war on terror.

"It is forbidden to kill. Therefore all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." Voltaire

I'd say that counts as "trumpets."

While the US triumphantly celebrated the death of one man, Osama bin Laden, the hundreds of thousands of graves that were dug along the way were not in those people's minds, and nor are they in the minds of people today.

9/11 as an anniversary is not like our Remembrance Day, where we are mindful of the large loss of life inflicted in the World Wars. 9/11 rather, is a day to remember the deaths of 2996 people in New York City. A day to take everyone back to their feelings of shock and awe, of sitting in front of their TVs, of where they were when it happened, and to remember the moment that the US would vow to hunt down the sick fuckers that did this.

It is the day "terrorism" entered our daily vocabulary and a term that over the last ten years, has been used to inflict all sorts of interruptions on our daily lives, X-Ray machines in airports, multi-billion dollar corporate businesses, the invasion of Iraq, and dropping bombs on Pakistan and Yemen via unmanned aircraft. Bombs that have also been responsible for the deaths of innocent people, and children.

Still lost on the part of our minds that should be devoted to common sense, is the fact that bombs are indiscriminate. They can be dropped on places that were not intended to be dropped. They kill women and children without decision. These bombs are no different than the indiscriminate attacks on the World Trade Center buildings, yet dropping them is celebrated.

A little more than a year ago in 2010, Wikileaks published documents that had a profound impact on the way loss of life in the "war on terror" is viewed. They showed the gross misconducts of military officials to cover up civilian deaths as "terrorist deaths." They showed the backlash in Afghan villages when innocent people are killed, by US or NATO troops barging into houses in night raids. Small sums of money are offered to the enraged families, as if the deaths of their loved ones can be bought and sold as some sort of commodity.

On this ten year anniversary, we should remember that;

2996 civilians died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan is nearly impossible to even estimate.

Over 90, 000 civilians have died in Iraq since 2003.

And lastly, I think that it is important to remember that this mass carnage is not over. And that perhaps it should be. And that maybe it is about high time to consider that we have been waging a war of "justice and peace" when it has brought none.

"Justice will bring peace. Not intelligence wars against 'world terror.' But our leaders will not admit this." Robert Fisk


John Dobbin said...

Curious as to what response in Afghanistan you might have advocated.

I personally believe some response was necessary as long as a safe haven existed.

The problem is that once in, there was no real plan to get out.

The "surgical" airstrikes of the past had not worked. Perhaps an in and out ground force?

Graham said...

I would have, John, advocated for a declaration of war against Al Qeada.

Not a ten year occupation of Afghanistan.

Not baseless facts on which to invade other sovereign nations. Not drones that drop bombs in secret. Not assassination squads. Not indiscriminate night raids. Not a witch hunt, for a witch whose identity we knew.

More problems arose once we "got in," not only was there "no real plan to get out," but we also had the unfortunate guilt on our conscience of having bombed a nation into oblivion, now we had to fix giving our own corporations the contracts and ignoring the Afghans and Iraqis who were out of jobs and in total poverty.

It is not just a question of which response I would have "advocated," but what I rail against so hard is rather the direction the collective narrative has been taken, and the spoon-fed press releases that have been absorbed by the western world. Terrorists is bad. Us is good. Al Qeada is bad, therefore, Afghanistan is bad.

Surely the greatest thing I can advocate - against - is the whole of "the global war on terror," the biggest farce of all, a full realization of the military industrial complex, a war perpetuated for profits, a war that can go any place, any time, for any reason, in any country, and occupy it for however long.

That, is what should scare us the most.

John Dobbin said...

The issue of what to do with states that harbour and abet terrorism is a profound one.

Being in Afghanistan as long as we have probably has not led to conditions where Al Qeada simply doesn't set up the moment we leave. And that is pretty scary.

What to do about a terrorist group that feels safe to operate in certain countries of the world?

Graham said...

John, Al Qeada currently DOES feel safe to operateIn certain countries. You're thinking much too narrow about it, no, they may not move back to Afghanistan when we leave. Thats because it has been occupied for ten years. Same goes for Iraq.

There are a half dozen other "istans" that they can operate from. Including Pakistan, where they demonstrated quite clearly that they were able to operate from within a country that was supposedly an ally in the "global war on terror."

They can go anywhere and do what it is they do. Across the whole Middle East.

John Dobbin said...

As I said, what to do about those nations? There was abject failure to deal with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan before 2003 just as there is failure to deal with it in Pakistan.

I have had this discussion with a few people about what options are available. Certainly a ten year war in Afghanistan hasn't eliminated the threat.

However, I have met people who also oppose intelligence gathering as spying, any military action has belligerence and any countering of terrorism as an affront to freedom, as racism and anti-Muslim.

One wonders when any and all action is opposed whether we just try have to accept that we'll be attacked from time to time and nothing is to be done about it.

Graham said...

I would agree. You can't please all of the people all of the time, right?

What empire, err, nation, in the history of civilization has been left alone, not been attacked, or never had to defend itself?

We are only surprised because while living our most carefree lives, we never believed it could happen to us. As if fighting wars was in the past, despite the insane Defense budget of the United States.

Funny, the one country that spends the most on war, was the most surprised to be attacked.