What Have We Learned?

The fourteenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack on America is upon us again.  Television programs are rife and replete with memorials and newly discovered information regarding this event.  Fourteen years later we are still gathering information and discovering new data that should complete the puzzle but still leaves gaping holes in the picture.  It’s hard at this point to discern conjecture from facts; if there really are facts.  We have all the edges, but the middle is still a mystery.  Time has blurred our collective memory the picture is fuzzy.  We recall, but we don’t really remember.  The memorial at ground zero is complete.  We’ve paid homage and said our prayers.  Have we learned anything?

This tragic event was the culmination of years of planning and effort by an organization that appeared on our security radar years before 2001 but for some reason was ignored or passed off as an anomaly and completely ineffectual.  The two largest security services in this country knew of the plot but decided for whatever reason to hold the data as confidential and not share it: How typically American.  They were embroiled in a turf battle: they each wanted power; we suffered the result.

We all know parts of the story since we’ve been subjected to the Hollywood spin to immortalize and vilify the people that took part.  We’ll never know the truth because we would rather believe that this was an attack on us personally, not on our government’s policy.  We looked the other way as this unfolded and when in full swing the situation confused those that should provide protection. They still place blame on the other guys.  They still refuse to accept personal responsibility for their errant actions.

Did they know this was coming?

Did they allow this to happen?

We now have the Patriot Act to protect us.  We traded freedom for security.  We have the newly formed alliances between the security services to ensure that cogent information is shared.  In November of 2001 GW Bush (The Shrub) created the TSA to ensure that weed whackers, chain saws, and cigar cutters are not carried onto commercial aircraft.  We have the best Security Theater money our money can buy: freedom for safety.  Since their inception, they have yet to identify a viable threat, catch a real terrorist, or stop a potential attack.  Interestingly, they fail almost every test to identify real threats like bombs and weapons.  This is a 96% failure rate.  Restated, they only find the threats 4% of the time.  No entity should survive with this abysmal rating.

We attacked Islamic countries that had nothing to do with these terrorists.  Our leaders pointed to these tiny countries as the villains rather than those that provided the means, method, and personnel for the attack.  Our interests in Saudi oil tainted our judgment and misdirected our efforts to other Middle Eastern countries.  After all, the perpetrators came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  The Shrub finished Daddy’s war in Iraq as retribution.  Papa Bush pulled out early leaving a despot in place to encourage further incursions for the Democratize of this region.  Our efforts netted thousands dead and trillions of dollars in debt and no advancement toward the stated goal.  This fattened the coffers of the war machine and corporations like Halliburton in the process.  Fourteen long years and trillions of dollars later, we are no further ahead or no more secure than before the attack and yet we still vilify Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan with no mention of Saudi Arabia as the real enabler.

Barack Obama stood proudly, publically, and smugly stating that we eliminated the leader of this plot.  What he did was expose our clandestine programs, named the team that completed this mission, and destroyed the power in our abilities to operate in secret.  He took credit for this action as a proud accomplishment in his tenure.  Ben Laden’s general planned the action and his army completed the mission.  In trying to cripple the Ben Laden organization, we actually created martyrs and in so doing enlisted more soldiers for their cause against America, The Great Satan.  In fact, it caused the rise of a splinter group called The Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who take fundamentalism to new extremes and make their religious statement by killing anyone not Muslim.  They punctuate their message by destroying historic sites and monuments.  They prefer beheading and drowning people as punishment for their sins against Islam.

Did we really know the minds and hearts of the Islamic warriors?  Did we truly understand the fervor and dedication of these Islamic soldiers?  Were we prepared for the retaliation and reprisals in the Middle East as we invaded these smaller countries?  Did we understand the fundamentalist beliefs behind these actions?  In his book, “The Art of War” Sun Tzu says that to be successful in war you must:

Know Your Enemy!

Know His Politics!

Know His Strengths and Weaknesses!

Know His Gods!

We didn’t care to know any of these.  We’re America, the most powerful country on this planet.  We know everything and can do anything we want.  Now the best we can hope to achieve is a stalemate and total withdrawal.  We ignored what we learned in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, and other military failures.  So here we come, tail tucked and head down, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Congress has never won a war.  Our wins were courtesy of our professional military and only when they were allowed to orchestrate and control their soldiers on the battlefield.  When the Congressional Leadership intervenes, it becomes a disaster!  Every Time!  And like every Congressional intervention, this is a disaster.

In 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  We knew that was coming; the Japanese Embassy told us they were going to attack.  We ignored the warning.  When Japan struck us, we retaliated by declared war. calling this a surprise attack.  Something tells me that Al-Qaida told us this was coming as well and we ignored their warning, too.  We took our sweet time declaring war against the wrong countries. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan hid Ben Laden but had little complicity in the actual attacks.  Rather than declaring war on those responsible, we blamed those that hid him.  We blamed our inadequacies on smaller countries that, we claimed, really needed American Democracy and off we went.  Democratizing these barbarians would make this all better and don’t forget about all that oil…

Again, we mourn the loss of life: Laud those that assisted as heroes: Wave the banner of Victory over Iraq: and cower in the corner waiting for the next attack.  The Shrub declared Mission Accomplished in a grandstand maneuver.  Obama declared we got the guy responsible for all this.  Now it’s all better.  We killed the guy we blame for these attacks, and we also have the oil.  Obama is our hero and salvation!

We are soft. We are lazy. We believe every sound bite and video clip the entertainers throw at us in the media.  We let our fat lazy and self-serving representatives tell us how much we have gained since September 11th, 2001.  We have an unbalanced class system with a burgeoning debt and unemployment.  They destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans by encouraging Wall Street to rape our economy.  We blindly accept the lies and distortions of our government as truth.  We have traded our freedom for pseudo-security and theater.  We sleep well knowing that our leadership is watching after us.  We allow Airport Security Theater to feign protection we all feel safer after the TSA gropes a granny or toddler only to discover illegal nail clippers and 5 ounce liquid containers in carry-on luggage.  Remember, TSA has a 4% success rate passing their own tests.

I don’t want another world war.  I don’t advocate the use of force to rectify world problems.  I don’t see violence against us as an excuse for us to respond with more violence.  I do see that we have rolled over and allowed the Islamic World to force us into the corner because of OIL.  We need it… They have it… so we allow them to dictate terms.  We have taken tolerance to new and absurd levels.  Our penchant for political correctness keeps us from saying no to anything for fear of offending someone.  We trade our country’s welfare and safety in the name of tolerance wrapped in the shiny paper of political correctness.

So what do we do?  We create a quid pro quo trade system.  They’re hungry and we want oil.  How tough can this be: One barrel of oil for one bushel of wheat?  Yes, it is simplistic and maybe all too obvious.  Why not try it?  Better yet, why not use the oil we have in our country and let the Arab world fend for itself?  Why not increase US production to meet our needs and thus eliminating our dependence on foreign supplies?  Meanwhile, we can develop alternatives to a petrochemical lifestyle we currently live.  Maybe Electric and Hybrid cars are not the answer, but they are a start.  We ignore the root cause of this problem and come nowhere close to resolving the real issue.  We do however love a placebo that soothes our social conscience and placates the conservationists.

Our greed turned this country over to big business decades ago.  We rode high on the wave of wealth and prosperity while they took the reins.  We traded our freedom for security.  Now there is no going back.  We allowed political correctness to usurp our outspoken and direct manner in favor of namby-pamby psycho-babble full of double entendre, hiding our real intention and meaning in endless opportunities for misinterpretation and ambiguity.  Instead of calling the kettle black we say that this cooking vessel is devoid of color.  Instead of saying we’ll bomb you back to the Stone Age we say that we will sanction you and enact trade embargos.  Instead of telling the UN that we are really pissed and taking action we ask permission from the most ineffectual and convoluted organization in existence.  The only major decision from the UN recently was that they were still thinking about making a decision but they really haven’t decided.  We no longer call them Illegal Aliens, they are Geographically Disenfranchised…  Mom and Dad are now Parent 1 and Parent 2.  What have we done to our country?

Our greatest strength is finding someone to blame for our problems.  We can point the accusing finger outward and always find someone or something responsible when in reality it is us.  We are completely responsible for our situation.  We are the ONLY ones to blame.  We have met the enemy and it is us.

You vow to remember this day but do you remember what got us to this point?  What are you doing about it?  Do you remember that only a short few years before the attack, we armed these freedom-fighters so they could fight the Russians?  Do you recall how we turned our backs on them when they asked for assistance?  Do you remember that slap in the face?  Do you remember our insistence that Islam is not Christian and therefore not a true religion?  Do you remember the attempts to democratize the Middle East even though they had a working albeit non-American system?

I do not condone the actions Al-Qaida took, but in view of our duplicitous and deceitful behavior who could blame them.  This is an unpopular stance, but consider that when you are wronged your first reaction is getting even, RIGHT?  Also, consider that since the end of WWII we have been telling the world how to live by our morals and standards then ignoring these morals and standards at home.  We ARE the enemy; our own worst enemy.  Our country is in turmoil and on the verge of revolution because of too many factors to mention.  We are the laughingstock of the world yet we ignore the signs.

If you chose to remember this day as a memorial to the people that died, I applaud you but also remember that our government caused this attack.  Think about who gained the most from this?  Think about DW Eisenhower’s warning about the Military Industrial Complex?  He warned that they would take over this country and they did.  We are a nation that values profit above all else.  We place our young people in harm’s way to fatten the coffers of mega-corporations:  Corporations that make weapons of war.  Do you realize that 54% of our 2015 budget is for the Military?  That’s almost $600 Billion.  This is more than the next 26 country’s total military spending.

If you remember nothing else from this tragedy, it should be that we were not attacked personally they attacked our government and their deceitful policies.  In war, these losses are called collateral damage, but our government, through the media called it a terrorist attack and made it personal.  You can choose for yourself but remember that this didn’t just happen.  Our government is responsible so that makes us equally responsible since we ARE the government.  When you think of the people lost in this attack remember that this was not a random act of violence: it was a response to American Policies, Government Policies.

I recall exactly where I was and my thoughts on this day fourteen years ago.  It was a sad day for America.  I felt sorrow for those families who lost loved ones.  I recognized then that we were being used to further the goals of our President, his agenda, and our country’s policies.  There has been no change in that policy.  Our current president uses this as a club to keep the world in line.  There are still enemy combatants in Guantanamo, Cuba.  We still occupy parts of the Middle East.  We are still the world’s Police Force.  We are no closer to a real solution than fourteen years ago and we are now letting Iran have nuclear weapons.

I feel betrayed by our government.

I feel ashamed because what we have learned as a society is how to blame someone else for our problems and to avoid our personal responsibility for them.