Thursday, September 11, 2008

Who Is To Blame?

Is it over yet? Have we once again been suckered into a commemoration of the most shameful event ever perpetrated against our citizenry with scarcely no public attempt at understanding its genesis, gleefully exuberant praise for the participants in the vengeance orgy that sprang full blown from it and blame for the hard-truth exposers on the fringes, all of which ultimately (shamefully) is used (over and over again) as a "sort of backdrop for political" theatre? Michael Chertoff and Condi Rice were guest speakers. I'm puzzled about their relevance at this time as they are plainly both members of an administration that didn't protect the victims. I guess we're to understand (mutely) that they are still trying?

The annual homeland security report card compiled by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is, as usual, a compendium of national failure. Border security, port security, mass transit security—even aviation security—still fail to meet the most common-sense recommendations of the multitude of commissions and committees that studied what went wrong that awful day. We are still forcing people to take off their shoes at airports, but not inspecting cargo that gets shoved into the hold.
I think these facts speak for themselves. We experience another occasion wrought with tremendous emotion for great dramatic impact, but nothing really relevant has been done to ensure that another of similar consequence will not soon occur. I can't stop thinking about the comments in the section below this essay:
Who are the 9/11 worldwide Truthers and why do their stories sound so reasonable? Once all of US leaders were on board and complicit in blaming Muslim Terrorists for this massacre, the War on Terrorism flowed smoothly afterward. Once one accepts a catestrophic lie of this magnitude, the other Big Lies are much easier. The War on Terrorism was instituted in a Jerusalem conference in 1979 attended by Bush senior, Sharon, and assorted American and Israeli neocons. It’s statement of purpose was written by Wolfowitz in 1992, rejected, incorporated in PNAC in 1998, and implemented by the Bushites, with Dem support. And now McCain and Obama are going to commemorate where it all started. A moving ceremony, with four pauses where the planes hit the two towers and their collapse. Ignoring the collapse of the third tower where no planes hit, in the customary, mainstream way. Barbarism can have mo more fitting and sentimental rite. Hats off, everyone! Hats off to violence, greed and oppression and the authorized delusion that legitimates them.
Now all of the above may not be true. But enough of it seems reasonable that when confronted with the truthiness from the Bush/Cheney administration's viewpoint (like that the administration has kept the the U.S. "safe" since 9/11), I weigh them both and find the official version wanting. So, please pardon me if I go with the theory that seems true to me. Even more to the point about today's fraudulent celebration are the "What if's?" of 9/11. Try to imagine the better world that we would be living in if the predetermined response to 9/11 wasn't the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq. And how about all of those disturbing facts (that you probably didn't know) about 9/11? And then a little later in the day, I begin to read this article from The Asia Times:
Dear, sweet Laura Bush told the biggest, baldest lie at last week's Republican National Convention. "Let's not forget," the first lady said, "President [George W] Bush has kept the American people safe." Mrs Bush, your husband and his administration did not keep the American people safe. On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people died, and more than 6,000 were injured as al-Qaeda hijackers crashed commercial aircraft into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington. The Bush people act as if someone else was in charge when it happened. It's the greatest political mystery of the 21st century, perhaps in American history: how have the Republicans avoided responsibility for 9/11? How can they keep claiming the deadliest attacks on the American mainland as a badge of honor, rather than a stain on their record? Mrs Bush's whopper is one of three big lies that the Republicans keep telling on national security related to 9/11. The assault on the truth has gone on for seven years, and last week's convention video of the disaster suggests it will continue. Meanwhile, Democrats remain afraid to say the Bush administration has no clothes on when it comes to national security lest they be accused of politicizing 9/11, while Republicans keep flaunting the tragedy for partisan gain. The Bush administration's steadfast refusal to take any responsibility for the attacks is absolutely mind-blowing. No appointee was fired for the most glaring national security cock-up since Pearl Harbor, if not the British torching of the White House in 1814. Then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice contends no one anticipated terrorists using airplanes to hit skyscrapers, even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation analyzed the possibility in 1991. For her incompetence and lack of candor, she was promoted to secretary of state. As with other massive failures to anticipate, Hurricane Katrina and administering Iraq, the Bush administration believes its appointees are always "doin' a great job". In truth, failures at the highest levels of the national security and intelligence communities set the stage of 9/11, but the Bush administration won't admit it, and no one has ever been held accountable. After bragging that it has kept America safe, Republicans then boast that America hasn't been hit again. At the convention, Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain talked about a second attack "that many thought was inevitable", even though no credible plot for further attacks has been found. While it's true there's hasn't been a strike on the American homeland since 9/11, taking bows for that is based on faulty logic. As Bill Clinton might say, it depends on how you define "again". The same folks who say the US hasn't been hit again frequently contend the Iraq occupation lets the US fight the terrorists over there instead of fighting them in America. Never mind that were no international terrorists in Iraq before the US invasion, or the implicit suggestion of using American soldiers as sacrificial lambs to keep the bad guys away from the main flock. By the over-there logic, the US has been hit 4,152 times and counting since 9/11 in Iraq alone. Some may argue that the US has been hit in other senses, such as the erosion of constitutional rights at home and standing in the world (see lie number 3). Anyone who goes through US airport security, tries sending money overseas, or applies for a student visa with a name like Muhammad will see that the hits just keep coming. But the biggest lie in contending that the US hasn't been hit again since 9/11 is that the US did, in fact, get hit again on 9/11. Those attacks weren't a first strike by an unknown foe but the highlight of a series of attacks by a dedicated enemy. Al-Qaeda's war on the US began at the World Trade Center in 1993 with an attempt to blow up the Twin Towers with a truck bomb in the garage. Al-Qaeda went on to bomb the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000. But when they entered office, the Bush people downgraded the Clinton administration's fight against al-Qaeda that included cruise missile attacks on targets in Somalia and Afghanistan. The Bush people demoted the chief counter-terrorism adviser to the National Security Council. Condoleezza Rice, and reportedly George W Bush, saw the August 2001 national security briefing memorandum entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States" and dismissed it. "It wasn't something that we felt we needed to do anything about," Rice told the 9/11 Commission. So America got hit again, in the very same spot where al-Qaeda first struck. Remember that old expression: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The final national security lie linked to 9/11 is the one that matters most now. The Republicans claim that America is safer now because of the invasion of Iraq. That's wrong by several measures. Bush's two top reasons for the invasion were to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and end its support for international terrorism. Both premises turned out to be false. Since Saddam Hussein's Iraq posed no threat to the US, overthrowing his government had negligible direct impact on American national security. But invasion under the doctrine of preventive war in defiance of international institutions and under false pretences, plus the deployment of more than 150,000 troops for more than five years has wrought far-reaching national security harm. The Iraq invasion distracted the US military and the world from the real fight against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It also pre-empted providing Afghanistan with the political and infrastructure foundations needed to create a modern nation. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden remains at large, and al-Qaeda has orchestrated attacks on London, Madrid and beyond that have taken hundreds of lives. The Iraq invasion - a unilateral attack on a Muslim majority country - has served as al-Qaeda's best recruiting tool. It's given terrorists of all stripes a training ground, just as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan did for Osama bin Laden's generation. But you don't have to be a jihadi or even a Muslim to have lost respect for America over the Iraq debacle. After enjoying virtually the entire world's goodwill after 9/11, polls showed America's standing in the world plummeted after the Iraq invasion. Favorable ratings are only recovering now because the Bush administration is approaching its end. It's impossible to calculate the impact of that tide of anti-Americanism in areas from the value of the US dollar to the potential Einsteins and their parents who have decided against moving to Bush's America. It hasn't just been ordinary people who've noticed America is different since 9/11. Nations and their leaders have tacked in the wake of Iraq. Bush's "axis of evil" designee North Korea has become a nuclear-armed international outlaw, with the capacity to strike America's closest Asia allies, and perhaps even US territory. Iran, the third member of the "Axis", has realized that when a superpower says it will wage pre-emptive war, nuclear arms are the only meaningful defense. With America overstretched and distracted by Iraq and bogged down in Afghanistan, Russia is reasserting its ambitions. It's using its energy resources and armed forces against its neighbors, echoing the bygone days of the Soviet Union. Other local bullies are watching with interest, realizing that the US lacks the resources to counter military adventurism. Facing a nuclear North Korea and an aggressive Russia, in debt to China, reviled in much of the world, and still fighting two wars half a world away from home, there's no way America is safer now than it was in March 2003 - when the US invaded Iraq. Unless, that is, you accept September 11, 2001, as an example of keeping America safe.
I think the Russia/Georgia situation is more subtly explained as a Georgian attack on it's breakaway provinces, which earned for it a Russian poke in the eye, than the Asia Times essay does above, but I can see their point. Why shouldn't the world get even more dangerous when the mighty U.S. is tied down in wars that have been billed (by the U.S.!) to last for as long as 20+ more years? And why does it seem that everyone who speaks the truth has already moved out or is in the process of moving out of the country? (And how many people have you spoken with lately who evince the same aspirations?) And then there are the costs of the misery inflicted on Iraq and the future costs to the U.S. taxpayers who can't relocate to Dubai a la Halliburton. And finally, the best question of this or any political season "Did Al-Qaeda Succeed?"
Ten years after the neoconservatives laid out plans for permanent U.S. global dominance – and seven years after the brutal 9/11 attacks gave them the opening to carry out those plans – the neocons instead have guided the United States onto the shoals of a political/military disaster and the prospect of rapid decline. This grim result from the neocons’ overreach is an unstated subtext of the U.S. intelligence community’s project for assessing the world in 2025, a point 17 years into the future when the United States is likely to have lost its current world dominance, according to a preview offered by the government’s top intelligence analyst. Speaking at a Sept. 4 conference in Orlando, Florida, Thomas Fingar, chairman of the National Intelligence Council, said the United States might still be “the preeminent power” in 2025, but that “American dominance will be much diminished.” Further, Fingar projected that the United States would see the greatest declines in the most important areas of global influence, the economic and the cultural, while likely maintaining military supremacy, which would be of lesser importance. “The overwhelming dominance that the United States has enjoyed in the international system in military, political, economic, and arguably, cultural arenas is eroding and will erode at an accelerating pace with the partial exception of military,” Fingar said. “But part of the argument here is that by 15 years from now, the military dimension will remain the most preeminent [but] will be the least significant – or much less significant than it is now.” In other words, U.S. intelligence is looking toward a future in which the United States may serve as the world’s policeman, but without the more subtle and profitable influence that comes from economic, cultural and political strength – known as “soft power.” Though Fingar did not tie the “accelerating” erosion of American power to the policies of the neocons and the Bush administration, it is hard to avoid that conclusion. In 1998, the neocons were unveiling their Project for the New American Century with its vision of never-ending U.S. global dominance. When potential threats did arise, the neocons argued, the United States must react with “preemptive wars,” striking before a rival could pose a serious threat. After the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush embraced these neocon theories, vowing to not just exact revenge on the 9/11 perpetrators but to wage a “global war on terrorism” with the ultimate goal of eradicating “evil” itself. - - - - - - - So, after invading Afghanistan and blasting al-Qaeda base camps, Bush made a quick pivot toward Iraq to fulfill the neocon dream of eliminating Saddam Hussein, a longtime thorn in Washington's side. The U.S. occupation of Iraq also would establish an American military outpost “East of Suez,” projecting U.S. power into the region, guaranteeing access to its oil and protecting Israel from its Muslim neighbors. However, the neocons’ neocolonial strategy foundered on the rocks of Iraq’s violent resistance and sectarian warfare. More than five years into the conflict, about 140,000 American troops are tied down in Iraq while a force of about 30,000 U.S. troops finds itself facing worsening security in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders not only survived the U.S. retaliatory strikes after 9/11 but exploited the Bush administration’s obsession with Iraq to reestablish themselves inside Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country. The damage to U.S. interests also extends beyond the war zones. The military adventures are putting the U.S. government more than $1 trillion deeper into debt, drawing away resources that the United States desperately needs to retool its industries, develop alternative energy sources and improve its education, infrastructure and health care. Plus, the neocon hubris about American dominance has alienated much of the world’s population, squandering goodwill built up since World War II. Instead of the nation that established the Nuremberg principles and wrote the United Nations Charter, the United States is seen as the country of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and torture. In almost every corner of the globe – and especially in strategic regions such as Europe and the Middle East – respect for the United States as a beacon of political freedom and international progress has fallen to historic lows. While the rest of the world appears eager to get on with expanded commerce and technological competition, the United States looks like it can’t stop clumsily throwing its military weight around, amid chants of “USA, USA.” So, as U.S. intelligence continues work on its projections for 2025, the nation finds itself at a crossroads. It can give the neocons around John McCain another four-year lease on the White House – so they can keep doing what they’ve been doing – or the country can take another direction. As Fingar made clear in his Sept. 4 speech, the future of 2025 is not yet set in stone. It is only the intelligence community’s best estimate based on current dynamics. If those dynamics change, so can the future. Still, it appears that if al-Qaeda’s motive in attacking New York and Washington on 9/11 was to bait the United States into self-destructive actions in the Middle East and thus undermine America’s position in the world, bin Laden and his associates may have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
Suzan ______________________________________

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