Thoughts on the Day – 9-11-06

Today is a day of nearly universal (at least within the US and Western nations) reflection on the airplane bombing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon.  I was married in the World Trade Center on August 25, 2001.  Mine was one of the last weddings in the Twin Towers famous restaurant Windows on the World.  What was most striking about that day was that, just like today, the weather was perfect.  The sky was blue and cloudless.  The air was cool, but not chilly.  It was a perfect September day in New York.  It was the type of day that let you know the humidity of August was gone and that the more comfortable days of fall were here. 

Of course that feeling didn’t last.  There are some other feelings that I had on that day which have not stood the test of time either.  I don’t know that I’ve ever grappled with the sense of outrage and pain that I felt on that day.  I have, however, come to look at these unique bombings by Saudi nationals as a complicated political move that has had consequences unimagined on September 10, 2001.  While three thousand plus lives were lost on that day, many times more than that have been killed in their names. 

In some respects, these men and women have become martyrs for a cause that was never their own.  If human life is sacred (I’m not so sure that it is), then the lives of innocent Iraqis and Afghans has to mean as much as the lives of Americans.  If the perpetrators of this unique bombing were neither Iraqis nor Afghans (but citizens of a regional ally), it is almost impossible to reconcile the moral pontification that flows from Washington.  Truly honoring the dead would require the United States government to get to the root of the problem.  Neither the elected nor appointed representatives of this government, generally speaking, have any intention of doing such a thing.

Americans were swept in the emotion of the moment and the overwhelming parochialism of their education and information networks.  Iraq became a target for all the wrong reasons.  Five years later, the hope of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton supports this illegal war against an innocent and sovereign people.  She is joined in her opportunism by wealthy arbiters of life and death like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.  These architects of destruction cannot explain how their actions are tied to the events five years ago.  They cannot provide a picture of success or a timeline for achieving their aims.  All that is left to be done is to continue cashing checks to the tune of $4 billion per month while compromised Democrats like Hillary Clinton hope that Americans forget who she really is on September 12th.

Some conscientious people are keeping tabs on the decisions made by the United States government.  The body count continues to grow.  And, if human life is sacred (I still don’t think it is), how can any of us forget who Hillary really is on September 12th or who the men and women of this administration have been since their assumption of global leadership.  The game of human sacrifice continues.  Leaders who purport to desire the spread of democracy could begin their most earnest efforts in Saudi Arabia.  But this administration will not (cannot) do that.  Leaders who purport to increase security should speak to the root causes of insecurity. 

Security for Americans, though, will be hard to come by when the United States has an ironclad agreement with an anti-democratic regime in Saudi Arabia to provide protection in exchange for a commitment to sell oil exclusively in dollars.  Saudi Arabia is the goose that laid the golden egg.  Iraq once threatened to go off the reservation – to sell oil on international markets in non-dollar currencies.  Iran has threatened to do the same.  While Americans sit and mourn the loss of life on September 11th, it is equally important to question the reasons given for why we are where we are.  Is it possible that the Saudi protection deal is what allows the United States to carry an enormous national debt?  Is it possible that the debt is actually subsidized by every country that needs to import oil (China?)?  Why else would the central banks of Japan and China buy so many US dollars?  What does this have to do with your tailgate party or your football tickets or your SUV or your plasma television or the resentment of the world’s poor or the unremitting desire of the poor to immigrate and seek a piece of pie?

It will take more than tears of sorrow and believing that you share a common sense of loss with international victims of terror to bridge the gap.  These simple questions demand answers by an informed polity.  Americans have a long way to go and will not be able to count on the leadership of Republicans like Halliburton helper Dick Cheney or Democrats like Hillary Clinton.  It’s time for a new direction predicated on new questions and new answers.


  1. You would blame the U.S. instead of

    – those who flew the planes into their targets?
    – those who told them to do it?
    – those who follow the same twisted ideology?
    – those who would kill YOU for simply living in the U.S.?

    I think you’ve got it backwards, friend.

    And by the way, the oil you seem to hate powered your vehicle that got you to your job that helps you pay for your electric bill that powers your computer that lets you blog.

  2. Thanks for the comment Rob. I’m sure you’ve thought about what you said before writing – just as I did. I don’t take any of this lightly nor do I assume you enter this discussion ligthly.

    With that said, if you go back to what I wrote, you’ll see that what you wrote doesn’t really contradict what I said. If I were to blame the US for anything, it would be not going after the root of the problem. If the hijackers were Saudi nationals inspired to attack the US because of its military presence in Saudi Arabia – and Saudi Arabia is not a democratic regime, how does the course of action over the past five years begin to address any of this? Bin laden is as free as your or I. He has more videos than Puff Daddy and Beyonce. 18,000 US soldiers have been removed from the theatre due to diseases that will affect them for years. Nearly 3,000 US soldiers are dead. Many of them are just children who couldn’t find Iraq on the map before being deployed.

    The US is not without blame in this region. Moreover, US policy is a continuation of British policy and practice. So, you can’t look at this as if it began in 2001. It also doesn’t pay to look at this as a religious conflict. Fundamentally (no pun intended), I believe the conflict to be about US currency and the cost of resources (rather than access to oil). It is critical for the US to have other nations buy US dollars. It’s why gas is only $3,00 a gallon.

    Now, am I willing to pay more for gas? Yes. I am willing to pay more because a small part of my discretionary income goes to gas. I am also willing to pay more because the US uses a disproportionate share of the world’s resources – and that is a cause of insecurity from a geopolitical perspective.

    Finally, why would I hate oil? It’s an inanimate object – it’s a resource that we all need. I don’t hate oil. What is problematic is the manner in which the US obtains oil. It was a genius policy move – absolutely brilliant – but there are repurcussions. 9/11 was one such repurcussion.

    I am fully aware that these bombers would have no problem killing me because I reside in the US. They would also have no problem killing me if I resided in Kenya or Somalia. Being a US resident is beside the point. As I said, this situation is infinitely more complex than suggesting I’m hypocritical for driving to work (I actually walk to work – but I did drive to the Manning Bowl last night).

    All I’m suggesting is that the lines between good and evil are not as clearly defined as one might imagine. Ask yourself about why the US is continuing the British policy and practice in this part of the world. Also, ask yourself what should the price of gas really be – if the Saudi regime was a democracy that was committed to elevating the status of its people – instead of hording wealth and importing blondes and Hummers. I wouldn’t cast aspersions easily because everyone’s hands are dirty. The only question seems to be, with who’s dirt are most comfortable.

  3. Nonviolence as a principle is a choice that must accord with one’s personal value system.  There is a profound mismatch here.  Nonetheless, I appreciate the link and will be sure to consider it for tactical purposes. 

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