Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The end of 9/11: iii. Oh, yeah, the conclusion.

I was supposed to conclude this Friday, but I never got around to it.

This is not going to be very long like the other two were. This concerns our reaction to 9/11 over the last eight years. I could go on and on about how our reaction did nothing to protect us and in fact made the situation even worse, but instead I'll just leave you with the following.

I read in a book once (forgot which book) that in the early days of the war in Afghanistan, we spent something like $1 billion per day bombing the crud out of the country. If you divided up the $1 billion equally amongst the Afghans whose country we demolished, you'd have the tidy sum of $40--every man, woman, and child, $40. Doesn't sound like a lot, but in Afghanistan, $40 buys roughly what $1800 buys here.

Now, imagine if one fine sunny day, you heard the vague noise of aircraft overhead, and then suddenly your entire neighborhood started blowing up around you. You somehow managed to shelter yourself from the explosions, but you look across the street and see the children of your neighbor destroyed by overpressure waves, their little bodies turned into pink pulp in the blink of an eye. More explosions. You hide.

When you are convinced the bombing has stopped, you emerge from the rubble that used to be your house and look around at the burning ruins of your neighborhood. You hear people screaming--not sure whether they're begging for help, but they're definitely screaming. With what little strength you have, you clench your fists into balls and your face turns purple with rage. Rage at those idiots in the planes that just turned your neighborhood into a smoldering ruin. You don't really care why they did it, only that they did it, and now most of your family, friends and neighbors are dead or dying.

Imagine that, instead of bombs, you see flyers fall to the ground. You pick one up, and it tells you that a foreign power wants to give you a helping hand. Starting tomorrow, they will send you and everyone you know a check for $1800. Every day. For the forseeable future. Spend it however you want--but remember who sent it to you, and think about helping them root out the people responsible for the recent violent attacks on their country.

Sure enough, the next day a plane flies overhead, and a pouch falls to the ground in front of your house. You open the pouch, and inside are hundreds of neat little envelopes, each containing a check for $1800. There's one for you and everyone else in the entire neighborhood. You're like, "Holy shit, no way." You help spread the checks around the neighborhood and take yours to the bank and deposit it right away to see if it actually clears. It does, and now you have $1800 more. But in the meantime, 6 more checks have dropped from the sky. You remember what the flyer said, and come to think of it, you do remember some dude three blocks over talking about how he was training with some strangely dressed men speaking Arabic. . . .

I'm not terribly certain the second scenario is perfect by any means, but at least you can see the madness that is our response to 9/11 and how different it could've been had the money been spent on helping the people of Afghanistan rather than destroying their country. The amount of money spent on humanitarian concerns in Afghanistan the first year amounted to less money than was spent on the first three hours of bombing it.

9/11 was just an excuse to ramp up the beatdown machine, not to think about how the beatdown machine makes people angry enough to destroy our buildings and kill our citizens. I wonder what else is going to blow up in the next 20 years, as the orphans of the war in Afghanistan grow to adulthood and agree that violent jihad against the people of the United States is the best outlet for their rage.

And this is just the war in Afghanistan, the war that nearly everyone in the country feels was justified. The war our new President feels that we should continue--even expand into neighboring Pakistan. Do I really have to say a single word about the madness that was the war in Iraq? No, of course I don't.

(I do have to admit that I never once spoke up about how wrong the war in Iraq was. Not once. Might've even backhandedly justified it on occasion. I guess I'll bear the shame of that for quite some time, but I guess waking up eventually is better than never waking up.)

This is the last I will ever say about 9/11. But do you think I'm going to stop asking the sorts of questions I asked in this post? No, my friends, I'm just getting started.

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