had landed at JFK Airport just seven hours earlier, on 9/10,
and was groggy when my father roused me at 9:50 that fateful
morning—but what was happening on the television screen burnt
through the veil of sleep and seared me in my soul.
God, look what they did!"
was on the phone to our webmaster as the second plane hit
– and my instinct that it was indeed an act of terrorism was
visibly confirmed. But the real shocker came when the shaken
TV news anchor announced – an unmistakable tone of incredulity
in his voice—that the Pentagon, too, had been hit.
mind raced, and reeled at the implications: What of the White
House, the Capitol Building, and other possible targets? I
thought of the Indian
Point nuclear facility, where my father had worked for
years, not too far away. A chill of fear, like a touch of
autumn in a late summer wind, swept through me, and I was
struck, in that moment of horror, by the fragility of it all:
the delusion of power, of grandeur, of rulers and their empires.
The illusion of safety, torn away, revealed a swirling chaos,
reflected and revealed in that hellish vision on the screen.
many New Yorkers, for days and weeks on end I was shut down
emotionally. Oh, I managed to write about the foreign policy
implications of 9/11, day after day, but the emotional context
of the event, particularly intense in New York, was successfully
repressed – until now. I resisted, at the time, the temptation
to write in personal terms: about my feeling for New York
City, where I spent my mis-spent youth, about my sister, who
would have been in the subway underneath the WTC that morning
if she hadn't been uncharacteristically late for work. I give
in to temptation now to make the point that the emotional
aspect of 9/11 Syndrome has been perverted—and diverted—by
those who used it to further their agenda of perpetual war.
jaded pundits are complaining about the wall-to-wall coverage
of the one-year anniversary, but I don't agree. As I write
I'm watching a montage of 9/11 footage on MSNBC: white plumes
of smoke chase screaming people down the street, the bloody
hands of a woman are raised as if in supplication, a man completely
covered in dust lifts himself off the ground. These images,
and the stories of loss and mourning that accompany them,
evoke an ineffable sadness, even tears – and a question.
has any of this got to do with Saddam Hussein?
big disconnect of Bush's war policy is underscored by this
somber anniversary: as the nation mourns its loss and licks
its wounds, the President of the United States and his warmongering
minions are getting ready to invade and occupy a country that
had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11.
spite of strenuous efforts to somehow link Saddam with the
attacks on America, not a single iota of evidence connecting
Iraq to Al Qaeda has been uncovered. The FBI confirms that
Atta was in the U.S. during the time he was supposed to
have met with an Iraqi agent in Prague. For a while the idea
Saddam with remnants of Al Qaeda that may have taken refuge
in Iraq seemed promising, but it turned out that these folks
are somewhere in northern Iraq, a region under the
control of the Kurds our ostensible allies. Having
started his "war on terrorism" by pledging
to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, the President has
tried to switch bogeymen in midstream – and it isn't working.
the most mechanical and unconvincing propaganda campaign since
the publicity-handouts for Waterworld,
Saddam is being blamed by the War Party for every major disaster
since 1995, not only 9/11 but also the Oklahoma
City bombing (Tim McVeigh, you see, was really
an Iraqi agent), and the
West Nile Virus outbreak. The boys over at the Weekly
Standard have been trying to pin the anthrax letters on
Saddam from the start, although the evidence points to a domestic
source: and, no thank you, they'd just as soon not read the
series of articles in the Hartford Courant detailing
the story of how a scientist who worked at the Ft. Detrick
bioterror lab—and had a
violent antipathy to Arabs—was videotaped
sneaking into the lab at night.
President, for his part, is doing no better. In an unimaginative
repetition of his
father's's 1990 contention that Saddam was "months
away" from developing nuclear weapons, Bush 43 misrepresents
a 1998 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency and
claims that Saddam is "six months away" from nuking
the meantime Matt
Drudge and ABC News give us war propaganda, American-style,
with lurid tales from Saddam's alleged ex-mistress, who regales
us with stories of the dictator's penchant for PnP.
The Butcher of Baghdad may be on the way to becoming a nuclear
power, but when it comes to the boudoir he needs blueys
to get by:
President Saddam Hussein needs help in the bedroom, ABC NEWS
is set to report in an exclusive
interview with his alleged mistress. The Dictator of Baghdad
may not be all the man he's cracked up to be, reporter Claire
Shipman will reveal he uses Viagra for sex sessions!
The provocative interview is to be aired nationally this week…."
know we're in the last stages of imperial decline when
even our war propaganda is decadent!
absurd spectacle takes on a macabre aspect as the Vanished
Imam resurfaces – or, at least, his voice – in an audiotape
of Bin Laden praising the hijackers by name, gloating
from his cave, even as administration officials
amen corner in the punditocracy speculate on his alleged
death. But wishing
doesn't making it so. We haven't heard about Bin Laden
for months, because government officials hardly ever refer
to him anymore unless asked – but now we have heard from
him, on the anniversary of his demonic deed, a powerful reminder
that the war on Al Qaeda has not only failed but also been
abandoned by this administration.
Laden's comeback performance could not have come at a worse
time for the War Party. The Bushies were hoping we'd forgotten
all about Osama, for the enemy of the moment is not him, but
Saddam. After the first bout of hysteria, the threat of terrorism
at home was downplayed, if not forgotten, while the prospect
of Iraq launching a nuclear attack in the Middle East (i.e.
against Israel) has been played up for all it's worth. Now
the Evil One returns to mock us from the lower depths of Hell:
you talk about the invasion of New York and Washington, you
talk about the men who changed the face of history and went
against the traitors. These great men have consolidated faith
in the hearts of believers and undermined the plans of the
crusaders and their agents in the region."
Invasion of New York and Washington – it sounds like a made-for-television
movie, perhaps the forerunner of a new science fiction series
– except it's real. And that is what is really brought home
in the images of the World Trade Center imploding, the planes
diving into the glass-and-steel towers like winged versions
of the Saracen
battering rams that humbled
the walls of Constantinople.
the immediate aftermath of 9/11, any criticism of U.S. foreign
policy was caricatured as somehow blaming the victim – a reflexive
"anti-Americanism" that, in effect, justified the
attacks. The War Party used this crude notion to quash any
and all criticism of an open-ended "war on terrorism."
A year later, however, in reliving that moment of horror and
sheer disbelief, the radical incongruity of our neo-imperialist
foreign policy could not be clearer. As if to underscore this
point, our color-coded terrorist alert system has just gone
from yellow to orange, and, as
more extraordinary measures were being contemplated: Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was expected to approve the positioning
within hours of surface-to-air missiles around the nation's
capital, Pentagon officials told NBC News."
are no safer today than we were on 9/10 – and the warmongering
chicken-hawks who have commandeered the White House are making
us less so every day. The coming war will not be confined
to Iraq, but will draw in the entire region. Iran, Syria,
Jordan, the Saudis, all will be swept up in the resulting
turmoil. If we try to recreate the
empire of Alexander in Central Asia, occupying all the
lands between Afghanistan and the river Jordan, how long before
Americans suffer the fate of the ancient Macedonians, who
were soon driven back to their homeland across the
sea? And what of the cost? Not the least of which will
be the unleashing of much of the world's wrath …
have lived to see the United States become a battleground,
for the first time since the War of 1812. The great irony
here – yes, irony lives, a year after The Day, in spite of
premature reports of its death – is that an Empire makes
us more vulnerable, not less. We export "democracy"
and modernity – at gunpoint – and import terrorism and the
ancient tribal hatreds of the whole world. What kind of a
trade deal is that?
non-stop television coverage of 9/11 is a timely reminder
that the price of Empire is going to be high. As Bin Laden
celebrates the "invasion of New York and Washington,"
and we teeter on the brink of war, Americans must ask themselves
whether they are willing to pay it. If and when we embark
on this mad adventure, and launch a war of conquest against
a nation that has never attacked us, we won't have to ask
– in the wake of another terrorist attack on our soil
"why do they hate us?" Because the answer will be
all too obvious.
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