Thursday, September 8, 2011
A Day that Will Live in Infamy
It has been ten years since the attacks upon America's homeland and a day that will live in infamy, which has become known as 9/11. I can remember that day as if it was yesterday. To be honest, I can only come up with two words to describe my feelings – “Shocking and Horrifying”. I would like to take this moment to send my heartfelt sympathy to all who have suffered, still suffer, and died.
A few days ago I watched a documentary that cause me to think about what those terror attacks by Al Qaeda were meant to do, and did to the soul of America. Then I began to wondered if Osama bin Laden realized what those attacks that morning would do to the nation. It brought about George Bush’s immediate response to the attacks that in many ways compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.
The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to Al Qaeda, which has been proven as there has been no evidence that bin Laden ever entered the country. Although the last administration tried to establish such a link. In my opinion it was a war of choice that quickly became very expensive to the order of more than $60 billion, which was claimed at the beginning and a war of incompetence coupled with dishonest misrepresentation.
Some have calculated a conservative tally at more than $3-5 trillion, which I believe to be a low ball figure and another lie. When you consider that it’s been ten years and 50% of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans’ medical facilities. Adding that some estimate that future disability payments and health-care costs will total $600-900 billion. This is not to forget the human cost of our brave soldiers who die or commit suicides that have topped topped 18 per day in recent years, not to mention family breakups that no one can calculate.
I cannot forgive Bush or anyone in his administration for taking America to war and I’m sure not many sane people can either for this war created on false pretenses and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture. If you really think about it there was no excuse for how those crooks chose to finance it. This was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit while deficits soared as a result of his 2001 tax cut. But they did it anyway and passed yet another round of tax “relief” for the wealthy.
Today as the Republicans who joined him are focused on unemployment and the deficit. The deficit they created as a result of the wars. Both of which are threats to America’s future and has worsened America’s reputation around the world. Let’s be clear, the increased defense spending and the tax cuts is a key reason why America went from a fiscal surplus of 2% of GDP under Clinton to its parlous deficit and debt position today. Direct government spending on those wars so far amounts to roughly $2 trillion – $17,000 for every US household – with bills yet to be received increasing this amount by more than 50%.
Let us also remember that then, as now, disruption in the Middle East led to higher oil prices, forcing Americans to spend money on oil imports that they otherwise could have spent buying goods produced in the US. But then the US Federal Reserve hid these weaknesses by engineering a housing bubble that led to a consumption boom. It will take years to overcome the excessive indebtedness and real-estate overhang that resulted.
Ironically, the wars have undermined America’s security, again in ways that bin Laden could not have imagined. An unpopular war would have made military recruitment difficult in any circumstances. But, as Bush tried to deceive America about the wars’ costs, he underfunded the troops, refusing even basic expenditures. Like, for example, armored and mine-resistant vehicles needed to protect American lives, or for adequate health care for returning veterans. A US court recently ruled that veterans’ rights have been violated. Maybe this is what is meant by “Support the Troops”.
Military overreach has predictably led to nervousness about using military power, and others’ knowledge of this threatens to weaken America’s security as well. But America’s real strength, more than its military and economic power, is its “soft power”. It is moral authority, which has be weakened as the US violated basic human rights like habeas corpus and the right not to be tortured, its longstanding commitment to international law was called into question.
In Afghanistan and Iraq, the US and its allies knew that long-term victory required winning hearts and minds. But just as in the last war America lost mistakes in the early years complicated that already difficult battle. The wars’ collateral damage has been massive and no hearts or minds have been won. There are some who say more than a million Iraqis have died, directly or indirectly, because of this war. According to some studies, at least 137,000 civilians have died violently in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last ten years; among Iraqis alone, there are 1.8 million refugees and 1.7 million internally displaced people.
Not all of the consequences were disastrous. The deficits to which America’s debt-funded wars contributed so mightily are now forcing the US to face the reality of budget constraints. America’s military spending still nearly equals that of the rest of the world combined, two decades after the end of the Cold War. So the idea of a broader Global War on Terrorism was created for only the rich to benefit from and frankly against enemies that don’t exist.
They tell us Al Qaeda is on the run - not conquered. bin Laden is dead and they say many of his cohorts. Are we safer? The argument is that there has not been another attack – very good – but there was no attack before 9/11. The question then that must be asked is; why are we still there? Bring the troops home! That is how you support the troops. The price paid has been enormous and mostly avoidable. The legacy will be with us forever. It is my opinion that if we bring the troops home they can protect us, which is their mission. The best thing all of us can do is say it loud – stop the wars!!!
And that is my THOUGHT PROVOKING PRESECTIVE.