September 11. Be Wary of Tricks


September 11: Beware of Rituals and Clichés

September 11: Beware of Rituals and Clichés

Norman Markowitz

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attack.  Television and the press was filled with remembrances, some of them quite moving.  I even received an email from one of my Senators, a liberal Democrat, directing me to a website to share my memories.

I have memories of that day, but they are not really important to an understanding of the events.  What happened before and after 9/11 is.

Immediately after the attack, I wrote an article which was posted the following day on the website of the history news network, linking the initial reports with the CIA’s war against the revolutionary government of Afghanistan and its Soviet allies in the 1980s.  

This got me a call to participate in a radio program by conference call.  A liberal policy wonk named Gary Sick was also on the program.  When I repeated my  comments, I got a very hostile response from the host, who replied  that the CIA had nothing to do with the attacks.  Sick dodged the issue, going into the details of recent foreign policy, focusing on the trees and not the forest.

Nobody  challenged these  points though, then or later, because they
really couldn’t without using Bush-Cheney logic.  But much of U.S. media
that is not explicitly rightist deals with unpleasant interpretations  in ways
that psychiatrists call passive aggressive—superficially acknowledging
some destructive act while ignoring its implications and preparing to
do it all over again.  
  Both Al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban were the Frankenstein monsters of cold war policy, a policy of fighting and continuing to fight through the world the secular anti-imperialist movements and the socialist policies which offer the only real alternative to groups like the Taliban can never be seriously discussed. To acknowledge that though  
would  undermine the whole militaryindustrial complex cold war – terror war policy.
Although I write openly and proudly as a Marxist and a Communist, many of the  points I and many others  have made over the years  are pretty much conventional wisdom through much of the world, accepted even by rational conservatives.

Among these points are that “terrorism”  means attacks on civilians and innocent bystanders for political purposes. It is not an open-ended category  like “totalitarianism” which  can be linked to any group or policy those in power oppose that its goal is always to stir fear and hysteria and lead to over-reaction.

That it is a police rather than a military problem.   Military action usually gives the terrorists, who are too weak to fight a guerrilla war, exactly what they want.
What has the “war against international terrorism" meant concretely over the last decade?  The  still ongoing war to liberate Afghanistan; the Patriot Act; the Department of Homeland Security; Guantanamo,;  renditions;  the war against  the patron saint of all terrorists and the master builder of “weapons of mass destruction,” Saddam Hussein; and finally a military budget nearly double (not counting for inflation) from its cold war high under Ronald Reagan, whose administration propagandists aka spin doctors were the first to attempt to make international terrorism into a ideological twin of international communism.

So what upon reflection has after trillions were spent changed? Very little in the U.S.  in a  positive way .    Homeland Security for example has made all sorts of things worse.  Imagine for a moment if the army corps of engineers plans to strengthen flood control in the New Orleans region had been  enacted, FEMA strengthened and a comprehensive national state local system to both limit the damage from natural and man-made disasters and provide humane and efficient aid to victims established.  Imagine if even half the money spent in the general war against terrorism and the Iraq and Afghan wars had been spent in U.S.  infrastructure development.  

 In world affairs very little has changed.  Osama bin laden is dead and his Al Qaida  organization  is in fragments.  But the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are still very much in place, the first still serving as the financial center for clerical reaction and terrorist attacks, the second the most important recruitment center for such groups. 

While President Obama as a State Senator in Illinois and a U.S. Senator actively and eloquently opposed the Bush policies, his administration remains mired in a war in Afghanistan which for many has become a symbol of his failure to implement the change that  was at the center of his campaign , the promises which enabled him to defeat what were centuries of ideological and institutional racism in the U.S. and offer hope to both Americans and the world’s people of a new course for the United States.

Although I am not on any level a religious person, I think that the best way to honor the those who perished on 9/11 would be to use as a model the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.   To reflect upon what happened then, what brought it about, and what has happened since.
To dedicate oneself not to live a more virtuous life and serve God, which is the religious meaning of  Yom Kippur, but to serve peace and social justice,  as the best  way to both honor and learn from the events of 9/11.

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