It’s been twenty years since 9/11 but it feels more like twenty years of 9/11. That’s probably because an entire industrial complex has been constructed around a concerted effort to keep those wounds fresh and harvest the anguish they cause in order to manipulate a permanently traumatized nation into consenting to endless warfare and our own wholesale enslavement at the hands of a rapidly expanding police state. Those attacks didn’t just claim the lives of over 2000 Americans, they ushered in an era of darkness that we can’t seem to escape from.
It’s been twenty years of a global forever war on any strain of Islam that resists western subjugation, from the Islamic Courts of Somalia to the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan. It’s been twenty years of disastrous regime change and colonialist nation-building experiments. It’s been twenty years of sacrificing every civil liberty a plebian has ever managed to get their grubby hands on in this country on the alter of national security and law and order. It’s been twenty years of warrantless wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, and militarized police forces patrolling the inner cities in armored vehicles. It’s been a twenty-year news cycle of breathless round-the-clock fear-mongering and chest-thumping jingoism. Twenty years of being screamed at by tiny men in expensive suits about the moral priority of chasing Arab boogeymen who never quite materialize. It’s been twenty goddamn years of being held hostage by a single day in September 2001, and what have we learned?
We’ve learned that there is no tragedy too tender for a politician to exploit for profit. We’ve learned that the same men who pounced on our terror from that day like bloodthirsty jackals were also in the perfect position to prevent it from even happening in the first place and either failed or chose to fail to do so. We’ve learned that there is no such thing as a peace party in this country and that both Democrats and Republicans are equally willing to do the bidding of the same war machine that gives our ‘indispensable’ nation its only true purpose. We’ve learned that Saudi Arabia is definitely not our friend and is at least as willing as their neocon cheerleaders to stoke the flames of Islamic extremism to line their own pockets. We’ve learned, once again, that the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan will never be tamed by white men and their tedious experiments with what they refer to as progress. And we’ve learned that terrorism has a funny habit of creeping up like vines anywhere a foreign boot meets the sacred soil of a conquered land.
But even with all this knowledge and the institutionalized trauma that comes with it, we still haven’t learned nearly enough to keep ourselves any safer or less clueless than we were on September 10th. We still haven’t learned to stop investing our faith in corporate-backed career politicians or the polluted system they dare to call a democracy. We still haven’t learned that there is zero sunlight between our two major war parties when it comes to lying us into even more open-ended foreign bloodbaths, or at least we haven’t learned enough to stop voting for the fucking bastards. And we still haven’t learned after all this time that every bomb we drop creates two new terrorists for every innocent civilian it eviscerates. These kids, the ones we’ve orphaned and terrorized across the Muslim world, have sure as fuck learned something. They’ve learned to hate a nation that has stubbornly refused to learn the most important lesson from 9/11, and that lesson is that when it comes to someone else’s country, the sanest and kindest thing you can do for their people is to simply mind your own goddamn business.
In libertarian circles, this axiom is known as the Non-Aggression Principle, which is a pretty simple understanding that there is zero moral justification for the use of initiatory violence, even as a means for revenge. The only means of justifiable warfare is that which is practiced strictly out of self-defense. If a plane is hijacked over your country, you have the right to shoot it down. If a foreign army occupies your soil, you have the right to resist. And if your own country ceases to serve the will of it’s people, you have every right to revolt. But there exists no moral justification for ever firing the first shot, and when it comes to war in any part of globe outside your own borders, there exists no moral justification to get involved in any way, shape or form, because getting involved in other people’s conflicts only stands to make a bad situation horrific.
If Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan never armed and trained the Mujahidin in an effort to lure the Soviet Union into an unwinnable quagmire in Afghanistan, we would have never had the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. If George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton had never occupied the holy land in Saudi Arabia to brutally ransack Iraq from, Osama bin Laden never would have had the leverage to convince 19 Arabs to die for his twisted jihad on September 11. If George W. Bush would have stayed the fuck out of Iraq, we would have never created the conditions for Al-Qaeda to spread across the Persian Gulf, and if Barack Obama would have stayed out of the civil war in neighboring Syria, we never would have created the conditions for Al-Qaeda to fester into the Islamic State, and on and on and on….
Every single thing our country has ever done in the Middle East, every time we’ve ignored another opportunity to practice the Non-Aggression Principle, has made the situation there precipitously worse. The foreign policy actions justified by 9/11 have created the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since the Second World War. And even as we finally get the fuck out of Afghanistan, with both Democrats and Republicans alike kicking and screaming, we still haven’t learned our fucking lesson. Less than 48 hours before the last American military transport plane left Kabul, a drone strike ordered by our current war-criminal-in-chief as a childish act of face-saving revenge murdered a family of ten including 7 children and blew their body parts across the broken streets of that war torn city. At the funeral, surviving family members with anguish in their eyes screamed out, “Death to America!” What do you think the children at that funeral will grow up to be? What makes our 9/11 any more devastating than the one we created for them, than the ones we create every day, and that our president promises more of? Somebody has to stop this fucking madness.
It’s been twenty years of 9/11. Isn’t it time we prevented the next one from happening?