As the tenth anniversary of September 11 approaches, Americans are learning what Hope and Change really mean... Is Osama bin Laden still winning?

On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist and member of the Black Hand, shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The purpose was to throw off the yoke of Austro-Hungarian rule and form an independent Yugoslavia. Within 37 days, all of Europe was engulfed in a tripartite war. Within a few years most of the planet, including the United States, was involved.

After four-and-a-half years of war, Germany was utterly defeated, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires had ceased to exist and Russia had suffered a devastating revolution from which would emerge the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics under Vladimir Illyich Lenin: The geopolitical map of central Europe had been completely redrawn.

At 8:46 AM on September 11, 2001, the first of two Al-Qaeda hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center towers. By September 20th US President George W. Bush had announced his War on Terror, with the accompanying doctrine of pre-emptive military action, and within two weeks plans for the invasion of Iraq had been ordered. On October 7th, Afghanistan was invaded by the US military and by October 27th, the so-called Patriot Act had been enacted. Within 46 days, most of NATO was engulfed in war in the Middle East: This time at the hands of the United States.

It took a further 16 months of bullying and cajoling for enough of the UN members to approve, or to remain silent, on the planned invasion of Iraq. On March 20, 2003 US President George W. Bush finally got the invasion some say he wanted even before he took office.

Virtually everything used by the Bush Administration to justify the US led invasion of Iraq has subsequently proved either unfounded or a complete fabrication.

The Iraq Survey Group, led by the US, concluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear, chemical, and biological programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion. Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or abandoned chemical weapons were found, they were determined to be pre- 1991 and not the weapons used to justify the invasion. Further, no evidence of a meaningful connection between Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda was ever found.

Of all the other reasons for the invasion (Iraq's financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, Iraqi government human rights abuse, and an effort to spread democracy to the country) only spreading democracy remains untarnished.

Step 1 of Bin Laden's plan?

A total of 2,976 victims died as a result of the attacks on the ‘Twin Towers’. In the aftermath of the attacks an additional 411 people died, overwhelmingly emergency workers. By comparison, the numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan, for which 9/11 was a precipitator but not the cause, are staggering. Estimates range from 100,000 to 200,000.

But that was just the beginning. With government rationalization of torture a la Guantanamo Bay, abandonment of the Geneva Convention through legal definition, and suspension of constitutional rights for suspects, the United States, once the vision of appropriate human behavior and respect has fallen to abject thuggery on the world stage.

At home, courtesy of the Patriot Act coupled with the steroidal growth of Homeland Security, civil liberties in America have fallen to levels approaching that of the McCarthy era. Further, with the evident marriage of Customs and Border Patrol with the FAA, US citizens are virtually prisoners within their own borders. Private flights to and from the United States by US citizens must submit passenger manifests and receive prior permission to depart and to return: Foreign arrivals need no such permission.

Step 2 of Bin Laden's plan?

Finally, through disastrous policies, fruitless aggression and profligate defense spending, the economy of the United States has nearly collapsed.

Out with the old and in with the new. Tired of the Bush White House cold-war era policies, only now are we finding out what Hope and Change really mean: I hope I have some change left in my pocket after the great American Give-away. In the name of jobs, those self-same leaders who brought us disaster have been rewarded with more money than they ever earned to shore up their businesses that couldn't adapt. And nearly none of this free money is directed towards long-term goals such as mass-transportation, oil-free power generation, electric vehicles or solar/wind/wave power. At the end of the day we will be much better off in that we will have no money, no energy, no alternatives and the same insatiable addiction to foreign oil.

Step 3?

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish,”

- John F. Kennedy
Special Joint Session of Congress
May 25, 1961

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of removing the shackles of oil and automobiles, which have brought this planet to its knees, and usher in a new era of energy independence, clean transportation and a future of promise for ourselves, our progeny and our planet. No single project at this point in history will be more impressive to mankind, more important for the long-term viability of our way of life, nor do more for the defense of this nation in the face of challenges from within and abroad; and none will be more difficult or expensive to accomplish.

Not since the rise of National Socialism or the MADness of the cold war have we been faced with challenges of such great difficulty that our very survival as a nation, and as a beacon of hope to our friends and neighbors in the free world, stands in jeopardy. I believe that we have no choice but to face this challenge head on and I have no doubt that we, as a nation and a people, can achieve this goal.

This is not a goal that the industrial base of the nation today is sufficient to achieve, although the capability no doubt exists. But to achieve this goal in the timeframe I have set forth is going to take every scientific mind that we have, every arm with the strength to lift we can muster, and all of the innovation, coordination and production capacity this nation can bring to bear on solving this problem.

And there is no one approach, no magic bullet, no panacea that can change, overnight, what we are today into what we must become tomorrow. We are going to need everything. Everything from solar farms, to wind and wave, to geo-thermal, to natural sources someone somewhere has perhaps just begun to dream about to generate clean energy. And we are going to need trains and trolleys and electric cars and bicycles to clean our streets of congestion and pollution and frustration.

And we are going to need systems thinkers and technology leaders and the infrastructure to support them and this is why I am tasking the organization that put the first man on the moon with this, their next greatest challenge, and the best hope for our future, the new NASA with the new name, National Agency for a Sustainable America.”

- Not This President
Even Given Many Opportunities
May be, 2012?

But we didn’t do this, did we? We fiddled around and pissed away phenomenal sums of money desperately trying, in our special interest partisan way, to funnel money into our respective private coffers and, in the name of conciliation and community organization, absolutely failed to show vision or incentive until all that remained was our sterling credit rating… And now we are but a house in a hurricane. But a house blown not from Kansas to Oz but from Oz to Obamanation.

And this post-9/11 thrashing about has resulted not only in National Socialist style security measures, MaCarthy-esque witch hunts with Salem-esque human rights considerations and financial calamity that has even the famed Carpet Baggers in awe of the audacity, but has resulted in fringe politicians, heretofore relegated to sideshow entertainment status, elevated beyond center stage to the very brink of leadership.

People who believe the world began less than 4,000 years ago. People who interpret events in everyday life in terms of demonic activity. People who think global warming is a myth. People who think we can solve our long-term energy problems by squeezing oil from rocks and burning food. People who think it is impossible to overpopulate our planet. People who think we should dictate theologically inspired rules of private human behavior directly in our country’s constitution.

Game, Set, Match – Bin Laden?

Almost but we’re still in with a chance.

Comments (2)

by Chris de Lisle on September 06, 2011
Chris de Lisle

I'm not convinced bin Laden's plans were ever this complicated. His goal was much simpler and much more barbaric: he wanted all Americans to become his sort of Muslims, or die. I don't believe that America was even the his main focus; that would was creating his united Islamic Caliphate.

I know you're just using him as a boogeyman to talk about how liberal values have declined in the last decade. But I don't believe that is all to do with him, or all that connected the War on Terror.

The religious right has been around since the 70's and continues to be primarally concerned with 'family values'. The American government has almost always been biased towards the interests of business owners; the army was used to put down mining strikes in 1912. The trend towards greater surveillance of citizens predates 911; the proliferation of CCTV cameras in the UK began in the 1990s (& with the expansion of the internet, there is more freedom of information than ever before, not that that has necessarily proved a good thing). Defense spending as a percentage of GDP has returned to Cold War levels; since 1941, America has always had a poorly defined ideologically-based war on; that since 911 is nothing new, just a change of enemies because Nazis and Communists don't exist anymore.

I guess what I'm arguing is that 911 didn't really cause a decade of decline. This has just been another decade of American business as usual. Bin Laden had no interest in promoting Christian fundamentalism, anti-environmentalism or corporate bailouts. These are Western problems, and pinning them on outside forces like bin Laden is just denying the responsibility of our culture for these issues.

And really, al-Qaeda cannot be said to be 'winning' the ideological war in their supposed home territory; look how completely irrelevant they have proved throughout the Arab Spring. That's been overwhelming about people calling for those values of freedom and democracy (and the standard of living) which America embodies. (Though again, I suspect attributing responsibility to the US rather than the culture they are actually occurring in is a mistake)

by alexb on September 07, 2011
alexb

Obviously he knew that poking the giant with a stick would result in a lot of flailing and smashing. He probably regretted it when he was holed up in Tora Bora way back in 2001, but since then, Al-Qaeda has survived and even prospered. America needs to end the wars to loosen the hold of militants. If America gives up on the Afghan war, their economy will recover far faster than anyone is predicting.

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