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My 9/11 post for 2007 [Sep. 12th, 2007|09:26 am]
Six years ago, America faced a choice.

A small number of men showed us how dangerous the world is, when people with the ability to cause great damage have no regard for human life.

I believe America was right to help the Afghani people take control of their land again, and oust the Taliban. And I believe we should have gone further: I think we should have used all of the people and resources we had at our disposal to show the world that you can't do something like this and get away with it. We should have moved every mountain to get Osama bin Ladin.

But we didn't... because President Bush wanted a war in Iraq.

The best estimates we have are that over 600,000 people have died as a result of this war. (Don't tell me the number's been discredited. It hasn't been, and everyone who swears that it has been has been suspiciously silent about any way to find the real numbers out. That in itself shows that the people who complain about it are hiding from the truth.)

The world is truly dangerous when people who have the ability to cause great damage show no regard for human life.

People are debating whether we should pull out the troops from Iraq. "Let's stop discussing why they are there; let's talk about what to do now!" they say.

No... let's talk about why they are there.

They are there because some fools thought that warfare was something they could control, that people would act in accordance with neo-con dreams. They are there because America, under the leadership of President Bush, chose escalating warfare instead of the pursuit of simple justice. They are there because meddlesome idiots took on forces too big for them, and, to this day, are unwilling to do so much as admit that they screwed up.

And they did all of this, proclaiming it was because of an act of terrorism, a time when they should have been most aware of the horrific damage caused by those who don't care enough about the lives of others.

America faced a choice: justice, or hatred, and it chose hatred, the kind of hatred that ignores any responsibility we might have for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Now, here comes the right-wing; I can hear them now; I "hate America", I'm part of the "blame America first" crowd.

Nope. I'm saying that the choice that was made can be unmade. We can re-dedicate ourselves. We can be the America that declared that all people are important, that no one, not even a king, has a right to ignore the rights of others. To refuse to criticize is to refuse to give the opportunity to listen, and decide to make a new choice.

So please, listen, and make a choice, if you haven't already. Choose justice.

[User Picture]From: laurarey
2007-09-12 05:25 pm (UTC)
"and it chose hatred, "

Hmmm...I'm not sure I agree. I think the US government chose greed, not hatred. This has, in my opinion, always been about oil and money. They merely played the American people's emotional strings of which anger and hatred was a part.

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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2007-09-12 06:25 pm (UTC)
Nod. I'm not saying if you disagree that it "chose hatred", you have to be wrong... but if you want to write strong statements, you have to make statements :-).

I could say that America chose "indifference", not caring enough to think deeply and act cautiously, but that doesn't ring quite as loudly for most folks.

A while back, I coined a term, "quiet hatred", for the kind of hatred that lets a person ignore injustice and believe nasty statements about another without consideration of the facts. It's not normal hatred, the kind that leads to "let me beat that person up", but the kind that says "that person is being beaten up; I don't see any big reason to do anything about that. And the person doing the beating is saying the person deserved it for being an asshole; I see no reason to question that."

It's intended to be a bit confrontational. I'm still stunned that the report saying over 600,000 Iraqis have died was so quickly buried and ignored... doesn't that say that something ugly is going on?

I could imagine a conversation going like this: "Yeah, hatred's an ugly word, but that many people dying is ugly too... tell me what word you'd rather use, but it has to be ugly enough to capture people ignoring that many deaths."
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[User Picture]From: laurarey
2007-09-12 07:02 pm (UTC)
hmmm...how about "gross greed, arrogance and indifference"?
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2007-09-13 05:44 pm (UTC)
That works.
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[User Picture]From: wyang
2007-09-13 01:32 pm (UTC)

A slight disagreement between friends.

I agree with you, first, that America made an unjust and unwise decision in going into Iraq. It was a heinous screwup to go in, and it's cost countless lives and generally done more harm than good.

That being said... I'm much more concerned about what to do now than I am with why we went in, initially. That's a matter for the 2008 election season. First things need to come first.

I'm concerned about what to do now because, in my amateur analyst's armchair, I don't see any particularly good exit paths. Justice is not the primary concern. Justice can, should, and hopefully will be served once the very real situation of trying to extricate ourselves from a long-term commitment virtually nobody wants, few outside the most stalwart republicans support, and that's costing us dearly.

The problem, as I see it, is that we BROKE what passed for civil society in Iraq by deposing Saddam Hussein. I'm not defending Hussein, by any means... but, for all his evil acts, he was effective in ensuring that violence was at a minimal level, and he kept the factions from engaging in the civil war. Colin Powell has been attributed with dicussing "the pottery barn" rule -- you break it, you bought it. A pullout will only further destabilize the region.

I see few options that don't involve significant American troop presence on the ground in Iraq for the next 5 years or so (I remember, the week before the invasion, telling a co-worker that we'd be there at least 10 years. He didn't believe me. But I'm no prognosticator -- I was only repeating the analysis I saw on Meet the Press the previous week).

A precipitous pullout is going to create a theocracy in at least part of Iraq, and probably one of the more radical groups -- similar to the Taliban -- will be the one in charge. Yes, America's leaders hae chosen poorly to date... but our next choices aren't simple. We can "unchoose hatred"... but I tend to doubt that choice will be sufficient to undo the harm that's already been done.

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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2007-09-13 04:23 pm (UTC)

Re: A slight disagreement between friends.

I don't disagree with what you're saying. As I suggested to
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I don't disagree with what you're saying. As I suggested to <lj-user="laurarey">, part of what I said was for impact.

But there's also a method to my madness. The man who has shown he least deserves to be President is Giuliani... he thinks the invasion was a fine idea, when hearing it's a mistake, he calls out that the speaker has forgotten 9/11. He's either willing to politicize hatred with a lie, or he is completely unable to understand the mistakes we made going in, and is thus almost certain to make similar mistakes withdrawing. (Or, obviously, not withdrawing at all, because we haven't won our victory yet.)

Anyone who can't look at the mess we've created and say "we screwed up, from beginning to end" is unable to plan our current mission properly. I think the current mission should be "how do we fix the damage we've caused?" not "how do we achieve victory?"

Anyone who thinks we did right by going in is going to have something to prove, and is probably going to try to prove it, trying to achieve a goal other than stabilization and security.

You're right; the most pressing issue is "what do we do now?" but both pragmatically and politically, I think it's important first to render the judgment of "how did we get here?" in order to shape the "what do we do now?" answers appropriately.
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[User Picture]From: wyang
2007-09-17 04:27 pm (UTC)

Re: A slight disagreement between friends.

On this course, we may find ourselves coming to "violent agreement" soon. ;-)

In terms of Giuliani and the other Republicans... We're looking at the weakest Republican field we've seen in a long time, with significant fragmentation between "values voters" and hawks caused largely by the failures of the administration. Thompson is sweeping the old white haired men category, which further is fragmenting the Republican voting base. Unless something dramatically changes, the only party that can be the Democrats now is the Democrats. If they can find something even remotely resembling a coherent message or position, they've got it.

I tend to agree with your assessment that the more personally tied to the justification of past mistakes our next leaders are, the deeper the problems are going to become.

And I agree that we won't be able to move forward without understanding the mistakes that have gotten us here. I'm not totally sure that requires a public acknowledgement of our mistakes. Frankly, that's really asking for the political equivalent of a human sacrifice straight out of the Necronomicon... the current leaders aren't going to do it, and the next ones only will if they think they can avoid being on the same altar in X years themselves....

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