Ten Years

It turned out better than I thought it would. Experts and ordinary people alike were almost certain that there would be other, more disastrous, assaults after the 9/11 attacks. I remember wondering if this was how people felt in August 1914, just before their mostly peaceful and growingly prosperous world was destroyed. Indeed, our lives changed in many important ways, but America has not suffered another successful attack in ten years.

We take it for granted today, but it is astonishing. I am always surprised that our open society can continue to remain so open in the face of truly evil people who want to kill us. I can still get in my car anytime I want and drive completely across the U.S. w/o encountering a single checkpoint. Unless I really like to break the traffic laws, I have a very high probability of not being bothered at all on a drive from New York to California or any other route I choose to take.

Flying has become a major pain; that is true.Something about my looks and behavior - or maybe just bad luck - has given me the privilege of the more complete search on several occasions. I miss the option of taking a can of Coca-Cola on the plane.I don't like having to take off my shoes and I like it even less that many others do. I hate the terrorists for complicating my life and I wonder if we have over-reacted a bit.

I am delighted that that old pervert Osama bin Laden has gone to hell w/o getting those virgins he thought he would get. I think it is fitting that he sleeps with the fishes and that we cannot even find all the parts of many of his allies. All these bearded, angry men seem crazier and less relevant than ever. Their time is finished. They can probably still reach out and cause death and destruction, but they have been defeated, on the battlefield, ideologically and even on the streets of the Middle East, where demonstrators armed with cellular phones, sometimes with a little help from NATO, have shaken or toppled the rotten dictators. Intelligent Muslims are seeing that hateful violence is not only morally wrong, but also stupidly ineffective. Jihadists told us that Muslims loved death more than we loved life. It was of the many things they was wrong about.

We can never feel quite as safe and confident in the post 9/11 world as we did before. We lived in a dreamy world in the 1990s. There was a lot to celebrate. We had defeated the biggest evil that most us grew up with: communism. Our economy had been more or less prosperous for nearly twenty years. Americans younger than 40 had never experienced hard times as adults. In too many ways, we were oblivious to the dangers and challenges growing under the fa├žade of prosperity. When good times return, a new generation will become complacent again.

This is how things work among human beings. We react to a specific threat by making sure that it will never happen again. Of course, unexpected threats are unexpected, by definition, but after they have become manifest, everybody thinks he knew about it.

I ask all of you to be honest. How many of you really think you foresaw with reasonable precision the economic collapse of 2008 and one other of the big changes over the last ten years? I am not talking about the general malaise of those who predict recessions every year, but actually predicted this one. Okay, all of you who think you were able to foresee the economic change, how are you spending those millions of dollars you were able to earn from your foresight? If you don't have those millions, you know that you are lying to yourself and to me about your certainty.

I have notes from the weeks after 9/11. I was afraid that things would be very different in terms of my daily life. I thought it would get much worse than it did and so did all of you reading this. None of us would have confidently predicted NO more successful attacks on the American homeland. None of us would have said that one of our biggest inconveniences would be taking off our shoes at the airport.

We grateful acknowledge those who helped our fears NOT become the reality ten years later.

Posted by Christine & John at September 6, 2011 1:23 PM
Comments
Comment #328726

C&J, I join you in celebration to honor those who have, and continue, to protect America from our enemies. The day after 9/11 I purchased a flag and flag pole. I mounted it on one of my sturdy fence posts and have lost track of the number of flags I have flown ever since.

Our flag means much to me as both an American and a Veteran. Like you, I am amazed that we have managed to thwart another major attack like 9/11. Liberty demands constant vigilance.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 6, 2011 2:01 PM
Comment #328728

Sept. 11, 2011 hasn’t happened yet.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at September 6, 2011 2:31 PM
Comment #328737

Gary & Royal

Let’s have confidence in our president & our authorities. But you are right. I cannot count ten years until ten years.

As Royal says liberty demands vigilance. We have done a good job for nine years, but the bad guys just need to be lucky once.

Posted by: C&J at September 6, 2011 5:15 PM
Comment #328749
We can never feel quite as safe and confident in the post 9/11 world as we did before. We lived in a dreamy world in the 1990s.

This is a very important point to me. When I grew up in the ’90s war was a very foreign thing. War was something found only in history books. There was the intervention in Kosovo, but that hardly counted as a “real war”. I was in 6th grade when the 9/11 attacks occurred; those attacks initiated my growing awareness of our world and how it is not always the safest place for us. We need to be prepared to respond aggressively to those who wish to do us harm. At the time, I was still young and naive enough to give my unquestioning support to President Bush. Soon afterwards, I learned the biggest lesson of warfare: Never trust your political leaders when they beat the war drums; be skeptical of everything they say.

Posted by: Warped Reality at September 6, 2011 7:47 PM
Comment #328753

Warped

War is an intensely human activity. People far from the activity like to try to make it a science. They write all kinds of theories as to why we fight, usually citing economic reasons and implicitly believing that decisions are rational and well-informed. This is wrong.

This is why war is always unpredictable and always risky. Both too much aggression and too much pacifism can provoke deadly conflict. Getting the balance right is hard, because we are dealing with humans, not rational machines.

War is an obscenity that should be avoided whenever possible. The problem is that sometimes the attempt to avoid war results in bigger wars. It is something that we can try to control,but can never master.

We are lucky in our modern times. Few of us have actually seen war close up. This happy situation is very rare in human history. For most of out time as humans, war was constant, although usually low intensity. In most societies, every man had to be a warrior and almost everyone could expect to be a victim of violence one or more times in his/her life.

We are lucky indeed, but we still have not outgrown our human propensity to fight. When we think we have, as in the 1990s, we get hit again.

I think we should be skeptical of all leaders who promise us anything.

Posted by: C&J at September 6, 2011 8:10 PM
Comment #328823

In any case, I think the ten year anniversary should be a good opportunity for us to reexamine all the Homeland Security expenditures we make. With OBL on a permanent submarine expedition, we surely could prune the DHS.

Posted by: Warped Reality at September 7, 2011 9:23 PM
Comment #328838

Not all threats are external, some are internal.

When the Congress becomes the hall of millionaires doing the bidding of millionaires and billionaires, we have a much larger internal threat.

When we have populist candidates who run for president to give them entree to million dollar speaking and book publishing careers, and who spend the vast majority of time raising money for their next bid for office, the political process is corrupted.

While I think Obama has done the job that Bush failed to do in getting Bin Laden, he has failed to move the millionaire club to seek to help the general welfare of the nation.

The Republican Party and their populist wing, the Tea Party, have become blatantly spokesmen for the wealthy. They use the distraction of nut jobs like Bin Laden to distract the public to the real threats. This is why I chose this nom de plume, and rail against the lies of the elite.

Stiglitz addressed this issue in May ( I put a link in C&J’s last post). Americans will wake to this fact, eventually. The resultant carnage can be reduced by addressing these issues now, or we can wait for the next French Revolution.

I was always an independent who sometimes supported Republican candidates. They used to attack the mendacity of the elitists. Now they have become a mendacity themselves.

Bob Roemer is a Republican candidate who was governor of Louisiana and lost to David Duke twenty years ago. He hasn’t a chance in hell of getting elected, but is talking about the institutional corruption in politics today.

Obama is corrupt as they get. He understands the problem, but hasn’t addressed seriously the issues of Health Care or Wall Street, or long term debt because he is beholden to them to get elected. He talks about them occasionally. His second term may be a chance for him to do something, but I have my doubts. The Republican field offers nothing any less corrupt, and as I’ve said, has become the unabashed mouthpiece of the wealthiest 1%.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at September 8, 2011 1:13 AM
Comment #328840

Tom Jefferson,
I’m thinking your real name is David R Remer. Am I right?

Posted by: Schwamp at September 8, 2011 7:34 AM
Comment #328897

Swamp

People here have the right to write as they wish, as long as they consistently use a name and not more than one.

Posted by: C&J at September 8, 2011 6:30 PM
Comment #328973

Swamp, Nope.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at September 10, 2011 1:50 AM
Comment #328975

Another right wing conspiracy theory shot to hell. How about some factual debate rather than trying to pin a label on everyone?

Posted by: Tom Jefferson at September 10, 2011 1:58 AM
Comment #329078

Dr. Benjamin Luft, a professor at my school created an oral history project to record various oral histories regarding people’s responses to 9/11 for posterity. He was motivated to create the project when he started treating several 9/11 survivors at the hospital we have on campus; he realized that many of his patients had very important stories that should be documented for future generations. Last spring, I saw a presentation of his with a preview of what he had collected, and it was really moving:
http://www.stonybrookmedicalcenter.org/medicalcenter/60min

Posted by: Warped Reality at September 11, 2011 9:54 PM
Comment #330316

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