On the morning of September 11th, a friend came round to join me as neither of us felt much like working. We went down to Zazies, a cute little French brunch place in San Francisco’s Cole Valley which ran out of food. No one else had felt much like working either – not the delivery guys, anyway. Somehow or other we got into a conversation with another table about Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug baron.
I don’t remember the details of that conversation but I should have realized that the Bush administration would use the excuse of 9/11 to take us into yet another endless “war” just like the “war” on drugs. At the time, probably as an attempt to get away from the harsh reality of watching my software business crash to the ground, I had been reading a great deal about the drug “war”. Some time later I looked at NarcoNews, which is a lefty anti-drug war and anti-US policy in Central America site run by an American journalist called Al Giardano. His contributor Catherine Austin Fitts had put up a picture of the Twin Towers in flames, with the single headline “Cui Bono.”
Now I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. I do think there is some question over whether Flight 93 was actually shot down, and I find the pictorial evidence of what happened at the Pentagon extremely odd – there appears to be no evidence of plane wreckage. But we can let the tinfoil hat crowd chase all that down. It’s pretty irrelevant anyway because what followed is what really matters.
In some ways what we’ve seen since then is just a repeat of things that have happened before when America has gone to war on dubious evidence. The Spanish-American war was manufactured by the then dominant media. led by William Randolph Hearst. Did FDR ignore the Japanese warnings about Pearl Harbor? Maybe. My friend from the CIA said about Iraq,”Sure they use faked evidence, but they weren’t exactly the first ones to do so — have you heard the Gulf of Tonkin?”
I’m also well aware that the terrorist attack could have been much worse. After all had they hit the bottom of the Twin Towers instead of the top, maybe 10,000 people would have died instead of an estimated 2,700. Some response was necessary, even if a police action to root out the perpretrators rather than an endless “war” would have been a more pragmatic and more rational response – with a better outcome. But then this is a country that seems to like wars that are endless and endlessly fundable, rather than ones that follow the Powell Doctrine of having a limited, achievable objective and then getting out when you’re done.
But as a relatively new American citizen (my application was actually in process at that time), I was distressed by the deaths and injuries in both the actual attacks and in the subsequent wars. So I’ve been to 9/11 vigil memorials in London, and peace rallies in San Francisco. What’s saddened me the most has been the cavalier and insincere way in which the opportunists who randomly found themselves in power at the time have both shredded the better ideals of America, and abused that power for their supporters’ own financial and ideological ends.
They had better choices available at the time, but the choices that were taken severely limit the prospect for us making a better post-9/11 world.