Thursday, May 04, 2006

The World Changed on 3/19

Four and a half years after 9/11, I often still hear the phrases: "Everything changed after 9/11", or "That’s a pre-9/11 mindset".

What this usually means is one or more of the following:


  • That we should be able to pre-emptively attack other countries if we are sufficiently afraid of them.
  • That torture should be an acceptable method of engagement with enemies
  • That it is OK to kidnap people in other countries and lock them up forever without the right to a trial.
  • That international treaties like the Geneva Convention are “quaint”, and we shouldn’t have to abide by them if it is inconvenient.
  • That we should ignore the illegalities of roving wiretaps and just trust George Bush to tell us what we need to know about them.
  • That the opinions of other civilized countries are irrelevant to how to behave in the world at large.

Regardless of which values our country is stomping on, the justification is always the same: “everything changed after 9/11”.

Well, for me, everything changed on 3/19. That is, March 19th, 2003, the day we attacked a foreign country that was not threatening us, and was not protecting terrorists who attacked us. A country that we had to kick international inspectors out of in order to start the invasion. A country that was not even *capable* of harming us, which was reflected in the best intelligence we had at the time, but was ignored.

Our elected representatives in Congress rolled over, our media uncritically beat the war drums, and the masses went along with the whole charade. The possibility that democracy could become mob action became an ugly reality. We let the administration scare us into launching an unnecessary, pre-emptive war. We attacked first. We were the aggressors. We lost any moral authority we might claim for a generation. Our democracy failed, precisely because it was all done with the consent of the people.

It was one thing to have an enemy attack us. It was tragic and shocking, but we had the resolve to deal with it. It is quite another to give in to fear and arrogance, to fail ourselves, to finally attack our own values. Al Qaeda is not eroding our values as a people nor changing our way of life. We are. We are voluntarily giving up our civil rights and our basic decency as a people, and that hurts us more in the end than being attacked by a bunch of crazy fundamentalists.

It isn’t 9/11 that did this to us. It is 3/19, and we did it to ourselves.

5 comments:

Orinda said...

Germany never attacked us (and Hitler was democratically elected). The South never attacked the North (and it, like you, was anti-Federal gov't.) Bosnia and Serbia never attacked us but Clinton saw fit to intervene.

Is this really your criteria for military involvement?

Dan S said...

Germany declared war on us before we declared war on them, and this of course was after they had already taken over half of Europe, showing that they were a very real threat.

The civil war started when the southern states seceded and Ft. Sumpter was attacked by southern troops.

I'm not sure what your point is though. My point is that we attacked a country that clearly was not threatening us, and for which there was no evidence that they even could threaten us if they wanted to.

If the criteria for starting wars is merely being afraid that a country might someday harm you (which was our stance at the time), then any country could invade any other country at any time with no actual evidence of anything required.

Brownie said...

"..an unnecessary, pre-emptive war. We attacked first. We were the aggressors..."

Could it be you were speaking of the Balklands here? We were not attacked by Serbia. We intervened on behalf of a mostly helpless people who were being "ethnically cleansed", which we all know is just a euphemism for genocide, against a power hungry despot who'd never done anything to the U.S.

Do you see my point. Sadaam was committing genocide against the Shi'i and Kurds for decades, he was a power hungry despot, (see: the invasion of Kuwiat and Iran) who HAD attacked Americans, on numerous occasions. (Ex: USS Stark, Gulf War I, not to mention his unprovoked attacks on Isreal, DAILY attacks on US planes in the U.N. approved no-fly zones for over five years)

So I guess my question is, how bad does a person have to be before the world has the "moral authority" to take him out? Remember the UN agreed with the U.S, at least technically, if not ethically, about removing Sadaam.

Forgive me, but I think I detect the odor of partisanship here. Where was the left's moral outrage at Clinton for the "atrocities" he committed in Kosovo and Serbia, by killing "thousands" of men, woman and children. For there is no doubt that many, many innocents died at American hands in the decade we've spent there. Oh, we still have people there, by the way, lest we forget.

Ultimately, let me say that I think that hyperbole serves no Godly purpose. And I believe it is a dangerous ground you walk, my brother, so remember: if we sit in judgement of others, we must be prepared for judgement ourselves.

...With respect and peace....

Dan S said...

What has happened and what continues to happen in Iraq and Gitmo is fundamentally different from the Balkans, and I don't think it is partisan or hyperbole to point this out.

First of all, we did not go into Iraq to free the Iraqis. We went in because the administration scared the public into believing Iraq was going to attack us with WMD and because they insinuating the untruth that Sadaam was tied to 9/11. Specifically, they scared many into believing he was going to develop and use nuclear weapons, which the administration outright lied about.

The balkans is different from Iraq. The Balkans was a reaction to doing nothing in Rwandaa and seeing what a mistake it was to not stop genocide when it happens.

Sadaam was contained and was not a threat to us or any neighboring country. There was no genocide currently happening in Iraq that required that we overthrow the country. Yes he was evil and yes he was a despot. But I don't think we would be there today if there was no oil underneath his country. After all, North Korea is a much bigger threat, and Darfur has a more immedate crisis and we have done nothing about them.

And, it is simply false that the UN agreed with the US about Iraq. The UN gave no authorization for the use of force, despite the US trying to get that authorization for months before the war. In fact, the US had to kick out UN weapons inspectors to start the war. If being in violation of a UN resolution gives one the authority to take a country over by force, then Arab countries would be justified in taking out Israel, which is in violation of a number of UN resolutions.


Forgive me, but I think I detect the odor of partisanship here. Where was the left's moral outrage at Clinton for the "atrocities" he committed in Kosovo and Serbia, by killing "thousands" of men, woman and children. For there is no doubt that many, many innocents died at American hands in the decade we've spent there. Oh, we still have people there, by the way, lest we forget.

Right. We should leave there. I think we should withdraw our troops from every foreign nation, unless we are willing to have other nations' troops in bases next to our cities here.

I'd be happy to denounce atrocities committed during the Clinton administration. So, point me to specific instances where soldiers tortured prisoners, or where we lock up people without trial, or where Haditha-type killings happened, or where we leveled entire towns (Fallujah) or where we illegally wiretapped phones. I am against all these things, regardless of who is doing them.

I had very mixed feelings about the Balkans. There was a very real immediate problem there that we used violence to try to solve. I wasn't thrilled that we did what we did, but at least we didn't invade the country, take over its administration, mess it up on a Biblical scale, and then refuse to leave when its citizens overwhelmingly want us out.

It isn't partisan to be angry that our country has lost its way, that we have created more enemies than friends, because we have misused our power.

Brownie said...

"All you need is Love..."

-John Lennon