It’s 11 years after 9/11.
On the popular culture front, we have HBO’s Newsroom, which announced in its opening episode that the United States is not “the greatest nation” in the world. Google commemorated Star Trek’s first broadcast 46 years ago.
We are at war in Yemen.
We have withdrawn from Iraq but the violence there — violence directly related to our ousting Saddam Hussein and changing the balance of power (pdf) — continues. Last fall, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called our depature a “precipitous withdrawal” that is “more than unfortunate. I think it’s tragic.”
And on the cost-accounting front … in the wake of nearly 3,000 deaths on U.S. soil in attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and in the crash of a hijacked jetliner in Pennsylvania … there are estimates like these:
- “As of March 2012, the number of war refugees and displaced persons — 7.4 million — is equivalent to all of the people of Connecticut and Oregon fleeing their homes.”
- A conservative estimate of war dead — in and out of uniform — is 286,006. “A more realistic minimal estimate is 298,000.”
- More than 6,500 U.S. soldiers have died.
- More than a half million veterans have health claims caught in a growing backlog at the Veteran’s Administration.
- Estimates for Al Qaeda’s 9/11 expenses: about half a million dollars. No estimates for the war launched immediately against Afghanistan. The fall 2002 Bush estimates for cost of Iraq wars: $50-60 billion (to be offset entirely by oil revenue). Current estimates for U.S. actual costs: $4 trillion to as much as $6 trillion. (That’s an error of two orders of magnitude.)
How many of these will you hear on the nightly news? Read in the daily newspaper?
I’m guessing, not many.
And here’s why governing by public opinion polling is a bad idea:
- Oct. 17-27, 2002: 55% “favor taking military action in Iraq to end Saddam Hussein’s rule” despite only 48% believing “George W. Bush has explained clearly what’s at stake” (margin of error: +/-2.5%). That was barely a majority and illustrated a very divided electorate. But ahead we went.
- Dec 16-18, 2011: 66% oppose the U.S. war in Iraq (margin of error: +/-3%). Amazingly, 48% polled believed that “U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq has had a positive effect on life in Iraq generally.” Really? How’s that externally-imposed “democracy” working out over there?
You’ll see #neverForget a lot today.
I’d argue that there are things we should not forget — but having three planes hijacked are pretty low on my list. Much more important is opportunistic political leadership and Eisenhower’s military-industrial-Congressional complex. Even former Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is using that phrase now. Remember, GWB’s wars are the primary reason the federal budget went upside down in 2002 when coupled with the cost of war being charged to a monster credit card because of extensive tax cuts. All fueled by hot air.
Oh, yeah. #neverForget. Indeed.Tweet