It often takes many years to accurately decipher the past’s important events and the overall trajectory of history. Singular events must be placed in their proper global and historical context. Then the law of unintended consequences has to play its devious and essential part in history.
The September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington DC – originally inspired by Osama Ben Laden and designed, planned and executed by his original followers – were significant not because of the beliefs or intentions of their perpetrators or the immediate consequences in those two cities. Rather those events were ultimately defined by how we reacted to and changed ourselves as a Nation in response to those attacks.
The 21st Century officially began on that date, not neatly on January 1st of that year or the January 1st of the prior year when we were distracted by a host of other trivial events and issues. The U.S. was already in global political, economic, military and cultural decline for at least a decade but our responses to those attacked reinforced and solidified the downward trajectory of our declining American Empire.
Essentially, our nation over-reacted to 9/11/01. We launched two very expensive wars of choice in Afghanistan and Iraq that we have effectively lost on the ground since they were unwinnable from their inceptions. We enacted extreme national security laws and procedures, and we established a needlessly massive and expensive security infrastructure. Together these new policies and institutions are affronts to our constitutional liberties. They have been, are, and will be huge drains on our national resources and they reflect a sad national inability to separate real and imaginary threats.
After 9/11/01, we chose not to address the mounting structural problems within our economy and our growing lack of global competitiveness. Rather we decided to engage in an unsustainable debt-financed spending spree without asking for any collective and serious sacrifices from every citizen and business in the U.S. We foolishly gave tax cuts to the wealthiest in our society with no consequential economic benefits for the vast majority of citizens.
After 9/11/01, we fell for a huge real estate bubble and relaxed sound credit practices and any rational valuation analysis of hard assets. We massively engaged in the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs which is now extending to many service jobs and professional positions as well. We deregulated our financial sector and financed everything with public and private debt instruments so complex no one understood them until the whole scheme collapsed.
This national selection of dangerously warped priorities was a bi-partisan undertaking based upon exaggerated fears, unregulated greed, unfounded optimism, hubris, narcissism, anger, and collective stupidity. We – as private individuals and businesses, coupled with our craven political leaders – have collectively and individually made more bad decisions since 9/11/01 than we did during the prior four decades combined.
History shows that great empires collapse from within – a collective suicide as it were. Outside forces simply take advantage of the mounting internal weaknesses and eventually fill in the power vacuum. In today’s world, actual military occupations of the American states won’t be necessary for everyone on the globe to conclude that our empire has completely collapsed sometime within the next 2 decades. A fictitious war between Islam and the West won’t even factor into the mix. If Mexico collapses into several Narco-mafia states during the next few years, how shall we respond in light of our nation’s massive addition to the very illegal drugs they supply us and that are destroying what’s left of Mexico?
Governmental studies have concluded that the 9/11/01 attacks cost Al Qaida about $500,000. Yet we have spent trillions of dollars in response and we are no less immune from nut-jobs and religious jihadists committing atrocities on our soil than we were before the attacks. Only the diligent work of many thousands of unheralded public servants, police and security investigators, the smart observations of many simple bystanders, the lack of enough nut-jobs and religious jihadists willing to commit suicide, and pure good luck, have been our best defenses. They are the principle reasons we have prevented a similar attack on U.S. soil since 9/11/01.
Our country is quickly devolving into a corrupt oligarchy, and utterly destroying history’s greatest middle class, its values, ethics and long-term viability, in a vain effort to maintain our global military empire. When the top 5% of Americans control over half of all accumulated national wealth and are allocated almost half of total annual incomes, coupled with the bottom half of Americans having less than 1% of all accumulated wealth and sharing in less than 10% of total annual income, we have a massive problem that renders us effectively uncompetitive with many nations around the world. Anyone who denies this problem exists is a complete moron or a worthless tool of the oligarchs.
Our national power structure exists solely to enrich our wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations who have effectively merged with and control our governing political elite in Washington DC. We now resemble our former enemies in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe more than most Americans would want to admit. They were already corrupt oligarchies with a few wealthy individuals and rulers controlling their massively poor and uneducated populations by funneling all the profits of their resource extraction economies (oil, gas & some precious metals) to their corrupt business and political leaders.
The vast majority of Republicans, Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives are generally clueless about what to do on any issue and how to set new national priorities. They spend most of their time trying to define themselves, each other, and arguing about every pointless policy point no matter how trivial. Our entire system is effectively paralyzed and gridlocked, unable to rip itself from many old and wholly discredited ideologies. The outcome of the upcoming November midterm elections will not alter this general idiocy plaguing the body politic and it will continue unabated through the 2012 elections.
Even our nation’s religious, moral and ethical leaders are all bankrupt intellectually – reflecting the same bankruptcy of those who follow extreme militant Islam in other countries. Our nation’s military industrial complex and vast security apparatus, on which we waste almost a trillion dollars a year, are beyond reform, curtailment, critical examination, or refocusing. All defense and security spending is idiotically considered sacrosanct by both Republicans and Democrats.
I am regularly disappointed to hear the same crapola from all parts of the political spectrum in response to every national challenge. I also get weary of having to repeat that our nation is missing the big picture. However, giving up and going silent in response to the current inane public debates are not viable options for anyone who cares about this country and humanity in general, whether it is from a religious or humanistic viewpoint. I am certainly not going to write about the many trivial issues of the day to entertain TMV readers. There are plenty of other 24/7 info-entertainment media outlets found on television, radio, cable and the Internet that exist to fill that useless void for the many vapid, shallow and clueless souls who live in this country.
From the vantage point of just 9 years, it has become sadly apparent that Osama Ben Laden helped push the United States over the brink towards our eventual collapse from within. We had numerous choices and alternatives on how to respond intelligently to his brazen attack and instead we have utterly failed. There were many voices raised during the past 9 years in opposition to the majority’s decisions in political, military, economic and social affairs but they were generally ignored. Too many of their warnings have proven true and so quickly.
Americans have been a lucky, lazy and uneducated people for too long. We have in many ways already relinquished our power to be masters of our National destiny. I only hope the final collapse of this Nation will come quickly. We still might be able to rebuild new national and world orders that will be sustainable economically, socially, environmentally, ethically and politically. A protracted decline will be a far more painful trajectory for the vast majority of Americans and all hope of successfully starting over will be effectively extinguished.
Osama Ben Laden won the war against the Great American Empire because we foolishly committed national suicide in response to his original attack on 9/11/01. I regret to say this is a sad – but in retrospect true – result of our misguided national priorities.
Submitted by Marc Pascal, ranting happily from Phoenix, Arizona.