Nineteen years after more than three thousand people were killed on 9/11, there remains a bipartisan commitment to continue the war on terror, increase spending on the military-industrial complex, commit American troops and tax dollars to endless war, deport “undocumented” residents, curtail civil liberties and democratic rights at home and abroad, militarize the police, and promote regime change abroad.
Under Trump, the Long War” continues, with further increases in drone strikes and Special Ops in the Middle East and North Africa. But Trump is also morphing the war on terror into an increased focus on domestic suppression, promoting the rise of white racist nationalism leading to increasingly violent behavior by militias, while ICE has raised the harassment of immigrants to new levels of brutality. He stokes racial civil strife to ratchet up the use of authoritarian rule which may be utilized to try to maintain his power regardless of the election results.
Our next president needs to declare an end to the war on terrorism, something neither major party has done. Obama did understand the massive military outlays arising out of this “war” required a more credible opponent than the loosely knit collection of terrorists, so he revived the Cold War with the “Great Powers Conflict”, targeting Russia and China. Even with Trump calling himself a friend of Putin, Congress and the media have ramped up the tension with Russia. Trump has been eager to escalate the saber-rattling with China, though the latter is far more interested in increasing its economic clout than in pursuing military conflict.
The Green Party in the hours after the 9/11 attacks warned of the danger of the two parties and the corporate-owned mass media turning this horrific crime against humanity into a cry for war. The neoconservatives in charge of the government, Vice-President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, had already written about the need for a “new Pearl Harbor” to provide the pretext for an invasion of Iraq to seize their oil fields. They wasted little time in doing so. While Trump lies without restraint, the Bush administration joined by the Democratic choir repeatedly lied about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s role in 9/11 to enmesh our country into two wars that continue today, inflicting tremendous harm on civilians, military personnel, and American taxpayers.
Thirty years before America’s 9/11, the Nixon administration had violently overthrown the democratically-elected government of Allende in Chile. Bush’s effort to appoint former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to lead the commission to investigate 9/11 was so galling that even the American people had to reject it.
But the Commission ably accomplished the main mission assigned to it, namely damage control to avoid exposing the incompetency and waste of the so-called foreign and domestic intelligence agencies (CIA and FBI).
The Commission also avoided examining the role of prior American presidents (Carter and Reagan) in overthrowing the elected government of Afghanistan to draw the Soviet Union into its own Vietnam. The collapse of a central government led to the rise of the Taliban leadership and their alliance with Al Qaeda to help combat the warlords the US had armed against the Soviets. If one takes the findings of the 9/11 Commission at face value, it was a classic example of blowback from failed American foreign policy. But the Commission studiously avoiding examining America’s own role in creating the attacks and whitewashed the role of American allies such as Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani ISI in funding and supporting terrorist activities.
The corpses from the disastrous War on terrorism are strewn through the Middle East and North Africa. Its main accomplishment has been to supply weapons, either directly or through the black market, to all the combatants in the Middle East. Despite the failure of the US to install credible governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, it plowed ahead under Obama and Secretary of State Clinton with failed efforts to do regime change in Libya and Syria. Its destabilization of Iraq and Syria led to the rise of ISIS.
Biden’s emphasis as Vice-President was to substitute drones and special ops for much of the troop footprint, i.e., continue the war by different means. The large civilian death toll is shrugged off as unfortunate collateral damage. Biden’s Democratic Party platform, though stated indirectly, promises more of the same
US efforts on regime change have had some limited success in South America, though the overthrow of the Honduras government sent its citizens streaming north to escape the carnage. Trump has looked foolish with his continued efforts in Venezuela while the coup in Bolivia appears to be unraveling. Trump reversed course in both Iran and Cuba, putting them back at the top of the US’ enemy list. Trump has also increased US support for the Saudi’s in its devastation of Yemen.
The one clear winner in all of this has been the military-industrial complex, whose funding by the American taxpayers continues to soar. Even with the bloated Pentagon budget proposals by Trump, the Congressional Democrats have poured even more money in.
While Bush used the war on terrorism to create the Department of Homeland Security and increase spying on American citizens while curtaining civil liberties (e.g., the Patriot Act), Trump is ramping up the use of these forces at home to provoke a race war as his way to maintain power. After his election, he initially focused on immigrants and white nationalism, with his call for a Wall on the border with Mexico followed by his policy of separating refugee children from their parents. Court fights took place over his ongoing efforts to block “Muslims” from coming to America.
Trump’s disastrous mishandling of the COVID crisis and the resultant collapse of the American economy put his re-election ever more in doubt. He seized the Black Lives Matter movement’s response to the continuing killing of people of color by the police as an opportunity to throw the country into civil conflict, egging on armed militia to fight back against “Democratic Mayors” who have unleashed socialists, anarchists and criminals across the country. The sight of military equipment supplied to local police has become a common sight at such protests, as the police utilize tactics taught to them by the military. He has increasingly sought to mobilize military forces to fight protestors and has used Homeland Security and ICE to anonymously grab protestors off the streets.
The annual observation of 9/11 has been turned by politicians into a call for American exceptionalism, in reality thinly disguised imperialism. After 9/11, the world was united in its grief for our country and it was a moment that should have been used to build a world based on mutual cooperation and respect. It is never too late to admit our mistake. It is time for the US military to withdraw from the endless wars, utilize diplomacy to promote political settlements, end arms sales to belligerents, and to provide humanitarian aid for the largest refugee crisis since WW2, including re-opening immigration from these countries.