The LuLac Edition #1754, September 12th, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: AFTER 911.
9/12- 10 YEARS AFTER
Most people will commemorate the anniversary of a great historical event. I do it all the time but sometimes we rarely step back and concern ourselves with the day after. To be sure, September 11th provided this country with our greatest challenge. And in its aftermath, George Bush and his administration did their best to pick up the pieces of the great tragedy. I even tend to agree with Vice President Cheney’s comments on moving to “the dark side” to get information on terrorism. But one cannot look back on some squandered opportunities that might have changed this country for the better.
1. GENERATIONAL MOBILIZATION: While there were many young people who volunteered for the military in the wake of the attacks, they were in the minority. Less than 2% of American families are involved in the war effort. Many of those serving have had multiple tours of duty. That is wrong. A tiny minority is carrying the weight of this defense on their shoulders (albeit they volunteered) while others did nothing. I don’t think it would have been unreasonable at the time of 911 for the Bush administration to reactivate the draft. I think the 911 generation was looking for a way to contribute,a structured opportunity was not available.
2. WORLD CONSENSUS: On September 12th we had a near unanimous consensus on our side from world leaders. I think most of those countries would have formed an alliance with us to fight the war in Afghanistan. I think they might have been able to put pressure on Pakistan too. The incursion into Iraq was not totally supported by the world leaders because they saw no correlation between Bin Laden and that country. Granted our presence in Iraq gave them a democracy, shaky, but one nonetheless. But maybe we would have been better off concentrating fully on Afghanistan. I think we took our eye off the ball there and we are still paying for it with a very tense and dangerous situation there.
3. GOVERNMENT WASTE: Liberals and social scientists are always accused of throwing good money after bad on social programs. But in the aftermath of 911 our government spent like drunken sailors with little accountability of government contracts with private business. Jobs the military used to do routinely were farmed out to contractors that over charged and truth be told took advantage of the situation. The profits of companies like Haliburton are a matter of public record. Plus there was almost no oversight. Money was being spent hand over first but our troops were fighting in Iraq with inferior body armour they had to purchase themselves! I ask what is wrong with this picture? If anyone did question the expenditures in the wake of 911 or anything associated with the military they were branded as unpatriotic. This did great damage to the political discourse in this country. The GOP held terror threats over the heads of Americans while the Democrats seethed because they felt their love of country was being called into question. To be fair, there were few Democrats willing to stand up to the Bush administration conduct or rationale of the war. But if there was more questioning on where the money was supposed to go to, we might not have such an out of line deficit. It is estimated that the terror wars cost over a trillion, trillion dollars. By the way the same Republicans who gladly rubber stamped the war expenditures are now screaming about their grand children’s debt. Maybe they should have watched where the money was going. If you ask me, they are coming late to the fiscal watchdog party.
4. TAX CUTS: The Bush administration refused to back down on the tax cuts to the wealthy while fighting two wars. Unlike WWII it seemed like big business was just interested in getting richer on the military contracts and not giving anything back to the country. This one dimensional execution of economics and the wars did little to insure a brighter future for the country after the 911 decade. If anything it put us in a tight box where we can’t compromise or distinguish what is the safety of our country from foreign terrorists or the security of our own people from long standing government entities that are now being called into question. It is said you can’t serve two masters. The wars and the tax cuts illustrate that perfectly.
5. UNITED WE AREN’T: On the day after 911, America had a chance to be united. The Congress, both Republicans and Democrats sang “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol. Despite the way he was elected, people wanted to support President Bush. Congress passed unanimous bills of appropriations and support. People asked, literally begged the government for a role in fighting terrorism. When asked what people could do to defeat the enemy, Bush supposedly said “Go shopping”. The government could have started a youth or volunteer corps that would support the effort. What should have been a nationwide effort became a fragmented one that fell on the shoulders of people who were the spouses or children of the troops in combat. Like the first strike in Iraq, after there was a ground victory, there was no afterthought put into what came next. By the time people realized it, the opportunity for true national unity and sense of purpose had passed. When you are in trouble, people are willing to help. When you are attacked, people will come to your defense. When you are in need, people will help as long as they are asked. But when there is silence and no direction, no pronouncement of purpose or need, people move on to other things. The moment passes. One of the most disheartening things about post 911 America this past decade is the fact that there was so much lost potential in terms of what America could have done as a nation after the attack. Perhaps the worst thing about the attack was that we lost our way as a unified nation. You can only partially blame the terrorists for that. The Bush administration, the Congress, the government, all of us are at fault. 911 made us stronger in terms of our intelligence and defense objectives to be sure. But because we were rudderless in terms of our national unity, it did not necessarily make us a better country.