We all have our own memories of that fateful day, immortalized simply as '9/11'. Memories differ, but we all remember the dominating sentiment, the ambiguous chorus at the iron gates of the White House, chanting blankly to our oracle George Bush, "something must be done, something must be done to avenge this travesty!" Yes, Bush as the oracle, talking to God:
"One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did." (George Bush: 'God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq')
We, as a nation, believe this, believe it or not. I remember reciting the pledge of allegiance in third grade, all thirty of us snot-nosed kids staring at the U.S. flag with glazed eyes and our hands placed firmly on our hearts, telling ourselves that we lived in "one nation under God, indivisible...", and we said it with all of the conviction our little selves could muster. It was my first taste of insanity on a massive scale, besides church.
How many bombs have exploded and how many gunshots have been fired to 'fight' terrorism? Is that not a form or terrorism in and of itself? I know the counterarguments, like 'but, Saddam Hussein was evil!'. Sure, but living in a nation where we buy sweatshop goods with unrestrained glee, profiting from the toils and hardships of those we deem unfortunate, I find morals to be amorphous beasts. It's easy to see how less privileged nations could view us as just as evil. We think, us haughty Americans, that we live in the land of the free, yet we have the highest prison population, by percentage of the total population, in the world (Incarceration in the United States). We are as hypocritical, as riddled with flaws, as the terrorists we hate.
One question lost in all the anti-terrorism rhetoric polluting our nation is, why did terrorists target the Twin Towers? The answer is, to hurt the U.S. economically, to loosen the grip the U.S. had on the world economy, our source of power. Our counter-terrorism efforts have helped to create a suffocating debt that threatens to choke the U.S. economy. This is what the terrorists hoped for. The collapse of the Twin Towers cost New York roughly $100 billion (Sept. 11 Cost NYC Up To $95 Billion). As of late 2006, the U.S. government had then spent roughly $1 trillion fighting terrorism, the bulk of those funds going to war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq (Bad Guys). By now, that number has probably swelled to $1.5-$2 trillion.
Invading Afghanistan and Iraq has only strengthened the ranks of the Taleban, motivating new recruits to join in droves to die as martyrs. As the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, it seems an inevitability that an extremist regime will take control of the fractured nation. As Barack Obama commits more troops to Afghanistan to fight in a guerrilla war, parallels to the Vietnam War arise. How is victory sustainable in Afghanistan? It seems obvious, to me, that we are doing exactly what the terrorists want us to do. When the war efforts stop, what will the U.S. have accomplished besides accumulate a massive amount of debt and to have unnecessarily lost American lives? Our nation is already falling apart economically, if the headlines are to be believed. Yes, the terrorists are winning the war. The Taleban will exist long after the last U.S. soldier has left the soil of Afghanistan.
I remember, in church, as I squirmed in the pews to my parent's constant annoyance, being read this gem by our Priest from the Gospel of Matthew:
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." - Matthew 5:38-42, NIV
By retaliating, I was taught in catechism, you validate your attackers. Yet, as a teenager, I watched as supposed Christians like Bush justified invading Afghanistan and Iraq to rounds of applause. I think during one of those very speeches, the world permanently stopped making sense to me. It wasn't a grand revelation, there was no conscious recognition of the moment, just a mild but pervasive sense of despair. 'Fuck,' I thought, 'the inmates are running the asylum.' I think that was around the same time Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide.
Edit, 12/12/2009: Seeing as how Yurei's writeup is being C!ed to hell, I thought that I'd say this for the record: I feel like my writeup had two main points. One, that the War on Terror has cost the U.S. trillions of dollars, making up a significant portion of the nation's now crippling debt. The terrorists, meanwhile, having only spent an amount in the billions of dollars range. I'd call that a good return on their investment. My other main point was that the War on Terror has created a lot of ill will for the U.S. throughout the international community. Hell, they gave Barack Obama a Nobel Prize in Peace for not being George Bush. If that isn't what the terrorists wanted, from a realistic perspective, then what did they want? Yurei's response to the first point was: "Jesus Balls That's A LOT OF FUCKING MONEY, MAN. As a matter of fact, I could BUY A WHOLE FUCKTON OF CATFOOD WITH THAT AND CONSTRUCT A PLANETOID-SIZED HOMAGE TO AYN GODDAMNED RAND WITH THAT SHIT." Very informative. His response to my second point was to point out that I was confusing Al Qaeda with the Taleban and other terrorist groups. While that was true, it doesn't negate my overall point, that the War on Terror as it was conducted has made more enemies for the U.S. than anything else. Yurei is a good ranter, but what is he really saying? It's just an emotional tirade. It might be a rousing writeup, but is it a logical rebuttal of what I said? I'd say no, for the most part. Just keep that in the mind.
Edit #2, 12/13/2009: Yes, estimates on the cost of the War on Terror vary. We know for a fact that the U.S. Congress has authorized $804 billion in direct war funding. There is no 25% margin of error for that figure. One U.S. congressional committee estimated that true cost of the war on terror, as of 2009, has been $1.6 trillion. And then there is the book The Three Trillion Dollar War, which estimates the costs as being much higher. Of course, you can find ways to criticize those findings. However, it's numbers greater than the $804 billion requested by the White House to fund the War on Terror that have a margin of error, not the ridiculously low numbers Yurei claims.
Additionally, how can you honestly say that the U.S. War on Terror has not had a negative effect on the world's perception of the U.S. worldwide? Ask the South American, European, Asian, and African E2 users (well, I know E2 least has some European users) if this is true or not. It's obvious that it is. Perhaps I'm wrong to believe that this will help anti-Western terrorist groups recruit new members, but I wouldn't think so. I'll need better evidence than terrorists telling us that membership numbers are flat. I wouldn't call that a reliable source. Now, I'll admit that I was wrong to single out individual terrorist groups. There are thousands of terrorists groups, and it's difficult to predict their individual levels of future influence. I do believe we will feel their presence and that it will become more noticeable if the U.S. continues conducting the War on Terror as it is today.
Also, as far as Yurei's strange distinctions between guerrilla warfare and insurgency go, I see his obscure books and raise him Wikipeda:
"Guerrilla warfare is the irregular warfare and combat in which a small group of combatants use mobile military tactics in the form of ambushes and raids to combat a larger and less mobile formal army.
The term means 'little war' in Spanish and was created during the Peninsular War. The concept acknowledges a conflict between armed civilians against a powerful nation state army, either foreign or domestic and uses tactics such as ambush, sabotage and mobility in attacking vulnerable targets in enemy territory. The tactics of guerrilla warfare were used successfully in the recent 20th century by among others the People's Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War, Fidel Castro's rebel army in the Cuban Revolution, and by the Viet Cong, and the North Vietnam Army in the Vietnam War. Most factions of the Iraqi Insurgency and groups such as FARC are said to be engaged in some form of guerrilla warfare."
Anyone reading the above paragraph can plainly see parallels between the War on Terror and the Vietnam War.