11 September 2007


I find it hard to speak, so I'm just going to quote from my blogroll.

Ezra Klein

You know, I felt a bit conflicted about writing this post. What you want to do is remember an awful crime. What you end up doing is invoking a Republican talking point. As Gary Kamiya wrote,
President Bush used the attacks to justify his 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he has been using 9/11 ever since to scare Americans into supporting his “war on terror.” He has incessantly linked the words “al-Qaida” and “Iraq,” a Pavlovian device to make us whimper with fear at the mere idea of withdrawing. In a recent speech about Iraq, he mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that jihadists in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S., or that their numbers and effectiveness have been greatly exaggerated. It's no surprise that Gen. David Petraeus' “anxiously awaited” evaluation of the war is to be given on the 10th and 11th of September.

9/11 has been robbed of its significance. It no longer lights up the neurons recalling an American tragedy, but those that understand political strategy. I hate them for that. So this isn't a 9/11 remembrance. We've never been allowed to forget 9/11. Not for an instant. What we have been allowed to forget is 2,974 individuals who perished in that attack,who didn't die because they wanted to invade Iraq, or because they thought Republicans were insufficiently competitive in elections, but because they were murdered. Remember them.

More from Kamiya
Sept. 11 is a totemic date for the Bush administration. It justifies everything, explains everything, ends all argument. It is the crime that must be eternally punished, the wound that can never heal, the moral high ground that can never be taken. Bush's reaction to 9/11 was to declare a “war on terror,” of which the Iraq adventure was said to be the “front line.” The American establishment signed off on this war because of 9/11. To oppose Bush's “war on terror” was to risk another terror attack and dishonor our dead. The establishment has now turned against the Iraq front, but it has not questioned the “war on terror” itself, or the assumptions on which it is based.

Bush's, and America's, response to 9/11 was fundamentally flawed for two reasons: It was atavistic and instinctive, and it was based on a distorted, ignorant and bigoted view of the Arab/Muslim world. These two founding errors are qualitatively different: The first involves emotions, the second ideas. But mixed together, they created a lethal cocktail. The grand justification of “spreading democracy in the Middle East” merely provided a palatable cover for vengeance and racism.

Bush's America responded to 9/11 by lashing out. We chose vigilantism over justice, instinct over reason. Bush demanded that America play the role of the angry, righteous avenger, and America followed him. But we were not taking vengeance on the guy who attacked us but on somebody standing on the corner.

Brad DeLong
If you had asked me six years ago what the odds were that Osama bin Laden would still be living out his alloted lifespan in the fall of 2007, I would have said that the odds were zero.

No matter how feckless, incompetent, and stupid George W. Bush and his administration are, I would have said, nobody would let an Osama bin Laden kill 3000 Americans in an act of terrorism and survive.

Silly me.

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