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Published On:11 September 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

EDITORIAL: What America has lost since 9/11?

By Abdul Rashid Agwan


9/11 is indeed a turning point of the history in making. The collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center on that ominous day and the events that entailed since then have shaken the world many a time. It was surely a wretched decade not only for the Americans but also for all mankind, even including those who are facing the charge of being the villainous perpetrators of the whole episode. The central character of the ongoing historical discourse ‘Osama bin Laden’ has been shot dead just 136 days before the gong could pronounce the completion of one whole decade of the hellish hour. Yet, this 9/11 is likely to be globally observed as a special day and a host of intellectual input in media, civil society and political circles will be made on the issue for understanding how actually the symbolic fall of the twin towers have shaped the course of human history thereafter? It has been widely accepted that except weakening Al-Qaeda, the USA and its allies have gained nothing from the decade long ‘war on terror’. On the negative side, the superpower has to admit many teasing facts.


It was a bleeding decade. Helen & Harry Highwater have analyzed the body bag counts of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and concluded that at least 919,967 people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since the U.S-led attacks, based on lowest credible estimates up to 10 August 2010. However, most think tanks and research groups accept that over one hundred fifty thousand people have lost their lives on both the sides, almost forty a day; and many millions of them have been maimed and displaced. For the USA it was the most nightmarish decade after the loss of Vietnam War and the fifth most fatal war for it since the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). The declared body bag count for the American casualties till date has been 6099, it will definitely go up if the bodies of American soldiers buried in Germany and other countries are officially admitted. It has been formally conceded that 41221 American military personnel have been injured or wounded during the decade. Nevertheless, it is the people of the assaulted countries that have to bear the brunt of the whole tragedy. According to one estimate, 107,235 civilians have lost their lives in Iraq by the tenth anniversary of the event.


An American analyst Paul Theroux writes, “But for September 11th, America would not have invaded Afghanistan or Iraq, where some 6,000 of its soldiers, and many of its allies’ soldiers, have lost their lives in grinding wars of attrition. The costs-of-war project at Brown University thinks that on a “very conservative” estimate about 137,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and that the wars have created more than 7.8m refugees in these countries. The Brown project puts the wars’ ultimate cost, including interest payments and veterans’ care, to the United States at up to $4 trillion—equivalent to the country’s cumulative budget deficits for the six years from 2005 to 2010.” It was far great a revenge indeed to take lives of that much humanity in retaliation of deaths of 2996 people on 9/11! And, the vengeance was of course from those nations who are said to believe in the philosophy of ‘slap me on the other chick as well’. The Children of Israel will be accountable before God and mankind about the thousands of civilian deaths in the invaded countries, who have tremendously transgressed the teaching of the Bible, that "Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal". They have taken almost 50 times (or 303 times according to Helen & Harry Highwater!) more lives than what ethically they should have been for their retaliatory conviction. It was absolutely an imbalanced collision of combatants on the count of weaponry, financial resources, technical advancement, international clout, intelligence and media back up and, of course, the capacity to spread mischief; affecting millions of people on earth.


It is time to reflect what the ‘war on terrorism’ has actually gained all these years? Wikipedia.com puts: “The phrase War on Terror was first used by US President George W. Bush and other high-ranking US officials to denote a global military, political, legal and ideological struggle against organizations designated as terrorist and regimes that were accused of having a connection to them or providing them with support or were perceived, or presented as posing a threat to the US and its allies in general.” At one particular moment the warring president stated, "This crusade – this war on terrorism – is going to take a while..”, although later on he withdrew the word ‘crusade’ from his war cry. George W. Bush junior has been quoted by New York Times on 14 September 2001 saying, “The war on terrorism will be an extended campaign, not a single action, that could last a year or more. Such a campaign could involve American forces in protracted fighting against a number of Asian and African countries, like Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and even Pakistan..." On September 20, 2001, during a televised address to a joint session of Congress, Bush launched the war on terror when he said, "Our 'war on terror' begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." Bush did not say when he expected this would be achieved. So, the goals and methods of the proclaimed war are evident here. Either the erstwhile president was a simpleton or he was trying to befool his countrymen and the world at large while fixing the timeframe of the war to be ‘a year or more’. If the declared time of the NATO exit from Afghanistan is taken into consideration it would be at least a 14-year long war. Bush was clear from the day one that the war was on many countries of Asia and Africa including Pakistan and Sudan, the countries which were not known by that time to be parties to the twin tower collapse; rather Pakistan has been a ‘partner’ country all these years and the Sudan’s role is yet to be put on board. Moreover, Iraq was also on the menu of the Bush administration from outset although the ‘pretext’ to attack the Saddam regime was discovered two years later. Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research wrote in 2005, “The World is at an important historical crossroads. The US has embarked on a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. As we go to press, the Bush Administration has hinted in no uncertain terms that Iran is the next target of the war on terrorism”. Bush administration also pronounced that the organizations, individuals and countries ‘perceived’ as threat to the America and its allies were on the target. Bush had affirmed at the onset of the said war itself that “the most well-known terrorist in the world would be caught and punished for his crimes” but he was defenselessly killed by the CIA the last May. Thus, the ‘war on terrorism’ has lost its ethical gravity from the day one by blurring its motive and means and by misleading people of the host countries.


A large number of commentators are now of the opinion that the coalition forces evince no definite gains from the decade long war. According to a recent Gallup Poll, “Americans' views on who is winning the war on terrorism are almost identical now to where they were in October 2001. Americans are roughly evenly split, 46% to 42%, between the view that the U.S and its allies are winning the war on terrorism and the view that neither the U.S nor the terrorists are winning”. A note on Gallup Polls reads, “From that point on, terrorism slowly faded as a response to this question. At the one-year anniversary of the attacks, in September 2002, 19% of Americans mentioned terrorism as the country's top problem, already eclipsed by the economy at the top of the list. By the five-year anniversary of the attacks in September 2006, 11% of Americans mentioned terrorism. Terrorism continued to drop from that point, albeit with an uptick to 8% mentions in January of this year.” Even the erstwhile U.S Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself felt that it was not possible to know how the war on terror was progressing. He noted in 2003 like this, “Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror”. One leading expert said that “(Now) the War on Terror is the leading cause of terrorism” or that “the U.S has made the world more dangerous”. Carl Conetta of Project on Defense Alternatives comments, “Terrorist activity and violence has grown worse, not better since 11 September 2001”. The Democratic party presidential candidate Wesley Clark, a former NATO supreme commander, recently describing Iraq as "a distraction from the war on terror". "Are we safer with Saddam Hussein gone? That's a very tough case to make," he told CNN. An article in The Economist observes, “When the last American troops depart at the end of this year, they will leave behind a country that is neither a close friend (the government of Nuri al-Maliki looks more readily to Iran) nor a full democracy”. The case of Afghanistan is also the same. In his weekly address on the eve of 11th anniversary of the appalling tragedy president Obama fell short of any promising note on the tragic war and said, “In the difficult decade since 9/11, our nation has stayed strong in the face of threat, and we have strengthened our homeland security, enhanced our partnerships, and put al Qaeda on the path to defeat.” The U.S president has implicitly endorsed the fact that its dreaded enemy ‘Al-Qaeda’, which according to many the creation of the American establishment itself, was still at large and it was only put on the ‘path to defeat’. Thus, it can be said that ‘war on terror’ is yet inconclusive and has not reduced the risk of terrorism rather it has aggravated the problem manifold during the last decade. It lacks any focus and legal bound and has been fought without a reasonable moral authority.


Whatever be the gains of ‘war on terror’ for the American establishment, there are some serious and strategic losses for them apart from the horrified witness to the body bags. The foremost thing the USA has lost all these years, inch by inch, is its democratic face. Since the event, the U.S’s image as a democratic country embracing freedom and universal human rights has got awfully blotched not only in the eyes of American citizens at the homeland but in the world as whole. Amnesty International raised its concerns in October 2001, shortly after 9/11 attacks, in these words: “In the name of fighting ‘international terrorism’, governments have rushed to introduce draconian new measures that threaten the human rights of their own citizens, immigrants and refugees…. Governments have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their citizens, but measures taken must not undermine fundamental human rights standards. It appears that some of the initiatives currently being discussed or implemented may be used to curb basic human rights and to suppress internal opposition. Some of the definitions of ‘terrorism’ under discussion are so broad that they could be used to criminalize anyone out of favor with those in power and criminalize legitimate peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association. They could also put at risk the right to privacy and threaten the rights of minorities and asylum-seekers.” The Amnesty further observed in May 2003, “The ‘war on terror’, far from making the world a safer place, has made it more dangerous by curtailing human rights, undermining the rule of international law and shielding governments from scrutiny. It has deepened divisions among people of different faiths and origins, sowing the seeds for more conflict. The overwhelming impact of all this is genuine fear—among the affluent as well as the poor.” Commented Charles Moss in 2008, “… Many Americans still ponder how America, once the model for democracy and peace, has managed to sink so low into the quagmire”. Many political observers impart blame that the ‘security concern’ of the American establishment has turned its intelligence and investigation agencies into ‘Gastapo-with-a-grin’. It has been mentioned that since the collapse of the twin towers, as many as 16000 Americans and other nationals have been put on ‘no-flying’ list, that means they have forfeited their right to alight an airplane simply because they are ‘suspected’ by the American establishment. Walter Murphy, described as “the most distinguished constitutional scholars of the 20th century”, was surprised to find himself on the ‘terrorist watch list’. Liam Hoare a freelance American writer comments “But, post-9/11 hysteria … caused the United States to lose piece by piece its most precious and priceless asset: its freedom”. The enactment of Patriotic Act in the aftermath of 911 has been viewed by most Americans as restrictive to their fundamental rights.


The America has also failed in the democracy test when the UN Security Council (UNSC) rejected its plea to use force in Afghanistan. In case of Iraq also the UNSC’s resolution No. 1441 did not authorize the use of force by member states. After failing to overcome opposition from France, Russia and China against a UNSC resolution that would sanction the use of force against Iraq, and before the UN weapons inspectors had completed their inspections (which were claimed to be fruitless by the US because of Iraq's alleged deception), the United States assembled a "Coalition of the Willing" composed of nations who pledged support for its policy of regime change in Iraq and subsequently assailed it. The America was unequivocally seen by the nations as disinterested and unwilling to resolve conflict by negotiation and resorting to peaceful means. The US president of the time asserted many times that people and countries that are not with America would be treated as ‘enemies’. He imposed the American view on many countries and denied them the right to disagree, a prerequisite for any democracy to operate; as the author of ‘Dissent from War’ Robert L. Ivie squarely puts, “Dissent was rendered antithetical to democracy in America after 9/11.”


Another test of the American ideals failed in the shooting of Osama Bin Laden. At eleven o’clock, on the morning of September 11, the Bush administration had already announced that Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon. This assertion was made prior to conducting any in-depth police investigation and well before an enquiry commission on the matter could start its proceeding. During pretentious American bargain with the erstwhile Taliban government of Afghanistan for handing over Osama Bin Laden to the US authorities for justice, proof of his involvement in the World Trade Tower assault was sought by the president of a sovereign country, may be thousand times weaker than the superpower, for complying to the demand, which was out rightly brushed aside. The proposals of the Kabul government to adjudicate the alleged ‘most wanted terrorist’ in a Muslim country or in a mutually agreed third country was also relegated to the dustbins of the White House. While declaring ‘war on terrorism’ the erstwhile American president George W. Bush junior clearly stated, “The most well-known terrorist in the world would be caught and punished for his crimes.” Later on Bush remarked in 2005, "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority.” So, for George W. Bush, Bin Laden was not a priority and even if he was, his catching and prosecution through a due process of law was promised. The judicial system prevailed in the USA has not conclusively convicted the ‘fugitive’ for the said crimes. Still, the black president of America, millions of oppressed people of the world over see in him a messiah, chose to order his killing at his hideout at Abbatabad without any legal complacency. The BBC illustrates the climax and drop scene of the wretched war like this, “The Seals rushed into the room, they found two women in front of Bin Laden, screaming and trying to protect him. One of the soldiers pushed the women aside, the Seal behind him fired at Bin Laden, hitting him in the head and chest killing him instantly. As they began photographing his body, an AK-47 and a Russian-made Makarov pistol were discovered in the room, but Bin Laden had not touched them”. Obviously, it was an unprovoked use of fire and sheer violation of many international conventions, treaties and laws. Obama and his tricky advisors did not bother the least to catch him live and prosecute him in any court of the ‘great democracy’, a more passionate measure comparing his predecessor who at least had a minimum respect for law in allowing a court in Baghdad to adjudicate the crimes of Saddam Husain, another target of the ‘war on terror’.


It is constantly on record that the American governments have hardly bothered for the sustenance of democratic values in the world baring when they are useful for some vested interests. Noam Chomsky has extensively brought out literature on how the USA has propped up the Fascist regime in Italy. Most dictators and kings in the contemporary world thrive as the American protégé. The recent Libyan upsurge has exposed how the CIA was clandestinely protecting the overthrown regime. Husani Mubarak’s Egypt and Saddam Husain’s Iraq have been allies of the USA for decades together. Therefore, it is difficult to expect that the American society will seriously revisit its high ideals enshrined in democracy and rule of law in the whole discourse. Definitely there are disgruntled voices in the country but they are comparatively week and unheeded of. However, the masses of a capitalist regime can hardly ignore the ongoing of economic retrogression of their country. Here lies another great loss of the USA since 9/11, the impending threat to its economic supremacy.


The America has become the most indebted country in the world with a burden of US $ 14 trillion by now. The unemployment situation is very grim. So much so that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, when asked about his thoughts on the president’s recent job speech and the presentation of $470 billion plan for the same, said, “I was disappointed”. David Levy, chairman of the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, says, "The state of the economy is...gradually deteriorating. We had a very weak recovery and we are more likely than not going to have another recession in 2011." The top economist Arthur Laffer predicts collapse of 2011 US economy. The country has lost its AAA rating for the first time since 1917. In a dramatic reversal of fortune for the world's largest economy, the Standard & Poor's on 9 August this year, has cut its credit rating by one notch to AA-plus on concerns about growing budget deficits. Although the immediate causes for the downtrend of the American economy may be different but the impact of ‘war on terrorism’ on it can hardly be denied. The American elite has funded the war with over two thousand billion dollars of public money and billions more privately with a hope to get hold of the Iraqi oil and mineral resources of Afghanistan such as gold, diamond, thorium, etc. Although it is not clear how much returns the coalition forces and the oil cartel have received on their investment in the war during the troubled decade, however it is evident from the growing frustration of the American elite that it would have been far less than whatever envisaged. Bailout of multi-billion companies from public money has become the most sought after economic measure in the USA and its allies. A well known observer of international affairs Paul Theroux stated, “I search in vain for something positive in the aftermath of 9/11. The Iraq adventure has been disastrous, Afghanistan is unwinnable, pacification is further off than ever, and we seem to be bankrupting ourselves”.


Michael Meacher, former British minister of environment, wrote in The Guardian almost eight years back, “The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the ‘global war on terrorism’ has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole project”. Tragically, there has been an enervating effect of the war for most of the coalition partners. The hegemony goal has gone farther. The lead actors of the ‘war on terror’ George W. Bush junior and Gordon Brown have been voted out by their own unhappy masses. The USA is now more interested to make its own house in order rather than making the world ‘civilized’ and ‘democratic’. The world economy is facing an unrecoverable recession. Pakistan, an American protégé, dared to arrest a CIA agent in its land. Another willing party to the USA global plans, India, recently rejected a multi-billion contract of American defense industry. China is at large and Iran is yet invincible. Dollar is readily falling day by day. American banks are facing solvency problem every now and then. Instead of moving forward on its American millennium march, the country has retreated to its position of a quarter century back.


The corollary of 911 has led to even more consequences for the world. The failure of coalition partners in reaping tangible economic fruits for native communities have started ethnic and cultural polarization of local masses. Immigrants are being targeted due to their better employment as compared to the ‘whites’ in these countries. Western society is passing through a deep radicalization. The ultra-right is rising in most of the European nations and in the USA too. Secularism is being replaced by the stress on cultural integration. Now, human rights have no value for the policymakers. Dr Matthew Goodwin, Associate Fellow, Europe of Chatham House comments, “The likes of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the National Front in France and the English Defence League worked hard to 'frame' Muslims and Islam as a threat to national cultures and social cohesion. Importantly, they did so while claiming to protect European traditions of tolerance and democracy and to defend gender equality and the rights of homosexuals” (sic!). The Tea Party movement in the United States has far reaching consequences for its future role in the world. “In the ten years after 9/11, the United States took leave of its senses and was shed of its innocence”, writes Liam Hoare.


May be it was a wicked game of the 19 Al-Qaeda operatives or the conspiracy of some hidden forces, 911 has definitely paved an altogether different course for humanity. Only God knows what is in store.

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on September 11, 2011. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on September 11, 2011. Filed under , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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