As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it is time to take account of its aftermath.
The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, waged more as acts of national rage (fueled by fear), than by cold reason, have devastated two Central Asian countries, causing uncounted death among Afghan and Iraqi nationals, and considerable costs to the US as well.
These wars, more wars of prestige than necessity, have shattered at least 2 countries, and driven the US economy into distemper.
But beyond theories or even our suspicions, wars are fought for measurable goals and objectives. We were told that these wars were part and parcel of the so-called Global War on Terror. It was designed to wipe out a non-state group (Al Qaeda) and reduce the lure of terrorism as a tool of anti-state war.
If that was its intention, things haven’t worked out so well. On 9/11, Al Qaeda had no real global footprint beyond Afghanistan. Today it has affiliates worldwide.
Indeed, the wars gave them new life, energizing them beyond their wildest dreams.
University of Virginia historian, Melvyn P. Leffler (writing in Foreign Affairs (Sept./Oct.2011), citing a 2008 report from the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, found the US “overall position” in the GWOT has “slipped.” While noting some modest gains, the report also states Al Qaeda has become a global movement, amid the spread of the Salafi-Jihadist movement as well.
Iran has been markedly strengthened, not weakened, by the wars. And American allies in the Mid East, many of whom supported the wars, have been dropping like dominoes in a Jamaican speakeasy.
Economically, politically, ideologically, the US is not in a stronger position 10 years after 9/11. Despite the rhetoric of politicians, the 10th year out is nothing to boast about, and unworthy of mindless flag waving.
Quiet reflection, and study, might prove more productive.
An indigenous anti-imperialist activist, Zachary Running Wolf, of Oakland, CA., is calling for a 4-day period of prayer and direct action starting on 9/11. He urges folks to boycott driving, given the centrality of oil in the planning and prosecution of wars for corporate gain.
The Mohawk Nation in Canada has signed on to this “stop driving campaign,” and more are joining.