9/11/11

What could I possibly write about 9/11 that isn’t cliched or hasn’t been said a thousand times before. This is no blog of condolence. There are a million better places to go. But still, this day was perhaps the most memorable from a news point of view in my lifetime. It surpasses the assassination of Lennon. The Falklands War. The bombing of Libya. The Fall of the Wall. That day and it’s aftermath, including two wars, has had a major impact in the lives of pretty much everyone in the US, the UK, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Mentally and economically.

I would describe my position today as anti-war. But I wouldn’t associate myself with the (British) anti war movement. At the time, I would describe myself as being pro the actions in Afghanistan (or at least I fell I understood the purpose) and as a bit ‘meh’ regards the invasion of Iraq. I was a spectator of events, and didn’t fool myself otherwise. I didn’t shed a tear for Saddam and his regime. The occupation really didn’t have to turn out the way it did.

On this day ten years ago, I was sat on my computer, browsing. I saw the BBC news site ticker flash up that a plane had hit the WTC. I turned on the TV, and lo and behold….so one had. No more than a couple minutes later I watched the second one hit. I remember it taking a moment to process that information. I visited the WTC site a couple of years later, in 2003. I was on my way home from Mexico – it turned out to be cheaper to travel up to NYC and fly home than fly from Mexico. It was a strange experience. You look up, but you can’t quite picture those buildings. And the site, big as it was, seemed a little underwhelming. I’d expected something more, something bigger. It was, though, quite surreal. I look forward, one day, to visiting the top of the new tower that will replace them.

 

17 thoughts on “9/11/11

  1. 9-11 was a sucker punch, they took advantage of our thinking that a hijack was a trip to Cuba, that is not the case today. Our reaction was too reserved, we sent in ground troops and tried to be nice to the locals. Every man who has sucker punched me has nightmares to this day about the aftermath of that foolish behavior, we should have reacted in a brutal manner as well. I would have leveled a city and let the PC people be dammed.

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  2. You’re not alone with that line of thinking, and I think it’s understandable. Not right, but understandable. I do think it’s a lot more complicated an issue to be summarised as a sucker punch though, and the lines between PC, conservative etc that have been drawn in the sand don’t do anything to actually move anyone forward.

    I had the misfortune to sit on (or very close to) a terrorist bomb once. And the fortune that the device I had unwittingly chosen to perch atop was the one of two planted that day which didn’t explode. The organisation that planted that bomb received a large part of its funding from……the United States of America. The funding was overt, legal, well supported and done with full knowledge (despite official denials) that the proceeds would be used to arm a terrorist organisation.

    My story is one that millions around the world can relate to on different levels – how do we relate our experiences to 9/11? It is very complicated, although it is easier for me. My experience was mild and left nothing more than a story to tell. I wouldn’t, however, have argued that the destruction of New York skyscrapers, let alone the levelling of US cities, be a justified act.

    The world is, always has been, and likely always will be a dangerous place. There’s no way I can see to make it safe. We can try and make it safer though. Sometimes that will involve military force, but we really need to have a good think about it and decide whether deploying the armed forces will have a greater benefit than deploying less lethal means.

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    1. My policy would have been to give fare warning for the population to vacate but a city would be the price. The west is seen as weak by the Arab radicals, we are not weak and should act like it when attacked.

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      1. Which city would you choose to destroy in retaliation for 9/11? Bearing in mind that Kabul had already been flattened pretty good by decades of conflict. Islamabad? That’d be a can of worms. Riyadh perhaps? I’m not sure what the purpose of destroying a city would be, nor what it would achieve. The US would have been very alone with that policy – even the UK would have waithdrawn support. Destroying a city would bear a heavy price, but I suspect that by far and away the highest price for that would have been paid by the US. Brutality for brutality’s sake is not a great course of action. I don’t look at the likes of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and others and think “I wish my country was governed by someone like that”. I’m sure many fundamentalists do look at the US and see the weaknesses in the system….and long may those weaknesses live, by the by. But I don’t think they look at the US as ‘weak’ per se.
        The US did have a job to do after 9/11. Find those responsible for the act. Prevent others like them from carrying out further acts. I though the initial response in Afghanistan, debilitating the Taliban and Al Qaeda from the air while Afghan forces went forward on the ground, was measured, approapriate, effective and enough of a signal of intent.
        But we might just have to agree to disagree!

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        1. It was a Saudi political action, it would be the Saudi state that paid. Those bastards stir the pot to this day because they feel we, the west, are afraid to give our lap dog a good kick in the ass for biting the hand that feeds it.(read:keeps it in power)

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        2. I’m can’t subscribe to that idea. Not least because al Qaeda as we know it was born from the initial founding of the ‘movement’ after the Saudi elite rejected ObL in 1990 and exiled him. You have to accept some pretty tenuous and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories to link the two. They are both (and have long been) committed to the destruction of each other*. It’s probably fair to say that al Qaeda would have been overjoyed if the US had wiped Riyadh from the map. It would have been an own goal of biblical proportions.

          No doubts that a lot of the financing has come from Saudi Arabia. But that would bring me back to one of my original points. The US has also been a big contributor to terrorism. If you take your solution and apply that with a degree of objectivity, then surely 9/11 was a case of ‘what goes around comes around’ and New York got off lightly with just a handful of destroyed buildings?

          There are a couple of other issues too. Firstly, the consequences of such an act. Saudi oil is key to the continued existence of the West. Europe more so, directly anyway, that the US. Destroying Riyadh (or any other major Saudi city) would almost certainly have dire economic and political consequences for the US. The money lost could perhaps be used to save tens of thousands of US lives at home instead. Is brutality without a purpose worth tens of thousands of US lives? Sometimes sacrifices have to be made, but surely only when there is a purpose and value to be gained from that sacrifice? Saudi’s military is also far higher tech that those the US has squared up to in recent decades. No doubt it could achieve the job, but it’d probably be at a higher price than Americans have become accustomed to.

          My last point also brings me back to an earlier point I made. If a man with the same sort of ethics, morals, inclination for brutality, genocide and ethnic cleansing as Saddam Hussein, Stalin or the Shah of Iran ran for president of the US….would you vote for him? That’s the sort of leadership you’d need in office to accomplish the goal of destroying cities and killing tens or hundreds of thousands of civilians, turning hundreds of thousands of others into refugees.

          *Who’d have thunk it. I want to see the end of the Saudi regime too. Me and Osama are thinking right along the same lines! Course….for different reasons and different end results.

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  3. I was still living in the USA when this took place and was probably in shock. The rumors flying around were not to be believed. The knee jerk reaction was for all to react against the ‘enemy’! So united were we! It turns out that we were the enemy as a result of the actions our fearless leaders took! It was wonderful for even a short while to see the unity of the average American. But the whole situation was misdirected to foment hate against Muslims and others not like us! There is still a lesson to be learned from all of this.

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  4. I went up to NYC and visited the ground zero site in late 2006. I don’t know what it looked like in 2003 but when I went they had a catwalk around a good portion of it and entrance to some overlooking streets and buildings. I was quite impressed with the atmosphere of the scene…you got a sense of the magnitude (it’s a huge swathe of city – a big hole). they were still working on the subway station at the time so not much other reconstruction to see.

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    1. There weren’t any catwalks or the like when I went there. Maybe a bit of elevation adds something to the scale. I guess how big something seems depends on what you were expecting to see as well.

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  5. The money that funds the problem comes directly from the house of Saud, it is a pretty big house. The radicals who are their spearpoint in this war do their paymaster’s bidding. The Saudi royal family has only one rule, keep it off shore, other than that one small rule, the sky is the limit. We are fools to let it go on.

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    1. You’re moving the goalposts very significantly, from 9/11 being a ‘Saudi political action’ to ‘funding coming from the House of Saud’. Which you also acknowledge as being a big house – the possible implication there being that the funding is not coming from those at the political summit.

      I’ve not disputed that a good deal of al Qaeda’s funding comes from Saudi Arabia. Evidence linking the funding to those at the top is, however, sparse and tenuous. Even the Wikileaks released material fails to substantiate those sort of claims. How hard the Saudi’s try and stop the funding is very questionable, but then their regime isn’t the most solid and stable in the world. We should also bring other Arabian states into this debate as well, including Kuwait. A key US ally…yet a lot of the funding goes through the state.

      It’s also very disputable indeed that there exists any sort of unwritten rule about keeping things offshore.As I pointed out earlier, one of al Qaeda’s key aims is to remove the House of Saud from power. There have been dozens, if not hundreds of bombings, attacks and incidents related to dissidents/al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Other than Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, there is probably no other country on the planet that has suffered more al Qaeda attacks.

      That doesn’t leave sufficient justification for the mass murder of tens of thousands of civilians – especially when you consider the ones who would evacuate if warning were given would be the political regime. The biggest losers by far, if the US had flattened Riyadh, would have been the US in particular and Western Europe.

      One of my questions remains though: If a man with the same sort of ethics, morals, inclination for brutality, genocide and ethnic cleansing as Saddam Hussein, Stalin or the Shah of Iran ran for president of the US….would you vote for him?

      I have another one though. A totally hypothetical question, ignoring means and consequences etc. Just a question regarding the justification and morals of this. The IRA raised a huge amount of funding in the US, which the US govt turned a blind eye to. Hundreds of Britons were killed by the IRA in terrorist attacks. If the UK had flattened New York in retribution, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans – how would you take to that? Be objective. Would you be ok with it? Would that have basically been a perfectly fair, reasonable and justifiable response by the UK?

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  6. Apples and oranges, the IRA killed a good many Brits and some funding came from nut jobs in the Boston area but it was not money pulled from the US government as in the case with the Arab radical’s funding. The example you state above about the crackdown on the radicals in state is my point, if it is incountry-your toast, anywhere else they are God’s tools. I did not vote for Bush, he and his Dad were both Saudi pals, our country and yours has done its best to keep the radical’s paymasters in power. To ask if I would vote for a man or women who is a scorched earth type person, I can only say it might be a factor. It goes back to results, our current pissing on the fire is making a bunch of steam, a fire hose does a better job.

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    1. You’ve gone back to making the claim about the funding coming directly from the Saudi govt as part of a political agenda, but there just isn’t the evidence to substantiate that. The evidence suggest quite the opposite. Funding undoubtedly comes from certain members of the House of Saud, but that’s like me claiming the Oklahoma bombings were a US govt funded plot because Timothy McVeigh got some backing from some fringe state level political member.

      Regarding the insurgents operating in Saudi – that doesn’t help your point at all. That simply demonstrates that there is a significant battle going on between the political entity and al Qaeda in the country, which itself casts doubt on your previous claims.

      Choosing that scorched earth character – he’ll have domestic policies too. It’s worth pondering how much they’d suit you. And like I’ve said before, it’s all good and well taking a firehose to the situation, but it’s be full of petrol. The flames wouldn’t stop at Saudi’s borders. I don’t think it’s difficult to hypothesise that such an action would end up to millions of Americans living in greater poverty, thousands (if not tens of) of Americans dead and the substantial speeding up of the day China becomes the world’s largest economy.

      We can probably both agree that the House of Saud are a nasty bunch. To say the least. I don’t think either of us would shed much of a tear for them when they get theirs. But I reckon we’ll have to agree to disagree on the rest – we’re beginning to go round in circles.

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      1. To say that the house of Saud and the Saudi government are two different things is where we have a problem. Money that the house of Saud spends comes from the Saudi government, we need to make the house of Saud pay the price for not keeping a better eye on where its money goes.

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  7. The retaliations for the 911 event have killed far more people than those lost in the original incident. This to me does not seem logical. World wars have been started over less than the loss of lives in 911. I don’t think you can hold entire countries responsible for the actions of terrorists.

    I do have little regard for the people that celebrated the actions of the perpetrators of 911 however. I would not miss them if they were expunged from the earth.

    These are difficult issues to debate I think. I am most confused by man’s inhumanity towards fellow humans.

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    1. A lot of people in the Arab and Islamic world celebrated 9/11. It neither surprised me, nor disappointed me. It was, in my opinion, what you’d expect* given the media they are exposed to, the education they’ve had and the regimes (political and religious) they live under. It did show what one of the biggest challenges that the US faces in overcoming terrorism. Bombing is not the answer to the next generation of radical, although the current crop might deserve a Paveway or two…

      It is very, very complicated. And confusing.

      * What excuse for the celebrations of Americans and others when the shoe is on the other foot? It’s more confusing still…

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