Ten Years After 9/11: Have We Become the Enemy of Freedom?
by John W. Whitehead
September 08, 2011
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular. This is no time for men … to keep silent…. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. – Edward R. Murrow, March 9, 1954
When the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground on Sept. 11, 2001, it took with it any illusions Americans might have harbored about the nation’s invincibility, leaving many feeling vulnerable, scared, and angry. Yet in that moment of weakness, while most of us were still reeling from the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of some 3,000 Americans, we managed to draw strength from and comfort each other.
Suddenly, the news was full of stories of strangers helping strangers and communities pulling together. Even the politicians put aside their partisan pride and bickering and held hands on the steps of the Capitol, singing “God Bless America.” The rest of the world was not immune to our suffering, acknowledging the fraternity of nations against all those who take innocent lives in a campaign of violence. United against a common enemy, with inconceivable hope rising out of the ashes of despair, we seemed determined to work toward a better world.
Sadly, that hope was short-lived.
Long before the bodies buried under the rubble were recovered, the Bush administration was hard at work hatching plans that would push America down a path of destruction marked by ill-fated foreign policies, corporate primacy, a draconian security regime, and an emerging surveillance state. With no clear plan except to oust the Taliban and its al-Qaeda affiliates, Bush haphazardly invaded Afghanistan. The rush to invade Afghanistan, a country that most Americans knew nothing about, would signify the beginning of the longest war in American history.
It would not be long before the Bush administration turned its sights on Iraq (in fact, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill alleged that discussions about occupying Iraq began as early as January 2001). Congress marched in lockstep with Bush and his cronies and approved the Iraq War overwhelmingly. Despite the fact that Saddam Hussein had no connection to the 9/11 attacks and Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction, the American war machine went into overdrive in an effort to incite American allies and the United Nations to wage war against Iraq.