9/11/01: Shocking, Unsurprising

Nine years ago today, early in the morning, I woke up to my radio alarm. Usually, classical music woke me. This time, the radio announcer urgently related the horror that an airliner had hit one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. There was no consensus on what it meant, at that early hour, and the announcer offered none. But I immediately knew it was an act of what we call “terrorism.” I hit the snooze button and rolled over. “Finally,” I muttered.

I was not surprised. I was not shocked. Appalled at the massive taking of life? Yes. Later, I was impressed at the planning and daring of the attacks. But, unlike most Americans I talked to that day, I was definitely not startled by the event. Though the largest act of terrorism ever, it was not unprecedented. I had been expecting blowback from U.S. foreign policy for over a decade. I was not unaware that, in matters of aggression, the Laws of Thermodynamics echoed in sociology, if crudely: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. American forces bomb, obliterate, and gun down folks elsewhere? At some point those folks elsewhere are going to strike back.

To not expect this, I figured, was to be incredibly naive.

But I live in America, the land of Never-Ending Naivety. When the president called the terrorists “faceless cowards,” the essential silliness of the epithet did not strike most people as the very opposite of the truth — which it was. And when the president then began talking about a “war on terrorism,” I knew things were going to get bad. Self-righteous talk of “wars” against this and that always get out of hand, and rarely reach their ostensible objectives. Instead, we’d just have wars. And reductions in civil liberties. And such.

The wonder, now, is that things didn’t get  worse than they did. But grant the declension its own rate. In 2008, as the financial markets began to collapse, and as the American government threw trillions of dollars at rich people, in fear of chaos, in utter beffuddlement at what to do, I imagined Osama bin Laden, chortling in a cave, rubbing his hands and saying “Excellent, excellent.” The American federal government did pretty much everything that Osama wanted. In its wars on terrorism, it spent itself to the brink of oblivion; it addicted itself to spending. Now, its leaders cannot see the way out of any problem other than spending increasing heaps of borrowed money.

If and when this all collapses — America’s ability to support military bases around the world, America’s ability to pay interest on its own debt — I’ll think, again, on that morning of 9/11/01. On what horrors came so close to home. And on what ended. Lives, yes. But also America’s game of pretending to be for peace while spreading death; the politicians’ game of playing US vs. THEM and never expecting negative feedback “in the homeland”; the citizens’ belligerent insistence on their own innocence even while showing not one jot of interest in what actually happens in the rest of the world — it all began to unravel on 9/11/01.

And that’s good. Vicious fantasies deserve to die. But the everyday folk in the towers, on that day, didn’t deserve their horrible deaths. But then, neither did the innocents in Iraq, or at the aspirin factory in Africa, or in Panama, or too near a thousand other targets of America’s careless “peacekeeping.”

I would rather have had it that we lost our innocence through inquiry, reason, and reflection. But a shocking-to-the-fools comeuppance works, too.

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  • Well I have to hand it to you, you’ve got balls coming out with that today of all days.
    Out of curiosity do you think 9/11 was entirely American foreign policy’s fault -or do you think Islamic theology could have had something to do with it?

  • Of course the immediate fault and blame for the atrocity goes to the men who gave their lives to their cause. Anyone who attacks A, B, and C because they are angry at D, E, and F, has committed a horrible act. I am also no fan of the religion of Islam. But America’s on a binge of Islam Hate right now, and I don’t want to seem to be piling on. I’ve done enough of it in the past.

    Still, it’s worth remembering that many around the world hate Americans (yes, us “innocent Americans”) because Americans tolerate and support their vile government and its careless, often downright evil foreign policy.

  • Thanks for your response mate. Certainly a less bullying and interfering foriegn policy would limit hate fuel to such groups.
    BTW I’ve just started “the myth of natinal defense” by H.H.Hoppe. It’s interesting reading.

  • Of course no-one paying attention was surprized at the intent. Leaving aside the previous attacks from this same group, there was the widespread anti-American attitudes in the Arab world (you know, the people fighting a war with our ally Israel).

    On Sept 11, 2001, the front page of the morning Pittsburgh Tribune Review was filled with a photo of an Arab (Egyptian?) crowd at an anti-American rally.

  • Just a small suggestion to Wirkman in producing a 100% accurate article of substance. Replace Bin Laden with Uncle Sam and Isreal Sharon. After 9 years,most readers will believe you.
    My recent post on Antiwar needs repeating:
    “Introduction to Chairman of the 9/11 Commision stated-” We are not in the business of finding BLAME”
    Why is it that no politician points the finger at Israel MOSSAD or the all Kosher Media or all the Israel operative hacks in Washington? If they did–Israel would be gone in no time. How is it that Larry Silverstein acquired WTC 1,2 6 weeks prior to the blasts and collected Billion$ of cash on a 100 million loan from a bank controlled by the Bush family and the oddity–the insurance company was also a Bush Interprize. Port Authority Chairman–another Israel hack,why no sale bids?.
    Most revealing is when (On Sept 11 2001) Rummesfeld and 50 FBI agents were seen /pictured removing plane debre from the crime scene.
    Here is something of importance–Bush/FBI/CIA/MOSSAD blamed the 19 Saudia Arabia folks for the hi-jacking–9 are alive today.What is of interest,FOX news has been forfront in blaming the Arabs
    Parent company of FOX NEWS–Saudias are the 2nd largest ownership of stocks and shares.
    It’s 9 years past and it’s too late to go after Israel.What should worry Americans–the next attack will be be bigger/deadler unless we attack Iran on the demands of Israel “:^(
    What is needed is a political system whereby no politician or advisor can have positions more than 8 years in office–term limits. Look what happens to 3rd parties during TV debits–not allowed. Both parties are Kosher controlled–even if a 3 rd party comes into bloom–it will become a host to the zionist infestation.