During the months following the 9/11 attacks, I was surprised and shocked by how quickly the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were wiped off the blackboard, and how easily practices such as torture and assassination, which I had thought of as the defining characteristics of totalitarian countries, became accepted as normal.
I blamed George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and I hoped that as a result of the 2004 and then the 2008 election that country would return to what I regarded as normal. It took me a long time to realize that the country I was living in was different from what I thought it was.
Terrorists in Sept. 11, 2001, killed more than 3,000 Americans, but what we did to ourselves and the world was worse.
Tom Englehardt, editor of TomDispatch, expressed very well what has happened:
Fourteen years of wars, interventions, assassinations, torture, kidnappings, black sites, the growth of the American national security state to monumental proportions, and the spread of Islamic extremism across much of the Greater Middle East and Africa.
Fourteen years of astronomical expense, bombing campaigns galore, and a military-first foreign policy of repeated defeats, disappointments, and disasters.
Fourteen years of a culture of fear in America, of endless alarms and warnings, as well as dire predictions of terrorist attacks.
Fourteen years of the burial of American democracy (or rather its recreation as a billionaire’s playground and a source of spectacle and entertainment but not governance).
Fourteen years of the spread of secrecy, the classification of every document in sight, the fierce prosecution of whistleblowers, and a faith-based urge to keep Americans “secure” by leaving them in the dark about what their government is doing.
Fourteen years of the demobilization of the citizenry.
Fourteen years of the rise of the warrior corporation, the transformation of war and intelligence gathering into profit-making activities, and the flocking of countless private contractors to the Pentagon, the NSA, the CIA, and too many other parts of the national security state to keep track of.
Fourteen years of our wars coming home in the form of PTSD, the militarization of the police, and the spread of war-zone technology like drones and stingrays to the “homeland.”
Fourteen years of that un-American word “homeland.”
Fourteen years of the expansion of surveillance of every kind and of the development of a global surveillance system whose reach — from foreign leaders to tribal groups in the back-lands of the planet — would have stunned those running the totalitarian states of the twentieth century.
Fourteen years of the financial starvation of America’s infrastructure and still not a single mile of high-speed rail built anywhere in the country.
Fourteen years in which to launch Afghan War 2.0, Iraq Wars 2.0 and 3.0, and Syria War 1.0.
Fourteen years, that is, of the improbable made probable.
Click on Mantra for 9/11: Fourteen years later, improbable world by Tom Englehardt to read the whole thing. It’s well worth reading in its entirety.