September 11 marked the tenth anniversary of the al-Qaeda orchestrated and violent attacks on the United States of America. Under the leadership and influence of Osama Bin Laden, 19 men commandeered four commercial airplanes and used them as explosive projectiles. The targets were clear: financial centers, military leadership and political leadership.
The end result was the death of over three thousand people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. The latter being the result of courageous passengers and crew who overpowered the terrorists and sacrificed themselves, thereby aborting the attack on the White House.
In response, the United States declared war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, an Afghan based movement providing territorial sanctuary and logistical support to Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The Taliban also maintained a provisional government throughout key regions of Afghanistan.
Many leaders and people from around the world supported or at the very least sympathized with the Unites States in its determination to exact justice from those responsible for the murder of many innocent civilians. However, some months later, the U.S. embarked on an ill-conceived invasion of Iraq, supposedly citing ties to Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction.
Such conspiratorial claims were about as plausible as say, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and Rev. Al Sharpton conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government. Religion not politics, being the least and perhaps only common denominator. We now know that such premises or rationalizations for the Iraqi invasion were fraudulent and misleading.
In the process of conducting these wars and other incursions in the name of the “war on terror,” we’ve sacrificed the lives of more than 5,000 U.S. troops, with even tens of thousands more seriously wounded. The U.S. led military forces have also killed anywhere from 200,000 to 1 million Iraqis and Afghans, mostly civilian women and children. The monetary costs to the American public, so far, are approximating 3 trillion dollars. At this pace, our children and grandchildren will still be paying for these wars and others (e.g., Libya) long after we’re dead.
I’m no conspiracy theorist, but how did Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban transition from strategic U.S. allies and proxies in the “luke warm war” against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to public enemies’ No. 1 and 2?
Why on earth would a group of otherwise well-educated, middle-class, mostly Saudi Muslim men (not one Iraqi or Afghan among them) embed themselves in American society and then surreptitiously attack the sovereign nation of the United States of America: with box-cutters, no less.
Could our continuous foreign policy fiascos have anything to do with it? Our well documented support for all types of dictators and tyrants? Our willingness to undermine other peoples rights to self/group determination for the sake of geo-politico hegemony? What about subverting people’s rights to control, extract, manufacture, process and market their own natural resources, e.g. petroleum and oil? What about indigenous people who don’t desire to have McDonalds’ on every other corner or BET/MTV programming embedded in every young person’s psyche?
Since 9/11, we have witnessed the erosion of many civil liberties in the name of national security and fighting a war on terror. The rights to assembly, free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion have all come under closer scrutiny and sometimes legal lockdown via the Patriot Act.
Within the United States, Islam and those who adhere to its beliefs have been under constant attack, both ideologically and physically. Muslims and those mistaken as Muslims (Sikhs, Latinos and Christian Arabs) have been harassed, beaten and discriminated against. In some instances, places and books of worship have been destroyed.
During the last decade, the wealthy elite of this country have experienced an enormous consolidation of their economic and political power, while simultaneously allowing the financial gangsters of Wall Street and Washington to gut the savings, pensions and housing values of the American working and middle class.
The working poor and chronically unemployed, particularly those of color, are mostly disregarded, criminalized, incarcerated and marginalized.
Chronic double-digit unemployment, poverty and murder rates within the Black community; the failure to hold police accountable for misconduct, e.g., the Jordan Miles case; the government and judicially sanctioned murder of Troy Davis; when will it end?
Our best defenses against terrorism at home and abroad are humane and justice-centered domestic and foreign policies. Namely, policies and practices that respect the rights of U.S. citizens and indigenous people elsewhere to self/group determination over the rights of multi- national corporations, ruling- class oligarchs and the militaries that serve them.
Justice in Our Lifetime.
(Khalid Raheem serves as president/CEO of the National Council for Urban Peace and Justice (http://www.ncupj.net). He can be contacted@ firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.urban-activist.com.)