9/11: A look back and a vision forward
This is one of a handful of pieces written by NMPolitics.net columnists reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
I was working for a software company in Austin, Texas, but was in their Toronto headquarters on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and was staying at the downtown Hilton Hotel. There was a half-hour commuter train ride to the corporate offices.
Normally, the trip between the Hilton Hotel downtown and our offices north took about a half-hour. For some strange reason, on this morning the train kept stopping and delaying at every station and it took an hour and a half to get to the office that day.
The office was on the seventh floor of a glass-reflecting building north of Toronto, and upon exiting from the elevator into our lobby, I was ready to complain about the slowness of the train that day to anyone who would listen. Instead, I found 30 or 40 employees glued to the televisions positioned in all four corners of our lobby.
There, the horrific story unfolded. The company I worked for was Canadian, and so I joined my fellow employees, yet Canadian in nationality, to watch the images of the twin towers toppling like collapsed wedding cakes.
I was stunned – as, of course, everyone was.
When I found out that commercial airliners had been hijacked and flown into the twin towers, my first thought, and may God forgive me for this, was, “what an ingenious plan.”
I am a movie fan. More specifically, a “heist genre” fan. I love movies where the first two-thirds of the movie is the planning of a major crime and then Act Three is the execution of that plan.
I could not believe that 19 Saudi Arabian citizens boarded four commercial airliners in America and, armed with box cutters, brought down the Twin Towers. After all, I was raised in the Cold War era and was taught that the end-of-the-world scenario was going to happen by atomic bombs dropped from Russia directly on top of my school desk, under which my teachers told me to seek safety.
But this. This was the end of the world from within – not from without. Amateurish? Crude? Totally unexpected, yes. But effective.
Honestly, I didn’t even think of the people that died
The nearly 3, 000 Americans and others inside the buildings that died in the attack. The hundreds of first responders that died in the attack and are still dealing with respiratory problems. The thousands of family members affected by the tragedy. Can you imagine your husband or wife going off to work that day and then that? That’s the definition of true tragedy.
But no, I kept thinking of the “ingenious crime.” The imagination – the planning that went into pulling off this event by those responsible for this horrendous event.
Maybe it’s because I have spent my entire career in corporate business and, more specifically, business strategy. I always looked at things from a strategic point of view. It’s kind of like the feeling I get when someone commits a crime but, if the crime has a lot of inventiveness to it, there is a place inside me that applauds the ingenuity. Sick, I know, but that’s the initial flood of thoughts that came to my mind that day. Even when someone comes up with a way to rip off Medicare, the first thought that comes to my mind is, “Wow, I wouldn’t have thought of that.”
Which, by the way, explains, why I am not rich. I just don’t think of these kinds of ideas.
What I would like 9/11/2021 to look like
I’m not going to get into 9/11/2001 conspiracy theories. That’s a crowded field to which I could add absolutely no scholarship because I don’t know (they, either) what really happened that day.
For all I know, Lady Gaga planned the 9/11 attacks.
What I do know is what we spend on our military industrial complex and whether I feel we should continue be the world’s cop.
My truth be told, there is nothing for us to win in Iraq or Afghanistan or Yemen or Libya or Iran. Our mission has morphed from apprehending those who attacked us, to apprehending those who threaten or dislike us for invading their county, to remaking an entire political system and even a culture. I remain highly skeptical that, as foreign occupiers, we can ever impose western-style democracy on another country.
This is an expensive, bloody, endless exercise in futility. Generationally, I grew up during the Vietnam era. Newer generations aren’t willing to admit this yet, but every second they spend in denial has real costs in lives and livelihoods.
Many of us can agree one thing, however. Our military spending in general has grown way out of control. This is largely because fiscal accountability in military budgeting is seen, by many, as “weak on defense.”
This is absolutely wrong and a dangerous way to think. It is certainly possible for the military to waste money, or to spend counter-productively, and indeed it has. But out of political correctness, the military has been getting blank checks from the administrations and Congress for far too long.
I agree with Thomas Jefferson: Defend our soil!
It is important to defend our soil, but let us defend our own soil instead of defending Europe’s soil. Or any other country’s soil.
Our willingness to defend Europe and every other country on the globe enables their lavish social spending at our expense, while they criticize our model of capitalism. It is time they allocated the money for their own defense. The same goes for Korea, Japan, Yemen, Egypt and Israel.
Of course, the obvious way to save money and be safer is to stop meddling in the affairs of foreign countries and just bring our troops home. This will happen eventually if our empire, like every other fallen empire, insists on spending itself into collapse. If we want to avoid this, we must look into ways to bring our costs under control. Military budgets must be on the chopping block along with everything else.
In closing, I would like to give my heart out to those who lost family members in the 9/11 attack in 2001. In terms of personal ideology, I would like to see our government stop engaging in global activities that result in blowback events like 9/11/2001.
I truly believe that America is coming to a global awakening, that we can work out our own fiscal difficulties and prosper once again. But we must understand that all that America represents as a culture does not necessarily mean that we can export that culture as a model of excellence.
My thoughts today are with the families who suffered loss on 9/11/2001. My hopes are that, on 9/11/2021, we have right-sized our military expenditures and no longer have troops stationed in 130 counties around the world and spend trillions of American dollars and wasting thousands of American lives fighting other country’s battles.
Molitor is a regular columnist for this site. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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