Monday, September 12, 2011

David Bromwich and Chris Hedges on Aftermath of 9/11: Moral Voices Worth Hearing

In my view, two of the best statements, the most morally truthful ones, to appear during the commemoration of the 9/11 ten-year anniversary:

David Bromwich at Huffington Post, reminding us that we marched down the path of endless war following the 9/11 attacks not only at the behest of neoconservatives, but with the active complicity of neoliberals . . . . Bromwich recites a litany of names of those responsible for leading us down our present path, names we shouldn't be allowed to forget:

In the procession from 9/11 to an unprovoked war on Iraq, neoconservatives propagandized and led. Neoliberals endorsed, apologized, explained, and followed. Some neoconservatives whose opinions and votes supported the new history: Richard Perle, Robert Kagan, John McCain, William Kristol, Victor Davis Hanson, Kenneth Adelman, David Brooks, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz. Some neoliberals who differed from the above in tone but not in substance: Bill Keller, Leslie Gelb, Joe Biden, Kenneth Pollack, Peter Beinart, George Packer, Fareed Zakaria, Hillary Clinton, Thomas Friedman.

In brutality of sentiment, no neoconservative ever topped the explanation Thomas Friedman gave to Charlie Rose of why the U.S. had to smash the electrical grid, strangulate the water supply, demolish the major administrative centers of Baghdad and much of the rest of Iraq and kill tens of thousands of civilians. The details and justification hardly mattered, said Friedman. "What we had to do was go over to that part of the world... and take out a very big stick... [and say]: Suck. On. This."

What was most disgusting in the fever-time that lasted from October 2001 through 2003 was the seamless consensus that prevailed among mainstream journalists, high-profile scholars, and men of power. It was a Middle-East scholar, Bernard Lewis, and an independent strategist, Henry Kissinger, who advised Dick Cheney -- apparently to considerable effect -- that the U.S. ought to follow up the invasion of Afghanistan with the Shock-and-Awe bombing and invasion of Iraq. They said: the Arabs understand something better when you do it twice. 

And  Chris Hedges at Truthdig, arguing that our official national response to 9/11--a response in which we're all implicated, since it has been undertaken in our name by our government--has turned us into what we claim to loathe: 

We became what we abhorred. The deaths were used to justify pre-emptive war, invasion, Shock and Awe, prolonged occupation, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, massive aerial bombardments, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. We produced piles of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and extended the reach of our killing machine to Yemen and Somalia. And by beatifying our dead, by cementing into the national psyche fear and the imperative of permanent war, and by stoking our collective humiliation, the state carried out crimes, atrocities and killings that dwarfed anything carried out against us on 9/11. 

It was entirely appropriate--it was good and necessary--that the lists of those who died in the evil attacks of 9/11 be read out yesterday.  But the litany of names that we need to read and remember following 9/11 is larger than that list.  There is a litany of the names of those who used the events of 9/11 as a pretext to place our nation on the path of needless war.

And there's the list of many others who have died needlessly due to this needless war, whose faces we who are waging the war will never see, though it's being waged in our name.  Finally, there's the list of those of us who have lost our souls, as we permit war to be waged in our name against people who bear no responsibility at all for the attacks of 9/11.

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