Sunday, September 10, 2006

9-11: Digging the Hole Deeper

In my office, I keep a picture of a plane plowing into the World Trade Center.

I also keep a picture of an American soldier carrying a body bag of another American soldier.The two photographs go together because the Bush administration decided to leverage the 9-11 attacks into an invasion of Iraq and an effort to establish right-wing social and political dominance in the United States.

The horrific viciousness and destructiveness of the terrorist attacks will always be paired with the monumental cynicism of the Bush administration's response. Defense neo-cons like Paul Wolfowitz had been hoping for a pretext to invade Iraq. 9-11 gave them their chance. Irving Kristol, John Bolton, and John Yoo chafed at the constraints of the American Constitution, American human rights laws, and international law. 9-11 allowed them to luxuriate in the romance of torture, run roughshod over due process, and create an illegal international system of secret prisons. Karl Rove and Dick Cheney wanted a bigger stick for beating the Democrats and liberals. 9-11 was the biggest stick of all.

Ultimately, bin Laden and the Bush administration will only get part of what they deserve. The Bush administration and the right will meet their electoral Dien Bien Phu in 2008 if not this November. But many of them deserve to be arrested for crimes against humanity. Bin Laden won't live long after the Bush administration leaves office. The main thing keeping him alive and global terrorism in business is world-wide revulsion over the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. Yet, even though Bin Laden's days are numbered, he won't receive nearly as many deaths as he deserves.

There is a certain mutual dependence between the Bush administration and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida. More than twenty-nine hundred people died at the World Trade Center and the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq is also climbing toward 2,900. Al-Qaeda's attack on the World Trade Center gave the Bush administration it's chance to pursue the plans for global political and military domination that conservative think-tankers had been dreaming up since the fall of the Soviet Union. Likewise, Bush's invasion of Iraq allowed bin Laden to see his dreams of global jihad come to life. Both sides get to live out their fantasies.

Still, I should have a third picture-a picture of those who have died in Iraq as a result of the invasion. There have been more than 50,000 deaths in Iraq over the last three years, now at a rate of 1,500 dead civilians per month. It's like Iraq has had more than 16 of it's own 9-11's and Iraq's civilian dead are just as much a part of the 9-11 story as the dead in New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, or the American combat casualties. It's not like the Bush administration and al-Qaeda have killed all the thousands of Iraqi's themselves, but Bush and bin Laden started the chain reactions that led to the nightmare in Iraq today and they should share in the blame for the many thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of their fantasies.There may yet be some redemption for 9-11. I hope there is. Right now though, the Bush administration and al-Qaeda have merely teamed up to dig the hole deeper.

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