Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Seven years after the almost hysterical overreaction to 9/11, is America coming to its senses? One can only hope.

with 8 comments

Seven years after 9/11 and there are starting to be signs that America is finally emerging from 9/11 hysteria. Maybe it’s the time gone by, maybe it’s the incredibly expensive (and failed) war on terror, maybe 9/11 is finally being put in perspective by a vastly bigger problem, the economic meltdown.  9/11 was a hell of a thing, like everyone I was mortified when I turned on the TV that day. However, within days, if not hours, I was more mortified by America’s reaction to it. By the next day I was pretty sure that the response to 9/11 was going to be vastly more expensive and counter-productive than the failed war on drugs. And sadly, if anything, I underestimated just how expensive and counter-productive the so called “war on terror” was going to be. At least I wasn’t the only one who felt the same way, but public voices speaking rationally were few and far between those days. Susan Sontag was one of the few not jumping on the Islamofascist hysteria bandwagon, she said it better than I could have:

“The disconnect between last Tuesday’s monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?”

I was pretty much afraid to speak my mind in the months following 9/11. That was far more scary to me than the fantasy threat posed by Osama Bin Laden, I knew the chances of another attack like 9/11 was basically zero, and that even if it happened, my chances of being caught by it was still basically zero. On the other hand, I knew that if I said something “unpatriotic” in front of the wrong person I could be beaten or worse. And what a big effing thrill that was.

In any event, the point I am trying to make is that because of a sensationalist media and an ideologically driven administration, a terrible crime was parlayed into a world changing event. I mean, let’s look at this. A few dozen guys conspired to hijack four planes and fly them into buildings. A few dozen guys. This wasn’t Pearl Harbor. This wasn’t the Alamo. This wasn’t a “war of civilizations.” This was a small terrorist group that got lucky. No more and no less.

How should America have responded to 9/11? We should have hardened cockpit doors, taken up the Taliban’s offers to turn Bin Laden over for trial, had a memorial for the victims…and gone on with our lives. It wouldn’t have hurt either to examine why Al Qaeda came into being and started attacking the USA, and why the people who were supposed to be defending America were asleep at the switch. Instead we were panicked into borrowing and spending trillions of dollars in an open ended war against “evil.” Seven years later some sane voices are starting to be heard. The former head of Britain’s intelligence agency for example has called the response to 9/11 a huge overreaction. Even the US State Department has gotten into the act and ried to get people to tone down the rhetoric.

I mean, what has the War on Terror accomplished? Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq are all more unstable and generating more terrorism than before 9/11. Al Qaeda has spread to a dozen or more countries it wasn’t in before 9/11. Jihadists in Spain and England were inspired to commit acts of terror. And the world’s opinion of America and its foreign policy is at the lowest ebb ever. All this for only twenty thousand dead and maimed GIs and a multi trillion dollar debt? Not to mention a vastly expanded US government and a serious erosion of our civil rights? To defend ourselves against pirates, bandits, and outlaw groups? This was beyond stupid, and I can only hope the fog continues to lift from people’s eyes.

Am I saying the USA should have ignored Al Qaeda. Of course not. However, a military response was not the way to go. (And I’m pretty sure invading and occupying two countries counts as military force, not to mention missile and air strikes in at least two other countries.) This is borne out by the first comprehensive study of how terrorist groups end. RAND recently studied 648 terrorist groups that were active between 1968 and 2006. What as the most common way for them to end? 43% of them were ended via political means, IE negotiation. 40% of them were destroyed by police and intelligence action, usually by locals. 10% of terrorism groups achieved victory. And lastly, 7% of terrorist groups were destroyed by military force. So much for “you can’t negotiate with terrorists,” apparently in the real world it’s seven times more effective than military force as a response to terrorism.

As I’ve said before, terrorist groups have always been with us, and they always will. A sensible restrained flexible foreign policy and adequate police/intelligence work is the best way to both prevent and deal with terrorism. And, most important of all, don’t panic.

(The above image of America’s all-too-common response to any perceived threat is public domain under US copyright law. Doing research for this article I came upon an interesting example of just how much 9/11 has been pumped up and inflated into a world shaping event. Check out this link about the USS New York. No offence intended to anyone involved, but this is emotional self indulgence to the point of creepiness in my opinion. The whole idea of building  a warship out of the steel from the WTC strikes me as being adolescent or even infantile, not to mention the web site’s almost Messianic tone. Aren’t grown-ups supposed to be running the country?)


Written by unitedcats

October 22, 2008 at 9:12 am

Posted in Bush, History, Terrorism, World

8 Responses

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  1. Hey, Doug. You’ll remember me as a reader of your blog. I live in Arlington, Virginia. 22202-3137, in fact. You can take your “hysterical overreaction” and, you know, do something unpleasant with it.

    My home smelled like goddamned jet fuel for months.

    Alex J. Avriette

    October 22, 2008 at 11:06 pm

  2. Doug
    You are the second person out of 400,000 who did not like my web site so I think I am doing pretty good. Once you have smelled it, you will want to do something about it.

    Scott Koen

    October 23, 2008 at 4:20 am

  3. I think we should have hunted Bin Laden down like a dog. Instead we have wasted trillions of dollars (borrowed dollars at that,) turned two countries into terrorist training camps, sent tens of thousands of GIs to be killed or maimed, destroyed the USA’s international reputation…all without actually capturing or killing the person responsible for 9/11. Like I said, no disrespect intended, but our nation’s response to 9/11 was both mind numbingly expensive and completely counter-productive.


    October 23, 2008 at 6:16 am

  4. This Alex bloke must really enjoy your site as he keeps coming back to check, even though it seems to frustrate him to the extent of most of his posts and irrate comments. Go cry on someone else’s shoulder Alex. Face it, you’re anger controls your actions. And in defense of truth – I say, the gloves are off.


    October 23, 2008 at 7:37 am

  5. Ron Paul tried to get a Letter of Marquis, but the congress shut him down… why? War is big business you know. Too much money to be made by political contributors.

    We could have let bounty hunters do the job!

    Do we have Bin Laden? NO! So much for throwing big money at the problem!

    Or perhaps having an enemy (still) in the bushes keeps those no bid contracts going to Halliburton (duh)..


    October 23, 2008 at 11:32 am

  6. I’d like to see your opinion on this article:
    It gives what I think is a good explanation of why Al-Qaeda would rather us over-reacting than not, and how what we have done was exactly what they wanted us to do.

    Blayze Kohime

    October 23, 2008 at 4:27 pm

  7. […] Space Exploration Seven years after the almost hysterical overreaction to 9/11, is America coming to its senses? One c… […]

  8. We should have … taken up the Taliban’s offers to turn Bin Laden over for trial

    What trial? The FBI to this day states that it has no concrete evidence of Usamah ben Laden’s involvement in 9/11. Strange, but true. See No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.

    It wouldn’t have hurt either to examine why Al Qaeda came into being

    Perhaps it would have hurt …

    [Al Qaeda] is “not an organised international network. It does not have members or a leader. It does not have “sleeper cells”. It does not have an overall strategy.

    … Al-Qaida did not even have a name until early 2001, when the American government decided to prosecute Bin Laden in his absence and had to use anti-Mafia laws that required the existence of a named criminal organisation.

    The making of the terror myth, The Guardian

    See also: The Power of Nightmares.

    You may also like to check out articles by Paul Craig Roberts. I’d recommend Gullible Americans.

    Thanks for your time.


    January 12, 2009 at 4:12 am

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