View Full Version : Opinion from Common Dreams on post 9/11 possibilities.....

Good Doctor HST
03-19-2006, 09:59 AM
Published on Saturday, March 18, 2006 by CommonDreams.org

What Might Have Been

By Gary Alan Scott

There is no doubt that the four fatal hijackings on September 11, 2001 shocked and frightened not only Americans but the entire world. The French newspaper Le Monde proclaimed the next day in its banner headline: “We are all Americans”. But four and a half years later so much has changed. The good will and the outpouring of sympathy and empathy generated by those attacks has turned to contempt for America’s destabilizing policies, this administration’s unilateralism, its hypocrisy, its bullying tactics, and its disregard for human rights and international law.

It is worth recalling that, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, most of the world’s people, including, most importantly perhaps, our former allies and well-wishers, believed overwhelmingly that America was a greater threat to world security than either al-Qaeda or Saddam Hussein. This was true not only of Middle Eastern countries, but of practically all of Western Europe and the two countries with whom we share a common border, Mexico and Canada.

In what follows, I shall not rehash the lies and incompetence that have characterized U.S. policies in Iraq, nor shall I enumerate again the many ways in which our Constitution has been violated, along with the Geneva Conventions and other international laws. Instead, I think it is a worthwhile exercise for every American to ask ourselves: What might have been, had this administration chosen to pursue a vastly different approach than the one it followed?

What might have been if we had a President with vision, someone, for example, with the vision of a John F. Kennedy when he proclaimed in the early 1960’s that “We will put a man on the moon by the end of this decade.” As Bill Maher showed so well in his book, If You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden, how different the outcome might have been if the president had pledged “to free ourselves from our addiction to foreign oil, or at least from Persian Gulf oil by the end of the present decade” instead of merely noting this addiction in the 2006 State of the Union address while he was simultaneously working to undermine its treatment?

What might have been if the President really had been “a uniter and not a divider”, instead of telling the rest of the world that “you are either with us or you are with the terrorists.” Take a moment and reflect on the differences in the coalition assembled for the first “Gulf War” and the share of the financial and troop burden that Americans have borne for this more recent little adventure in Mesopotamia. Current estimates of the cost thus far are approaching $800 billion and the total bill has recently been projected to be between $1 and $2 trillion. The U.S. share of the cost for the first Gulf War was $7 billion! Oh, what a trillion or two could do for this country! What might have been if we had been able to invest it in infrastructure, education, and debt-reduction? And how much safer might we now be had we invested just a fraction of this money to secure ports, subways, nuclear facilities, chemical plants, levees, borders, and so on? Likewise, American families have suffered almost 20,000 casualties, including more than 2,300 deaths. Great Britain ranks second with just over 100 deaths.

How different our foreign policy might have been had we empanelled a group of experts to study the root causes of terrorism and had we initiated a nationwide conversation about the roots of terrorism and about what drives people to give up their lives to suicide? The pathetic rationale that “they hate our way of life” and that “they hate our freedom” would be comical if it were not so tragically naïve.

What might have been if the President had called on Americans to sacrifice something other than our civil liberties? How much safer might we be now if the President had called upon the wealthiest Americans to sacrifice some of the profits they have made, at least in part because of our country’s infrastructure, an educated workforce, low tax rates and a robust economy? Would not genuine patriotism have dictated that the richest Americans, those who have benefited most from America’s prosperity, would make some financial sacrifices to make our country more secure?

How much safer would we be now if we had continued, or even accelerated the Nunn-Luger program to reign in loose nukes, instead of planning to make nuclear weapons that are smaller and easier to use? And how much safer would we be if we were really serious about non-proliferation rather than offering nuclear technology to India and dreaming of weaponizing outer space in pursuit of what is called “full spectrum dominance”? (See the National Security Strategy of 2002.)

What might have been if we had translated the world’s support after 9/11 into a serious attempt to solve, once and for all, the problem between Israel and the Palestinians? And how much safer might we now be if we had not abandoned Afghanistan to the opium lords? What might have been possible, if the President had immediately and strongly supported the creation of the 9/11 Commission and allowed this commission to do its job and had then gone on to follow its recommendations, instead of fighting the process all the way and then performing poorly in implementing the Commission’s recommendations?

How much safer might Americans be now, if the U.S. were not the world’s largest seller of weapons and weapons systems? What might have been if Americans had rallied to say “NO” to armed conflict in the wake of the violent attacks of 9/11, and instead had explored seriously peaceful (non-violent) alternatives to “shock and awe”? And how much safer would America be now, if we had not abused and tortured some 15,000, mostly innocent, people under our “guardianship”? It’s food for thought, my fellow Americans, and it should make all of us feel outraged!

Dr. Gary Alan Scott is an associate professor of philosophy at Loyola College in Maryland. You can reach him at GaryAlanScott@yahoo.com (GaryAlanScott@yahoo.com).

03-19-2006, 12:40 PM