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Fighting the next war
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TEN YEARS LATER, you have to say he was pretty much right about a couple of things.

His philosophy was an epic fail on everything else: superstition instead of science, treating women as chattel, embracing medieval theocracy, targeting civilians, valuing death more than life, etc. The list goes on.

But when Osama Bin Laden said America would destroy its economy by waging endless war as a response to 9/11, we see now that he was very close to the truth.

When he said America’s fetish for putting corporations ahead of people would lead to implosion at home, we also see now that he was very close to the truth.

There are more wars out there than meet the eye. We all know the obvious conflicts America fought in the wake of 9/11: Iraq, Afghanistan, assorted drone/airstrike scenarios in other countries wherever we found, or thought we found, elements of Al Qaeda.

Those conflicts are still ongoing. But in the meantime there was another conflict closer to home.

That one’s over. Victory has been declared, and you and I are the losers.

Revolutions, such as the jihad Bin Laden sought, generally involve redistributing wealth and privilege downward.

Recessions, on the other hand, are generally engineered to redistribute wealth and privilege upward. Which is exactly what has taken place.

In the ten years since 9/11, while we were distracted by Freedom Fries, American flag lapel pins, gay marriage amendments, creationism, health care, tea parties, Mexicans, birth certificates, socialism, no–tax pledges, the deficit, kitties on YouTube, etc., something else happened, something in truth even more impactful and far–reaching than the terror attacks themselves.

We became a banana republic with a vanishing middle class, where 85 percent of the wealth is owned by 15 percent of the people.

We became a place where the law of the land says corporate speech is more free than individual speech.

We became a place where jobs are gone with the wind, but major corporations are hoarding record–breaking profits and their CEOs are given record-breaking compensation — as they complain about overregulation the whole time.

We became a place with a Congress that’s mostly made up of millionaires — who then, shocker, vote to cut taxes on millionaires.

We became a place where an unelected Federal Reserve secretly loans trillions to the banks, on top of the trillions in “emergency” bailouts taxpayers have already ponied up at the urging of both political parties.

Meanwhile the bank still takes your house if you fall behind.

And we became a place where anyone who points out this painfully obvious class warfare is accused of... class warfare.

Don’t be offended that I use the word “war” in this context. It’s intentional.

People die in wars, and make no mistake: People will die due to political and moral decisions within our borders just as they will in a shooting war overseas.

When Social Security is cut to make sure Chinese creditors get paid, people here are gonna die.

When disaster preparedness funding is cut so we can continue to wage war in multiple countries overseas, people here are gonna die.

When Medicaid, which pays for most nursing home use in this country, is cut to make sure Wall Street doesn’t have to write off any bad mortgage debt, people here are gonna die.

This war at home happened quietly, because it could. What unpatriotic fool would make a fuss about such things when there are foreign villains out there waiting to blow us up at any moment?

I realize it’s hardly profound or even marginally interesting to say that 9/11 was taken advantage of by politicians. That’s the nature of politicians. It’s the nature of people.

Republicans used 9/11 as a club to bash Democrats for being “soft on terrorism,” even though the whole thing happened on their watch.

Democrats used 9/11 as a reason to continue betraying the working class they once supported, and become another money–grubbing tentacle of the free trade octopus.

The media saw 9/11 as encouragement to lose whatever shred of critical thinking they had left and become mindless stenographers (“Some say the sky is blue, some say it’s polka–dotted. Opinions differ.”)

You’ll no doubt read a lot of tenth anniversary columns about the vastly expanded U.S. police/surveillance state in the wake of 9/11. It’s of course an area of very deep concern for anyone who values personal liberty.

But the police state was going to happen anyway, 9/11 or no 9/11. Government always seeks to increase its power — it’s the nature of all government everywhere — and modern technology in many ways enables such a power grab.

The fact that we’ve chosen to become personally addicted to that technology has only made the government’s job that much easier. No one at the FBI or NSA or CIA put a gun to your head and forced you to conduct all your personal and professional business via cellphone and the internet, which are controlled by companies which have already agreed to hand over any of your personal information that the government might want.

We did that to ourselves. Because it’s easier that way. Easier than thinking.

Looking back, it’s obvious that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda never had a chance of winning militarily. His war machine paled laughably in comparison to ours. His side was too few in number, too disorganized, too poor in capital and technology, and most importantly, too alienating in its dark, retrograde message.

But somewhere in hell Bin Laden is likely taking no small amount of pleasure in just how easy it was to get us to do his dirty work for him.

So... it’s been ten years. The decade after 9/11 was going to be a long enough haul on its own, but we had to go make it much, much more difficult than it needed to be.

And we will likely be paying the consequences for the next decade.

It’s past time to wise up and stop swallowing the propaganda that’s designed to pit us against each other. While we’re  busy watching our own special cable news channels and saying all liberals are America–hating socialists and all conservatives are like the Taliban — both epithets showing a profound ignorance of the actual connotations of those words — the real a–holes have already broken in the back door, rifled through our drawers and stolen our cash, jewelry and flatscreen.

It’s past time to declare victory in the war on terrorism, and commence fighting the war that our future really depends on.