Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - 5 years on - A Reflection

NOTE: I strongly recommend reading Wiki's pages (or any other informative site's pages) on:
1. 9/11
2. Iraq war
3. 2001 Afghanistan war
4. The U.S. role during the Afghan war of 80's
5. "September Dossier" issued on 24th Sept, 2002 by the British Govt
6. "Dodgy Dossier" issued on 3rd Feb, 2003 by Alaistair Campbell
7. General Criticism of Tony Blair
8. the so-called "War on Terror"

and associated pages. I know its a lot to ask, but there is a veil of ignorance on the entire issue. It is, however, in no way a pre-requisite for understanding the below article.

That horrific sight, which beamed across T.V. screens around the world exactly 5 years ago on this date and which has since transformed the world politically.

Five years ago, on this date, 20 normal looking, well-educated and apparently "sophisticated" men used some average-sized knives to hijack 4 U.S. domestic airliners and unfolded the most spectacular and wide-scaled terrorist strike of all times, in the heart of Manhattan - the epicentre of American capitalism, killing more than 3000 people and causing an estimated loss running into billions of dollars. By doing this, they managed to circumvent the "impenetratable" defenses of the world's sole super-power. All of a sudden, America's super-hi-tech nukes and anti-missile defenses looked feeble as compared to the lunatic determination of Islamic extremists who seem to be experts at modern-age guerilla warfare.

So, in the past 5 years, what has happened? Has anything changed? Are we closer to defeating terrorism? Has Osama Bin Laden been brought to book? Are we living in a safer world? - We all know the answers, all of which are in the negative. Not only has nothing changed, things have infact gotten a whole lot worse. The 'War on Terror' was launched a month after 9/11 and began with the justified invasion of Afghanistan. However, as we now know, it degenerated into a cover (a rather flimsy one at that, but somehow, Americans dont seem to be able to look through it) for the Bush Administration's own imperial agenda.

The Afghanistan invasion was completely botched up. The U.S. Govt. went in with very little troops and equipment, with the result that Osama had a head-start of over 2 months, before American troops finally reached Tora Bora. Hell! As per Fahrenheit 9/11, there are more policemen in Manhattan than U.S. troops in Afghanistan! The Taliban was allowed to get away to greener pastures (Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan). A pseudo-democracy, whose strings were controlled by the folks at the White House was put in place. An absolute lack of planning and some very personal agendas has resulted in an Afghanistan that is fractured and unstable. Under the Taliban, Afghanistan's contibution to poppy was actually LESS than what it currently is! Afghanistan accounts for almost 66-75% of Cocaine production in the world - Hell! A major chunk of the economy runs on it! Warlords rule most of the territories and factionism is rampant. A resurgent Taliban is kicking arse in eastern & southern Afghanistan. Afghanistan is pretty much the farthest corner of hell! As we now know, the American Govt never intended the Afghanistan war - it was just a namesake war, a formality which had to be fulfilled. They had much bigger and (h)OILier intentions.

And then Iraq happened. And the rest we know is history. I still remember watching Messrs Tony Blair and GWB articulate the 'serious and grave' threat posed by this 'murderous and tyrannous' dictator. Look who's talking about tyranny and murder and dictatorship! And Mr. Blair, what about the WMD's that could be launched at the push of a button within 45mins?! And what about the chemical and biological mobile labs that Saddam would not hesitate to use against the "Free World"? (which by the way, consists of the United States and the United Kingdom)

Iraq has turned into a nightmare, a 2nd Vietnam for the United States. Again without any post-war planning and with just the outline of a 'war', the U.S. launced its "shock and awe" campaign into Iraq. The results are disastrous - the country has become a safe haven for all kinds of shady operators - drug-dealers, arms-smugglers, insurgents and 'terrorists'. If that wasnt enough, the Shites and the Sunnis are slugging it out in a body-count contest. Iraq is just short of having a civil war - its hanging pretty much by a thread. All this ofcourse, after spending 350 billion $ and losing more than 1500 American soldiers and thousands of innocent Iraqis. And Sample this: Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank has suggested the total costs of the Iraq War on the US economy will be $1 trillion in a conservative scenario and could top $2 trillion in a moderate one.

We know all this. But, what really is the most important aspect of the story is that the events on Sept 11th, 2001 set in motion events and politics, whose ramifications we are still feeling (and to also add, reeling from). The events of that day has made an entire nation (the one nation that matters) even more sceptical and unresponsive to the frustrations of the rest of the world. Whatever little concern and/or sympathy Americans had for the rest of the world evaporated the instant those towers collapsed to their doom. Till Sept 11th, 2001, it was the United States Govt which played politics and the CIA which did the Govt's dirty work (and still does). Post-9/11, it seems to be normal Americans who have chosen to be deeply mistrustful and sceptical of the R.O.W. and have supported the misguided (and imperial) policies of their Govt.

This is evident on the choice made by Americans on another historic day - Nov 4th, 2004, when Geroge W Bush was re-elected as the 43rd President of the United States. On that 2nd historic day, Americans chose a political ideology that sought to reciprocate/counter Osama's extremist ideology, when it comes to matters like wars and/or intelorance. In their anger and spite and an exaggerated paranoia of the world, they chose an ideology which to the rest of us seems equally irrational and criminal as Osama's loony-bin thinking. Isn't it then ironic then, that Osama perhaps achieved much more than what he really aimed at? America has become a lot more aggressive and paranoid - in many ways, its managed to lose all credibility and managed to become synonymous with 'tyranny' and 'unilateralism'. Hell! Osama has managed to make out America as the 'demon' or 'dajjal', atleast in the Muslim world. With each war, America grows in unpopularity and Osama grows in his cult-figure stature.

Where are we headed to? Some Christian and Muslim fundamentalists would like us to believe, we are headed for Armageddon/Qiyamah. Five years ago, I wouldnt have bought that religious shit, today I think its pretty much happening. The so-called "War on Terror" has taken a distinctly religious tone - its now more of a Christianity/Judaism Vs Islam crusade. And the focal point of this issue is the "Holy Land" or what we now call Israel/Palestine. Thats where both sides lead us to believe is the crux of the issue.

Some reports indicate that the Christian lobby in America is so powerful that it influences American policies vis-a-vis Israel-Palestine. This inturn infuriates the Muslim world, which then rides on the false promises and personal agendas of Osama and his cronies and seeks revenge in the form of 'Jihad' - little do they know that Mr. Osama is a crooked psychopath advocating a recipe for disaster. Here we are - in the 21st century and we are fighting a global war on the basis of stuff that was written/happened two millenia ago! Can't we just let it go? Perhaps its time to screw all the Religions and Religious texts, the accusations and counter-accusations - just wipe the damn slate clean and have a fresh start!

Whatever all this is leading to and however "justified" this religious and political crusade seems to either side, one thing is certain, all this doesnt matter to the people who lost their loved ones on that fateful day 5 years ago - neither to those who have since lost their lives to American paranoia and thousands who will continue to lose their lives to this madness.

In the memorial service, as the names were being read out and memories rekindled, one woman recounted her husband's life (He was a NYFD firefighter who died with 6 other colleagues while evacuating the towers) - she recounted her love for him and how the children and other family members missed him in an emotional speech. She then barely whispered of how the family had given the 7 of them a nickname - "We call you the seven in heaven!", she said.

I guess, there isnt much left to say. Lets end this madness and arrive at a compromise through a middle-path! Lets accept wrong-doings, gulp down our egos and stop trying to prove "My religion is greater than yours" - Lets just be plain human beings and think rationally for once!


Anonymous said...

a very nice blog,as usual.
when i read the last line,i was reminded of this quote,'This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.'
keep wirtin!

SAMEER said...

hey rajiv i think u can be a reformist man u r thoughts r unmatched,refined and intellectual . it was a very good read.
keep writing man or should i say keep
blogging !!!

Rajiv Iyer said...

@Anonymous - Yea, I hav heard that quote before too - simple yet profound - 'kindness' is xactly what we need today in this cynical and spiteful world! We need absolute monotheism of another form - monotheism in the belief that God is one and no current religion describes him fully/prefectly, that He doesnt have a name or a religion or a region, that He would never want others to kill and maim in His name. That sort of common sense and rational thinking is ALL the world needs and yet, it seems too much to ask!

And thx a lot 4 taking the time to visit - it helps me to keep going!

@Sameer - A Reformist? No my friend - me just a rant-master, who cant even reform himself! :P .... and my thoughts are unmatched? No way - Albert Einstein, M.K. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela - I am an insignificant grain of dust in the cosmos, where as these aforementioned individuals were the forces that controlled the cosmos! No, my friend, I dont think I am worthy of such praise. But, thx a lot for visiting and keep reading and I will keep writing! :)

nandu said...

hey,gud post...i know,how passionate u r abt these topics but,i find ur topic a little criticism..also,i liked that hOILer thing..well done

Rajiv Iyer said...

@Nandu - yea dude! mebbe I will grow to be a political analyst someday (only when my hair begins to gray :P) .... and dont be so formal dude! Many ppl hav told me ki my posts are too long and I agree with the criticism - so, will try to shorten 'em up in this age of ultra-short attention spans! :P

But as far as this topic was concerned, I believe the length of the post was justified as it was the 5th anniversary of 9/11 and the range, depth and scope of issues to be covered was just enormously vast - but will try to shorten up future postings. Thx 4 reading!

Chinmay( A few more pixels..) said...

Well well... too complicated a topic to write but a justified and good treatment I should say. Though I disagree that these terrorists are any kind of 'experts' at any warfare, in today's time its very easy... Just imagine what at most can America achieve by bombing Afganistan, one or two bodies per bomb, while its so easy to spread anthrax and harm thousands. You achieve nothing by throwing mud at people lapped in shit- they need different treatment- but in doing so you do risk throwing it on others in case you miss.And then there are other things for Americans(who till recently couldn't point out Canada on the world map) to know, people who have never bothered about their govt's foreign policy. Since they've just started their education let me pose a few questions as assignment - who created Taliban? If you believe in live and let live(hmmm...CIA music - live and let @#$; truly James - Bond with the west!) why does every James in America need 5 guns? I wonder what would happen to the american economy if the weapon business is abandoned- now you see why its important to have Osama, and won't it be so dull without any CSI or X-files, you see how boring the entertainment media would become. Just imagine you switch to a tv channel and ~~oooommm ~Ooommm some "mahatma" giving some "divine" pravachan sitting below a banyan tree. Banyan trees?? For our American kids who may not know what it is and in the future might not see it - and they actually don't see it -comming, it will do them good to know the existence of Koyoto protocol. I know these kids belong to the superpower and saviour of universe, and how dare I tell them what to do. So let me not try to teach.
So I ask myself - could they have handled the situation differently, i mean given the web of spies they have.
Not denying that the islamic militancy also has its web world wide, but to fight it requires patience, requires education and social upliftment for them to open up - slowly. Any change but should be slow because any abruptness is against nature and it takes time for people and nature in general to adapt. Oops! I forgot for Bush its all a game his father bought him NFS- Need for Speed. With all the buttons in his hand Bush steers the next generation of americans to his destination, an expressway, where you have no clue what goes past you, it could be an F-16 or a B-2 who cares, its the thrill of the ride for the rider is all thats important in the game.
But I'm still all American - they are intellectuals of highest order - they created the internet, the web, and Spiderman- remember the last line from the movie... 'with bigger power comes bigger responsibility'. Well i'm not so intelligent to prophecize something like that, but i feel we need to educate people to "think" and break free from baseless religious beliefs, free from doctrines of leaders and see things for themselves.

* End *

@Nandu: Good that he wrote it and I think one can go on writing on this for pages.. its too complex a thing to handle or summarise in such a short article. Kudos Rajiv...

Rajiv Iyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajiv Iyer said...

@ Chinmay - To add a few more words -
I completely agree with you that there has to be reforms in the Muslim world and that these reforms are in a PHASED manner and are not brought about abruptly or forcefully - by installing pseudo-democracies and forcing people to follow reformist ideologies. Thats where America and Dubya hav got it completely wrong.

And yea, Lockheed Martin was one of the largest contributors to Presidential campaigns - these arms companies pay off o both the Democrats n Republicans to ensure that the status-quo is maintained - that we remain in a perennial state of war. Without all this mess, the arms companies would be forced to shut shop and a treasure box for Govt revenue and campaign contributions would be lost. Its also a question of employment to millions of people. So u see - people in Africa, Lebanon and Iraq get killed and people in America get employment and money in return! A recent study done, suggests that 54% of all arms exported by the United States lands in the hands of undemoractic regimes! So much for America's democracy obsession! This clearly indicates the extent of American double-standards - no wonder the world is so pissed at them!

Ironically 9/11 has given America the leverage to get away with all this bull-sh*t - now all Bush has to do is to scare the American people into voting for him bcoz 'murderous' people are out there to do 'despicable' acts! What utter hogwash! Dubya n his cronies hav killed many more in this distored war on terror!

But in the end, will agree with u in saying that the U.S. is the King of 'em all! It is the place to be - technologically they lead n excel - thats bcoz they recognize and respect talent! But, with outsourcing, it wont be too long b4 the Americans outsource their nukes to factories in Bangalore! Awaiting that day eagerly! :P

dining_philosopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dining_philosopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dining_philosopher said...

Excellent post Rajiv.

"Some reports indicate that the Christian lobby in America is so powerful that it influences American policies vis-a-vis Israel-Palestine."

True. But you missed the Jewish lobby which is very powerful and the Jewish propaganda machinery which is always at work trying to influence American public opinion which in turn influences politicians and their policies.

"..thats bcoz they recognize and respect talent.."
They recognize and respect talent. They *buy* talented people just like people buy cattle. They get the best brains from all over the world (IITs, for example, have become extensions of the US - they might as well ask questions on US national anthem on JEE and automatically give US citizenship to admitted candidates.) Usually these are middle-class people from other countries in search of a dream of better lifestyle. Americans are masters of advertisement and they sell the American dream to these middle-class people very well. I remember the kind of impression that I had of the US when I was a teenager. Looking back, I wonder why I had such tremendous respect for the US. Was it the Hardy boys that I grew up reading? Was it Star TV? Was it those Hollywood movies? I was crazy about Terminator and John Rambo. I was crazy about Bruce springsteen's Born in the USA when I was in 7th grade!!!Today, I am crazy about the simpsons. Hmm. The power of good entertainment. The power of salesmanship. The American Dream piggybacks into other countries on American media.

Anyway, most of the middle-class sheep that comes to the US get what they want - a job, a house and a family(what else?). They dont care if they are second-class citizens. They dont care if they are discriminated against at times - its still (somehow) a better life compared to the one they left behind. The Indian middle-class herd, for example, is apolitical. They dont have a say in US policy and they dont care. They come to the US, become doctors, engineers and scientists, contribute to the country and get peanuts in return. Most of them seem to be happy with peanuts. If an Indian wants to travel by air, he better not fart/play games on cellphone/raise his voice/"act suspicious"/etc while on board. He might get killed. It doesnt matter if the person is a doctor or professor or a scientist. Is he Yahoo's cofounder? Is he inventor of Pentium? Is she pepsi's CEO? Who cares? All that matters is the skin color. If your skin is brown in color, you take any kind of shit from anyone on a plane. And Indians take the treatment without complaining. The middle-class sheep has been trained to obey since its childhood back in India. But ofcourse, they have their jobs, houses and their families. Not to mention their Honda Accords or Toyota Camrys. Usually skin color doesnt matter but it makes a huge difference when there's trouble.

The point is, Americans respect talent but not people - they know that the talented person is pretty much like a slave and will take whatever shit thats thrown at him. Indians in the US are good at turning the other cheek (or bending over as might be the case).