Dear commemorators of the tenth anniversary of the 11 September attacks:
Just under a month ago, you were all marking the tenth anniversary of The Day the World Changed Forever. That’s fine – events that mark history ought to be commemorated, though not, to coin a word, fetishised.
But what about the next significant ten-year anniversary?
The seventh of October, 2011, marks the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, and the start of Operation Endless War – a project which so far has completely destroyed Afghanistan (a nation whose people were not guilty of the events of The Day the World Changed Forever, 92% of whom had never even heard of it, and who are paying in blood to this moment) and even more so Iraq, a nation which not only had nothing to do with The Day the World Changed Forever but was actively opposed to the organisation accused (but never proved) of having caused it.
It is a project which has devastated other nations, from Somalia to Yemen to Libya to Pakistan, beyond recovery – nations whose people never had anything whatsoever to do with the episode, and were mostly shocked and horrified by it. It’s a project that threatens to consume other nations, including Iran and Syria, and undoubtedly would have if not for certain people, of whom more in a moment.
It marks the start of secret prisons, torture of prisoners, imprisonment without judicial process, military tribunals, and the like, which we used to read in Reader’s Digest Cold War propaganda was the prerogative and hallmark of the Evil Communist Threat.
It marks the start of the Empire abandoning all pretence of not being an Empire, and of declaring that it “creates its own reality” and that the rest of us are those of the “reality based community” who will be left to study what the creators of reality do.
It also marks the start of the Empire’s open war against its own people, beginning with fear-mongering, restriction of liberties, domestic spying, and the enslavement of the population to the military-industrial-financial complex, and now having reached the point of murder of the Empire’s own citizens without even some pretence of judicial review, all in the name of “fighting terror”.
It’s a delicious irony, not lost on those of us who think of such things, that ten years after the start of Operation Endless War, the Empire’s people have launched a civil disobedience movement in order to wrest their nation back from the clutches of the military-industrial-financial complex. It’s another irony not lost on us that Operation Endless War, which was to have made the globe the Empire’s private playground, has brought the Imperial project stumbling to its knees.
A month ago, those of you who commemorated The Day the World Changed Forever spoke eloquently of its heroes, the policemen, firemen, and disaster relief workers who gave all they could, including their lives, to rescue the people trapped in the buildings allegedly destroyed by freedom-hating terrorists. Ten years after the fact, I wonder how many of those heroes are proud of the fact that their sacrifices were made an excuse to launch an endless war against the world?
Ten years after the start of Operation Endless War, I would like to invite you all to join me in a few things:
First, let us mourn the people killed, wounded, and forced out of their homes in the course of that operation, and who continue to die, be mangled, and displaced every day – the Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somalis and others; people who are still reviled regularly with racist epithets like “ragheads” or “diaper heads”, and who never find a mention in the official Western representation of those events because that would draw attention away from the wars as an American Tragedy.
(If I may digress a moment: we still see the same thing with Vietnam and modern memory, if you want to think a moment about that. And in a decade or two, after Operation Endless War has ended in defeat, Hollywood will be making films in which clean-cut, idealistic young soldiers fight a faceless, robotic enemy whose only purpose is to die for the camera, and trying to prove how the Empire actually won the war after all.)
Then, let us pause a moment to acknowledge the dead and mangled of the Empire and its vassals, young men and a few women who gave their lives and bodies for a lie. Many of them woke to the realisation that the project they were embarked on was evil, but too late.
Third, let us mark the real heroes and heroines of Operation Endless War – not those who have won medals for firing missiles at weddings from drones piloted from bunkers situated on the other side of the globe, or those who have been granted the Nobel Peace Prize while piling war on more war, but the real heroes and heroines:
1. Foremost must come the ordinary Iraqi or Taliban resistance fighter – the anonymous “raghead”. Poorly trained, equipped with the most basic of equipment, with no organised command structure or leadership, he fought the best-armed military in history to a standstill. Whether or not one agrees with his ideology, and while readily admitting that he has made his share of mistakes and committed his share of violent crimes, there’s no denying that. But for him, today the pipelines would be running through an Afghanistan run by brutal but reliably subservient warlords, and Iraq’s wells would be pumping out oil to fund the Empire’s Crusade Against The World. It’s primarily because of him that even more nations, from North Korea to Pakistan to Iran, have not already been invaded and enslaved. It’s primarily because of him that the Empire is now a bankrupt entity, sliding towards implosion and collapse.
“Raghead”, we salute you.
2. The second line of heroes are the men and women who, from within the military machine of the Empire or its vassals, have exposed the truth, often at the price of their own liberty and sometimes of their lives. They are the Julian Assanges, the Bradley Mannings, and other, lesser known people who have had the conscience and the courage to expose the truth behind the lies and propaganda of the Global War Of Terror.
Bradley Manning, wherever you are being held, and whatever you are being put through, we salute you, and those like you. In future it will be even more difficult for the likes of you, since the Emperor has now declared that he can assassinate his own subjects without benefit of trial. But you will prevail in the end.
3. The third line of heroes are the anti-war protestors. I have a special place in my heart for them, for a very personal reason. Back in 2003 through 2005, just after the invasion of Iraq, I went through a phase (along with much of the world) where I openly said, and believed, that “the only good American is a dead American”. It was the anti-war protestors who, although reviled as traitors and worse, never gave up the fight, who persuaded me that the people of the Empire couldn’t be blamed en masse for their government’s policies any more than the people of this country can be blamed for our government’s policies.
Anti-war protestors, we salute you.
Today, Operation Endless War, though ten years old, is far from over. It will continue until the Empire implodes and consumes itself. We’ll still probably see it going on in some form, ten years from now, somewhere in the world. It will not end tomorrow.
But it will end someday.