On Friday, we marked the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our beloved country. In the spirit of patriotism and a profound sense of humanity, I observe a moment of silence in honor of over 2,000 people whose lives were cut short as a result of these senseless attacks and I encourage you to do the same in the spirit of human solidarity. As father of two wonderful black beauties, I enter into the pain of other parents who had thought that their children would bury them in their old age; instead they ended up burying their children due to these tragic horrors.
9/11 left scars on the psyche of many families, as well as America in general, that only God can heal. In pain and a profound sense of confusion, Americans became consumed with the need to understand why this nation was attacked and looked to the government for answers. Though the government failed in one its major roles, to protect its citizens, it reacted quickly and aggressively to unearth an answer. Al-Qaeda was the culprit and Afghanistan was its base. Any yet, our government’s military invaded Iraq and Afghanistan respectively. Bush’s administration cooked up intelligence that linked Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda and lied to the American people that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, theories that were needed in order for the American people to legitimize the invasion.
With the military might of the United States, many thought that the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan would be over within months. Instead, they dragged on for years and ended up being America’s longest wars which gulped between $4trillion and $6 trillion, a bill footed by generous U.S. taxpayers who were consumed with bringing down terrorists. More than 6,828 American military personnel lives were lost to these thoughtless and senseless wars; more than 500,000 Iraqis also died.
The American populace endorsed these invasions supposedly in their pursuit of justice, unfortunately we mistook vengeance for justice. In our desperation for justice, we willingly surrendered one of our most cherished ideals – privacy – in place for security; unfortunately, 14 years after we are yet to be secured. As a matter of fact, we now are faced with brutal psychopathic terrorists – ISIL – whom Al-Qaeda actually considers to be extreme. Imagine that!
ISIL is a direct outgrowth of the 2003 U.S. military invasion of Iraq. We bombed Iraq destroying much of its infrastructure, we toppled and killed Saddam Hussein, and we completely destroyed its government. In the midst of this chaos, there was a power vacuum that allowed ISIL to thrive. And so the real bad guys here are the U.S.. Indeed, as Daniel McAdams puts it, “The U.S. government is a victim of its own insane policies.”
Yet, as Americans, we seem to ignore any role that our government might have played in history turning out as it has. We even rewrite it so that those in power do not come off looking so bad. In our willful inconsideration of actual historical events, law makers like Senator Lindsey Graham consider and declare ISIL to be the greatest existential threat to the United States. While we should not minimize the power this organization has nor let up in ensuring that they are not able to harm any more lives, they are not this country’s greatest threat. The greatest threat America faces is the profound ignorance that has eaten deeply into the fabric our society.
An interesting study conducted by Ipso Mori, a leading United Kingdom research company revealed that the United States is the second most ignorant country amongst developed countries. Another study conducted by Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 36 percent of Americans could name the three branches of government. A 2010 poll revealed that two-thirds of Americans could not name a single member of the U.S. Supreme Court, while in another disgraceful result 41 percent of Americans can’t name our sitting Vice President – By the way he name is Joe Biden!
On February, 15 2003, we witnessed the largest global protest in the history of the world. Over 12 million people took to the streets and marched in more than 600 cities across the world to rally against the invasion. Though the protests failed to stop the war, it left an undeniable mark on the conscience of America, a mark that is somehow visible to everyone but Americans.
It’s easy to castigate the Bush Administration for the thoughtless invasion of Iraq but truth be told the American people gave him the legitimacy to do, as such we are complicit in wrong doing. Although, I understand we could excuse ourselves to have been lied to blatantly. How come we were deceived when the rest of the world rejected the lies? It’s simple, education trumps ignorance! In the face of these stratospheric levels of wholesale ignorance, to propagandize ISIL as the greatest existential threat is insane.
In the same way the world protested the Iraq war, the P5+1 (five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany) came with an agreement called “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA). This agreement is intended to curtail Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions. Since the deal has been announced, some of the elements that led us to an Iraqi invasion have stepped up their war mongering rhetoric, bashing the Iran deal and preparing for another military campaign.
Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq can never be undone, we can only learn from our mistakes! We’ve been presented with another similar opportunity – The Iran Deal, and how we handle this will determine if we’ve truly learned or we’ve simply moved on unchanged.
The Iran deal presents a wonderful opportunity for the U.S. to restore its reservoir of global goodwill. A special thanks to the Obama administration for setting America on the right path of the wise use of the American power! As citizens, the only way we can sustain this momentum in regards to the wise use of American power is to be engaged and educated on issues. It’s high time education replaced ignorance!