Never Forget — What?

W.J. Astore

The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has come and gone. The theme I often heard was “never forget.” Never forget what, exactly? That we were attacked? All of us of a certain age remember 9/11. We remember where we were when we first heard the news. We remember the shock, the confusion, the sense of loss. We really don’t need to be reminded to “never forget.”

A similar phrase is “always remember.” Like “never forget,” it’s remarkably labile, much like Obama’s slogans of “hope” and “change.” And that’s the point. It’s vague while being emotive. It plays on our emotions without encouraging us to think.

So, let’s think critically for a moment. What should we “never forget”? We should never forget the victims, of course. The heroes. The first responders who gave their lives. And, by the way, why is Congress always so reluctant to provide health care to those first responders who worked so tirelessly in the dangerously unhealthy rubble of the Twin Towers? Let’s not forget them in their moments of need.

But what else shouldn’t we forget and “always remember”? I think we should remember the colossal failure of the Bush/Cheney administration to act on intelligence that indicated Al Qaeda was determined to strike in the U.S. We should remember the chaos generated by those attacks, and how our government responded so slowly, and with a measure of panic. And we should remember how quickly men like Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld deflected any blame and took no responsibility for what can only be described as a massive defeat.

Also, it’s important to recall that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, yet America’s leaders chose to invade Afghanistan and Iraq after announcing a global war on terror. In short, they used 9/11 as a pretext to embark on wars that they wanted to fight, wars of choice that proved disastrous, and for which they’ve largely evaded responsibility.

As a military historian, I’m also taken aback by our leaders choosing to rebrand 9/11 as “Patriot Day.” When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, America’s leaders didn’t rebrand that day as an occasion for patriotism. They recognized it was a date of infamy and declared war on the attacker.

It’s almost as if 9/11 has become a date of victimhood for the U.S. An old Air Force buddy of mine put it well recently in a message to me:

“It felt like it wasn’t about remembrance as much as just wallowing in self-pity. Interesting you bring up Pearl Harbor. Back then we went off and fought a 4-year war, beat our enemy, and helped them rebuild. For 9/11, we went off and fought a 20-year war, came home with our tails between our legs, and left our enemy more empowered. A celebration of victimhood, but not of honor.”

I like my friend’s appeal to honor. It’s an old-fashioned word that you hear rarely in America’s offices and corridors of power. Where is the honor in turning the 9/11 calamity into some kind of celebration of victimhood and patriotism?

As a historian, of course I want 9/11 to be remembered. But let’s not allow propaganda and cheap sentiment to shape our memories. And let’s “never forget” the failures of our leaders both before and after that date of infamy.

57 thoughts on “Never Forget — What?

  1. Professore, I could be wrong of course but I’d posit that US foreign policy has been fueled by propaganda and cheap sentiment for twenty years now. It’s all the Amerikan people can understand. As you may recall, Holy Mother Church once referred to their ilk as “the simple” and with good reason. (see anything to do with the NFL observance of “Amerika’s Fighting Men and Women/Thank You for Your Service”).

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    1. I’m not sure it’s all the people can understand, but it may be all that they hear. Repetition is remarkably effective. And those who challenge the narrative are ignored or suppressed or otherwise sidelined and dismissed.

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  2. These memories continue to metastasize in proportion to the continued propaganda. The medical industrial complex’s refusal to honor the toxicologist’s reports that indict ground zero as the source of first responders failing health concerns; which would drive a stake in the heart of some of their Crown Jewels that prop up their flawed theories of disease; is the most egregious example of greed and arrogance. There’s no excusing this fact, that their pledge to the Hippocratic oath means nothing to those who’s soul has been darkened and captured by power, fame, and wealth.

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  3. And let us not forget, within 2 weeks of 9/11, the US made WAR PLANS to change the regimes of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, and at THE END, Iran.

    all those Countries are failed States, and while Bideen moderated his attitudes toward China in the 90 minute phone call he had with China’s Xi, he has not moderated his attitude toward Iran coming into compliance with the JCPOA the US abandoned, before there will be any relief from the devastating US Economic War to destroy the Iranian Economy.

    To deny the Iranians the right to defend itself with conventional weapons, as the US sells and supplies all their Middle East allies with even more offensive weapons is a non starter, and could lead this world to the Armageddon derived from Har Megiddo in Occupied Palestine Jesus walked through some 2000 years ago.

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    1. I just read that Iran is getting close to having adequate nuclear material for a bomb, which their government feels will help pressure the U.S. to re-agree to the JCPOA. Not likely, after the so-called disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan—Biden can’t afford to look any “weaker.” Even so, as you point out, Ray, in the face of U.S. arms sales in the Middle East, Iran feels a need for defense. What needs to happen is a defusing of tensions, not a ratcheting-up of hostility. But the wiser heads necessary for such a de-escalation don’t exist in any of the relevant governments.

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      1. Interesting timing of that report. Since “we” can’t allow Iran to have a bomb (even though the U.S. and Israel have plenty of them), this will likely lead to military action, all in the cause of “pre-emption” and “defense.” Not sure when the “kinetic action” will come, but it’s almost certain to come, unless cooler heads prevail.

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      2. When Biden spoke with China’s Xi in February, it was in the usual delusional American belief this World belongs to the US and you have to do what we dictate to satisfy American Interests.

        I just learned this am about Biden initiating the 2nd call to Xi last week, where he had a much more humble attitude, not domineering like the 1st call, after the great humiliation of the US Pride of Money & Power in Afghanistan.

        Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread is an old saying, and in the blind American hubris and ignorance, they rushed into the Nation having the Historical record of being the ‘Graveyard of Empires”

        Almighty God showed the world, in a display of Divine Judgment and Justice, the US is not Exceptional at all, any more than any other Nation, like Jesus established the Common Era, when Gentiles are as much the People of God as are Jews, not one superior or better than the other, with the same Rules of Behaviour applying to both.

        But still, I was happy to learn of the new US attitude which augurs well for a possible Better Future than the Troubling Future the World can see developing now.

        https://asiatimes.com/2021/09/biden-doctrine-abating-us-tensions-with-china

        Perhaps Biden does have a Purpose to be a Transition President, getting the US back on it’s rightful track among the Nations.
        At this point, we can only Hope and Encourage him to stay on Point!

        Naturally, I would like to think, even though I get no acknowledgements to any of my Messages to him, by this change in the US attitude, maybe my Messages did get to him?

        When I washed dished for $1/hr in Venice, California in the Spirit of ’76, one morning I woke from a very powerful, vivid dream, of the Pope coming down from the Throne, to me. I was a small child wearing an oversized Adult General’s Uniform.
        Of course, he didn’t come down from the Throne to me, and it makes no difference.
        I was very happy to see, 2 years later, Pope John Paul I, did in fact come down from the Throne in This Real World, and he came from Venice, Italy.
        That is just one more of the so many co-incidences in my Life I have to make sense of in my Life BC and AD.

        Pope Paul VI was the last Pope to be Crowned and Enthroned, ending a 1000 Year Roman Catholic Tradition and Ritual.
        He died just 3 Days after I said to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Pierre in French=Peter in English) on a chance encounter late one night as he was going to his Office in the Langevin Block in the Capital,
        “Peter, feed the sheep!”
        I was speaking in the Spirit of the words Jesus said to the Apostle Peter, the 1st Pope, recorded in John 21:15-17

        I was happy to discover the RCMP Security Detail guarding Trudeau Sr. recorded for Posterity that FACT in this Official RCMP report of the incident

        Naturally, it was a “non-nonsensical remark” to the RCMP Agent. He had no clue of the Spirit that moved me, and the Spiritual sense in the Words to the Prime Minister.

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  4. We’re lucky that at least one cooler head prevailed when TFG wanted to go to war with Iran. I don’t recall specifically who stopped him, but sanity won out, fortunately.

    Will anybody do that if Biden feels a need to get tough?

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  5. Hasn’t it always been the case that America is seen as the promise of mankind? Originally not only by Americans but by many around the world.

    We’ve always been in love with ourselves and WW2 put the seal on it. This has blinded us to our own faults and I believe the crowning achievement of this blindness was the neocon vision of a remade world to their liking but couched in terms of bringing a better world for all.

    9/11 prompting self-pity is in keeping with this.

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  6. We’ve always been in love with ourselves and WW2 put the seal on it.
    That blanket has been used to cover our original sin, and every egregious attempt to insert our will upon the sovereignty of other nations.

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  7. the saudis escaped culpability b/c the ‘leaders of the free world’ at the time were complicit. cheney and his haliburton-board status, bush and his oil-baron family, blair and his british petroleum support team, wolfowitz and his banking cohorts, et al, were all in bed w/ the saudis. their cancerous petro-esurience and fulminant fiscal greed prevailed.

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  8. you at bracing views are likely apprised of the counterpunch article below by patrick ‘cock-burn’ [intriguing morpheme confabulation, eh?]:

    [https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/09/14/by-letting-saudi-arabia-off-the-hook-over-9-11-the-us-encouraged-violent-jihadism/

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  9. Lets not forget that 9/11 was 100% America’s own fault.
    They bought it on themselves.
    By pissing of a lot of people off whose countries they had a military presence in.

    “In Blowback, I set out to explain why we are hated around the world. The concept “blowback” does not just mean retaliation for things our government has done to and in foreign countries. It refers to retaliation for the numerous illegal operations we have carried out abroad that were kept totally secret from the American public. This means that when the retaliation comes – as it did so spectacularly on September 11, 2001 – the American public is unable to put the events in context. So they tend to support acts intended to lash out against the perpetrators, thereby most commonly preparing the ground for yet another cycle of blowback”
    — Chalmers Johnson, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006)

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    1. your points resonate, dennis. the twin tower and pentagon “innocents” were the window-cleaners, secretaries, clerks, and custodial staff; for them i mourn. as for the rest, they included many of the most invidious of fraudulent bankers, military thugs, the staff of corrupt investment houses, and the myrmidons of resource-greedy corporations having offices in both the US and abroad. they colluded w/ their respective govts to carry on raping our planet and those residing and endeavouring to eke out an existence on our planet. they did so w/ impunity and w/out a ‘by-your-leave’ from the citizenry of those depauperate, impuissant countries whose resources they persist in devouring until nothing remains but scarified moonscapes.

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    2. I’d re-state your first sentence and say, “….the U.S. military’s and leadership’s own fault.” American citizens no longer have a say in foreign policy, for all intents and purposes. Polls say that the majority of Americans have no interest in attacking foreign countries. Tens of thousands marched in protest of the Iraq invasion in 2003. And we’ve seen overwhelming evidence that our elected “representatives” pretty much ignore their constituents in favor of big donors. Our dumbed-down, Fox-fed citizenry is lost and feels itself to be powerless.

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      1. you have hit the rad-red bull’s eye, denise… and a few other multi-hued bulls’ eyes. the tax-paying hoi-polloi are victims of the nociceptive ‘leadership’ and the colluding CMSM as much as the ‘dumbed-down’ vulgate have been victims of the US public education system. half of said-vulgate seem semi-literate and incapable of in-depth analyses of what they ARE able to read and comprehend.

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  10. See http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56785.htm in todays ICH posts

    Al Qaeda perpetrated the 9/11 attacks because the U.S. was deeply involved as an occupying military force in the Middle East.

    A 1998 declaration of war by Osama bin Laden cites three issues: the occupation of Saudi Arabia as a military base, the “devastation” of Iraq by U.S. sanctions including the alleged deaths of 1 million Iraqis, and the effort by the U.S. to “fragment” Arab nations so as to insure the survival of Israel.

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    1. AS I POSTED RECENTLY TO DENISE’S PONDERMENTS, DENNIS:

      ‘that’s war, denise. some live, some die, and most who die are innocent civilians w/ families and no axe to grind. those w/out the overkill war weapons of the US, the egregious technological advantages of the pentagon/political machinery and their “kill anything that moves” mentality are compelled to fight back w/ whatever ‘pis-aller’ solutions and devices they can find or can extract from the proverbial trash tip. and ever has it been so. the loss of innocents will persist until war ends.

      the loss of US innocents has been so exiguous as to be laughable compared to the loss of innocent lives for whom the US has been directly or indirectly responsible for snuffing out. 9/11 was a nugatory price to pay by the citizenry of a nation which uses its war machinery to murder millions of innocents indiscriminately, in dozens of countries across the globe, from their 1000+ military bases, floating and land-based, that garrison this beleaguered planet.

      to speak again from another frisson of personal experience, my khmer friend had her entire family wiped out by the US bombing of cambodia under the seigneury of kissinger and nixon in 1975… all 8 of her children, her husband, her siblings, her cousins, her elderly parents, her aunts and uncles, her home, her fields… everyone and everything gone in one US bombing strafe along the border w/ laos. my friend was away from the murder scene at the time, selling her fruits and vegetables in phnom penh, but she wishes she had not been, as her psyche was destroyed, demolished, deranged, and she never recovered. war is war, and we need to find a means by which we can end it. the so ‘exceptional and entitled US’ should lead the way. the irony is, the US declares itself to be the ‘leader of the free world’, but it is, in reality, the leader of the sanctioned-murder world.

      please view:
      https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/09/10/remember-their-crimes-forget-ours/

      after more than 8 decades of experiences and perpendings on those experiences, i’ve reached the conclusion that most issues are neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’, black or white. all lie swaddled in shades of grey, like gender and sexuality.

      w/ the exception of abusing children and torture, absolutes lie in the realm of fungible pluripotentcies, and that includes life and death. individual circumstances and perspectives are the defining dynamics, which is why one can kill but be exonerated by a court of law due to having been rendered insane, whether temporarily or permanently.

      the violent murder of everyone in my family by overhead bombs, especially my bantlings and bairns, would have dumped my brain into either a hi-speed, relentlessly spinning centrifuge or into a permanent fugue of blotto-idiocy. a releasing plunge into suicide would be a relief. as it would most normal psyches. if you had witnessed first-hand what i have, throughout the middle east, west africa, the caribbean, central america, the far east, oceana, and southeast asia, you would understand.”

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  11. My own take on Remember Pearl Harbor was, we got caught with our pants down for various reasons. some of these reasons were beyond the control of Admiral Kimmel and General Short. They were sacrificed. MacArthur got caught with his pants down in the Philippines with a much different result.

    The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was hyped up into a mini-Pearl Harbor event. This was the excuse to eventually release all the military power we had on a 3rd World Country. Sometimes we do not need a Pearl Harbor, i.e., our pre-emptative attack on Grenada.

    OBL’s selection of the World Trade Towers made sense they were an epicenter of American Imperialism. The Pentagon targeting speaks for itself.

    “Never Forget 9-11” pulled the switch and bypassed any rational approach – The War on Terror and all it’s Macro Effects (Bush the Younger’s Iraq War 2) had begun and anyone who questioned it was unpatriotic at best and traitor at worst.

    Perhaps the most ridiculous displays were at sporting events: Parades, marching bands, fly overs, the National Anthem, maybe some Vets paraded out like circus animals. The crowds could feel good about their Patriotic Display of solemnity, and then sit their safe fat asses down and enjoy the Game- Whoopee and Yahoo and pass the the Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

    Given America’s Steroid Capitalism, I would hazard a guess the Military-Industrial Complex was rubbing their hands together in anticipation of big profits. No amount of money was enough to avenge 9/11. The other piece of the pie was our Elected Officials could be counted on to be derelict in their duty to provide over sight. Generals and Admirals laden down with ribbons would periodically make an appearance before Congress and report on all the “progress” made.

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    1. Just as an aside regarding Pearl Harbor, ML, if you believe Gore Vidal, who cites persuasive documentation in The Golden Age, FDR not only anticipated the Japanese attack, he deliberately set up the circumstances that would assure it, as a means of getting the U.S. into the war. His mistake was in calculating that the attack would happen farther out in the Pacific. If Vidal is right, and I believe he is, the casualties at Pearl Harbor were a horrific, unintended consequence of FDR’s manipulations.

      I do agree with your points, and I applaud your laying all the events out in a straight line. A thought-provoking perspective!

      Most of all, though, I’m delighted by your, “steroid capitalism” phrase. Perfect!

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  12. I notice this Site likes to use Analogies like the TV Show from the Sixties “Star Trek.” In that show in my opinion Gene Roddenberry its Creator saw in the Federation an idealized version of how the U.S. would, and should be if it was the “Federation” of the future, but with one major glaring difference — The Federations “Prime Directive” was non- interference with any other Alien Races that it encountered in its 5 Yr. Mission to explore strange new worlds & civilizations… I think Captain Kirk and Crew would have none of United States meddlesome involvement in other countries affairs in the latter 20th. century lets even say starting with Vietnam for example. Lets take care of our own! P.S. “The Wrath of Khan” holds up as this Series best Movie… I.M.H.O… “Khan: “We offered the World Order!!!”

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    1. I’m a total sucker for original Star Trek references, but I think you’ve got something there, Philip. Roddenberry setting up the Federation as an idealized version of what could be on Earth….yep, I think you’ve nailed it. And yeah, the Prime Directive is genius. Not only was it an admirable concept, it created some fascinating conundrums in several of the plots.

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    2. Back when the original Star Trek was running there was an article I read: the Federation was the USA, the Romulans were the Soviets and the Klignons were a combination of WW 2 Japanese and the Red Chinese. The Klignons were ultra violent with a Samurai type code. China at the time was going through their Red Guard phase of purging for purification.

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    3. Long before Star Trek, the last real Commander-in-Chief, General-President Eisenhower, articulated what the Principled Policy of the US was going to be in his ‘CROSS OF IRON’ speech at the beginning of his Presidency, on April 16, 1953.

      1st: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy — for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

      2nd: No nation’s security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation — but only in effective cooperation with fellow nations.

      3rd: Every nation’s right to a form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

      4th: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

      And 5th: A nation’s hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments — but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations[…]
      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

      This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
      The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
      It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
      It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
      It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.
      We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
      We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

      This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
      This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.
      Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a CROSS OF IRON.
      These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.
      That was in the Days when the DoD Budget was $60 BILLION a year compared to $740 BILLION a year lately

      It took only 4 months before Eisenhower abandoned Principles 3 & 4 with the CIA orchestrating a Coup to overthrow Iran’s Democratically elected government, installing the US proxy Dictator, the Shah and his murderous Savak Secret Police.

      He returned the the problem facing America in his retirement speech, warning of the growing Military-Industrial Complex on January 17, 1961.

      “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military-Industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

      We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
      We should take nothing for granted.
      Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

      Who listens anymore?

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      1. I’m not very knowledgeable about the details of Ike’s Presidency; just have the broad strokes. Do we know what convinced him to abandon his initial stand and accede to the CIA’s plan to install the Shah?

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    1. The RAF/USAAF Combined Bomber Campaign against Germany killed half a million in World War II.

      The raids on Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki killed roughly 350K if you include deaths from the longterm effects of radiation. (And there were many other Japanese cities destroyed by firebombing in WWII.)

      North Korea was reduced to rubble. Vietnam was bludgeoned by bombing. (Let’s not forget Laos and Cambodia.) And then you have more recent wars, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

      I’d say one million is a conservative estimate.

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      1. Bill, I remember reading position papers proving strategic bombing campaigns, particularly of civilian population’s, have negligible effects on the outcome of ground wars. The bombing of North Korea certainly proved that. Maybe you know of these and can provide me with the links – I can’t seem to find these articles on the internet today.

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        1. I couldn’t quote you the time or source for the report, Dennis, but I remember seeing a TV interview wherein bombing strategies were discussed, and the consensus was that targeting cities, villages, and farms was not only NOT effective, it actually solidified resistance to the enemy, whoever that happened to be.

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  13. The US has officially admitted that the drone strike in Afghanistan didn’t kill terrorists but an innocent aid worker and his family. I sent the following to my representatives.

    Dear ,

    I was horrified to read that the drone strike in Afghanistan that was supposed to stop a terrorist attack actually killed an innocent family, an aid worker no less.

    Drone strikes that kill innocent people are immoral. The feeble justification that we thought we were blowing up people who were terrorists is unacceptable. Americans would have issues with a police department that bombed a house because they mistakenly thought a suspect was hiding in it. For a nation that claims to be “under God” I’m sure God has some strong, and negative, opinions about the use of such weapons.

    Aside from the immorality has anyone thought about the blowback from killing innocent people? Americans felt justified in retaliating with force when innocent Americans were killed. Well, don’t other nationals? That strike probably recruited ten times as many people for Al Queda or whoever the hell is over there. Any incident like this fuels a hatred of our country that outweighs any military benefit.

    Drone warfare against terrorists is immoral and stupid. I don’t want my tax dollars used for it so I am requesting that you and other Congresspeople find a way to cut the funding for such programs.

    Thank you,
    Joseph Arpaia, MD

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    1. inennarably expressed, dr. arpaia. tears are cascading down my bony mandibles. the lachrymal glands will be working overtime today. your patients are surely aware of the extraordinary MD under whose care they are blessed to have supporting them in their small niche of this benighted arena of life and death.

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      1. I agree Jeanie. The good doctor’s letter is right on point. Sadly all Representatives of the House and all Senators of the Senate have known about the immorality of these drones since their inception. And have done nothing about it. Writing letters is a waste of time. Your letters will just end up in their circular file. There is no room for considerations of morality in the US War Machine. Plenty of room for stupidity.

        An excellent book on this topic by Leslie Thatcher. “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues”

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        1. While I agree that no Congress critter of any stripe will act on the strength of one letter, nevertheless, I don’t feel that writing is a waste. Noam Chomsky just said in an interview that all the tiny individual actions add up, and that no reform happens without them. Also, it’s important on many levels to bear witness and speak truth to power, whether or not change is effected. In a spiritual sense, perhaps MLK’s arc of the moral universe can be bent by the weight of enough letters like JPA’s. Who knows? If the quantum physicists are right that mere observation can affect the motion of subatomic particles, maybe thoughts, letters, and essays can form a critical mass of compassion.

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        2. denise suggests that despite our misled leaders, w/ sufficient gravitas, pressure, and a sea-change of ‘critical mass’ from the electorate, there can follow a watershed moment when the tipping point sends the masses into an angst so overwhelming that it becomes anomie or anarchy… at which nexus, as w/ MLK’s marches and dream-saturated hortatives, the electorate’s collective zeitgeist will compel the leadership’s narrative and decision-making to change, either subtly or drastically.

          philip ball’s “CRITICAL MASS: HOW ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER” [2004] is a condign read; it corroborates and amplifies denise’s claim and does so from the lens of a trained physicist and mathematician. ball elucidates, using methodological approaches to scientific investigations, how fundamental concepts and precepts throughout the history of human social groups are transformed, transmogrified, or abandoned, due to ‘critical mass’ theory.

          there are amongst us the dreamers, the optimists, the reality seekers, the pessimists, and the dysphoria-inducing pyrrhonists. the distal mindset benumbs most of us. the rest, as w/ dennis, denise, myself, and others on wja’s site, flop about somewhere in the light spectrum’s grey zone. one can say w/ certitude, however, that “all is in a state of flux” like the weather. even drones will have come and gone if we enjoin the patience of job and enjoy the longevity of methuselah.

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          1. I most fervently hope it doesn’t take Methusalah’s lifespan to effect essential, positive change (i.e., caring for the planet, compassion for its creatures and people), but I’m not overly optimistic.

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        3. thank you for the reference, dennis. i shall ask my rugrats if they can find a way to send thatcher’s book to mindoro island… tho’ virtually every item we have ordered over the past year and a half remains languishing in manila customs. perhaps when the philippine pandemic subsides and the govt dictates are leavened [w/ levity rather than declaratives]???? in solidarity, dennis….

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      2. Thanks to you Jeanie and the others who commented. For some reason I can’t “like” comments.

        Thank you too for your tears. I struggle to read the news without crying or feeling my heart torn. There is a Tibetan practice called Tonglen. You open your heart to the pain of those who are suffering and maintaining a center in compassion radiate that outward. Its quite visceral. I imagine that if one does it fully one will sweat blood.

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        1. ah, jpa, you have ‘sweated blood’ on the tibetan tonglen stone floors too, as i did during our 5 and a half years in the himalayan kingdom of nepal. we are ‘blood, sweat and tears’ consociates.

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        2. thank you for the reference, jpa. i will ask my rugrats in canada if they can find a way to send thatcher’s book to mindoro island. we no lopnger have postal service here in balatero or puerto galera. everything we have ordered has remains languishing in manila customs. perhaps when the philippine pandemic subsides and govt dictates are leavened [by levity not declaratives], we will be book-blessed. in solidarity, dennis….

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          1. apologies, dennis, i mean ‘remains’, not ‘has remains’ and ‘longer’ not ‘lopnger’. my weary eyes suffer from blurred vision, and my keyboard is klutzier than my sloppy flip flops.

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          2. another ‘errata’: thank you “DENNIS” for the thatcher reference, not “jpa”. hope you didn’t notice my multiple solecisms.

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  14. Back in 2012 and 2013, I wrote this article against drone warfare. The title I gave it was “The Temptations of Drone Warfare.” It’s only gotten worse.
    A recent article at NBC News is unusual in that it highlights the awfulness of war even when the killing is “surgical” and done by drones. Brandon Bryant, a former drone operator for the Air Force, suffers from PTSD and feels that killing by drone caused him to lose respect for life, that he became like a sociopath. Especially upsetting to Bryant was when his commander gave him a “diploma” (most likely an award citation) that stated he had contributed to the deaths of 1,626 people.

    Drone strikes are basically extra-judicial death sentences from the sky. For Americans, they seem unproblematic because we’re not exposed to them and because our government tells us only “militants” and evil-doers are being killed.

    But the temptations of drone warfare are considerable, as I wrote in an article for Truthout in August 2012. Here’s what I said back then:

    What happens when we decouple war’s terrible nature from its intoxicating force? What happens when one side can kill with impunity in complete safety? General Robert E. Lee’s words suggest that a nation that decouples war from its terrors will likely grow too fond of it. The temptation to use deadly force will no longer be restrained by knowledge of the horrors unleashed by the same.

    Such thoughts darken the reality of America’s growing fondness for drone warfare. Our land-based drone pilots patrol the skies of foreign lands like Afghanistan in complete safety. They unleash appropriately named Hellfire missiles to smite our enemies. The pilots see a video feed of the carnage they inflict; the American people see and experience nothing. In rare cases when ordinary Americans see drone footage on television, what they witness is something akin to a “Call of Duty” video game combined with a snuff film. War porn, if you will.

    Many Americans seem happy that we can smite foreign “militants” at no risk to ourselves. They trust that our military (and the CIA) rarely misidentifies a terrorist, and that “collateral damage,” that mind-numbing euphemism that obscures the reality of innocent men, women, and children obliterated by missiles, is the regrettable price of keeping America safe.

    But the reality is that sloppy intelligence and the fog and friction of war combine to make seemingly antiseptic drone warfare much like all other forms of war: bloody, wasteful, and terrible. Terrible, that is, for those on the receiving end of American firepower. Not terrible for us.

    There is a real danger that today’s drone warfare has become the equivalent to the Dark Side of the Force as described by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back: a quicker, easier, more seductive form of terror. It is indeed seductive to deploy the technological equivalent of Darth Vader’s throat-constricting powers at a safe distance. We may even applaud ourselves for our prowess while doing so. We tell ourselves that we are killing only the bad people, and that the few innocents caught in the crosshairs constitute an accidental but nonetheless unavoidable price of keeping America safe.

    In light of America’s growing affection for drone warfare combined with a disassociation from its terrible results, I submit to you a modified version of General Lee’s sentiment:

    It is not well that war grows less terrible for us – for we are growing much too fond of it.

    W. J. Astore

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    1. don’t forget the dastardly drones’ precursors… the oh so clever ‘smart bombs’ [love the US military’s euphemistic equivoques!], one of which slithered into an underground bunker in baghdad in 1991, where it shredded the entire family of dr. keilani, his wife and 5 children, whom he had hidden there b/c it was putatively ‘safe’. dr. keilani delivered my 7th and final bairn in the hashemite kingdom of jordan. ‘smart’ indeed.

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        1. ‘smart’ bombs indeed, launched by the untutored and morally myopic. those years of devastation after 1991, by the US murder-machine under the seigneury of big-daddy bush and his oil-baron buddies, triggered such a wail of despair and a profound sense of impuissance that iraqis rose up by the thousands to protect their ‘homeland’ and other besieged arabs. recruiting them for purposes of avenging the losses of their loved ones and their land was a no-brainer.

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    2. A frivolous, but on-point, anecdote regarding the drone operators. I don’t watch a lot of pop TV, but among the shows I follow, I’ve noticed there’s a subtle trend toward referencing current events. Of course, the Law and Order franchise always says its stories are “ripped from the headlines,” and indeed they are, but other shows have followed suit. An episode of Criminal Minds from at least 6 years ago or so had as a plot device exactly the “diploma” you mention, Bill. At the conclusion of his “service,” a drone operator had gotten a letter outlining how many people he’d been responsible for killing. He found out that many of them had been children, and subsequently went on a rampage to murder those behind that particular drone project.

      The most intriguing part of the storyline, though, was that the profiler team confronted both the government entity that had sent the letter and the project manager. The dialogue went something like, “You sent this guy, basically a video game player, a letter telling him how many people he’d killed? Congratulating him? Are you insane??” And then, to the project manager, “Women and children killed! Dozens of them! HOW does that happen? HOW can you live with yourself? HOW could you sit by while that information was covered up?” The project manager essentially just shrugged and said, “Hey, I only designed the software. Don’t blame ME.” And they arrested her on a raft of charges. We all know that, in reality, she’d have been promoted and awarded a bigger contract.

      Still….in a very small way, it’s gratifying to see the truth being brought out, even if only in a TV story. Perhaps a contribution to the critical mass leading to the tipping point.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. WJA – especially excellent article, as was the recent “10 Reasons…”. To the list of US myths surrounding 9/11, I would also add the statement “9/11 – the day the world changed!” I see that hubristic statement as a gross exaggeration done for additional CYA reasons by the US right wingers to justify more militarism & US exceptionalism and to deflect from their major failure* leading to 9/11 occurring. The ‘world’ at-large didn’t qualitatively change, though it did somewhat quantitatively change, when airport security around the world was notched-up, and the US became even more brazen in its militaristic interventionalism around the world. Things changed more drastically here in the US, but the last time I checked my atlas, the US is NOT ‘the world’…

    *(Sure, US pre-9/11 intel didn’t have the seat assignments of the 19 hijackers, but as you correctly alluded-to, there was reportedly increasing chatter of ‘something big’ coming, but W and his handlers weren’t especially concerned. Bill Clinton [my biggest Democratic POTUS disappointment] for all his faults DID focus on the so-called ‘millennium plots’ in 1999. He held daily meetings with his intelligence staff who subsequently foiled at least one big bombing plot. I can just imagine the criticism and probable impeachment proceedings that would’ve resulted if those bombings had come-off)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. but not georgie, donnie, paulie, and dickie; no impeachments or jail-time for them, despite being genocidal murderers, mendacious politicians, and corrupt businessmen.

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  16. Never Forget-What.

    As we learned a drone strike wiped out 10 civilians at least. Lots of sorry talk concerning torn apart bodies and best intelligence and yada, yada.

    I started thinking about all momentary reports over the past 20 years or so that grabbed all the air time in the “News Media” and then were quickly forgotten as – “We Moved On”.

    The killing of Gaddafi and Hillary’s cheerful reaction – We came, We saw, He Died. Anarchy and chaos followed in Libya – Time to Move On.

    Syria’s Assad was using – Wait For It – OMG- Barrel Bombs. The Red Hats or White Hats were quoted nearly everyday about the Barrel Bombs killing innocent civilians. It was hard to know which side we backed – anyone but Assad would do. Then those dastardly Russians intervened.

    ISIS decided the time was ripe to seize territory in Northern Iraq and Eastern Syria. Apparently, our well trained Iraq Army decided it was time to cut and run. Reports were of whole villages being wiped out and young men being forcibly conscripted. Our brave allies the Kurds fought back, making our Nato Ally Turkey very uncomfortable.

    Then, Trump abandoned our Kurdish Allies and the Turks decided to sort things out. Oh, there was the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and accusations of involvement by high Saudi officials – Time to Move On.

    Now you would think all was Quiet in Libya, Iraq and Syria, peace and harmony had returned. No reporting by the West, just silence. We Moved On.

    Liked by 2 people

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