Some good articles on The Nation today related to 9/11.
In the 18 years since 9/11, war has become this country’s permanent condition, with no peaceful end in sight.
This September 11 marks the 18th year since hijackers seized four US airliners, plowing three of them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the fourth into a field in southern Pennsylvania. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and deranged our national politics. In the fraught months that followed, US leaders declared one war after another, miring this country in conflicts from Central Asia to the Middle East. There is still no end in sight.
The longest of these conflicts—in fact, the longest war in US history—is the one that George W. Bush launched against the Taliban less than a month after 9/11. He called it “Operation Enduring Freedom” and claimed its mission was “to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.” He spoke of “freedom.” He trumpeted the “generosity” America would show the Afghan people. But many of us knew what this really was: a war of vengeance, waged against an impoverished country some 7,000 miles away, with no meaningful vision for peace.
But far too many people just went along with it.
Wars without end expand the prerogatives of the president and the budgets of the national security state. Presidents from both parties have repeatedly invoked the post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force to dispatch troops across the globe. In today’s dollars, the Pentagon’s budget now exceeds its levels at the height of the Cold War.
Forever war is an affront to our Constitution. The founders, worried that the executive had an inherent propensity for war, gave the power to declare it to Congress, believing that this decision should be made only by the people’s representatives after debate and deliberation. Now, war is our permanent condition, and Congress has essentially abandoned its constitutional responsibilities.
Who will have the guts to change this “condition”? I can think of one person who might fit that bill.