Here’s a question you won’t want to try to answer: Which endangers us most: the climate crisis? The Covid pandemic? The threats to democracy in the U.S.?
On a completely different topic, Saturday, September 11, will be the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 – I assume you’re old enough to remember what happened that day. Here’s the text of the letter I submitted to our local newspaper in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on September 11, 2007, the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attack. They published it a week later.
It was truly a public service for you, on September 11, to reprint President Bush’s September 20, 2001 address.
In his speech the President held the Taliban regime in Afghanistan responsible for al-Qaida and thus for the September 11 attack. He made a series of “demands” on the Taliban, and then stated: “These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion.” Is this a way to persuade someone? Could war with Afghanistan have been avoided? We’ll never know.
The President asked how we will wage war against the terrorists and answered by vowing that we will use “every resource at our command.” But not many months had passed before most of these resources were shifted to Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack.
The President challenged the world by warning, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” The real world has never been that simple. Did the President realize that he risked alienating those who were inclined to be sympathetic?
President Bush claims, finally, that God is on our side: “Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.” The President assumes that we stand for freedom and justice and against fear and cruelty. Many, in this country and around the world, sadly, now have their doubts. Perhaps President Bush should have been content to follow the lead of President Lincoln, and prayed that we might be on God’s side.
And now, twenty years after that attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we have ended our war in Afghanistan, and the Taliban are back in power. And left behind are thousands of Afghans who assisted us.
Here, in closing, is the concluding sentence from a letter to the editor on “the lessons of Afghanistan” published in the New York Times on August 21: “Reinstate national service and make it universal, and every parent and child over 18 will pay close attention to military commitments that risk their lives.”