Sunday, September 11, 2011

911: The first ten years

kw: memorials, history

This is how the Ground Zero site looked just three months ago. Crews have been working around the clock to get ready for today's dedication of the 911 Memorial, consisting of the waterfall pools that occupy the footprints of the two fallen towers, the names of those who died on brass plaques around the pools, the mini-forest that was planted all around the site, and a museum containing historical exhibits.

Then, let us not forget the new building going up to the north, which is already 82 stories high, intending to top out at over 100 stories and more than 1,700 feet. That is half a kilometer, folks! According to a recent PBS special about it, the building is being built to withstand an attack by a whole fleet of jumbo jets. In this image, we can see only its top.

Here is how the finished memorial is intended to look, according to a model by Squared Design Lab. There are also renderings of the museum being built and other features.

What have we learned after ten years? Not a great deal. Within a couple of months after the 2001 attacks, U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan, where it was thought the Al Qaeda perpetrators were being harbored. Just incidentally, they ousted the Taliban, though it is still not clear whether they will stay ousted. The grindingly evil advances of "political correctness" over the past 30-40 years have made the U.S., as a nation, too squeamish to look an enemy in the eye and put a bullet there. The debacle in Iraq is even more pitiful. Yeah, some of our heroes finally killed Osama Bin Laden this May, but had to sneak around to do it. Anybody who was dumb enough to apologize to Pakistan after that is no friend of mine. They ought to consider themselves lucky we didn't commit a third invasion.

Now, that said, there is one huge step the U.S. could take to ramp down the world's resentment and reduce some of the motivation for terrorism (we'll never remove it all). We have troops and bases and posts in more than half the nations of the world, for various reasons. I have not been able to find out how many troops that comes to, but it is somewhere in the range of 100,000 to 300,000 (probably). Bring them home! Give each of them $100,000 seed money to start a small business (a sum in the $20 billion range), because there aren't jobs for them here. Enough of them will succeed and begin to hire people that it will make a big dent in our unemployment level. In fact, it would be more effective, at 1/20th the cost, than the so-called "American Jobs Act", which I understand is not yet on paper, meaning it does not yet exist.

To those who think the above paragraph contradicts the prior one: I believe in being ready to utterly defeat a foe, but I do not wish to live in his closet awaiting the chance.

More on the "we haven't learned much" front. Some folks are making this argument about who "really" perpetrated the 911 attacks, "Either our government knew about it and did nothing to stop it, or they knew and were involved, or they were the biggest buffoons ever." I fall firmly in the "they were huge buffoons" camp. But the statement poses only three of a number of options; it is a false choice. It reveals a lack of imagination on the part of the conspiracy buffs. As usual, life is not so stark, not so black and white. Reality is far more banal. Only one of twenty hijackers was prevented from getting on his flight, because only one security guard had guts enough to buck the PC mavens and detain an Arab who, he said, had death in his eyes. The twenty Arab hijackers were able to get flight training because we have multiple intelligence agencies that treat each other worse than they treat the nation's enemies; each had a piece of the puzzle but no way were they going to share with each other. And things haven't gotten any better on that front! The buffoons are still in charge, and our buffoon-in-chief thinks our biggest priority is to spend half a trillion dollars we do not have, as wastefully as the "stimulus" money of two years ago. Most of that went down a rathole with no discernible effect.

OK, I'd better stop there. This is what I want you to know. The buffoons are still in charge.

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