“For everybody knows or should know
That if nothing drastic is done
Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out,
Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in
Until the town is beaten flat.”
Yeats, Lapis Lazuli
It has been ten years since the fateful events of 9.11. Fateful because with the benefit of hindsight, al Qaeda’s crimes against humanity appear predestined. But what has the ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT) wrought?
To even ask whether the world is a safer and saner place than it was ten years ago is ludicrous. Though bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is in shambles, GWOT has spawned a seemingly permanent condition of worldwide terror and war.
Who does it serve? There’s been a chilling effect on speech and even thought (a severe constriction of freedom in the name of ‘defending our freedoms’), as well as pathological militarization of American society, not to mention the exponential increase in a very lucrative ‘black ops intelligence’ industry in the United States.
From a spiritual and metaphysical point of view, the evil al Qaeda unleashed on 9.11 triggered the evil in the Bush-Cheney Administration, combining into a perfect storm of darkness in human consciousness, and opening a black hole in the world.
Though good and evil have no relationship, the question is: Is this it, or is the accelerated and globalized fear and fragmentation since that day paradoxically propelling humanity to a new level of understanding, relationship, and cooperation?
To be sure, there’s little sign of it so far. At this very moment, the policies of the Bush and Obama Administrations are causing upwards of a million deaths by starvation in Somalia, which Time magazine described in a recent issue. That alone makes the entire Global War on Terror an abject failure.
As Mark Bowden, UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia said, “We are no longer involved in the practicalities of delivering humanitarian assistance with proper safeguards;” rather it has become “an issue where assistance can be provided on political grounds.”
As Time flatly states, “the effect of US sanctions [against the Islamists al-Shabab] has been to block aid to southern Somalia.” Just 20% of the nearly 3 million people in desperate need of aid are being reached, and mass starvation is the result. On a silently ravaging scale, the Obama Administration is apparently following the Donald Rumsfeld line: “Stuff happens.”
These are not the policies of a nation that purports to lead the world through moral suasion; these are the actions of a superpower that has lost all moral authority.
Somalia has loomed large in the mythology of American overreach ever since the “Black Hawk Down” incident in 1993. Eighteen US troops died, their bodies dragged through the streets during George Bush Senior’s guilt-driven intervention after Gulf War I, in support of another UN mission in another Somali famine.
The GWOT-produced starvation in Somalia is proof that a higher principle than the wretched power games of nations has to prevail if humankind is to make the transition from the post-World War II international order to a workable global order.
The Obama Administration, in its fecklessness and weakness, was apparently incapable of making a clean break with the Bush Administration’s crimes against humanity (invading Iraq without provocation; torture and extraordinary rendition).
After the evils of Bush-Cheney, America needed its own Truth and Reconciliation Commission to reset its course. Instead we got half-truths and deeper alienation, the same pathological elements that drove the 9.11 madmen, and now drive suicide bombers everywhere, who have become numbingly commonplace.
For a person or a people to put the past behind them, and for forgiveness to prevail over hatred and vengeance, there has to be a reckoning. Osama, like Obama, promised such a reckoning, but the former opened the gates of hell, while the latter inflated and then burst the last bubble of false hope.
Guantánamo rightly became the symbol of how far the United States has veered away from the values it once espoused, and to some degree embodied. Obama’s failure to close that prison epitomizes the erosion and corrosion of American character, as does his continuation of rendition-lite, and refusal to restore the rule of law over the egregiousness of ‘enemy combatant’ status for terrorist suspects.
GWOT demonstrates that nothing is more dangerous or more deleterious to the human prospect than an empire that retains its military capability after it collapses from within.
Superpower. The word tastes like ashes in the mouth. No more about countries–what has man become, and what can humanity still be?
Man has become a collective movement of darkness and sorrow. Perhaps we always have been essentially. Even so, in every society throughout history, and now more than ever, the human being that stands alone and grows in wholeness and holiness is free.
The global has become local. As walls crumble and borders dissolve, can a few still create and build anew?
Can the few, who have always gone first, transform themselves into new human beings? Or has God (or cosmic intelligence if you like) set the bar higher than we ordinary humans can clear?
I don’t know, but clearly, faith isn’t a belief; it’s a crucible.