Yesterday's post marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. was intentionally simple, meditative. Today's post is introspective as well, but in a different way.
U.S. Wasting Billions reveals that "The bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting concludes that between $31 and $60 billion spent on projects in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years has been lost to waste and fraud. In Afghanistan, the commission found the United States is indirectly funding the Taliban as money diverted from U.S.-backed projects is paid out to militants to ensure safety." Your tax dollars at work.
In a similar vein, The Dead, the Dollars, the Drones: 9/11 Era by the Numbers presents in mind-boggling graphs depicting the ten-year trends in military spending, veterans spending, numbers of troops and numbers of special forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military fatalities, drone flight hours, armored vehicles, wiretaps. In addition there are searing graphs depicting Iraqi death estimates, Afghan civilian deaths, and U.S. casualties from roadside bombs (see image above for Afghanistan alone). Your tax dollars at work.
Reviewing 9/11's Suppressed Images jolted me. It's not news that much of what happened that day and since has been hidden from the public (with varying degrees of success) ~ President Bush's clueless response to the initial news of the attacks, Vice President Cheney's hiding in a bunnker, taken together leaving the nation leaderless in its time of crisis; the spiriting out of the country of Saudi millionaires to their homelands (most of the plane hijackers were Saudis); et al. Stonewalling and whitewashes are nothing new. But on that horrible day, one detail which emerged burned itself into the retinas of TV viewers ~ men and women who fell or jumped to their deaths from the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. The number of these casualties makes up fully 7% of all victims who died in New York City. After one day, all photos and images of those falling were never shown again. Did the government and the media imagine that this would somehow lessen the horror?
Muslims Feel Growing Hostility as 9/11 Anniversary Approaches and 'Ground Zero Mosque' Is Built traces an American tradition as old as the republic ~ the oppression and abuse of perceived "others". But in this case the "others" are American citizens who happen to be Muslim. Before 9/11, there was virtually no physical or verbal abuse targetting Muslims. Overnight, Muslims became the victims of vicious attacks which continue to this day. Our self-perception as the multicultural melting pot of the world is at odds with the evidence of our ongoing xenophobia. Japanese-American citizens were victims during World War II. Today the scapegoat of choice is the American Muslim community. Black and white thinking simply does not serve us well, in a world of nuance and diversity.
Finally, here is a link to a series of thoughtful comments by members of the team of excellent journalists who contribute to the PBS series Washington Week, reflecting on the changes that have taken place in the ten years since 9/11 ~ changes in national and world politics, in how we think and how we behave, and in how we regard ourselves and each other. The videos are well worth watching to enhance our perspective, and to remind us of our common humanity, and our common cause in making the world a better place.