The destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York twenty years ago was a crime against humanity. An act of unimaginable and unforgivable barbarity. The events of that day will forever remain etched in the psyche of a generation.
The majority of the million or so victims that were killed in the course of the War on Terror that followed that heinous crime had nothing to do with it whatsoever. Those perpetual wars that followed were also crimes against humanity; nations destroyed because of lies. Nations with no links to the alleged hijackers were brutalised and smashed to pieces in acts of pure vengeance.
I don’t know if we are allowed to say this, even after twenty years.
Twenty years ago, a work colleague chose to censure me when I opposed the charge into war. She sent me an email detailing the harrowing account of those who could not escape the twin towers that day and all of the horrors they experienced. “Perhaps this will help you understand,” she told me, as if I was an ogre unable to comprehend the merciless enormity of that awful day.
I suspect many have held the same thoughts as my colleague over the two decades since, whenever I expressed my opposition to war. I suspect there are family members and friends who still believe that I am compromised by my opposition to those fallout conflicts.
But where was it to end? After Iraq, six more nation states, likewise falsely accused of the crime?
“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off Iran.”Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars (New York: Public Affairs, 2003), p.130.
Reading and watching our state broadcaster today, I see that little has changed. They are still associating in our minds one band of men with another group of bogeymen, formulating equations that just don’t add up. Nobody can even remember why we went to war in the first place.
The mission, they said in September 2001, was to neutralise a terrorist organisation that had found safe harbour in a failed state caught up in a two-decade-long civil war. So it was that we were to obliterate the host nation, despite their protestations of innocence.
A decade later the alleged terrorist mastermind was allegedly eventually found living in a house next to a military base in neighbouring Pakistan, though nobody will ever know if that was just the cover story for a covert operation in an allied nation’s airspace which ended in the loss of a stealth helicopter that could not fall into Chinese hands, for the body of the world’s most wanted man was allegedly dumped in the sea in accordance with an Islamic tradition that does not exist.
It’s a wonder that people believe this nonsense. But here we are again, being fed more propaganda to justify a million deaths. I will turn off the news for the weekend.
The barbourous crime commemorated this weekend deserves to be remembered, and all of its victims too. But deploying the anniversary to beat the drum for more wars and more state surveillance: that is as tasteless as people will accuse this post of being.
We have tried war. Now let’s try peace.