Let’s actually reflect on the past decade

By Tyler Hess

The Sept. 11 remembrance spectacles were, to a degree, important in the immediate years following such a tragedy. But as the 10th Anniversary passed for what is commonly held to be one of the most significant events of the century, I marveled at the vacuous content of the supposed “reflection events” and their media coverage.

Front page stories in most newspapers I encountered had personalized interviews, creative cartoons and incredible graphics. But much was left out.

It is important nonetheless to remember the dead. The husbands, wives, mothers and fathers who died, and those living with that loss deserve their time of grief. Yet the patriotic parades and flag-fluttering lawns must begin to be more than

media charades. The dialogue should indeed be a time of proper remembrance for the victims, and reflection on the country’s response.

Whether in most national syndicated papers, or in Monday’s Kernel, some of the most important facts of the last decade were overlooked.

Rarely are the true costs of America’s war(s) and offensive death counts elaborated on in the same news-attracting manner as memorial unveilings.

In 2008, a conservative estimate by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz estimated the real dollars cost of just the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to be between $3-5 trillion. Later, a $600-900 billion addition was needed for immediate projected veteran healthcare.

Death counts on the American side are recently troubling as suicide rates skyrocket. Total soldier deaths now number more thn 6,000. But turning to the always avoided dismembered victims of American cluster bombs, night raids and drone strikes – are hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghani, Iraqi, Pakistani, Yemeni and Somali men, women and children.

Let’s be clear, these numbers (300,00-500,000 dead) do not include “militants,” are often are low estimates, and don’t include the several millions displaced. These imperfections are due to heavy restriction on inspection of the decimated areas and peoples.

A recent Wikileaks cable detailed an incident when a botched night raid ended in the deaths of a large family. An air strike was called in to destroy the remains of the housing. And just now are we learning of these deaths. Must we not honor these deaths too?

Incredibly high costs, of the wars, placed entirely on credit, have brought a tremendous amount of human suffering.  This includes aforementioned millions of Iraqi and Afghani affected. However, often equally overlooked is the general American public. As deficits rise, and domestic spending cuts are enacted, war spending must begin to harbor its due share of culpability.

The expanding war budget is the White Elephant amidst the incessant discussion on the suffering of the American domestic economy. I have heard, and continue to incessantly hear news of impending financial ruin.

The “experts” then give us their not-allowed-to-be-questioned advice on how to fix it. A charade of supposed “debate” happens between two corporate funded vague semblances of political parties. Never do the actual perpetrators become questioned.

It becomes which category of victims to we pick on in this American Legislative Exchange Council crafted legislation. Do we break the regulation-hungry unions? Steal from the pension-greedy teachers? Cut social spending, eliminate assistance for the poor, reduce student loans, etc etc? As the more serious effects are still unfolding, how is the current war economy treating you?

Large oil corporations and weapons manufactures like GE, Exxon, Lockheed Martin and BP are bathing in profits as school classrooms double in size and the young Black unemployment rate topped 47 percent in August. General Electric (GE) in particular has paid no taxes for the past 2 years, instead raking in billions in tax breaks while outsourcing thousands of jobs.

If the U.S. government still desires to use this past anniversary as a nationalistic rallying to support increased war spending and nose-diving social spending, then let the greater populace insert proper critiques into the conversations around us.

The innocent victims of Sept. 11 should not be continually “honored” by justifying ongoing illegal wars. Has no one learned about Charles Johnson’s “Blowback” in the past decade?

Remember the victims by reflecting on the last decade. Remember in particular how in so many conversations, more than 3,000 deaths were used as baseless invocations necessitating an ever-expanding surveillance and permanent war empire.

“Where Were You on 9/11?” type quotes and interviews do not give justice to the arguably tens of millions of lives displaced, eliminated and affected because of the 21st century of global war.

If these words didn’t paint enough of an image, just YouTube “Collateral Murder” or investigate some of these statistics yourselves. The last decade of death caused by the world’s “war on terror” deserved to be better honored with more than million dollar waterfalls.