Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 Ten Years Later: Are the Lessons Learned?

The ceremonies are certainly as solemn as they have ever been. Across the nation, people remembered that pivotal day exactly ten years ago, when America bore witness to a whole new kind of terrorism. As buildings collapsed and lives lost, the Americans everywhere were forced to come to realization that the mighty economic and military strength of the only remaining superpower are not enough to protect themselves against a few skilled and determined “foreign operatives.”

Shock and sorrow are bound to be accompanied by a certain degree of irrationality. In the wake of the disaster, the Americans became blinded by their emotions. They simply entrusted the government with handling any responses to 9/11, thinking that perhaps, amid their own sense of helplessness, their political leaders can come up with solid plans for revenge, for compensation, and for comprehending what was really going on that day.

With the emotionally distraught constituents casting aside their usual doubts of government policies, America had unprecedented political unity in the years after the disaster. People threw away their common senses of constantly questioning government actions, simply by arguing that the time was for immediate actions against the perpetrators, not incessant squabbles among voters and politicians that make inefficiency the norm in American politics.

With the voters voluntarily casting themselves aside and foreign states sympathetic with American sufferings, the politicians at Washington, DC were able to freely script foreign policies in the post-9/11 era with little domestic or foreign resistance. They had the opportunity to reshape American image, and redirect American interests abroad to take into account that whole new factor of threat on the American homeland. Yet, instead, our leaders simply accentuated the need to increase, even further, the presence of America in every corner of the world to stamp out existence of the “foreign operatives.”

Ideologically, the mission represented an almost coerced execution of liberal internationalism. The creations of new democracies abroad are supposed to be supported by the locals and Western nations as institutionalization of social equality and legal fairness needed for economic progress. Yet, under the propagandistic calls of the post-9/11 American government, democracy itself almost became a propagandistic concept.

It was and still is democracy for the sake of democracy. America sought to quickly turn around anti-American public opinions in foreign countries through direct and indirect oppositions to unpopular long-time rulers. Insurgencies are supported by financial and military means, and the costly supports are justified to the increasingly skeptical populace back home as galvanizing support for “freedom seekers.” Somehow, the government and the media succeeded to convince the public that there is direct correlation between the mere existence of militarily created, messy, unrestrained popular democracies and a decrease, even disappearance, of terrorism.

Ten years after the formulation of the liberal internationalist mission, the American government has persisted in its execution. Despite costs of billions of taxpayers’ dollars and tens of thousands of deaths in innocent American soldiers and local civilians, the politicians are still determined to carry out the policy to its bitter end. Washington is not giving up until every last “oppressed people” can have a taste of that sweet joy of “freedom.”

Surely enough, the increasingly aggressive military deployment has been instrumental in encouraging “freedom fighters” everywhere. As witnessed by events across the Middle East from Libya to Egypt to Syria, any thuggish gangs vowing to fight against the non-elected local government is hailed by America as nobly fighting for freedom and democracy. It did not matter what background they come from as long as their guns are pointed at “dictators” and not at America.

But the question remains whether America and the world at large has become more secure against future flairs of fanaticism that has been the root cause of 9/11. As popular fanaticism continues to overthrow long-established regimes in the Middle East, the answer cannot be too reassuring. After all, popular uprisings, unlike what has been long proclaimed by American liberal internationalists, have been caused by economic and social reasons, rather than simple desires for greater political participation.

Ten years of turbulence resulting from movements to establish democratic rule has not brought about economic development or social equality. The newly rich and powerful emerged from Western-sponsored “democratic elections,” while the vast majorities of those who fought on the frontlines of the movements are left in exactly the same social and economic statuses as before.

It is only a matter of time before those involved realize the grim reality. And when they do, they will realize the ludicrousness of the American liberal internationalist vision. Then, it would only be a matter of time before the disgruntled once again turn their guns away from the “evil despots” of their native lands and back toward America. The American voters, in renewed shock and sorrow, will have pay for their blind trusting of foreign policies to self-centered politicians.

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