Atanu Dey On India's Development

Sept 11, 2001: Islam’s Wake Up Call to America

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I was pretty upset at my housemate. I looked at the bedside clock — it was barely 6 AM — and he was talking loudly to someone on the phone in the next room. Then he knocked on my bedroom door. “Wayne, what the hell’s the matter with you?” “Atanu, my mom called from the East coast. Come out and take a look at this,” he said. The TV was on in the living room. Evidently, one of the towers of the World Trade Center in NYC was on fire. It didn’t take long for the realization that it wasn’t just a fire. I stood there in my pajamas watching the drama unfold until I had to go to teach class at noon. I told the class that we will talk about something more important than indifference curves and utility maximization. I knew it in my bones that things had changed.

It was one hell of a wake up call for the US. Pity that instead of waking up, the US hit the snooze button and is still basically asleep. What will it take — a “nukiller” bomb in SF?

Here’s an extended quote from what I wrote a few days later on my UC Berkeley blog (now deceased): The Looking Glass War.

Sept 17th, 2001 Berkeley CA

“Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear at any rate–” exclaimed Alice after reading Jabberwocky in the Looking-Glass world. {Click on the image above to read the poem.}

It is a fair description of what the situation appears to be in the US after last week’s terrorist attacks.

Terrorism is nothing new to the US which has always prided itself as a self-styled global cop. What is different is the scale of the terrorism the US has experienced in its own backyard–indeed its living room. This seems to fill the US heads with ideas and like Alice it does not quite know what they are. What is clear at any rate is the symbolism of the chosen targets and the effectiveness of the blow that the terrorists struck.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center symbolized the technological and economic domination of the globe just as much as the Pentagon symbolizes the military domination of the US. Using the US civilian air transportation system to hit at these two towering symbols of American hegemony only added insult to injury.

Somebody killed something, as a confused Alice noted. And while it is still unclear who that somebody is, what was killed is amply clear.

Destroyed forever is the illusion that technological superiority gives immunity from the greater reality of the world beyond its well-guarded borders. Gone forever is the comforting dream that a nuclear missile defense shield would protect against the actions of rogue nations. The age of being able to move freely about this vast country in the most sophisticated civilian air transportation system is also over.

The symbolism of the attack on the Big Apple is unavoidable and the mind tries to make sense of the devastation and its aftermath by recalling myths and legends. The US is at war; but it is a looking glass war where the image of the villain is created by the real hero standing in front of a mirror. And like a mirror, the greater the hero, the larger the villain appears to be–only with the mirror inverting the right and wrong.

Faustian Bargain

At a certain level of analysis, the US is directly responsible for the power of Bin Laden and his followers. There is an unbroken causal chain that stretches from the US through the CIA to Pakistan to the Taliban to Bin Laden. The US armed the Mujahideen and now the other half of the unholy bargain is done with the destruction of the trade center towers and a token bombing of the Pentagon.

In his quest for magical power, Dr. Faustus makes a pact with the devil in which he barters away his soul. It is a powerful tale of the dangers of hubris that compels the powerful to seek even more power and are willing to make deals with devils. Dr. Faustus squanders away many opportunities where he could have redeemed himself but didn’t. It appears that the US is all set to make a larger faustian bargain with Pakistan. It is possible that the other half of the latest deal with the devil will be a nuclear bomb in the financial district of San Francisco a few years from now.

The Terrorism-Industrial-Complex

Why isn’t the US waking up? My conjecture is that it is good for the military-industrial complex. Thanks to bin Laden and the Religion of Peace, the military-industrial complex has been enlarged into the terrorism-industrial-complex. It is hugely profitable — for the people who work in it, of course. For the rest of us, in the US and abroad, it is immensely costly.

The other day Terry Gross was talking about this on her show “Fresh Air from WHYY.”

Thousands of government organizations and private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence. Last December, The Washington Post reported that this “top-secret world … has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.”

On today’s Fresh Air, Washington Post national security reporter Dana Priest, the co-author of both the Post’s investigative series and the book Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State, joins Terry Gross for a discussion about how the “terrorism industrial complex” created in response to the Sept. 11 attacks grew to be so big.

“The government said, ‘We’re facing an enemy we don’t understand, we don’t have the tools to deal with it, here’s billions … of dollars and a blank check after that for anybody with a good idea to go and pursue it,’ ” she says. “Not only does the government find it difficult to get its arms around itself, [but now] it doesn’t know what’s inside, it doesn’t know what works, it doesn’t know what doesn’t work. And nobody still, 10 years later, is really in charge of those questions.”
. . .
More than 800,000 people now hold top-secret security clearances. And now an entire industry has sprung up to provide those clearances, says Priest.

Here’s an excerpt from “Top Secret America: The Rise Of The New American Security State”:

Having been given a steady diet of vague but terrifying information from national security officials about the possibility of dirty bombs, chemical weapons, biotoxins, exploding airliners, and suicide bombers, a nation of men and women like the Whitemans have shelled out hundreds of billions dollars to turn the machine of government over to defeating terrorism without ever really questioning what they were getting for their money. And even if they did want an answer to that question, they would not be given one, both because those same officials have decided it would gravely harm national security to share such classified information— and because the officials themselves don’t actually know.

In the panic-​filled chaos of late 2001 through 2002, this dragnet approach to terrorism was understandable, given how little the CIA, the FBI, and military intelligence agencies knew then about al-Qaeda. But in ten years, they have made vast strides in technical surveillance capabilities and intelligence analysis. They have killed so many al-Qaeda operatives that only hundreds are left in the world (in addition to the organization’s post-​9/11 affiliates). The dragnet approach no longer makes much sense.

One reason America is stuck at Yellow Alert — “Significant Risk” of terrorist attack accompanied by no specific information — and stuck with such an enormous complex of organizations and agencies trying to defend the country is that being wrong is too costly for politicians in Washington. “Who wants to be the guy that says we don’t need this anymore and then three weeks later something happens?” asked [ ] national security adviser James Jones, former commandant of the Marine Corps. “I don’t think you can ever get it back” to a smaller size.

We believe the primary reason for this is that the government has still not engaged the American people in an honest conversation about terrorism and the appropriate U.S. response to it. We hope our book will promote one. {Emphasis added.}

In a world of political correctness, it is not even possible to name the enemy, leave alone having an honest conversation about terrorism. Islam, as they insist, is the Religion of Peace. That about settles the matter.

Or as Diggyvijay Singh would put it, “The RSS hand cannot be ruled out.” Yeah, that’s it.

  • Lok

    Doggvijay Singh is his new name. Imagine Doggvijay Singh as our ambassador to Pakistan. Oops. he is indeed one stationed at home.

  • Lok

    Latest from Pat condell, his usual best..on American politicans

    http://www.youtube.com/user/patcondell?blend=1&ob=5

  • pravin

    the only man telling ANY truth in american politics is Ron Paul.and the zombies will keep ignoring him -because he doesnt fit their left v right paradigm.the real curse to islam was oil.must have been sent by satan

  • Julian

    There is no “satan”, that is all Abrahamic make believe.

    Second Islam was cruel and fanatical before Oil and India is a testament to that. According to KS Lal an estimated 80 million Hindus were slaughtered through the 10 centuries of Jihad, not at all improbable when you consider the fact that the Bahmani Sultans alone made it a policy to kill 100,000 Hindus a year. We still haven’t recovered from the destructive effects of Islam and may never will thanks to the residual fast breeding followers of this cult.

    Ron Paul has a point when he says US foreign policy contributes to the problem but he is wrong in thinking that’s the sole cause, he has to say that probably because his own chosen religion (i.e Christianity) is just as destructive as Islam and made of the same mold. It’s just that science has knocked the wind out of its sails at least in the West.

  • Jagadish C

    If we have the cojones to call a spade a spade, and toss out the political correctness garbage, we’d all realize Islam and the rest of the world can never be at peace with each other and islam is a very intolerant religion at its core. The very fact that you have to keep harping about being a “religion of peace”, a claim that flies in the face of reality, as a lot to say about the nature of such a religion.

  • http://themmindset.wordpress.com/ The Mindset

    Atanu ji should be admired for speaking the truth about Islam which is NOT The Religion of Peace
    A person at such top position and caliber is speaking the truth while morons like Pigvijay Singh are spreading lies and threatening those who do.
    Shame on pseudo-secular idiots.