Vestiges of 9/11

Chico State’s Peace Institute presents thought-provoking lecture series

Retired Chico State political science professor George Wright will speak in Chico on Sept. 16.

Retired Chico State political science professor George Wright will speak in Chico on Sept. 16.

PHOTO Courtesy of george wright

Free speeches:
The Chico State Peace Institute’s speaker series is free and takes place on Fridays—Sept. 9, 16, 23 and 30—at 7 p.m., in Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall (PAC 134).

It’s been 10 years since the ghastly events of Sept. 11, 2001, when four fully fueled jumbo jets, in a coordinated set of terrorist attacks, slammed into the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, the west wing of the Pentagon and—in the case of United Airlines Flight 93—a field in Pennsylvania, after the plane’s hijackers were overcome by passengers trying to take control of the plane.

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, and the world hasn’t been the same since.

Less than two weeks after 9/11, George Wright—at the time a professor of political science at Chico State known for his outspokenness—wrote in this newspaper that, contrary to what many Americans believed, the attacks were not a “‘declaration of war’ against the United States by Islamic forces,” but rather “an attack on U.S. foreign policy.”

Neo-liberal economic policies, promoted by the United States, he argued, “have impoverished the vast majority of the world’s population,” including in the Middle East, where “the hardest hit are youth under 16, representing 60 percent of the region’s population, an obvious pool for future militants.”

Wright, who lives in San Francisco, will return to Chico State on Sept. 16 to speak at the Chico State Peace Institute’s four-part series of Friday lectures, called 9/11: Ten Years Later. He will join Chico State history professor Kate Transchel, Butte College history instructor Jeffery Crawford and retired Chico State political-science professor William Stewart for a panel discussion titled “Empire or Republic: The Impact of 9/11 on American Foreign and Domestic Policy.”

Reached recently by phone at his San Francisco home, Wright said that “regardless of what 9/11 was about—whether the Bush administration did it, whether they were aware of it, whether it was incompetency or whether it was done by Middle Eastern people, the U.S. used 9/11 to escalate pursuit of absolute global hegemony using military aggression—that’s the bottom line.

“Much of the liberal left argues that 9/11 marked the beginning of a new stage in [U.S.] foreign policy, a ‘qualitative shift’ in American foreign policy,” Wright continued. “I disagree with that. I think there has been a continuous effort since 1948 to achieve absolute hegemony.”

The former Soviet Union had been a “major obstacle” to achieving such global hegemony, Wright said, “but once it collapsed in 1991, it opened up areas of the world the U.S. hadn’t has access to before, such as central Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Wright believes that one of the United States’ post-9/11 objectives is “to gain control of the oil in the Middle East republics, which have about 73 percent of the world’s oil reserves.”

As for the nation’s struggling post-9/11 economy, Wright observed that the U.S. is “committed to the military and a domestic policy based on speculation—such as hedge funds, sub-prime mortgages—rather than investing in production in the U.S., investing in manufacturing jobs.”

Using the military to maintain global hegemony is a Catch-22 situation, Wright said, that gets the U.S. “deeper and deeper in the hole. No. 1, we can’t win those wars, and, No. 2, the [domestic] economy collapses even further due to the lack of investment in jobs and production. The U.S. is in rapid decline as it attempts to further its hegemony.”

Wright likened the United States’ way of operating in the world to that of the world-dominating British Empire in the 19th century. “The model is not new to the U.S.,” he said. “The only difference is the scale of American power.”

Chico State finance professor Richard Ponarul will lead off the four-part series with his Sept. 9 talk, “Economic Myths and Realities in the Post 9/11 World.” Bay Area architect Richard Gage and widely known author David Ray Griffin will give a talk on Sept. 23 titled “Why We Need a New, Independent Investigation of 9/11.”

The series will wrap up on Sept. 30 with “Building Community Post 9/11: How has the aftermath of 9/11 impacted our community?”