We should learn from 9/11 …1973

Richard Estes is a progressive activist and resident of the Sacramento Valley since 1972

Two years after 9/11, I am saddened to see the dead exploited to justify the expansion of American military and economic dominance around the world. It is time our foreign policy was democratized to resist this new colonialism that imperils people at home and abroad.

Before 9/11, we believed U.S. foreign policy was a great game played safely elsewhere, with the deaths, injuries and poverty inflicted in some alternate universe. Our support of dictatorships in Indonesia, Algeria, Pakistan, Colombia and the Philippines contributed to the impoverishment of these countries and the emergence of extremely violent insurgencies, several marked by the pervasive influence of anti-American Islamic fundamentalism.

After 9/11, we all received the frightening, disorienting message that anyone can be killed because of anger about our government’s actions in faraway regions, actions that are now even more frequent because of the “war on terrorism.” We can imagine nightmares in which Americans are killed in response to secret military and intelligence operations the public knew nothing about.

We once would have thought it comical or deranged if someone had suggested that the CIA training of Islamic fundamentalists would give militants the skills necessary to kill 3,000 people on the East Coast. Yet, since 9/11, there has been no investigation of our 1980s alliance with Islamic fundamentalism as part of the Reagan administration’s defense policy.

Instead, our current government nurtures a sense of victimization, which it uses to demand support for violent actions undertaken for economic self-interest. Rather than invade and occupy oil-rich Iraq, a country unassociated with 9/11, we should address the trauma of Chile, where thousands died after a U.S.-engineered coup, a coup that took place, ironically enough, on September 11, 1973. As Bush advisers target Iran, another oil producer, as the next country for invasion, we should recall that our Navy shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988, killing 290 people.

After 9/11, millions around the world, including many from countries that have suffered grievously as a result of American intervention, stood in solidarity with us. With nearly 8,000 Iraqis estimated dead, another 20,000 wounded and President Bush insistent that “you are either with us or against us,” I nervously wonder: Will they celebrate if there are future attacks?