Toward a New Light

This week has left me in a pensive mood. With the constant barrage of remembrance specials and slideshows in the media, even those of us living outside the country are very aware that the tenth anniverary of September 11, 2001 is this weekend. As one who was thankfully not directly affected by this tragedy, such an anniversary does not stand as a time for me to remember lost loved ones. Rather I find myself desiring to step back and take a long look at what our country was before September 11, 2001, and what it has become today. Politically, how have we changed, and what caused this change?

While I am still ruminating and looking for answers, here is what I know:

First, America did change after 9/11.

Second, the majority of this change was not a result of the terrorist attack itself, but rather a result of our government's response to the attack.

I truly believe that were we given the chance, America would have worked its way through the stages of grief. Yes, we would have spent time in denial and angry, but ultimately we would have made our way to acceptance and healing. Instead, the rallying cry was sounded and a war was begun. This war has not only affected those directly involved, but has truly affected the world as a whole. 

This focus on revenge and the invention of the "war on terror" have distracted us, and pushed us even further from peace and healing. This obsession with terrorism has spread like a disease, seeping through the veins of American society. It taints our decision making and cripples our government’s ability to involve itself where it is truly needed. We have moved beyond the military industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us of, and into an era where foreign policy does not exist outside the context of enemies and allies in the war on terror. 

This is particularly evident in the context of humanitarian intervention. Our choice of when and where to intervene to protect civilians and stop human rights abuses is directly tied to this war we have begun. Take, for example, Sudan. Many might wonder why so many chances have been given to President Bashir, a man with warrants out for his arrest on charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The answer is simple: Bashir is an ally in the war on terror. He has been for years. As a result, our goal in Sudan is ultimately to find a way to minimize the violence, while keeping in power a leader known to work with the US in our fight against terrorism. One would hope our ultimate goal would be to protect the civilians, but unfortunately it is not.

Like it's predecessor, America's "War on Drugs," the "War on Terror" has outlived its purpose of keeping Americans safe. That is, assuming that ever was the purpose. Both have in common a tendency to be more about appearance and less about safety; more about sound bites and campaign slogans, and less about efficacy. Ultimately, this war is more about revenge and less about what is best for America.

With that said, perhaps it is time to bring it to a close. Maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to see the world in a new light. To see a genocide and concern ourselves only with those who need protecting, not with political maneuvering in order to maintain allies in a war of our own creation. 

Follow Corrie on Twitter @corrie_hulse

9/11, Terrorism, United States

Corrie Hulse

Corrie is The Mantle's Managing Editor. You can email her at corrie [at] themantle.net.

Formerly The Mantle's International Affairs Editor, Corrie specializes in matters of civilian protection and human security - specifically the Responsibility to Protect - her writing tackles the complicated intersection of politics and humanity.

Follow her on Twitter @corrie_hulse