The tsunami of U.S. coverage of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, almost completely through the lens of people killed in the U.S. or in fighting “for” the U.S., needs to be answered with the force of our understanding and commitment. Buried beneath the rubble of America-first jingoism, historians, thinkers and activists contributed much this week. Rather than summarize, we are sharing links to what really got our attention:
Nazia spoke with Sam Goldman on 9/11 for the Refuse Fascism podcast #76:
It’s interesting that even the U.S. government itself acknowledges that the War on Terror is a never-ending forever war… We’ve got to remember the geopolitics that led to 9/11 to begin with… 37 million people displaced by the U.S.-led war on terror… the U.S. created a network of secret prisons, so-called black sites around the world… The notion of empire, the notion of imperialism is so absent from American discourse… To think about American Empire allows us to begin to understand not just the War on Terror, but the global economic system.
See the full transcript
Andy Zee’s commentary on the Revolution Nothing Less show ended with a quote from the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian pointing to how humanity’s interests lie with stopping, and replacing, the system of capitalism-imperialism:
The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way.
See the full transcript
The first lethal drone strike in history occurred in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, when the CIA identified Taliban leader Mullah Omar, “or 98-percent probable it was he,” but the Hellfire missile launched by a Predator drone killed two unidentified men while Mullah Omar escaped. These two recent instances of “force and precision” ordered by Biden twenty years later marked the presumed end to the war there just as it had begun. The intervening record has not been much better and, in fact, documents exposed by whistleblower Daniel Hale prove that the U.S. government is aware that 90% of its drone strike victims are not the intended targets.
The New York Times investigated the Kabul drone strike which killed members of the Ahmadi family, backing up the family’s claim that no terrorists were in the family car or compound; rather the driver worked for a U.S.-based humanitarian organization. But General Mark Milley called it a “righteous strike,” and said it met the rules of engagement that the military had, and was ”rigorously” scrutinized before the drone strike was authorized, as reported by Fox News.
This drone strike at the end of the ground war became a metaphor for the 20 years of American war on the Afghan people: The world’s most extensive military frantically aims from across the world, kills people who pose no threat, then justifies such killings as “by the rules.” And there will be more, to the extent that people here don’t rise up to stop them.
A must-read is Anand Gopal’s piece, The Other Afghan Women. Gopal’s reporting from Afghanistan has stood out for his method of embedding with the people far away from Kabul and western sources, in this case in the Sangin Valley, in Helmand province:
Entire branches of Shakira’s family tree, from the uncles who used to tell her stories to the cousins who played with her in the caves, vanished. In all, she lost sixteen family members. I wondered if it was the same for other families in Pan Killay. I sampled a dozen households at random in the village, and made similar inquiries in other villages, to insure that Pan Killay was no outlier. For each family, I documented the names of the dead, cross-checking cases with death certificates and eyewitness testimony. On average, I found, each family lost ten to twelve civilians in what locals call the American War…
In Sangin, whenever I brought up the question of gender, village women reacted with derision. “They are giving rights to Kabul women, and they are killing women here,” Pazaro said. “Is this justice?” Marzia, from Pan Killay, told me, “This is not ‘women’s rights’ when you are killing us, killing our brothers, killing our fathers.” Khalida, from a nearby village, said, “The Americans did not bring us any rights. They just came, fought, killed, and left.”
Knowing, and not being taken in by the propaganda that the Americans are “the good guys,” is an important step in being able to change this. The reporter Carol Rosenberg, who has covered Guantanamo for almost 20 years wrote The Legacy of America’s Post-9/11 Turn to Torture, highlighted the story of Mohamedou ould Slahi (Guantanamo Diary & The Mauritanian). This quote from her article on the torture regime is striking:
“There was torture,” said Adele Welty, whose son Timothy, a firefighter, died in New York on Sept. 11. She has come to question whether the military commissions at Guantánamo can deliver justice.
“The fact that my country could do that is so barbaric. It really bothers me,” she said. “What kind of people are we that we could do that to other human beings, and did we really believe that what they were saying in response to the torture was real, or were they just saying it to stop the torture?”
If you have more to share on never forgetting the many 9/11 deaths the U.S. caused, please do.
Debra Sweet, Director, World Can’t Wait
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