President Barack Obama smiled announcing Osama bin Laden’s demise. Obama’s was a satisfied smile at a moment during which America was once again confident of our power… a historic image, just like the photos of flag-waving Americans in front of the White House.
Columnist Howard Fineman said it well,
“By calmly and meticulously overseeing the successful targeting of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama just proved himself — vividly, in almost Biblical terms — to be an effective commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States.”
True enough, with the death of bin Laden, as written in Die Welt, “America has once again powerfully demonstrated that no one can attack and humiliate the US and go unpunished. America has shown that it does not forget, and that it has the resources, technology, courage and skills to go after its enemies with perseverance and a long reach.”
Indeed, it seems like America truly has finally won the war on terror, ten years on — and nearly a decade after the photo op for the Warlord George W. Bush wearing his bomber jacket in front of the sign, “Mission Accomplished.”
The mission was not accomplished, though, and even the death of Osama bin Laden will not provide a happy ending for America’s continuing tale of woe.
America is no longer the country it was before 9/11.
“We are a beleaguered America,” the columnist Howard Fineman summed up in the Huffington Post after the operation in Abbottabad.
As proof, one needs simply to “review the numbers.” At least 3,000 people died at the direction of mass-murderer bin Laden, and an all-efforts-justified program to find him started. The U.S. didn’t initiate a search for a criminal thug, though.
Instead, we launched the world’s historically largest War Of Retribution. Evolving tally: U.S. and Allies inflicted 100,000+ Innocent Civilian Deaths and Victims.
On the international side, the US War On Terror / War Of Retribution has created many terrorists, probably more than it eliminated through:
- Guantanamo detentions
- military tribunals
- Abu Ghraib
- torture and prisoner abuse, and
- more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens’ deaths.
On the American side, we’ve seen:
- 6,000+ dead US soldiers
- more than $1.3 trillion in new federal debt attributed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
- the US accumulating a total debt burden of over $14 trillion, even as we ran budget surpluses 10 years ago
- the seemingly-most-powerful country in the world confronting the prospect of declaring insolvency
- and finally, America’s self-inflicted loss of freedom… think… USA PATRIOT ACT, aka, “The Patriot Act”
The German news source, Süddeutsche Zeitung, writes correctly:
“… America has not been liberated. The United States must engage in critical self-examination to answer the question of whether the fixation on terror and wars has not tended to paralyze the nation and restrict it in its development. In the 10 years (since 9/11), America has surrounded itself with both physical and mental barriers. The ‘Land of the Free’ paid the price for its supposedly increased security in the currency that is most important to it: openness and freedom.”
America is so mired in a culture of fear and anxiety that we spend more on defense than all other nations combined. We’re enmeshed in wars we cannot win and no longer want to fight — according to American opinion polls about the war in Afghanistan.
Of course, security is a country’s most inviolate right, but in searching for it, we have so far overshot the mark that our citizens now maintain a greater fear of debt than of terrorism — à la, the rise of the American Taliban… ah, I mean, the American Tea Party… funded by right-wing opportunist billionaires and oligarchic corporate interests.
And while America’s been busy crippling itself, China accumulated annual economic growth of nearly 10 percent.
According to the IMF, China will become the world’s biggest economy by 2016, much sooner than expected. Beijing has plenty of time to make strategic decisions, such as its new focus on investing in green technologies… while America continues ridiculously debating in Congress whether or not climate change is real or imagined.
During this lost decade of the War On Terror, this is what the US has been reduced to:
McDonalds reported that as part of its employment event to hire 62,000 minimum wage, (mostly) part-time workers, it received a whopping 1 million applications. Alas, the US economy is now so pathetic that the bulk of the population will settle for any job and anything to survive. Literally anything. The saddest part: over 938,000 applicants were turned away to wallow in despair. On an optimistic note, we can hope that Burger King needs a few million janitors in the immediate future, too!
Yes, aside from reality, things in America are really recovering quite nicely, thank you.
Meanwhile, the US still leads the world for spending on election campaigns — the next US president will spend over $1 billion on advertising spots and smear campaigns against rivals: the 9/11 attacks did not unify the country, but rather further drove us apart.
Concurrently, the U.S. public is entertained by meaningless distraction and debate.
While finalizing the final details of the bin Laden operation, Obama was bullied by a financial Oligarch into publicly releasing his full birth certificate to dispel his detractors’ claims that he is not a real American. Could anyone seem more trivial now than The Donald?
Amid the joyful frenzy in the US, all of this reality will be temporarily forgotten. The president’s triumph will allow him short political respite. Truth is, though, Obama can’t undo our lost American decade.
Perhaps the decade would have gone a little differently if US soldiers had killed bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora in 2001, but the prince of terror vanished for 10 years. With his escape, he probably caused America more damage through our own flailing about than through anything else since 9/11.
So go ahead, America, “Party Likes It’s 1999!”… as if it’s still the heyday prior to the 9/11 attacks… while reality screams it’s 2011 and beyond…