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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On 9/11/01 plus six

This is how the enemy defines success — chunks of American bodies strewn across a landscape so large that it requires a satellite photo to show, in a photo too large for your web browser to encompass when it's enlarged enough to show any real detail, and whose scale would even then still barely permit an intact human body to be made out as anything but a dot.

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration satellite photo of WTC crash site

If you have a fast connection, go ahead and click on the photo to see it full-sized in a new browser window, and then scroll around over the piles. Be grateful that it comes without the smell and texture of dust and greasy ashes that hung over the original. Close your eyes then, and take a few moments to imagine yourself flying slowly upward from this ground, at this same hour of the day only a few days earlier, ghostlike through the more than 100 stories of mixed, motley, mostly happy people, many thousands of them, who all worked in a pair of soaring towers on a brilliant fall morning when mostly all of us were naïve and complacent. We were unaware that we were at war at all, much less that every one of us is a potential casualty. The smell then would have been morning donuts and bagels and coffee, fresh-washed unburnt hair, and innocence. The air had no texture at all.

(A photograph that is simultaneously sublimely innocuous and horrifically disturbing appears after the jump, if you're reading this from my blog's home page.)


Every day for the last six years, brave Americans in and out of uniform — and their brave allies from countries like Britain and Australia and, sometimes, Germany and Spain and Canada and South Korea and Japan and Poland and Honduras and the Ukraine and lots of other places — have worked diligently, sometimes at risk of their own lives, to spare you and me from the kind of choice that this man had to make, six years ago today:

The 'falling man,' actually one of dozens

I hope all their efforts keep us all safe on this sixth anniversary, as they have kept most of us safe on the past five, and on the days in between. I thank them, for my sake and my family's and friends' and countrymen's sake. I thank them even for the sake of my countrymen who have already forgotten, or never grasped the lessons — the ones who blame ourselves collectively, our society, or even just our president, instead of blaming our enemies. They persuade themselves against all logic and evidence that if we'd just "support our troops by bringing them home," our enemies wouldn't keep trying to make scenes like the ones in these photos. They nod to one another sagely when one of them declares that fire can't melt steel, or when another of them says that America today is just like Nazi Germany, or when another says that Fox News is worse than al Qaeda. They buy full-page ads in the New York Times (at special discount rates!) to label as a "betrayer" the commander whose troops are engaging al Qaeda in Iraq so that the NYC PD & FD aren't overwhelmed again by al Qaeda in America. Yes, thank you, brave men and women, in and out of uniform, American and non-, who mostly keep us all, including even our idiots, safe from harm at our enemies' hands.

Our enemies laugh and laugh at our idiots, and at us for tolerating them, and they'll keep on laughing until the very moment when an American Hellfire missile rides up their light truck's exhaust pipe to take them straight to a different sort of hellfire. One way or another, there's hellfire waiting for them; personally, I just hope they get it both ways. I wasn't sure, six years and one day ago, whether there even is a hell. But now I understand that there has to be one, if only as a cosmological and theological counterweight to our enemies' evil. (I was late to the lesson; my father learned it at a much younger age, for example, when he went ashore with his shipmates from the USS Zeilin in the spring of 1945, after the liberation of Manila and most of the island of Luzon in the Philippines.) I can't do the math, but I'm nevertheless very confident that electromagnetism, gravity, the weak and strong nuclear forces, quantum mechanics, string theory, the as-yet-unpublished Grand Unified Theory, and the whole universal ball of wax would stop working properly if there weren't a hell for such evil to be punished appropriately in. And I'm confident that Dante suffered from a failure of sufficient imagination. In contrast to our idiots, though, I concede that these are matters of faith, not empiricism or conspiracy.

For those of us who not only understood, but still remember, the lessons published six years ago today, there's exactly one simple, solemn vow to re-affirm today:

Never forget.

Posted by Beldar at 07:45 AM in Global War on Terror | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to On 9/11/01 plus six and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Never Forget from Musing Minds

Tracked on Sep 11, 2007 5:20:15 PM


(1) molly bloom made the following comment | Sep 11, 2007 5:58:08 PM | Permalink

Yes OBL should have been brought in for justice either dead or alive.

Too bad Bush took his eye of OBL and decided to go ahead with his plan to attack Iraq using questionable arguments based upon stovepiped evidence from the OSP.

(2) Cheryl made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 9:19:28 AM | Permalink

Excellent post. I agree with you on evil and hell. Good God, if they were rewarded for the savage and inhumane acts they perpetuate on the innocent, what in the world is the sense in being good?

(3) Robin Roberts made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 9:30:31 PM | Permalink

That's just silly Molly, the Iraq operation took place more than 15 months after our last clear lead on OBL's location and it did not remove any resources needed to find OBL.

Besides, since Al Queda is reduced to faking videos to try to convince you that OBL is still alive, it is just a silly argument.

(4) Kent made the following comment | Sep 12, 2007 10:18:24 PM | Permalink

"I can't do the math, but I'm nevertheless very confident that electromagnetism, gravity, the weak and strong nuclear forces, quantum mechanics, string theory, the as-yet-unpublished Grand Unified Theory, and the whole universal ball of wax would stop working properly if there weren't a hell for such evil to be punished appropriately in."

I can do *some* of the math, and I believe you're right.


Although I'm not sure I take my wild stabs in this direction seriously myself.

(5) EW1(SG) made the following comment | Sep 14, 2007 5:39:38 PM | Permalink

Well said.

(6) molly bloom made the following comment | Sep 16, 2007 3:38:13 PM | Permalink

"and it did not remove any resources needed to find OBL."

That is factually incorrect Robin. We began moving resoruces long before the Iraq invasion and it did have an effect on the resources on the OBL hunt.

You are entiteled to your own opinions, not your own facts.

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 16, 2007 5:57:31 PM | Permalink

Ms. Bloom: Glad to have your comments. Opposing views are welcomed here when civilly expressed, as yours are.

It's certainly a disappointment that we can't confirm that we've brought Osama bin Laden to justice or justice to him. The capture of Saddam, and the cornering and (their choice) killing of his sons, provided some sense of historical closure to their regime. I'm not sure that any of us who only have access to public information sources can draw confident conclusions as to why we haven't been able to do the same with respect to bin Laden. I've seen some decent arguments that we ought to have had more American boots on the Afghan ground, at Tora Bora or elsewhere; those are, of course, 20/20 hindsight arguments, but they still produce less than 20/20 clarity because we (at least in the general public) don't know for sure where he was, much less that more American boots would have allowed us to get him. I think it's a leap too far, though, to posit that the sole, or even primary, reason we didn't have more boots in the ground at any given time in Afghanistan is because they were otherwise committed to Iraq. There are just too many variables at work — including important concerns relating to the Afghan warlords and fledgling government, our troubled ally in Pakistan, and our NATO allies.

I don't mean to suggest that everything is peaches and cream in Afghanistan by any means, but beyond the closure issues relating to bin Laden as one particular terrorist leader, we can nevertheless take considerable comfort that Afghanistan is no longer a nation-state closely allied with (or dominated by) terror organizations, and it's not a national base from which terrorists can plan and launch operations against the west on the scale they did before 9/11. So with due respect, to the extent your comments suggest a total failure of American policy, or even a substantial failure, solely because we haven't caught or confirmedly killed bin Laden, I disagree.

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