After the attacks on September the 11th, 2001 then New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, said that the losses were likely to be “more than we can bear.”
Joan Walsh in a piece at Salon, as part of their 5 years after series writes about this toll and the continuing toll we pay for the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Walsh points out that the 2,873 deaths from that infamous day have now been surpassed by the deaths of American soldiers, with almost 2,700 dying in the unrelated battleground in Iraq. When you add in almost 30,000 U.S. military casualties and a reported 46,307 dead Iraqi civilians, the full toll of this war should start to settle in and Walsh asks if this is more than the American and Iraqi people should have to bear considering the lack of focus this war has had and the erosion of the war’s only success in Afghanistan – with rebels and repression reappearing there – we risk losing any ground we gained there.
She also laments the loss of “national and international unity we enjoyed after the attack”:
the warmth I felt from friends and acquaintances and even strangers those first raw days, a seriousness and purpose I felt more broadly in the following weeks.
And points out many of the things that this administration has done to earn the ire of the American people:
Since that time, though, we’ve seen hubris beyond imagination. We’ve watched an unbridled executive-branch power grab, warrantless wiretaps, the curtailing of privacy rights; a pervasive smog of secrecy descended to obscure our government. Outrage about torture, rendition and secret prisons here and abroad is dismissed with a flippant “We don’t torture” from the president. And all of it has been shellacked with an ugly culture of bullying in which dissent equals treason, shamelessly, five years after the attack. Last week it was Donald Rumsfeld comparing war critics to people who appeased Hitler; this week we had Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying they’re the sort who would have ended the Civil War early and let the South keep its slaves. Their intimidation is meant to say that the very freedoms worth fighting for — the right to dissent, the right to question our government — might have to be abridged while we fight. Politically, that truly is more than we can bear.
The article loses some steam toward the end and I wish it would have stuck closer to its theme, its mantra, is the toll more than we can or should bear? Perhaps some additional focus could also be placed on what we have gained, such as more enemies.
A growing number of analysts, many of them former top government counterterrorism officials, say the notion of a “war” on terrorism is the wrong strategy.
In relying overwhelmingly on bombs and bullets, they say, the United States has alienated much of the Muslim world, driving away even moderates who might be open to Western ideas. The West has largely failed to offer a positive vision or deal with the root causes of Islamic extremism.