Enzo Titolo

Politics, Paranoispiricies, neologisms, diary, creative, ruminations

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Who Defended the Country on 9/11/2001?

Ms. Scarry brings up some great issues in her (slightly dated) essay Who Defended the Country? In short, she states that the most effective defense that day was waged by citizen volunteers on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania, while the Federal government couldn't defend NYC or even the Pentagon despite warnings and hours of notice that a problem was occurring. This despite fifty years of our sacrifice of democratic checks on executive and military power in the name of security and speed.

Time, security, and governance are always salient issues, but they are seldom discussed. This lack of discussion does not bode well for the state of our democracy which requires a vigilant, informed, and involved citizenry.

Ms. Scarry rightly points to the dawn of the nuclear age as the beginning of a major threat to our democracy, in that rapid delivery of nuclear holocaust almost makes the deliberative process of democracy seem quaint. Even so, on September 11, 2001 the President sat for several minutes in a classroom after the Twin Towers were attacked, biting his lip. He later explained to the 9/11 Commission that he did this because he was projecting strength. The rest of the day the President was flying west to air force bases in Louisiana and Nebraska. It is not clear that he ordered the shoot down of civilian flights, since the Vice President gave the order, which is not constitutional. The 9/11 Commission and Congress were barely allowed to question the President on his conduct that day, and he needed the Vice President to accompany him to keep their stories straight.

After fifty years of a nuclear age, we have more than two generations of 'citizens' who have given their powers of consent to the executive branch and the military. People no longer understand what a democracy is or what their role is in one, including, it seems our President. On the one hand, the President compares 'the War on Terror' to World War II, yet no Bush children of military age are volunteering to defend our nation. They are partying in nightclubs. Few seem to question this. A recent poll of high school students indicates that a large proportion of them believe that the government should censor all articles before publication.

As a result of the arteriosclerosis of democracy, the military and the executive branch no longer have checks or competition to their power. As a result, these institutions act increasingly like monopolies. They are unaccountable, bloated, and they don't provide good value -- at least for most citizens. The Military is a good deal for the millions in the military-industrial complex, and it is a good deal for the countries that it serves, such as Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and the U.A.E, but for typical New Yorkers the military is a constant drain and doesn't protect us when we need it.

Silly me for assuming that the military patrolled our borders and airspace over major urban centers, including our capitol! I thought that the military was already the Department of Homeland Security. If Tapei, Tokyo, Berlin, or Kuwait City were attacked I assume that the US military would be involved in a quick or at least a dramatic response. Meanwhile, the military griped that they had to patrol the airspace over NYC and DC for six months after the plane bombings of 2001 on those cities.

The US has about eleven more huge and expensive aircraft carriers than the next largest navies, yet I'd wager that all those navies' countries provide healthcare for all their citizens, and free quality higher or vocational education for all high school graduates. These countries aren't even outsourcing their security to the US, since they aren't paying us for their protection, which we give them freely. The Romans collected tribute. These countries aren't paying for my healthcare, but my military is protecting them better than my city is being defended. So I'm not covered, and millions of US citizens aren't. I don't feel secure wondering if I can get sick for not having checkups, or going bankrupt if I get into an accident. I am not even sure if there will be bankruptcy to protect me!

It took the National Security Council over seven months to even discuss preliminarily the terrorist threat on the US, despite warnings to President Bush from President Clinton during the transition, despite warnings to Bush during the campaign since 1999, and despite over 50 warnings recently disclosed by the 9/11 Commission (after the Presidential election). In addition, it seems that the air force was engaged in several wargames the day of the attacks, including an exercize dealing with a civilian aircraft hijacking. This might explain that during the announcements to the pilots the transcripts or recordings state that this was 'real world.' These disclosures came out after Ms. Scarry's essay.

The U.S. took a month to build up an invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, giving Bin Laden and his circle and the Taliban leadership time enough to pull up their stakes. Even with this build up, we outsourced fighting the terrorists and the Taliban to Afghanis by literally handing them wads of cash. Did these mercenaries have shifting loyalties based on the larger or latest wad of cash? Somehow the top leaders of the terrorists got away at Tora Bora in December 2001. Bin Laden and Mullah Omar are still at large, and the President said he wasn't all that concerned with them anymore.

The U.S. followed a similar tactic in Iraq, buying off generals after telescoping for months that we were going to attack their nation. This massive build up wasn't enough to secure the country after the government melted into the country as an insurgency. Our slow moving massive military build up gave the well-organized Baath party time to organize a resistance. Hussein was at large for about nine months. After his capture, to our surprise, the insurgency grew stronger as, perhaps, its leadership become more networked, not wasting its time trying to get orders from him.

There's a million persons a year working in the U.S. military, and millions more employed in private companies serving the military industries. What impact does this huge budget have on a society that doesn't provide enough housing, education or healthcare to its citizens? What impact does millions of persons having military training and, sometimes post-traumatic stress or other diseases, have on society? How many trained snipers are on the streets? How many incidents, from Lee Harvey Oswald to John Muhammad, the DC sniper, have sick veterans let loose on society and their families in the form of gun violence, domestic violence or silent sicknesses such as dioxin poisoning or alcoholism?

Our military is too big and too slow. It doesn't protect us from today's threats, and it is dragging our society down and it is doing so in a cyclical way so that we don't even question it, and the ability to do so is further restricted through censorship or dumbed down through ignorance or military companies owning media outlets. Meanwhile, the executives 'in charge' of the military, seem bogged down in the complexity of the system.

Ms. Scarry makes good use of the example of how the military and the Executive Branch handled the attacks on Washington and NYC. Basically, the system that we pay and sacrifice so much for is not working for the citizens. It is self-serving and largely incompetent.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

If Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, then Jimmy Carter certainly freed the US Hostages in Iran

Once again, with the recent Death of Reagan, the Republicans are gilded and the Democrats denigrated. Reagan, somehow won the Cold War -- even though Truman initiated Kennan's communist containment policy. But, somehow the Reagan magic of a huge military build up, which started during the Carter administration, won the Cold War ten months after he left office. Well, the Cold War was waged for about 50 years, and there were a few different Presidents from both of our parties in office during those years.

[Never mind that the CIA somehow missed the coming collapse of the Soviet Union, even though my Economics Professor, Seymour Melman, a founder of the No Nukes Movement, saw it and called it years before just by inspecting antiquated Soviet factories. In 1990 there was a lot of soul searching on how the CIA missed that one, just as there is a lot of navel gazing on how we let the 2001 Plane Attacks on NYC and DC happen, and how we somehow mistook a lack of WMDs for actually having lots of different ones. Perhaps their is a political-economic need for the CIA to be so wrong so many times? It certainly leads to a lot of arms sales and militarization of the U.S.]

Meanwhile, ten years before, ABC's Nightline Show was founded pretty much to nightly hound Carter on the Iranian Embassy Hostage Crisis, and news shows nightly showed the day-count. It was national mourning in America every night.

[As shocking and barbaric as it was to hold 'ambassadors' hostage, the US Embassy did have a bitter legacy in Iran for Iranians. In the early 1950s, Kermit Roosevelt, working for the CIA, developed the 'Iranian' coup deposing democratically elected Modsedeq who wanted to nationalize Iran's oil resources, and installing instead the Shah of Iran, who bought US weapons systems and gave us preferential oil deals.]

Contrast Nightline and late 1970s nightly news' coverage of the Hostage Crisis to present day coverage of troop deaths and injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.... Contrast Bush' victimization of Iraq for Al Quaida's attacks on the US with the accusations of Clinton "wag the dog" when he bombed the Al Quaida training camps...

Contrast this to Bush 2's frequent and long vacations, including the monthlong one in August 2001 even though we discovered that Al Quaida bombed the Cole in late 2000 and declared war on the U.S, and despite over 50 2001 warnings of airline highjackings, domestic attacks, and an intelligence briefing that Al Quaida was determined to attack the US and that they had a cell here. Before 9/11/01 Bush was concerned about Iraq, secret energy policies, and severely limiting stem cell research. Today the arrivals of dead and injured troops are secret and they go uncovered on our nightly news.

Carter sent a rescue squad to free the hostages and the helicopters unfortunately crashed in a sandstorm. He also negotiated hard for the hostages' release, while planning a second military rescue mission and emplacing severe sanctions and embargoes on Iran. Carter barely left the White House so dedicated was he to solving this crisis, but the press treated him like a loser in charge of a systemic failure.

Bush 2 took a month to start a 'war' against Afghanistan, allowing Bin Laden to escape. The perpetrator of the worst domestic attacks on the US is still on the loose. Bin Laden and Afghanistan are barely mentioned anymore. Yet Afghanistan is flooding the world with heroin. But don't look at that, look at this: we've beaten other middle eastern 'terrorists' in a war. We not helped topple Saddam's statue, but we got him, too.

We find out later that former CIA Director George Bush (the First), and Reagan 1980 Campaign Director, Bill Casey, who was to become CIA Director under Reagan were doing their own negotiations with the Iranians since November 1979 to delay the release of the US hostages for over 12 months more, to assist a Reagan victory for the assurance that the US would reward Iran with arms and other incentives, such as lifting some or all of the Carter embargoes on Iran.

Transcript of Cable of USSR surveillance of Iranian Arms dealings in the 1970s and 1980s associated with Reagan officials. See for yourself the actual cable sent to Lee Hamilton investigating the Reagan Arms for Hostages dealings in 1993 This House Committee didn’t release this cable, but it came to the conclusion that the Reagan campaign team did not delay the US hostages release in Iran by over a year. This link gives the background on how investigative reporter Robert Parry found and copied these documents .

This evidence means that Carter could have freed the hostages during his administration. The hostages were freed just as Reagan was inuagurated. The story was spun that the Iranians were so terrified of Reagan doing something militarily to them that they gave up the hostages out of fear! What we didn't know then was that the Reagan team was dealing arms for hostages before his administration was elected.

Therefore, Carter freed the hostages, using the same logic that Reagan ended the Cold War. When you add the facts that the Reagan 1980 Team delayed the hostages' release, it is clearer that Carter freed them.

Obviously illegal and immoral as it was for the Reagan 1980 team to delay 52 hostages' release by fourteen months, but it was also impractical from a hostage prevention standpoint.

In the early 1980s, Iranian backed militants took more Americans hostages in Beirut. These hostages were held for years. As some were released, others would be taken. By this point, Iran and Iraq were at war, the US -- semi-officially -- was backing Iraq with sales of Iraqi oil financed US arms

FAIR USE NOTICE:: This site contains images and excerpts the use of which have not been pre-authorized. This material is made available for the purpose of analysis and critique, as well as to advance the understanding of political, media and cultural issues. The 'fair use' of such material is provided for under U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Section 107, material on this site (along with credit links and attributions to original sources) is viewable for educational and intellectual purposes. If you are interested in using any copyrighted material from this site for any reason that goes beyond 'fair use,' you must first obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.