For me, 9-11 always rolls in like a fog of memory. Like the tragedies of JFK's assassination or space shuttle Challenger exploding on ascent, or the triumph of Apollo 11's landing, I'll always remember where I was and details of the day it happened. As I've said before,
On that bright Tuesday morning, I was out of the office at a small company that we contracted to do some testing on our radios. As the technician and I were setting up the test, the company's secretary/receptionist came in and said the local radio station had a bulletin that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center. My first reaction, perhaps strangely, was that radio navigation systems can't be that wrong, it must have been a terrible accident. Act of war did not enter my mind. As the morning went on, a TV set was put in place and large antenna hooked up outside (there are no local over the air TV channels). We watched the second plane hit and quickly realized this was no accident. That's when the thoughts of Pearl Harbor and other acts of war started. I've heard it credited to Ian Fleming as his character Auric Goldfinger, but the saying goes, "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action." And so it appeared that day.
In the days that followed, I learned that friends were affected by the events of 9-11, but weren't directly involved. A co-worker was on business at Boeing, and had to rent a car to drive home. A very close friend was waiting at JFK airport to fly home, and saw the attacks in real time. He also had to rent a car and drive home. A cousin lives within viewing distance of the Twin Towers and watched it. And now I have friends who have sons in the armed forces in Afghanistan, and others who have been in Iraq. We need to remember we are at war, even if our enemy isn't a convenient nation-state. You can pretend we're not at war if you'd like, but if someone swears to destroy you, it's prudent to believe them.
I'm a mix of groups of responses. The first group of feelz is "remember the fallen", "remember the first responders who ran into the buildings", "remember the dead and wounded servicemen, the ones who came back with missing limbs, or injuries that can't be seen" and "remember their families." The second group of feelz is along the lines expressed best by Aesop at Raconteur Report in his excellent post in 2018: "Every Day is 9/11. That's Exactly the Problem". While I'm not sure, that may be the column that made me a regular reader over at his place.
This year is different. This is the year that we lost. We weren't defeated, we formally demonstrated defeating ourselves to the whole world. We lost in what might have been the most incompetent cluster fuck in the history of man. A team of Brownie Girl Scouts could have planned and executed that
withdrawal abandonment of Afghanistan better than the Bidenites did. As Keith Finch, a former Marine writing for GAT Daily, says:
That’s the strangest thing about this longest war. We weren’t defeated. We won the fights. We’re damn good at fighting. We lost because ‘winning’ never had a defined end state. It wasn’t ‘When we get Bin Laden’ or ‘The Total Annihilation of the current Al-Qaeda structure no matter where they hide.’
This would have been a very different war if we had told certain states to shove it, we are going hunting anyway. It wouldn’t have been diplomatic, but with the righteous rage of the United States at that moment who could have lodged more than token protests?
We lost because we just said, okay we’re done and went home in a way that looked shaky weak and deceptive… we didn’t even have the fortitude to stand up and declare, Afghanistan you are on your own guys because we’re out. Biden boldly promised that he didn’t believe and we had no indication that the Taliban would roll up the country… which was utter bullshit of course. They were our escort out. An ass-backwards neobarbarian culture that we kicked out was back in the seat of power.
It makes it feel like we were never there to many.
While that's a good summary it ignores the aspect of the war that may be the most telling. The incredible transfer of wealth to the so-called beltway bandits - the contractors that profit off war. Everyone focuses on the businesses, especially the defense contractors, but it's just as big a crime for the congress critters and the Fed.gov employees who participate with the dirty money, too. Early on, we could have easily turned Afghanistan and more of the Mideast into plains of Trinitite, but we didn't do that "for the chidrin." We didn't do it because our civilization respects not punishing innocents for things they didn't do. That's hard to believe when you look at things from abandoning people like Biden's translator in Afghanistan to the Covid response. The problem is that nation building doesn't really work. Does it ever? I don't really know.
Just to be clear, it's not that I think we should still be in Afghanistan, I'm closer to those who have said we should have gotten out long ago, only we should have done it competently. We didn't leave from any position of strength, we left with our tails between our legs looking so weak as to be pitiful to the charitable observers and pathetic to the rest of the world. I'm sure we're especially pathetic to the heirs of Bin Laden who declared us "a weak horse" easy to roll over. I expect lots more actual attempts to emulate 9/11 while we're showing weakness. Less like shirtless guy with buffalo horns and more like, you know, actual acts of terrorism.