We are quickly coming to the 10th anniversary of the airplane attack on the pentagon and the world trade center.
I am sure that everyone old enough to read this knows that on September 11th, 2001 America was the victim of the worse attack against it since December 7th, 1941; the event that brought the USA into WWII. Both attacks were the results of major conspiracies; one hatched by the leadership of a nation, the other by a group of dedicated religious fanatics1. Between the end of the cold war in 1991 and 09/11/2001 there were scores of other successful attacks by religious and political fanatics but almost none between 1945 and 1991 or after 9-11.
Although many faceted, the answer is relatively simple. Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers brought home in body bags and twisted steel the realisation that conspiracies are real and the world is full of people that wish to cause us harm.
For over 40 years America lived with the realisation that a very large nation held the capability and the intent to wipe out our American way of life. Those of us over 50 remember the drills in school of duck-and-cover under our desks in case of a nuclear attack. In every major city there were air raid shelters every couple of blocks. Joe McCarthy had all of us seeing a commie around every corner and, in some cases he was right. A vast and ongoing conspiracy was being run by the Soviet Union2.
The American government new very well the tricks of the Russians because we were doing everything to them that they were doing to us in what turned out to be a successful attempt to avert all-out nuclear war.
Atom bombs, espionage, secret codes. Bombers on both sides of the Pacific ocean were kept ready to be airborne at the drop of a hat and both sides had hundreds of nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at each other. Total annihilation was ready at the push of a button. The condition was known as “MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION”.
Then Russia got it's butt kicked in Afghanistan3, the Berlin wall came down4, the Soviet Union collapsed5 under the weight of it's own totalitarian bureaucracy and the world was at peace at last. So much peace that we became complacent.
So complacent did we become that anyone even talking about a conspiracy was labelled a right-wing nut job and probably placed on some government watch list. Conspiracies were a thing of the past. Except, of course for all the turmoil in the middle east. Here at home we were protected in a cocoon. Far away from the suicide bombers and missile attacks of Israel and Lebanon. Safe in our Internet-boom prosperity. Peace talks between Israel and the PLO even foretold of a lasting peace in that part of the world. Talk of conspiracies was mocked and ignored.6
Of course there were the attacks on marine barracks in Beirut, the first World Trade Center bombing, the attack on the USS Cole, the Oklahoma city bombing and others, but those were just the work of lone terrorists. They didn't really affect the fabric of America. There were no conspiracies.
Then on September 11th at approximately 8:45 in the morning, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. About 15 minutes later, United Airlines flight 175 hit the the south tower. America Was under attack. We were the victims of a massive, wide-spread and long-term conspiracy. How could that happen? To us?
Ignoring those that were warning us of the danger7 did not guide any airplanes into their targets. Complacency didn't cause the 9/11 attacks. The air of false security did, however allow them to happen. Had we maintained the vigilance of the cold war we likely would not be building a memorial where the twin towers stood. 2,753*, ** people would not have died on that chilly morning.
How long this time will it take us to once again forget the lessons that history has taught us? The motto is:”WE WILL NEVER FORGET”. Somehow, I doubt that.
That's my opinion. What's yours? Leave a comment here and tell the world whether you agree, disagree or have another view.
*some sources have this number higher
**this number includes only the world trade center. Including the Pentagon and flight 93, the casulties were over 3,000. Add in those that died later from injuries and exposure to toxins that were in the air and the number probably exceeds 4,000. No one knows for sure.
1 For an excellent and very factual study of the Pearl Harbor attacks and the months leading up to it, watch “Tora,Tora,Tora” starring Martin Balsam, Sô Yamamura, Jason Robards and Joseph Cotten.
For a close look at the attacks and immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks see “America 911-We Will Never Forget”. Both videos are widly available in VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray.
2 Read “The Cold War: a history” by Martín Walker
and “One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War” by Michael
3 See ”Charlie Wilsons War” starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman
4 There are many books and movies on the fall of the wall, but the most authorative is probably “The Fall of the Berlin Wall (Turning Points in History)” by William F Buckley Jr. and Henry A. Kissinger