Will We Ever Get Over 9/11?

Mayor Bloomberg Visits Lower Manhattan Security Initiative With Police Chief Ray Kelly

Guest List

Here’s an awkward question that may be urgent: Are we getting over 9.11?  Will we ever? Do we want to?  Is it a scar by now, or a wound still bleeding? Is it a post-traumatic-stress disorder?  What is it doing to our character, our culture, our Constitution?  After a monstrous attack on the American superpower, is there anything like those five stages of individual grief — some version of the famous Kubler-Ross steps: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance?  We’ve been through the flags-everywhere stage, the foreign invasion response, the big build-up of surveillance and eavesdropping, interrogation, with torture – all in the name of security, but do we have a word for the fear we sense inside the new Security State?  Do we have a word for the anxiety that a War on Terror can feed on itself forever? A decade and a half out, are we a different country?

We’re imagining this as an ongoing series, with conversations and podcasts to be added as we go. Have you any suggestions for people we should speak with? Writers? Historians? Critics? Your next-door neighbor?

Reading List

Osama expected to die by violence, as he did.  Sadly, he probably died a satisfied man.  In addition to alienating Muslims and the West from each other, as was his aim, he achieved so many other transformations of the order he sought to overthrow… He catalyzed two wars.  He bears responsibility for the death of thousands in the West and hundreds of thousands in this region.  The unfunded financial burden of the conflicts he ignited has come close to bankrupting the United States.  Indirectly, it is upending the international monetary system.  It has produced recession in the West.  Osama will have been pleased.

Guest List
Steven Pinker
experimental psychologist and  writer at Harvard University, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
Chas W. Freeman, Jr
the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992, and author of America's Misadventures in the Middle East and Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige. From his speech on The Middle East, America, and the Emerging World Order:
Osama expected to die by violence, as he did.  Sadly, he probably died a satisfied man.  In addition to alienating Muslims and the West from each other, as was his aim, he achieved so many other transformations of the order he sought to overthrow... He catalyzed two wars.  He bears responsibility for the death of thousands in the West and hundreds of thousands in this region.  The unfunded financial burden of the conflicts he ignited has come close to bankrupting the United States.  Indirectly, it is upending the international monetary system.  It has produced recession in the West.  Osama will have been pleased.
Pico Iver
British-born novelist and travel writer, essayist for Time magazine, and author of  The Man Within My Head about the late great novelist Graham Greene
Reading List
Tuesday and After
John Updike, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Roger Angell, Aharon Appelfeld, Rebecca Mead, Susan Sontag, Amitav Ghosh, and Donald Antrim
Susan Sontag, Amitav Ghosh, John Updike and other writers shared their thoughts on September 11 in The New Yorker's Talk of the Town two weeks after the attacks
Dirty Wars, Continued: How Does the ‘Global War on Terror’ Ever End
Jeremy Schahill
Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, Continued: How Does the ‘Global War on Terror’ Ever End,  in The Nation on the drones, presidential policy, and the danger of setting a negative precedent abroad
One 9/11 Tally: $3.3 Trillion
Shan Carter and Amanda Cox
One 9/11 Tally: $3.3 Trillion, calculating the cost of the attacks ten years later, including homeland security and two wars abroad at The New York Times
The View from the Midwest
David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace, The View From the Midwest, from Rolling Stone: 
"Suddenly everbody has flags out – big flags, small flags, regular flag-size flags"

It Felt like a Kiss
Adam Curtis
"It Felt Like a Kiss," a provocative video essay by the British documentarian, Adam Curtis

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  • Vlad L.

    Why should we “get over ” it?! Soldiers, and first responders are still dying. Iraqis are still dying from consequences of our invasion. By the way , everyone remembers the twin towers disintegrating, or collapsing, but a third skyscraper ,not hit by a plane , collapsed that day as well. Remarkably,most Americans cannot remember WTC Building 7, 580 feet tall, collapsing in about 7 seconds at 5:21 p.m. First and only skyscraper in history , not hit by an airplane, to completely collapse!!

  • The Parrot

    “Will We Ever Get Over 9/11?” Probably not. But who knows? It probably doesn’t matter. Due to anthropogenic global climate change, we will probably march off the cliff, pulling the temple down upon ourselves (my metaphor martini of the day), whilst pondering the corporate state security apparatus. As climate change (a change not only in climatic conditions, but oceanic and bio/land mass) continues to exacerbate our quality of life (such as it is), the corporate state security apparatus will continue to tighten its grip in order to restrain threats (perceived or real) and maintain its position of dominance. It’s bleak. But don’t worry, it will become bleaker

    • The Parrot

      I should add that there are a myriad of factors that will play a role in the continual erosion of civil liberties. In addition to what I mentioned above, I would further speculate that the depletion of scarce resources (of the extraction and refinement sort, and the life supporting sort) will also cause the corporate-political security apparatus to constrain civil liberties. Will the shift be incremental, as is current policy? Or, will it hit the bend in the curve and become apparent in its oppressiveness? A socially conditioned culture towards conformity and obedience will probably not notice, or be able to counter act such regress.

  • Jake Truth

    Unless and until it is considered rational, reasonable, and necessary to question the officially sanctioned narrative of what happened that awful day, the answer is no, we will not. In 2004, an article appeared on the cover of Harper’s Magazine titled, “Whitewash as a public service: How the 9/11 Commission Report defrauds the nation,” and down the rabbit hole it promptly went. Ten years later, the federal government and the mainstream media remain as deluded as ever. This is the third rail of American history that no one seems to have the guts to touch. The fact is this: the official narrative makes no logical sense for a number of reasons. I suggest you invite David Ray Griffin to join you to explain this side of the story. It may well be true that no one except the culprits – if they are still alive – know the truth. But it is a relatively straightforward process to point out the lies.

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  • Mark Aisenberg

    It depends on what you mean by “we”. The families involved won’t forget or get over 9/11 until they are all dead. As for the rest of us… well, we have gotten over WWI, and the Spanish Flu, and any number of other disasters. We will “get over” 9/11 when the next big crisis comes along, whether it is a cold war with China, or a depression resulting from a financial meltdown or climate change, or a huge solar magnetic pulse erasing all our hard disks and frying our transformers, or or or…

    The question I’d ask is “What next big thing will make us get over 9/11?”

  • Susan Rohrbach

    9/11 made us afraid, and that has made us do things we shouldn’t do, like go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, spy on ourselves, torture those we think are our enemies, hold people in jail for years and years, etc. Some people in government took advantage of that fear and escalated it for their own purposes. It made us more afraid of people who we don’t think are “like us”, which makes it easier to treat them as deserving of less. It made parents afraid for their children’s safety, and made us protect them too much. It made us realize that very bad things can happen, just out of the blue, so we try to eliminate all the bad possibilities in life. It reminded us that we love our country and we need to honor those who fight and die in war. It brought us together for a time, and could have had positive results, like energy conservation. If only our government had asked it of us at the time. The legacies of past wars are still with us–the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam–are still with us, and so 9/11 will be also. It changed us, and we’ll never go back to the way we were “before”.

    • sifta

      Great points, Susan.

      Perhaps the question should be cast as whether the negative reactions side-effects of 9/11 — which can be abstracted as originating from fear — are reversible. Even in this form, perhaps the question is moot and wrong-headed… When the post-9/11 fear is forgotten, then perhaps other experiences from a previous times may be even more forgotten.

  • Jake Truth

    Another person you should consider inviting on the show is Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, who introduced legislation three months ago urging President Obama to release the redacted portion of the 2002 congressional report on the 9/11 attacks. As reported in The New York Post, due to a directive from President George W. Bush, “The entire section dealing with ‘specific sources of foreign support’ was pulled from the 800-page report Congress released to the public. An estimated 7,200 words summarizing CIA and FBI documents is missing.” According to reports, the redacted portion implicates the Saudi Arabian government and specifically Saudi Prince Bandar, a.k.a. “Bandar Bush,” for helping to finance the 9/11 hijackers. Prince Bandar’s nickname is derived from his intimate ties for many years to the Bush family. I repeat the theme of my previous comment: thanks to whitewashing, stalling, and obfuscation, WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED. This fact should be broadcasted near the top of the show. We must continue to seek answers. At the very least, we must not malign those who do (although this is par for the course in most mainstream news discussions about 9/11). If we fail to question and continue to malign, 9/11 will continue to remain an open sore that never really heals, as it has for over a decade.

  • geriborg

    One way of framing the question is to look at how people live in the U.K., which has become of the most “camera-intensive” surveillance societies on the planet. (There are hundreds of thousands of cameras in London, alone). While the installation of CCTV was ramped up in response to the IRA bombing in the latter part of the last Century, the current use of surveillance in the U.K. far exceeds the rationale of preventing bombings. It has become an intensive form of social control and capital extraction. In a world where streaming wearable cameras (think Taser’s AXON or Google’s Glass) are tightly woven into networked streams of Big Data (for profit, loss prevention, social and poltiical control, etc.), and mobile surveillance, the rationale for surveillance is now embedded in automated risk-management systems. It’s all part of Surveillant Assemblages (things not designed to work together, but assembled, nevertheless as surveillance ensembles) that keep multiplying how, when, who and what they record, how then they analyze, as part of an ongoing intervention into social life.

    As the late Canadian criminologist and social theorist, Richard V. Ericson (1948-2007) made clear, the idee fixe of justice and equality gave way to the organizing principles of security (and pre-emption) in the latter part of the 20th Century. So, any real change will also have to involve a re-evaluation of the current norms. (This is a process that Edward Snowden has usefully jumpstarted, in chronicling the lengths that such agencies as the NSA have actually made us more insecure, and more distrustful. It’s position that is also well-articulated by Bruce Schneier, in his columns, talks and books).

    One of the most useful ways of conceptualizing surveillance devices and their instrusiveness has been Adam Greenfield’s taxonomy of “public objects” (See the Vimeo video of his presentation at the Cognitive Cities conference, here: http://vimeo.com/20875732 )

    It’s useful because Greenfield disaggregates forms of surveillance, their degrees of intrusiveness and potential harmfulness to practices of freedom. Having created a hueristic taxonomy, he uses that to begin to define the desirable limits of what may well be ubiquitious surveillance (given the rise of an inherently insecure “Internet of Things”), in our cultural life.

    9/11 was a trigger for pre-existing tendencies, for the intensification of the Security State. It was a proximate cause, a way to ramp up and animate actuarial tendencies that were already part of American life. Now, let’s look at the world that we have, think about it, expand the field of explanation, understand that Security has become an idee fixe, and how some practices enacted in the name of Security have made us profoundly, deeply insecure, unhappy, poorer, more unequal and unfree.

  • commonwealth

    There are so many aspects to this question, it is hard to know where to begin. As Mark Aisenberg says, “It depends upon whom you mean by ‘we’.” “We the people” might get over the trauma of it, if the government were not so invested in keeping the possibility of more trauma alive. “We” as the government, however, are invested in maintaining that trauma. And, unfortunately, it appears that the policies the government pursues probably does more to ensure another trauma than anything else because somehow 9/11 has justified a self-righteousness in U.S. politicians and policy makers that encourages arrogance and disdain for others.

    There are probably some who would say that we have always been self-righteous and that
    it is not greater than it has ever been, the government representatives have just become more overt about it. Unfortunately, most modern wars have started with a justification of self-defense, arising from this same sense of national hubris.

    So the obvious answer to the question is probably, “No. We probably will not get over 9/11 anytime soon.” But that leads to the question, “Is there a way to get over it that has not been pursued?” My suggestion to that is, “Yes.” The means to this resolution has always been at hand, but never adopted. It is to declare that tthe U.S. is no longer at “war” with terrorists, but will henceforth treat terrorism as a crime and use law enforcement rather to fight it, rather than the military. This would mean that we don’t invade other nations militarily to destroy terrorists, but seek to support the rule of law everywhere.

    Will that protect us against future terrorist acts? No. And it won’t undo the damage we have already done to ourselves by treating criminals as military enemies. But it might reduce future damage we would otherwise continue to inflict. Ultimately, there is no such thing as invulnerability– in an insecure world there is no perfect security. We cannot make such guarantees to ourselves or others. But we can reduce the sheer number of reasons we give others to be our enemy. We can become more civil; and greater civility could give rise to greater possibilities for relative peace.

  • Potter

    It was as horrific an event as any I can think of certainly in my memory except maybe for “shock and awe” (as it pertained to the 2003 invasion of Iraq) … but now that I am thinking of it the Viet Nam War if you collapse that into an event. That was pretty horrific too.

    With 9/11, the response actually eclipsed the spectacularity of the event itself and it did so gradually. BUT to those near the WTC there was, and probably still is, shell shock that will last. We went there, walked around as many many others did. My son lived a block away. A colleague of his was having breakfast on the top of one of those buildings at the time of the attack.

    They have been reconstructing that area for years now, we got tired of reading about the arguments over it but it may turn out well.

    But for the rest of us, the shock of event, I think, gradually wore off, and it wore off in relation to the degree of separation from it. We are left with the effects of our government’s immature and anti-democratic response/s, including the lies and misjudgment about needing going to war and war itself. So many believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible.

    It’s these responses of our government that bring us to where we are today. For it translated into (renewed) dissatisfaction and disappointment in our direction as a country. We were “whipped up” and many became very afraid of terrorism buying into the need to “fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here”. George Bush did this. Dick Cheney did this, principally. The Congress acquiesced. It was not the op-eds for or against. As a result we actually made things worse for ourselves. It took awhile, the great recession of ’08 and Obama to gradually change the focus to health care, poverty, inequality, crumbling infrastructure (including education). And except for making a start on healthcare for all, we are still in the talking stage about the others. It took awhile to become just a little less dependent on oil and a little more focused on climate change.

    We will probably never get on a plane so easily with so little preparation. Manning, Snowden, the NSA overreach, assaults on 4th amendment, the loss of soft power abroad (such as we might have had when we need it, like now) come to mind. Putin would not be able to say now “you also violated international law by invading a sovereign country”.

    We owe a lot to “the decider”. What I will never get over is that he was elected twice; he was President for 8 years. Maybe we elected Obama twice because of Bush to cleanse a bit. It’s slow healing.

  • nother

    I hope I don’t ever get over 9/11, it’s a constant reminder of the true existential threat to our lives, and it’s a wake up call to live.

    I hope I don’t get over the sense of community and compassion that was cemented in the days after.

    I hope I don’t forget that my freedom is not free.

    I hope I don’t forget the pervasive jingoism that spread like a swine flu.

    I hope I don’t get over it. That might be our biggest problem, we get over everything.

  • Peter Parsons

    Great topic–“Americans are Killers…” (DHLawrence). Nathaniel Hawthorne believe that we (& he) are haunted by the “ghosts” of our ancestor’s victims, i.e.: The Native Americans, Quakers, etc. Slaves! –anyone who “deviated” from our Puritan “Norms”. Michael Moore’s animation at the beginning of his “Bowling For Columbine” is the best “short course” on our violent history. Another is Richard Slotkin’s REGENERATION THROUGH VIOLENCE. He’s a responder on PBS’ excellent “American Experience” Series on the Wild West/”Custer” (Who “Died For Our Sins”…) Episode. We are, consequently, of course, and by such “Nature”, “paranoid”–projecting our internalized terror onto the world at large, and “asking for trouble” to confirm it. “When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn…?” (Pete Seeger/Where Have All The flowers Gone”?…)

  • The Parrot

    Given Professor Pinker’s skill in cognition and linguistics, I do hope there is an examination of the lexicon of both pre and post 9.11. It is through a sanctioned and sanitized lexicon that state and rogue actors shape and structure the mental models propagated by an obedient media complex. It frames the cognitive space for people. And the frame is, to use Gore Vidal’s term, “perpetual war for perpetual peace.” It is the means of influence, persuasion, manipulation, coercion, and control. Words weaponized become security and military assets:. Here’s a cursory, far from complete nor comprehensive list from personal memory, an outsider with limited media exposure. There are some classic retreads in the collateral talking points:

    weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), axis of evil, evil-doers, suicide bomb(er), car bomb(er), underwear bomb(er), shoe bomb(er), dirty bomb, beheading, cyber terror, cyber attack, internet water army, green zone, green on blue, improvised explosive device (IED), check-point, insurgency, counter-insurgency, naked aggression, terror, terrorist, war against terror, war on terror, fatwa, jihad(ist), jihad watch, regime change, sectarian conflict, sectarian cleansing, the new Hitler, head scarf, burqa, islamofascists, SERE, Detainee Treatment Act, signing statement, black budget, black ops, psyops,, extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation techniques, harsh interrogation techniques, simulated drowning, water-boarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, controlled fear, religious and sexual humiliation, expanded powers, National Defense Authorization Act, war powers, just war theory, preventive war, preemptive war, doctrine of preemption, espionage act, patriot act, fisa court, raw take order, security sweep, warrantless wiretaps, tsa, tsc, body scan, do not fly list, inhibited persons list, intelligence gathering, data mining, meta data, surveillance state, terror alert, homeland security advisory system, actionable intelligence, covert ops, special ops, jsoc, nsa, cia, fbi, collateral damage, collateral murder, bug splats, blowback, moral crusade, hearts-and-minds, the homeland, freedom fries, yellow ribbon, freedom, defending freedom, shock-and-awe, coalition of the willing, coalition forces, freedom fighter(s), troop surge, mission accomplished, “clear, hold and build”, overwhelming force, lone super-power, hyper superpower, neocon, realpolitik, indispensable nation, exceptionalism, soft power, hard power, enemy combatant, unlawful combatant, detainee(s), Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, hunger strike, forced feedings, yellow cake, Al Qaeda, Taliban, actionable intelligence, urgent threat, threats against U.S. persons, kill list, disposition matrix, signature strike, targeted strike, surgical strike, drone strike, high value target(s), soft target(s), national security, operation mumble-mumble, FOIA (requests and denials), friendly fire, cover-up, leak(s), whistleblower, wikileaks, blackwater, containment, no fly zone, new world order, liberators, occupation, quagmire, ptsd, tbi, soldier suicide, homeless vet, anti-war protestors, codepink, women in black, moveon.org, and of course, Nine Eleven …

    George Creel and Edward Bernays would be pleased.

    • Potter

      I think you forgot ground zero, 72 virgins, and sleeper cells, but that is an awesome start Parrot!

      • The Parrot

        Well done Potter. These definitely slipped into the memory hole. Probably quite a few other terms. It’s quite a morass. Best regards Potter, and as always, take care.

        • Loki

          Mission accomplished,looking into his eyes I saw his soul

    • Loki

      We need a Billy Strayhorn to put those words to music!

    • The Parrot

      Total Information Awareness (TIA) and it’s offices, Information Awareness Office (IAO). This bureaucracy should get an award for the most ridiculously creepy brand logo: IAO-logo. Other notables: pottery barn rule, asymmetric warfare. And as Professor Pinker reminds us, clash of civilizations, another favorite of mine.

  • Steve Fernandez

    When will we get over 911?

    Perhaps when former President Bush, and members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government who took a leadership role in the US military war crimes, the torture, the imprisonment without trial, the use of chemical weapons including white phosphorus and depleted uranium in Afghanistan, Iraq, and when President Obama and members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government who have and are taking a leadership role in drone killing, crowd killing, and preemptive/profile killing, are brought to trial for their crimes against humanity.

    That is, perhaps we will get over 911 when we, in the US, trash the notion of “American exceptionalism” and embrace the notion that all human life is equally valuable, when the killing of an innocent US civilian on US soil is as equally unacceptable at the killing of a non-US citizen on their soil, and when we hold our leaders to account in the same way we have race to hold other international criminals to account for their atrocities.

  • Rossie

    Very interesting topic…I feel that since 9/11 we have created a “Security Industrial Complex”. We’ve spent (and continue to spend) billions upon billions on cameras, surveillance, metal detectors, added weaponry for local and state police, plus untold billions more on overtime for security personnel for every major event. It feels like you’re not even able to question the need for all this. And I’m not even going to address the personal liberties we’ve all given up.

    Use the 2013 Boston Marathon as an example. Two deranged individuals targeted that event for no other reason that it was the first opportunity to use their homemade bombs in a setting where crowds were gathered. They were not “terrorists” in the sense of being affiliated with a larger group of conspirators with a specific agenda. Insane, yep. Despicable, yep. Murderers, yep. But pretty much loners as far as I can see…

    Yet, the knee-jerk response – 3500 police officers from 10 agencies…more than twice the number from last year. More cameras, more surveillance, more dogs, more heat, more helicopters (we’d probably use drones if we could get them). The costs estimated to be “much greater” than the “hundreds of thousands” of dollars, usually spent, according to MEMA director Ken Schwartz.

    Now, if we could just all take a deep breath, think rationally about what happened last year, and assess the risk of any “event” taking place at this year’s race, a reasonable person might conclude that it is highly unlikely that any violence will take place (just like the previous 116 runnings of the race).

    In fact, it’s probably the least likely place for a re-occurrence. But to even suggest it would be to invite criticism from all quarters, including the politicians, the police, the media, etc.

    So, bring in the troops, set up the barriers, search the backpacks, request people use a clear plastic bag if they want to bring something to the event, etc., etc., etc….who’s to argue?

  • Loring Palmer

    The 1-2-3 punches of 9/11 will continue to haunt us.
    1) the shock of the event of plane crashes, the spectaular fire and implosion of 3 towers.
    2) The response of the imposition of the draconian laws that established a totalitarian state and pathological response leading into the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq thru astonishing violence and destruction.
    3) And most poignantly, the lack of closure because of the lack of credibility of the validity arguments in the WISP report: the governments explanation, that appears as the most lame of all the conspiracy theories. This leaves us with frustration and suspicion that the government is lying. Because there are too many loose ends and stonewalling: refusal to open a public investigation.

    • Loki

      I watched the Towers disintegrate with a WWII veteran who has seem the destruction of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.

  • Jake Truth

    Sad to say, your entire conversation in this show seems to be built on a false narrative. Chas Freedman blames the 9/11 attacks in part on U.S. support of Saudi Arabia for leading to what he calls an “act of reprisal.” Is Freedman aware of the redacted portions of the congressional report on 9/11 are said to IMPLICATE Saudi Arabia for FUNDING the alleged hijackers? This has been reported in The New York Post and other mainstream media outlets. The narrative he says is true makes no sense. It’s more reasonable to speculate that the people behind the attacks wanted to use it to goad the U.S. toward military aggression in the Mid-East, which is exactly what happened. Sigh.

  • rwp

    Thank you Chris for a thoughtful discussion about this issue, that has been long overdue.
    As an observer looking across your northern border it struck me that Americans did not understand the moment after 9/11 when almost every part of the world had great sympathy for the U.S. on that tragic day — and don’t forget there were people of dozens of nationalities killed on that day, even though the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania all occurred in the U.S.A.
    As Pico Iyer mentioned, many people thought that this terrible tragedy might cause a period of reflection on why some people could have such hatred against the U.S. And the people who thought about such reflection loved America; they had nothing but contempt for the terrorists. But rather than take up this process of analysis, as suggested by Susan Sontag and others, the reaction became completely dominated by the knee-jerk reaction of “you’re either for us or against us”. And we all know how that turned out through the Bush years.
    Then the election of Obama and the hope for change, which Ambassador Freeman summarized very well in the program. A continuation, apparently just because it was easier…
    If an outsider can be so bold, we all yearn for the America we used to know, of liberty, promise and hope. The best we can aspire to. But many of the trends and policies of the past 12 years, which threaten those values have damaged not only the U.S., but those of the entire Western world, and are painful to see.
    Discussions like this program give me hope that things may improve, but they also give one pause that things may get much worse. Let’s hope and work for the former.

  • Potter

    First, I am realizing that there should have been, in this last decade plus, and there should be now, discussion in every venue possible on this topic. And our government should pay attention to it instead of napping to the usual “hot button” issues.

    I think I agree with Jake Truth above about goading the US into military action-reaction in the Middle East. I believe this is what Osama Bin Laden wanted. He must have died a man who felt that he had accomplished more than he ever dreamt. The guests on the show were in a way complementary. Actually the conversation was a perfect dance. But it left us with no answers, only very good questions. I think Obama, though a disappointment in many ways, especially because he seems to have indicated that he knew better, gave into the generals and the need for this security state. yet he pulled us back from the hubris of George Bush. As was said and agreed by all, we can do better. It’s a disappointment that we did not. It took the election of Obama as a sign that we wanted a more mature leadership. (We did not have much choice given our system.) And I do agree that we need maybe not a constitutional convention (because of extremists) but some collective wisdom guiding us in the Congress and the White House. I don’t know how we get there from here. Charles Freeman sounded pessimistic and down to Steven Pinker’s positive attitude. Freeman mentioned Israel. It was hardly only about Israel.

    Also I think terrorism works though Pinker does not. No it may not achieve it’s ultimate goals but it is reprisal and gets attention and harms. It’s shows power by other means.

    I was very offended by what Susan Sontag said because of <i.when she said it (right after the attack). I had no ears for it and thought it insensitive and a justification for that incredibly horrific event. People were too much in shock or in mourning to hear it or take action upon it especially when the leadership was “not there” either. Later on I read it again and thought she was absolutely right. But who could listen to her at that moment??? Of course the public would not have been asked to bear the burden of the reality at that moment!! Our leadership did this country a great disservice, and continued to do so for years after. Many got back to work, shopped, flew flags outside of their SUV’s and that was that. What they thought privately who knows… That’s when the introspection should have happened, after more time. Instead what happened was that we continued on in this trajectory tightening up our security to the point of choking ourselves. And too we sent enlisted folks out there thinking they were protecting us to get killed and maimed.

    Thank you, this was a valuable conversation. And I hope (but would not bet on) this starts a long postponed conversation more broadly.

  • Tyrone

    One of the guests made the claim that the NSA’s wholesale vacuuming up of data has not resulted in people going to jail. That statement is patently false. The American Bar Association Journal & Washington Post have had a number of stories about the NSA supplying the Drug Enforcement Agency with info, and the DEA then creates fake back stories (lying to the courts) to cover up that the NSA was the source.


  • Tyrone

    One of the guests made the claim that the NSA’s wholesale vacuuming up of data has not resulted in people going to jail. That statement is patently false. The American Bar Association Journal & Washington Post have had a number of stories about the NSA supplying the Drug Enforcement Agency with info, and the DEA then creates fake back stories (lying to the courts) to cover up that the NSA was the source.

    Google “The NSA is giving your phone records to the DEA. And the DEA is covering it up.” with the quotes.

  • Loki

    Another book after WWI, Robert Graves wrote “Good-Bye to all that.”

  • The Radio Open Source set-up paragraph contains these 9/11 recovery stages: “After a monstrous attack on the American superpower, is there anything like those five stages of individual grief — some version of the famous Kubler-Ross steps: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance?”

    A sixth stage is needed: Wisdom.

    How does one get this? Answer: By completing the globalization project which is stalled and whose stalling is caused by and causes the current world-economy “sub-stalling.” (Obama in 2009, in Cairo, Pittsburgh and Copenhagen was trying to lay a foundation for advancing globalization.)
    This globalization re-start involves fundamental institutional change:

    1. Palestine along the ’67 lines.
    2. World Climate Bank
    3. Global financial architecture reform.

    In order to do this Obama would have to complete his 2009 agenda which was broken by the Congressional nativist/Zionist alliance represented by Eric Cantor and Joe Lieberman’s idea of paralyzing the Obama agenda and breaking his will. Obama’s thwarting of the Palestinians in the UN and his subsequent going “under the net” conceptually of Robert Kagan’s jingoistic neocon triumphalist misdirections tell you that Obama is at the end of his tether.

    9/11 needs several “historical flashlights” to illuminate it, some of which are:

    1. After WW II, the Germans, having murdered the Jews of Europe, received the Marshall Plan. The Palestinians received the Holocaust bill. This monstrous injustice is the worm in the apple of all world policy. Genocide pays. The bill goes to the weakest.

    From the massacre of Deir Yassin 1948 through Sabra and Shatila 1982, the Palestinians have faced mass murder, ethnic cleansing and total degradation as part of the Holocaust bill. Muslims have suffered under this Israel “atrocity machine” which has received nonstop obsequious Western support including UK Prime Minister’s David Cameron a few days ago.

    2. in the movie “Lawrence of Arabia”, the diplomat played by Claude Rains explains to Lawrence how the Anglo-French 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement will decide the fate of the Middle East and not Lawrence’s benign plans. The Sykes-Picot Plan of 1916, amplified by the Balfour Declaration of 1917 carved up the Middle East and began the implantation of Israel, a neo-colonial settler state in a post 1945 era of decolonization. The inability of Western leaders and publics to see any of this contributed mightily to 9/11. ROS panelist Chas Freeman senses this.

    3. In such books as “The Looming Tower” by fundamentally pro-Israel and anti-Arab writers like Lawrence Wright, Mohammed Atta is described as an architecture student who sees a TV piece about Israeli warplanes leveling an apartment complex in Lebanon with hundred of deaths and victims and this leads to his radicalization. Will a “New York Times” dominated by radical Zionists like Judy Miller, William Safire, Tom Freedman, tell you this?

    4. The neocons like Douglas Feith realized that Cheney and Rumsfeld worship American power and have been in a state of mourning since 1975 because of the Vietnam defeat and Watergate. The neocons see they can sell permanent war as a symbolic “Valium” to Cheney and Rumsfeld and restore American glory by overcoming the “Vietnam Syndrome.” Feith had officials in the Pentagon see the movie, “The Battle of Algiers” (made ironically by the Jewish leftist Pontecorvo), and explained to them that the task was to refight these colonial wars and this time to win them. Sharon explained to French officials that Israel would win its battle with the Arabs and avenge France’s 1962 defeat in Algeria.

    5. In 1977, Begin’s first step as Prime Minister of Israel was to offer South Africa nuclear weapons’ technology and advisors. Netanyahu was a protégé. Netanyahu virulently opposed the Camp David agreement.

    6. Victoria Nuland (at the heart of Ukraine tensions) is the neocon wife of Robert Kagan and like her husband, a Zionist fundamentalist with a pseudo-scholastic mask and patina. They helped to “turbo-charge” Ukrainian turbulence since the basic neocon idea (like Alqaida’s) is to “mayhemize” the world and thus capsize globalization, Third World/West rapprochement, Western/Muslim peacefulness, as proposed by Obama in his Cairo Speech of 2009, which is their “bête-noire”. They want Cold War II to drown out North-South I.

    All of this “evil on the march” (Stephen Solarz phrase in another context) has to be seen as such and rejected and then broken. One can get to Wisdom and the final closure following 9/11 by interiorizing these points and no other way. One has to face all this evil “en face” (unflinchingly) to outgrow it and be stronger for it.

    American Middle East policy cannot forever be made in Israel in Netanyahu’s office with Eliot Abrams and other Israeli agents on the phone, as it is now.

    Recovering from 9/11 means getting beyond a world that is seen as an injustice and impunity machine by most of the world’s peoples but especially by Arabs and Muslims.

    More overview:

  • This was a wonderful programme, thanks very much for bringing on a fine public intellectual such as Chas Freeman.
    His voice is crucial but rarely heard in the mass media. It is a great loss for public diplomacy that Freeman is no longer active in official U.S. policy making, due to concerted and vicious attacks by well-organized lobbies.