Posted by Brad @ 11:56 am on September 12th 2011

“The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.”

Now that it’s September 12th, a counterpoint:

“What was played out in the weeks after the attacks was the old, familiar battle between force and human imagination, between the crude instruments of violence and the capacity for empathy and understanding. Human imagination lost. Coldblooded reason, which does not speak the language of the imagination, won. We began to speak and think in the empty, mindless nationalist clichés about terror that the state handed to us. We became what we abhorred. The deaths were used to justify pre-emptive war, invasion, Shock and Awe, prolonged occupation, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, massive aerial bombardments, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. We produced piles of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and extended the reach of our killing machine to Yemen and Somalia. And by beatifying our dead, by cementing into the national psyche fear and the imperative of permanent war, and by stoking our collective humiliation, the state carried out crimes, atrocities and killings that dwarfed anything carried out against us on 9/11. The best that force can do is impose order. It can never elicit harmony.”


  1. Alternatively.

    Jesus, that one’s much more devastating.

    Comment by Brad — 9/12/2011 @ 12:12 pm

  2. And, predictably, Glenn Greenwald goes to town on President Obama for repeating that nice little myth we like to tell ourselves about our national character: that we “refuse to live in fear”.

    Comment by Brad — 9/12/2011 @ 12:18 pm

  3. I’m calling bullshit on the Onion article as “devestating” commentary. There are a lot of things we could have done better in the wake of 9/11, both at home and abroad, but any belief that positive change could have been achieved in Afghanistan through soft power must run headlong into the brutal reality that was the Taliban government.

    There really are situations in international relations where a selective application of force is necessary, and post 9/11 Afghanistan is more or less the prototype of such a situation.

    Comment by Rojas — 9/12/2011 @ 12:57 pm

  4. The Onion article specifically mentions a six-month military action in Afghanistan, so not soft power so much as a swift and surgical strike – pretty much exactly as it was originally sold as, in fact. And, for that matter, the author of the (serious) article in the post assumes similarly.

    Comment by Brad — 9/12/2011 @ 1:06 pm

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