September 11, 2001 is a day that will live on forever in human history. From a completely historical standpoint, it was an attack of unprecedented magnitude that rattled not only the country, but the world. From a political stand point, it would become a constant subject evoked in defense of numerous domestic and foreign policies. For a brief moment in time, it stood as a moment of unity for a wounded country and, every year since, has marked a time for remembrance.
But what does that day and every anniversary since really say about America?
Every year, social media lights up with people pleading to not politicize the event. Remember the fallen, but don’t talk about the things that happened. It’s bad.
Michael Scheuer, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, has a different perspective on it.
Scheuer is a twenty-two year veteran of the C.I.A. who led the Bin Laden Issue Station in the late nineties and was a special adviser to it after 9/11. With his intelligence background and experience in dealing with Islamic extremism, he’s written numerous books about the subject, including “Imperial Hubris” and “Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq.”
On this year’s anniversary of the terrorist attack, Scheuer penned an article on his website discussing what he calls “National Day of Delusion.” He has chosen this nickname because of how Americans approach 09/11 and still completely miss the point.
Scheuer takes aim at the military, which has become a political machine that sacrifices brave soldiers for political gain. He takes issue with the military led by generals who are treated like heroes while leading their troops into battles that the President doesn’t intend to win.
It’s surprising that more Americans don’t share Scheuer’s view here, but many are all too content to simply “honor” the troops by going to a parade in May and eating hotdogs and hamburgers in July. Meanwhile, the legitimate discussion about what our soldiers are dying for and a broader discussion about foreign policy doesn’t happen. Everyday Americans don’t want to be bothered with policy beyond with how it relates to their political savior being better than the opposing one.
Scheuer also notes that the idea that 9/11 didn’t change America is false, specifically noting how big government has become and how much it’s been accepted. With legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act passing and being reauthorized countless times, to a degree the government isn’t even hiding it. But when Edward Snowden sounds the alarm, he’s forced into exile abroad out of fear for his life. Worse, Americans have to actually have a debate about whether a whistleblower is a traitor or not, while ignoring a discussion about whether those violating the Constitution at the National Security Agency are traitors.
While America refuses to have a serious, thorough, and nonpartisan discussion about policy, foreign or domestic, Scheuer notes that the bipartisan elite is taking America down. The military is being spent, as we elevate higher ranking leaders and ignore soldiers being killed in undeclared conflicts and no-win scenarios. Domestically, the Constitution is being shredded by leaders who peddle rhetoric about freedom while opposing just that in policy.
America is divided by politics and it allows the policymakers to get away with breaking us down. 9/11 is a day of remembrance because many innocent Americans lost their lives. But it’s also a sad day, because it’s a reflection about how little we understand the world. We fail to seriously tackle our politics and address policy, thus enabling the misuse of the military and the inability to actually avenge the fallen.