We were told that the ones responsible for 9/11 were in Afghanistan, and the Taliban run government was aiding and abiding them. Well, that was true...to a point. U.S. and Western intelligence identified Osama bin Laden as the mastermind, which was likely. This son of a wealthy and well connected Saudi family had previously "declared war" on the United States, although no one seemed to notice or care.
Al Qaeda launched several attacks on U.S. and Western targets, mostly in Africa and low security targets in Europe such as a disco in Berlin which was frequented by American servicemen and women. When that failed to adequately get our attention, he changed tactics. This time he focused on a high profile target in the United States---the Twin Towers
Bin Laden recruited 15 fellow Saudis, 2 from the UAR, and one each from Lebanon and Egypt for the mission, and sent them off into the belly of "the Great Satan" where our overconfidence became their best weapon. It's also where 2,996 innocent people going about their daily business people died. In their place, a blind and deaf patriotism was born along with about a dozen conspiracy theories (by the way, that just because it's called a "conspiracy theory" doesn't mean it isn't true).
Saved from a failing presidency, George "Dubya" Bush went from an approval rating low somewhere in the subterranean sewers of Washington DC to calls for another face to be added to Mt. Rushmore. In all the vengeful anger and patriotic fever of the moment, we allowed the so-called "Patriot Act" to take hold; a document about as "patriotic" as the Enabling Act of 1933 following the Reichstag Fire (and just as spontaneous too).
On the other side, U.S. and coalition forces lost at least 70,600 with about 22,773 wounded. 2,356 of these were America's future. God only knows how many bear scars you can't see. Of the 70,600 total, 65,596 were part of the Afghan Security Forces, with an additional 16,500 wounded.
By comparisons, Russia lost over 15,000 of its sons and daughters during the course of its 10 year war in Afghanistan with thousands more wounded. Russian military personnel managed to kill an estimated 90,000 Mujahedeen fighters which were heavily supported by the U.S., (it's said this was partly in revenge for Soviet support of the NVA and Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Knowing the NeoCons, it probably was).
At the same time, over one million Afghan civilians were killed, not including those killed in the subsequent civil war which followed the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 though the takeover by the Taliban in 1996.
Not to be outdone by the Western "crusaders", the Taliban is believed to have destroyed approximately $500 million dollars worth if infrastructure affecting 13 million people in 116 districts. It left 92% of population "food insecure" and some 3 million children facing severe malnutrition. Take that infidels!
Ironically, despite the majority of Americans demanding an end to war in Afghanistan (54%) by 2021, nearly half---46%--- now believe the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban's new and improved "We-Say-So" government represents a threat to U.S. national security. Ah the fickle masses!
Meanwhile, women are being regulated back to their pre-infidel invasion third class status as school for women and girls is cancelled and women are fired from their jobs. Those who own businesses face closure. Those who speak out risk public beatings, acid thrown in their faces, or stoning to death. If only the Taliban could reach the same level of Iran's enlightenment (sarcasm intended).
What about the American People? Aside for the deaths and injuries whose cost are beyond measure, most don't realize that our 20 year long fiasco in Afghanistan and Iraq was paid for solely on credit. Can you guess who is picking up the tab?
Best estimates put the damage to U.S. taxpayers at around $2.2 trillion dollars (or $300 million per day). With interest, some estimates put the cost at $6.2 trillion dollars by 2050 (good luck with that Millennials and Gen Z). You might be interested to know that during the Korean War, President Harry Truman temporarily raised the top end tax rate on the rich to 92%. During Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson raised it to 77%. So what did ole "Dubya" do? President George Bush lowered the tax rate on America's richest to 8%.
America's invasion and occupation was almost as bad, except there was a measure of gender equality while we were there. Women and girls could go to school. They could work, own property, and do other things females get to do in the modern world; you know, like they were ordinary people and stuff
In addition, women and other Afghanis could also freely vote, although the Taliban and other Islamic extremists did their best to try and prevent it. Nevertheless, there was a measure of democratic freedom which is rare in the Middle East. Unfortunately after we left (or rather, as we left), democracy came to quick end and the 10th Century returned in all its ugliness as the Taliban picked up where it left off.
The American People didn't really benefit. Sure, we were given a target to vent our anger on following the cowardly attacks of 9/11. But along the way, we were betrayed by some of our regional "allies" (I'm talking about Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency and its Prime Minister, Imran Khan) and various tribal chiefs (most had to be bribed to show any measure of loyalty).
We could have had bin Laden and many more of his key commanders much sooner had those in Imran Khan's government not help finance, arm, train, hide, and provide intelligence to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which would have saved a lot of innocent lives on all sides. It's a shame how some individuals put their greed for personal power and wealth before the wellbeing of their own people. But, at the same time it exposes their moral weakness for all the world to see.
While extracting our revenge, we failed to notice the underhandedness happening here at home. Sure, we came together as a people. We closed ranks. We hung out flags.We cheered at the playing of our national anthem. Patriotism was back in vogue again. We hadn't been this united since December 8, 1941, the day after another cowardly attack which caught us with our pants down and our cockiness up.was how to control us. United and we were suddenly dangerous. United and we just might focus our manufactured anger away from each other and on those who sought to destroy our Republic and turn it into a neo-fascist corporatocracy.
So, without even completely reading it, a document that had been drafted primarily by corporate lobbyists was rushed through Congress and passed. It was given a euphemistically optimistic sounding name of "the Patriot Act" as if questioning what it was or what was in it was somehow unpatriotic. A few lone voices in the political wilderness tried to warn us but were quickly silenced. The surveillance state was born.
The "Patriot Act" effectively declared a never-ending war based on a loosely defined term--- "terrorism" where rights for individuals cease to exist under the pretext of national security. Gone too were all the usual checks and balances we've come to expect such as accountability, limits on search and seizure or judicial oversight.
The enemy was now whoever the State said it was. Those arrested under "FISA" can essentially disappear. Under "FISA" you have the right to absolutely nothing whatsoever. It combined all the elements of McCarthyism's "Red Scare" with aspects of the KGB's early morning knocks on the doors and George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984".
Obviously, the American People didn't benefit, so again, who did? Wall Street benefited. The Pentagon spent $14 trillion dollars, with roughly half that going to defense contractors (according to one report, since 2001, payments made to defense contractors have risen 164%). The majority of money spent went to just five corporations---Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman, and Boeing, but other companies such as General Electric and Halburton made out alright too.
Meanwhile, Congress and other government officials benefited. Defense contractors reportedly spent over $2.5 billion dollars over the past 20 years and employed over 700 lobbyists. On average, members of Congress had three lobbyists each just from Defense industry. We the People had none. This is the "free speech" Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks about when defending Citizens United.
So, if you want to know who benefited from our 20 year venture in Afghanistan and Iraq, now you know. It wasn't the Afghani People or the American People. The ones who benefited from the war which claimed tens of thousands killed or wounded, and billions of dollars in destruction were defense contractors and their de facto "employees" in Congress. This is just one relatively small example of the power and control Wall Street has over government.
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