9/11/2001 - America, where could we have been more true?

America, and more distinctly, the United States, is often referred to as "a nation of believers".  While those "believers" range in denominations from Christianity, to Jews, to many other religions, all the way to non-"believers", and though the individual faith beliefs may vary in definition, style or lack thereof, most of us in that range would agree that we are a land of principles and fundamental values.  Values that include honesty, integrity, forgiveness, and repentance.  With the recent demise of Osama Bin Laden still making its way to our ears, and the many varied emotions that has stirred among us, from jubilation, justice and closure, to concern, shock or apathy, it seems appropriate to evaluate just what has been accomplished in the 10 years since 9/11, and whether our approach has been the most true to our fundamental principles and values, or if opportunity existed to have gone a different path, or to now seek a different path.

It is my opinion that the greatest victory or out come from 9/11, would have resulted from not engaging in war to begin with.  Before the shock of that statement sends you fleeing to the "Back" button, allow me to elaborate on that claim.  On 9/11/2001, close to 3000 people died in the plane crashes and collapse of the twin towers, explosion at the Pentagon, and flight 93.  That is a very tragic loss of life and to record, the single most deadly terrorist attack on US soil.

Now for some statistics.  Below are the casualties to soldiers and civilians since the beginning of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 (totals as of May 3rd 2011 unless otherwise noted).

US Military and Civilian deaths in Iraq: 4,421
US Military and Civilian deaths in Afghanistan: 1,560 
Conservative Iraqi Civilian deaths through April 2009: 110,600
Conservative Afghan Civilian deaths through Dec 2009: 7000

Total Deaths from just the above: 123,581

Total Cost of both wars since 2001: US $1,189,150,000 (Estimated to reach 2.4 trillion by 2017 when interest is factored in)

Please note that these totals don't include Iraqi nor Afghan/Taliban soldier deaths, which estimate into the tens of thousands, nor do these totals include injuries of anyone, be they soldiers or civilians, which also number into the tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands.

Now lets consider a different possible outcome following the events of 9/11 had we held truer to our fundamental values.  Had we "turned the other cheek" post 9/11, we possibly would have done some introspection as to what could have provoked the attacks, dismissing the assumed reason of American hating extremists, to realize that most terrorists acts are acts of desperation, spurred by oppression and deprivation.  We might have asked ourselves, "is there anything about our foreign policy in the middle east and in our ties with Israel that might promote the animosity of those not benefiting from our presence and influence there?"  Instead of seeking death for death, seeking resolution and reconstitution to diffuse whatever tension we might have caused in that region.  Instead of a man hunt abroad, securing our borders and values at home.  Instead of creating more animosity and hatred by invading and occupying foreign lands, establishing more respect and integrity in our Nation of principles and values.  The money saved would either have remained in our pockets and in the pockets of our children and their children, or better invested in both securing our borders and seeking solutions to other challenges in energy, food production, world hunger and so forth.  Rather than producing more weapons of mass destruction, outreaches of abundance and healing.  

From the conservative death totals above, it would take forty-one 9/11 equivalent terrorist attacks before we'd be hurting to the degree we've reached now.  If differences had been approached diplomatically and humbly, would it have been likely that even one more 9/11 incident abroad or domestic to have occurred after the original?  Would the nearly 6,000 now killed US soldiers, and 40,000 plus wounded in action soldiers, now be with their families, free from injury or PTSD?  Would the 110,000 now dead Iraqis and Afghanis abroad still be among their loved ones?  Would the US Government and US economies be in a much better financial state than where we are currently?  While it is nearly impossible to predict the exact outcome had a different approach been taken after 9/11, it certainly seems that a more positive and less destructive outcome could have been accomplished.

From the many who like to consider the US a "Christian Nation", which path seems more Christlike?  Which path would likely result in less deaths, less suffering, and more peace?  Now hindsight is seeing 20/20, and it is now a pipe-dream to wish we could go back and do things differently.  But at point do we say "enough is enough"?  At what point do we return to our roots, return to building and peace making, and end the policing the world approach?  We the People do have it in us to demand an end to the wars, an end to the occupation and an end to the "eye for an eye" approach.  But we have to see and rid ourselves of the beams of hypocrisy in our own eyes first, before we can gain the clarity to set an example of being the peace-makers through example, rather than through force.  How about some repentance, another of the values to which many US citizens hold.  We don't repent by staying on the same path.  We get there by abandoning it and seeking to reach where we otherwise could be, and doing so in as minimally damaging way possible to those we've encroached for too long.  What do you think?



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Comment by Connie on May 3, 2011 at 8:48pm

Well done, Michah!  I'm particularly chagrined at the national celebrations of bloodlust over the killing of Bin Laden, who almost certainly had nothing to do with 9/11 (he denied any hand in it, and even the FBI admits no evidence linking him to the crime).  It's disconcerting to see so many people in a Christian nation celebrating the death of anyone.  You would think this means the wars will be over!


And nevermind the near certain evidence from various intelligence communities that Bin Laden has been dead since 2002 anyway.  It will be interesting to see what purpose this hoax serves the de facto government.

Comment by Jean Bodie on May 3, 2011 at 9:16pm

Micah; this is an awesome blog; well done my friend. Maybe so called Christian religions would not be losing members if they were not suffering cognitive dissonance between what Christ supposedly taught and what the Christian nation is doing.

All the rejoicing has made me sick. As Connie pointed out but in my words Bin Laden didn't do this alone and possibly not at all, but we all love it when the good guys win.

Who are the good guys?

I watched a TV  program about the good works that Bin Laden did in Saudi Arabia; building homes for the poor etc. I think he just wanted to fight the oppressor and help his people.

What will happen next? More wars more bloodshed; that should keep the 'Christians' happy. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

You nailed it buddy.

Comment by Susan G. Emmett on May 3, 2011 at 9:17pm
You won't get any argument from me, Micah.  I was against our going to war in Afghanistan, and absolutely 100% against the invasion of Iraq.  My feelings have not changed, except to become more negative about the whole debacle.  We have committed many crimes against humanity and country in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  I do not subscribe to the conspiracy theories about Osama being dead since 2002.  You think Bush wouldn't have paraded that accomplishment to the hilt if it were true?  Yes, we went in for oil (in Iraq) and minerals (in Afghanistan), but I don't think he could have resisted blasting Osama's death to the world.  I'm getting pretty sick of the overwhelming number of various conspiracy theories around these days -- covering everything from war to the weather to Dec. 22, 2012!  I like your premise, but unfortunately I don't think we will ever see it operable when it comes to country against country.
Comment by Linda on May 3, 2011 at 9:52pm


Could have sent Glenn Beck(with his PH) to fix the mess. LOL.Seriously, war and death are an awful thing. But so are radicals and sociopaths, and OBL's brand of intolerance of religions, and women. He had many a chance to change his ways. Perhaps our media are to blame for to much sensationalism info before it carefully examined.Check out what historical Mormons did way back, they were guilty of massacres, hired assasins,castrations, alleged abortions. Surely, even members of TSCC were supposedly the "Anointed". Also check who masterminded the cruelty and torture at Gitmo. Humans have a dark side and make horrendous choices that harm their fellow man.

Comment by MikeUtah on May 3, 2011 at 10:16pm
Steve, I recognize that this is likely a sensitive topic for you due to your experience in the military and loss of friends.  I mean no offense or dismissal of the real loss of life due to this conflict.  Just trying to explore other options.
Comment by mistyjune on May 4, 2011 at 12:07am

I'm sorry but I don't agree. I'm not really sorry that I don't agree, I'm just trying to be polite I suppose. Yes, the loss of lives the amount spent sucks. It does. The politics involved in using the war against Al Qaeda to go into Iraq I will just leave alone for now. But this whole post sounds to me like what some moms tell their kids when their kids are being bullied- to try to understand where the bully is coming from (poor, overweight, or some other reason why he's compensating by being a bully for something that makes him angry) and if you show love and acceptance he'll quit bullying you and that's wrong. It doesn't work that way. You say "I understand" and don't fight back or stand up for yourself and that bully keeps picking on you even more. It's the same with Bin Laden., Had we just understood that our way of life threatened him because he didn't agree with it he wouldn't have said "oh yes it's so nice that someone understands me" and given a hearty handshake. No, he would have seen us as weak and continue attacking us on our soil. That's the problem with "turning the other cheek". There's no defense, no protection from harm when you become a doormat for the world to stomp on. Sure, like I told someone earlier it's a bit of a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. We go in and kill Bin Laden and everyone touts the whole idea about being the bigger person and an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. And if we didn't, there would have been much more criticism because of leaving ourselves open for further attack. This wasn't just some disagreement with another country's leader that could be talked out. This was someone who believed that killing Americans was what was right, someone who had attacked before and was getting better at it. We stayed out of WWII until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. I'd love to see someone tell the vets of that war that we should've turned the other cheek.

We could have turned the other cheek, but like I said we would have left our country open for attack.

Comment by Connie on May 4, 2011 at 4:47am

Susan, you ask why Bush wouldn't have made a big deal out of the death of Bin Laden if it occurred in 2002.  How could he get the American people to support the wars he and Cheney were about to start if the boogeyman was already out of the picture?  The reason the Americans were pumped for battle would have deflated immediately. 

The result of this pretense is apparent in the comment by Steve above who has been convinced by his government that his friends are dead because of to Bin Laden, rather than because of those in his own government who sent them overseas to be killed for nothing.  In his mind, those friends were killed by Bin Laden himself, rather than by citizens of countries who objected to the invasion of their homelands.

When I was a child, some kids got seriously hurt when they were playing in an abandoned military pillbox.  It was all over the news, and parents everywhere were up in arms about how terrible the whole event was.  But my mother pointed out to me that none of that would have happened if those kids had not been playing where they should not have been in the first place.  

Regardless of the provenance of LDS scripture, I still feel D&C Section 98 33 is valid counsel for all Americans when it advises not going to war on foreign soil.  American wars should only be defensive wars.  Only when our military is being utilized to directly defend our shores is it acting according to the intent of the founders.  When we violate the constitution, death is the inevitable result, and we can blame everyone else until the cows come home and never arrive at the true culprit, which is our own government for deceiving us into believing we were in clear and present danger when we were not.  Every American soldier who died all these years because he thought he was keeping his homeland safe from a long-dead boogeyman, has died in vain.  Every single one.

Why do you think Osama's body was dumped at sea?  Was the U.S. giving Obama military honors?  Or was it most likely that any examination of the body would raise questions?  Like mobsters who don't want the body found, Obama was sent out to sleep with the fishes.

For a list of the inside sources who have been stating Bin Laden has long been dead, and his corpse kept on ice until the right political moment, see here:



Comment by Druid on May 4, 2011 at 9:37am

I had a terrible feeling about going into Iraq. I felt it unnecessary and contrived by war profiteers and we would be stuck there for years. Didn’t take a prophet to make that call.


Imagine a person of some wealth, say they had invested in a number of defense companies, contract companies, etc. lets say $20 million or so. Sitting idle with no war their returns are small, just keeping the military at the ready. But they are poised for some real gains. Toss in a war. After ten years of war and reinvesting many people will have tripled their net worth. One particular case many of us know of the person went from an estimated 60 million of personal net worth to more than twice that. Increasing your families worth to 120 million is no small thing.


Because of the way we evolved and the way we are wired to respond to tribal attacks, and our country is just our extended tribe, it is not too hard to push those buttons and sucker a nation to go to war. Even though there is some legitimacy and bad people were doing bad things to us, at the same time we were used to make gobs of money for thousands of people while others died.


When we realize we may have been used and take a step back from the knee jerk tribal protection reaction. It suddenly allows for some compassion for the 100,000 plus people not of our tribe who died.  If we view, realize, most of those people were not gun toting rabid terrorists but men ,women and children who like us wanted to earn a living for themselves and family- some of the tragedy starts to set in.


Some of the long tern costs of the war that may take years to come home to our soil will be the continued terrorist actions that will happen as revenge for loved ones we killed this go around. If we had enemies before, we certainly have the extended families of all those killed now multiplied thousands of times….and perhaps in some cases rightly so.

Comment by Idaho Spud on May 4, 2011 at 10:25am

I don't know enough about Osama Bin Laden to comment on him, but, other than that, i agree with just about all your thoughts.  When I was religious, I wanted to "nuke the bastards", whenever we had trouble with someone.  Now, I'm pretty much a Libertarian.  They make a good case for staying out of war, using the same reasons you mention.   

Thanks for the death statistics Micah.  Didn't realize there were that many.

Comment by mistyjune on May 4, 2011 at 4:57pm

Connie, if I were Steve I'd be totally offended at your insult to his intelligence. I'm fairly certain that we all know that while Bin Laden did not personally kill his friends, that the reason they were there was to find and stop an organization, Al Qaeda, who attacked the US on US soil. How was our reaction not in defense?

As for the conspiracy theory regarding Bin Ladens death, the article you cited has a republican stating that his death would be hidden until the most politically expedient time. Aside from not finding the source or sources listed below the article as credible or actual facts (saying "I don't think he's alive" or "I would believe he could be dead" is not the same thing as providing a credible source or witness to Bin Ladens death) if the Republicans knew he was dead and were waiting for the right time to announce it, I somehow doubt they'd wait to do it when a Democrat is in office. That would go against their party agenda.


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