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 The Evil One on May 5, 2011 at 1:36am


   What the hell? It would be nice if it worked that way but it doesnt. People like me have made sure that people like you have the right to say what you want but we still needed to defend what we have or you would be a muslim extremist by now. You and all that think we should have turned the other cheeck are wrong, these people would not have stopped if it wasnr for us. I have given over 7 years of my life to make sure you all have that freedon, show the same RESPECT!!!

Comment by MikeUtah on May 5, 2011 at 8:40am
Evil One, I appreciate what you and the millions of others who serve in the armed forces do.  I mean no disrespect in my post.
Comment by Susan G. Emmett on May 5, 2011 at 10:15am
I'd like to comment on some of the more vehement objections to Micah's post.  I think most Exmos who spent all their lives in the church suffer from a lack of critical thinking skills.  "The thinking has been done" syndrome affects all of us to a point.  Most have rarely been involved in real, scholarly debate -- which requires someone throwing out a premise, and inviting others to comment (without casting aspersions, calling someone stupid, suspecting a lack of thought or intelligence, etc.).  Scholarly debate was certainly not often encouraged during the four years I attended BYU (altho I know that has changed somewhat).  Micah threw out an idea, a premise, and INVITED comment.  He invited dialog, disagreement, agreement, "whatever".  One can make a cogent point or argument without attacking someone's core.  Let's try harder to learn how to do that! 
Comment by Idaho Spud on May 5, 2011 at 10:57am

I like your post Susan.  I'm surprised at how harsh some of the disagreements are.  I've never taken debate, or even been involved in debates, but once out of mormonism, I'm happy to say my dogmatic views have all come under scrutiny by myself.  I've become much better at considering other's points of view, and not attacking the person if I don't agree with them.

Comment by MikeUtah on May 5, 2011 at 1:00pm

Hello Bar.  I want to make it clear that this post is by no means meant as an attack nor disrespect to armed services personnel.  I respect the very real danger in the jobs they have been employed to do by our government and people.  I even joined the National Guard myself and would have been in this conflict directly had I not been discharged medically before boot camp the summer of 1997 (bad ankle and surgery).  However, I refuse to allow any topic to be untouchable to scrutiny, for doing so is the fastest track to having our liberties withered away or the wool pulled over our eyes, neither of which I am suggesting as happening in this post.  

I'm sorry you feel this discussion is meaningless.  I don't find the deaths of hundreds of thousands (whether US, Iraqis or Afghan) to be meaningless and thus my question and desire to discuss whether we made the right decision to hunt down UBL and enter into two wars with two countries of which neither country of themselves provoked such an attack (I'm not assuming you feel these deaths are meaningless, but that is how your last statement comes across).  My purpose in raising this discussion is to explore the possibility that a better, less destructive and less death causing path could have been chosen, that still maintained the integrity of our safety, without putting so many others at the risks we've now achieved, and to also explore the likelihood that we've gone down the current path long enough and it is time to put an end to our involvement in the death and destruction of foreign lands and consider whether this a path that is only generating more animosity and enemies and really not providing anything more than an illusion of safety.  No offense or personal attack intended to anyone in this comment and post, only a desire to evaluate our predicament and urge our representatives accordingly.

Comment by Jean Bodie on May 5, 2011 at 1:50pm

Micah, there is nothing wrong with your comments about your feelings and you do not need to keep apologizing to those who have a different opinion than you.

This is not a cut and dried issue; few things are and there are many ways of looking at all events. I'm glad you had the courage to tell people the way you see it.

Comment by MikeUtah on May 6, 2011 at 8:45am
Bar, thanks for being candid in your reply.  While this site is mine and ran by me, and someday may make enough from ads to cover the costs or a bit more, I do not consider it my blog.  As the mission statement and name of this site suggests, we are here for life after Mormonism and as such I do not require topics to be related to Mormonism.  I want everyone to discuss and argue about anything under the sun so long as it remains respectful to all users.  Those who defended and agreed with me on this post did so un-prompted due to their views agreeing with mine, or because they are friends and didn't like the name calling.  I welcome anyone's views or argument that opposes and challenges the OP, so long as it remains clear of aggression or personal attacks, which I have attempted to do in my own posts, though likely suffer and fail from time to time due to my own biases.  I understand why some people responded to this post in a defensive or attacking manner, as it is an emotionally charged subject.  I have never suspended anyone from LAM due to them not agreeing with me.  Suspensions and warnings have only ever come from any user who has disregarded the house rules, so I hope in revealing this no one will hesitate to share their opinions or arguments in a respectful manner.  I am surprised that anyone would decide not to talk to you merely because you held a different view than me on this matter.  I haven't seen you in the chat room myself for a day or two and so haven't even had opportunity to say hello.  Also keep in mind that people may show as being in the chat room but may not be anywhere near their PC or monitoring chat.  I think as long as you're making an effort to reach out to others in the chat room, you'll likely find no one there treating you differently.  I have no intention of treating you any differently.  Thanks again for the candid discussion.
Comment by Jean Bodie on May 6, 2011 at 11:27am

Bar, Mike ended his piece with 'What do you think?' You told him what you think and you have every right to do so; everyone has the right to an opinion don't they, including Mike?

I do know/understand what you are saying about the leader of the group - any group. I have seen this many times on the various forums. I agree that one takes on the persona of 'bishop' of a 'ward' unintentionally. If that has happened here with Micah, I have not seen it. I'm the one who told him to stop apologizing for his opinion. I didn't see everyone falling in line with his opinion and that is usually what happens in those types of forums.

He would have made an awesome bishop IMHO.


Comment by MikeUtah on May 6, 2011 at 11:29am
Comment by Susan G. Emmett on May 6, 2011 at 12:54pm

One doesn't, unless one wants to -- in order to pump out the the rhetoric that anyone who hates the wars doesn't support the troops.  As I mentioned earlier, I was against both wars from the beginning (especially Iraq), but you won't find anyone who loves, admires and supports the troops more than me, and I back it up often with contributions to USO, Paralized Vets, and various other Vet-supportive organizations.  I am often depressed when I think about the deaths and the horrible injuries suffered by our troops -- and I am very angry at what they have been asked to do for what I consider an unlawful incursion into Iraq, and the continued stay in Afganistan once we knew Osama wasn't even there anymore.  All driving by war-mongers who profit off the soldiers backs and the tax money we all through at it.  Oil and Iraq and precious minerals in Afganistan. That's what it's really about, IMO.

And I guess since I came back here to say the above, I'll take the time to defend and clarifywhat I had to say about Exmormons not being particularly gifted at critical thinking skills.  I wasn't pointing fingers at ANY particular point of view when I said that (as that is how it was interpreted by at least one here).  I was pointing the finger at all of us, therefore was not being condescending at all.  I am all for dialog and even passionate  opposite opinions, but it can be done without disparaging or name calling (stupid, crazy, controlling are just a few).


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