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 Susan G. Emmett on May 6, 2011 at 3:43pm

So why do you continue to live here?  Seems to me that you do (as all citizens do) received multiple benefits from the Fed. Government -- the list is too long to type, and when one starts listing what our taxes do pay for that most of us wouldn't want to live here without, it's bit of a wakeup call to those who haven't really thought it out before.  That's doesn't mean I don't think the tax code is beyond repair, and is a manipulative pile of shite.  But the money does pay for much which we take advantage of.  So, I'm thinking -- if you really hate America as much as you say, why do you stay here?  And if you aren't paying your taxes (as ridiculous as the system is), then you really have no right to those services.  I find it interesting that you tell us what happened to you (sort of), but don't tell us why you were arrested.


Comment by mistyjune on May 6, 2011 at 5:47pm

Susan, you did in fact point the finger at specific points of view. You started your post with "I'd like to comment on some of the more vehement objections to Micah's post." and then continued with informing those who disagreed that they lack critical thinking skills and have never been involved in real, scholarly debate. And then you ended your post with "One can make a cogent point or argument without attacking someone's core" even though it is what you most certainly did do. Sugar coat it, change it, rationalize it, it's what you said. I disagreed with Micah and I stated why I disagree with Micah. The Evil One and Steve disagreed and stated why. I do not see any indication that we lack critical thinking skills. Perhaps we did not use enough statistics to satisfy what you would require in order to look intelligent in your eyes. I thought about just ignoring what you said until you tried to claim it wasn't what you said. I am involved in schorlarly debates weekly, I am a college graduate, and I know I and The Evil One both have critical thinking skills because it is what caused trouble for us growing up. In my opinion, anyone who honestly thinks that turning the other cheek would have yielded better results is lacking in critical thinking skills and is allowing themselves to be removed from reality. I usually adore and agree with Micah. This may be the first time I have fully disagreed with him. Sure it'd be nice if we could turn the other cheek and it would really have been unicorns and rainbows instead of death and destruction, but it's not reality. Unfortunately, Al Qaeda would have seized the opportunity. Here's some statistics regarding 9/11- 19 terrorist hijackers killed approximately 3000 Americans.

 Had we turned the other cheek they would have succeeded in destroying our country.

I am an American, I chose the people in office, I know I don't have to agree with them on every decision they make but I chose to have them make these decisions. I choose to continue being an American. After 9/11 there was a huge increase in people enlisting in the military because they believed that stopping Al Qaeda and Bin Laden was important enough to put their lives on the line. That's why this idea makes them so angry. Because it is like telling them that what they chose to defend was not worth it.

You don't have to agree with me and I don't have to speak as if I'm above average in order to make a valid point. Trust me, this is one of those times where I actually fought the desire to go real low brow and say something I never say.

Comment by Susan G. Emmett on May 6, 2011 at 7:20pm
I never accused anyone responding to Micah as not having critical thinking skills.  I DID express that most Mormons have never been taught to think with critical thinking skills.  And I also stated that one doesn't have to call someone names or accuse them of being stupid to get their point across.  I can find nowhere in my original post where I accused YOU or anyone else on this list as never having used critical thinking skills.  What I pointed out as negative was the name-calling that was done by a couple of people.  Am I not an exmormon like the rest of you, i.e. didn't I lack the same syndrome of never being taught critical thinking skills?  I wasn't excluding myself from that syndrome in any way.  The only reason that a lot of us escaped the cult was because we finally started putting them to use.  One last thing -- I never said or thought that "turning the other cheek" was the way to go after 911.  Never.  The initial invasion into Afganistan I did not have a problem with (but I have had a problem with us staying there all these years after it was plain that we'd never find Bin Loden there!).  I WAS against going into Iraq, and the way the public was tricked into supporting it.  It was a crime against humanity IMO, and the "cabal" of men who planned it and executed it (not the military) should roast in hell -- if there was such a thing. 
Comment by mistyjune on May 6, 2011 at 7:37pm

You mentioned it in direct response to the contrary opinions expressed. You can argue that you didn't say any specific name but you set your post up to infer that by starting with "I'd like to comment on some of the more vehement objections to Micah's post." and then going right into it.

Just for reference since I've heard a few people state that Mormons were never taught critical thinking skills. Not taught and choosing not to apply the skill towards ones religion are not really the same thing. I had many school lessons as a child that taught critical thinking skills. But that's not the subject of this thread.

Comment by MikeUtah on May 6, 2011 at 8:17pm
The interpretation I made from Sue's original comment was that she was trying to discourage personal attacks and regarded those as a possible indication of poor debate skills more than being about poor critical thinking skills. They aren't the same thing. It is a stretch for any of us to claim what another person intended by their comments when they themselves clarify what their intent was in further posts. Such claims allude to knowing more about the other's thoughts then they themselves know of their own thoughts. We can only speculate what their intent is, and not claim any knowledge over their own thoughts.
Comment by mistyjune on May 6, 2011 at 8:39pm

That's fine Micah. We can interpret comments differently. I am just pointing out the way she set up her comment led me and others into that interpretation by addressing it to those who objected to your post. And the defense sounds more like claiming to have addressedthe letter to one person and then claiming the body of the letter was not meant for the person it was addressed to. Disagreement is not a personal attack and aside form one word I did not see any personal attacks in the posts disagreeing with you.

That'll be my last comment on the subject of her post.

Comment by MikeUtah on May 7, 2011 at 12:24am
I just wanted to comment and assure anyone who has commented that I take none of the comments personally and that if we were friends before this discussion, we're still just as good as friends in my mind.  If we weren't friends before this discussion, I'd love to add any of you as a friend, regardless of your position in this debate.  Thanks everyone for being bold enough to share your thoughts on this matter.
Comment by The Evil One on May 7, 2011 at 12:38am
By the way, just inn case any one wants to know, I trained the SEAL team that killed Bin Laden, so im  pretty well proudful
Comment by Jean Bodie on May 7, 2011 at 10:09am

I thought that 'someone' said we should not have political discussions on here. That being the case, I hope that this doesn't go on and on and on. Drop it guys. Who agrees with whom is not the important issue here. Everyone; everyone has different opinions; it is called perspective. If we cannot have an intelligent debate due to various perspectives, let's not get into it. If Bar and CB want to discuss the Palestinian issue go right ahead in private.

Life AFTER Mormonism means that we are allowed to think, but I don't want to read arguments and name calling; it is immature to respond in that way. Let's be adults and if we can't because our feelings are too passionate let's stop posting on the topic. I think that people have done a good job of calming down so let's not start it up again with the Palestinian issue or we will have dissension in the ranks again

Comment by MikeUtah on May 7, 2011 at 10:26am
Good discussion.  It has run it's course.

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