I Wanted to Join the Armed Forces After 9/11
The title of this post is a very dark and somewhat uncharacteristic thought I had after I saw the twin towers go down. At the time I was working for ABCNews in New York City. I was supposed to be working in the World Trade Center. When I moved back to NYC in 2000, I had a choice to work for a technology consulting firm on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center or ABCNews in Lincoln Center. I chose the latter. Seeing three jumbo plane jets (Pentagon and World Trade Center Towers) used as ballistic missiles was something that my mind could not comprehend. It was horrific, shocking, and incomprehensible. Why? Who? Is this the first line of attack? Are there dozens of other planes set to come raining down on every major city? Who’s next? Los Angeles? Philadelphia? Chicago? Houston? My mind raced around as I thought of city landscapes littered with buildings on fire, smashed jumbo jet parts, rubble, and bodies. Dozens of cities smoldering with the stench of jet fuel and charred bodies piercing our noses for miles.
I’m not sure if “patriotism” is the right description of how I felt, but I definitely felt invaded and attacked. I felt enraged that such a horrific act had taken place in my country. You know, like the big bully who pushed you into the wet muddy grass while celebrating your new mud stained reality on the ground. Nothing could prepare me for what I saw on TV. People jumping off of the tower building because the heat was too intense. Burn to death or plummet 80 stories to your death. After the fear and rage had dissipated I felt a need to react. I wanted to join the armed forces. I wanted to go to war with the villains who would carry out such a demonic act against innocent civilians. I wanted the enemy to know that this is the last time you will commit such a horrific act. But before I got my “armed forces on” I needed to know my enemy. Who did this and why?
As I dug deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of “who dunnit” and “why diddit” my patriotic/militaristic flames were quickly smothered by the water hoses of objective information and factual history. Oh really, the United States CIA had a program called Operation Cyclone to arm, train, and finance the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. Oh really, after months and months of the press asking for firm evidence on the accusation that Iraq had an elaborate nuclear arms “dirty bomb” program (Weapons of Mass Destruction) the only evidence the Bush Administration can scare up is some aluminum tubes they claim are being used for uranium enrichment. Oh really, Opium production sky rockets after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Oh really, unilateral approach on the Iraq War after the international community was completely opposed to this war effort. The final nail in the coffin was reading Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll. As you can see from the evidence, I decided to opt out of joining the armed forces. At the time, my plan was to join The U.S. Marines Corps.
There are many dimensions to my grief. I grieve for the American people who don’t understand how foreign policy creates new enemies. I grieve for the Iraqi people. I grieve for the Afghan people. I grieve for the Pakistani people. I grieve for the countless innocent civilians that lost their lives, here and abroad. I grieve because we are usurped by patriotic fervor. I grieve because we still believe it’s us vs them. I grieve because Muslims are still seen as untrustworthy and terrorist sympathizers. I grieve because people will read this and accuse me of being unpatriotic. I grieve for many of the armed forces who were killed during this war effort. I grieve because this will not be the last post I write on why militarism and occupation are stone age approaches to regime change. I grieve because only a few will see the connection between 9/11 and military occupation. I grieve because that last statement will be seen as insensitive to the 3000+ who lost their lives from a bunch terrorist maniacs. I grieve because too many see the terrorists as jealous of American freedom. I have no more tears for you America but I wish you well. Carry on.