by Massachusetts Peace Action, September 27, 2021
Author, activist, journalist, radio host, David Swanson spoke at the “Never Forget: 9/11 and the 20 Year War on Terror” event. David Swanson is executive director of World Beyond War and campaign coordinator of Roots Action.
The world changed on September 11th 2001. The tragic deaths of almost 3,000 people and the destruction of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City had a deep effect on the American people. 9/11 fundamentally altered the culture of the United States and its relationship with the rest of the world. The violence of that day was not confined, it spread throughout the world as America lashed out both at home and abroad. The almost 3,000 deaths of September 11th became hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of deaths from wars the US launched in retaliation. Tens of millions lost their homes. Join us, on Saturday September 11th, as we reflect on the lessons of 9/11 and the lessons of the 20 year Global War on Terror.
In the name of freedom, and of vengeance, the United States invaded and occupied Afghanistan. We stayed for 20 years. With lies of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ a majority of the country was convinced to invade and occupy Iraq, the worst foreign policy decision of the modern era. The Executive Branch was given sweeping authority to make war across borders and without limits. The conflict in the Middle East expanded under both Republican and Democratic Presidents, leading to US wars in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and more. Trillions of dollars were spent. Millions of lives were lost. We created the greatest migration and refugee crisis since World War II.
9/11 was also used as an excuse to change the relationship of the US government to its citizens. In the name of safety the national security state was given expansive surveillance powers, threatening privacy and civil liberties. The Department of Homeland Security was created and with it ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Words like ‘enhanced interrogation,’ a euphemism for torture entered the American lexicon and the Bill of Rights was tossed aside.
After the events of September 11th 2001, “Never Forget” became a common expression in the United States. Unfortunately it was not only used to remember and honor the dead. Like “remember the Maine” and “remember the Alamo,” “never forget” was also used as a rallying cry to war. 20 years after 9/11 we are still living in the age of the ‘War on Terror.’
We must never forget the lessons of 9/11 or the lessons of the Global War on Terror, lest we risk repeating the pain, death, and tragedy of the past 20 years.