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What we have learned since 9/11« Thread Started on Sept 3, 2

Daily newsbrief journal for September 2006, also see for a global 100-page perpetual brief and follow twitter @usdemocrats

What we have learned since 9/11« Thread Started on Sept 3, 2

Postby admin » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:00 am

What we have learned since 9/11« Thread Started on Sept 3, 2006, 8:41pm » --------------------------------------------------------------------------------What we have learned since 9/11POSTED: 1600 GMT (0000 HKT), September 3, 2006 read source: ... mlEditor's note: The following is a summary of this week's Time magazine cover story.( -- An American businessman, traveling in India when the planes struck the towers, made his way back to the U.S. the following week as quickly as he could. That meant hopscotching across the Middle East, stopping in Athens, Greece, overnight to change planes. He spent the evening taking supper in a local taverna. No one in the restaurant spoke English, but when the owner realized he had an American in the house just two nights after 9/11, he asked his guest to stand up, face the other diners and listen to a toast.And indeed, the entire room stood up, raised their glasses and said, as one, "Shoulder to shoulder, until justice is done."Five years later, after an invasion of Afghanistan and an occupation of Iraq, and amid talk of war with Iran, it is fair to ask: Would they say it again tonight? Would we say it to each other?This has become the loss with no grave, no chance for mourning, because we still live it every day: the loss of that transcendent unity, global goodwill, common purpose born of righteous anger that wrapped us like a bandage those first months after the attacks: a president with a 90 percent approval rating, a congress working as one, expressions of sympathy and offers of help from every corner of the planet. We are all Americans, said Le Monde.That unity was never going to last. The world more easily loves a superpower when it's wounded and weakened than when it rises and growls. But we have not merely returned to the messy family arguments of September 10. We are broken, divided at home, dreaded abroad, in need of a hard conversation about America's vital interests and abiding values -- but too bitter and suspicious to have it.All wars, even the noblest, bring a reckoning of means and ends. The war on terrorism has long since lost its crisp moral lines. Who foresaw that the battle would require a national seminar about when it's OK for Americans to torture prisoners and whether near-drowning counts? Or a debate over which clauses of the Constitution might be expendable? We may agree that terrorism is wicked, but we're still unsure about how to answer it.Presidents make their hard decisions and then abide forever with their mistakes and regrets. "I guess not many presidents have been understood in their own time," Lyndon Johnson said, reflecting on all the good he'd tried to do for people, who despised him nonetheless. George W. Bush swats away the judgments that anniversaries invite. "There's no such thing as short-term history, as far as I'm concerned," he said last week. We can't know how the story ends; but we know that there was a time five years ago when every day was Memorial Day, when we never would have imagined that we'd care what Brad and Angelina's baby looked like or dread air travel more for its inconvenience than its dangers.Is that good news, a return to normalcy, a mark of resilience? Or does it too mark a kind of loss? In the weeks after 9/11, out of the pain and the fear there arose also grace and gratitude, eruptions of intense kindness that occurred everywhere, a sharp resolve to just be better, bigger, to shed the nonsense, to rise to the occasion. And yet five years later, more than two-thirds of Americans say they are unhappy with how things are going -- exactly the opposite of the weeks after the attacks, when people were crushed but hopeful. We saw back then what we were capable of at our best, and now find ourselves just moving on, willing to listen to our leaders but not necessarily believe them, supporting the troops but disputing their mission, waiting, more resigned than resolved, for the next twist in the plot.No, we don't know how the story ends. The idea that history is written by the victors has been wrongly credited to Winston Churchill, but he did say that, "If you are going through hell, keep going." But you wonder whether years from now -- five? 10? 50? -- there will come a day when the victors actually know that they've won, that the battle is over and they can set about the writing. And whether even then, they will be sure that they have got the story right.
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