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September 11, 2012

Today Is the Eleventh Anniversary of an Enormous Opportunity

Today, September 11, 2012, is a good time for a short quiz.

Here are the questions:

1. What is this?

What did you answer? Did you say "That's the last moments of the lives of thousands of people"? Or "That's a hideous act of mass murder"? Or "That's the beginning of a lifetime of suffering for everyone who loved someone who died at the World Trade Center"?

Wrong! The right answer is: that is an OPPORTUNITY, an ENORMOUS OPPORTUNITY:

"Through my tears I see opportunity." – George Bush, September 20, 2001

"If the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11 bookend a major shift in international politics, then this is a period not just of grave danger, but of enormous opportunity. Before the clay is dry again, America and our friends and our allies must move decisively to take advantage of these new opportunities." – Condoleezza Rice, April 29, 2002

2. What is this?

This question is a little harder. Some people might answer, "That's the brutal Al Qaeda bombing of a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya on November 28, 2002 aimed at Israeli tourists." Others might say, "It's the place where terrorists murdered 13 people, including ten Kenyans and Israeli brothers Noy and Dvir Anter, ages 12 and 13." Or, "That's the place where, CNN reported, 'screaming children covered in blood searched desperately for their parents amid the wreckage.'"

They would also be wrong. The correct answer is, that is a GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY:

"Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting with ministry staff in the aftermath of the Kenya attacks, said that the incidents had presented Israel with a 'golden opportunity' to strengthen its strategic ties with the United States and other Western countries."

3. What is this?

Some might guess, "That's a young Iraqi girl covered in the blood of her parents, who'd just been killed by U.S. soldiers terrified of car bombers." Or, "Something that every American should be atoning for until the day we die."

But again, that would be wrong. The right answer is, that's a picture of yet another GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY:

"Targeting America in Iraq in terms of economy and losses in life is a golden and unique opportunity. Do not waste it only to regret it later." – Osama bin Laden, December, 2004

Probably the point here is clear. But I'll go ahead and spell it out.

For normal people, it's an unmitigated tragedy when their fellow citizens are killed in terrorist attacks or wars. Normal people cry, become afraid, and think of children who now have no parents and parents who now have no children.

For our would-be "leaders," however – in every country – the situation is different. Of course, they pretend to feel the same as normal people. They give teary-eyed speeches about sorrow and suffering.

And yet, behind their tears, there seems to be something else. When they think no one is looking, you glimpse another expression flitting across their face. You think it couldn't be. But – yes, incredibly enough, they're smiling. Because before the bodies are cold, before the mothers have stopped shrieking, our leaders are thinking:


And for them it is. It's an opportunity for them to do whatever they wanted to do before, but couldn't get away with. It's an opportunity for them to smear anyone who criticizes them as disloyal. It's an opportunity for them to become much more powerful than they ever could be in peacetime. Leaders love war. That's why there's so much of it.

It's understandably hard for normal people to come to terms with this. It's scary to believe your leaders may secretly be, uh, not so sad if you die. But all you have to do is listen to them, and they'll tell you.

Can we change this? Maybe. But the first step in changing reality is facing it, no matter how ugly and frightening it is.

Happy September 11th.

Posted at September 11, 2012 06:02 PM

Don't forget C. Hitchens' "feeling of exhilaration" as the Towers crumbled. Oh, what a golden time.

Posted by: Dennis Perrin at September 11, 2012 07:27 PM

Wow! No one could have said it better..... the sheer hypocrisy of our so called leaders, their opportunism to seize absolute power and then act with impunity and without a heavy cost of death and destruction for ordinary people and at no cost to them.........
Thinking of all the victims of sheer brutality of our wars and those who died on Sep 11, 2001 who had absolutely nothing to do with our leaders' bankrupt policies.


"You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy."
--Colin Powell

He certainly made sure, it did..... revenge, bigotry, persecution of innocents for being what/who they are...and on and on and never ending perpetual war..

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 11, 2012 08:32 PM

I think I see a golden opportunity here to say THANX, DEAN TAYLOR, for the heads up concerning SOA, last post. (Sadly, I've had some distant personal ties to the "School Of The Who-lee-o's" years ago and Ft. Benning in general.)

OPPORTUNITIES for the chickens to come home to roost. OBL's chickens shit on his head when they landed, as OURS are doing to US and will continue to do for a looong while. Profiting??? from the neighbors' misery and expecting to get by, same ole greed and stupidity. That smile Jon writes about---just an idiot's grin.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 11, 2012 08:56 PM

May be, may be, on this anniversary, our leaders could learn something from these young people..... in spite of their misery and injustice to them, they have something positive to teach.... tolerance, reconciliation, peace and love!


Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 11, 2012 09:00 PM

Here's one reality worth facing: the modern electoral system has no role for 3rd parties except as spoilers, at least at the presidential level. Changing this reality means changing the system, not dreaming that a 3rd party will someday, somehow, prevail within it.

Posted by: godoggo at September 11, 2012 09:15 PM

"modern American electoral system," of course

Posted by: godoggo at September 11, 2012 09:17 PM

...not that I have any constructive suggestions as to how that might be accomplished, either.

Posted by: godoggo at September 11, 2012 09:40 PM

Well I can believe that you can reasonably accurately source your fist two quotes but this one
"Osama bin Laden, December, 2004"

He'd been dead for three years by then.

Posted by: bilejones at September 11, 2012 10:06 PM

godoggo: "Stealing" votes from either party is NOT a spoiler. Can't spoil what is already rotten. Meanwhile, a RICH hedge fund manager or a RICH corporate lawyer, lesser of two evils both of whom WILL feed the banksters, keep GITMO, bomb some children at a wedding party, AND keep on screwing the American Citizens like they ain't never been screwed before. Decisions, decisions!!!

Third Party, Folks.
Waaay too late for this election cycle. Start today and maybe by 2016???

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 11, 2012 10:29 PM


Posted by: Rob at September 11, 2012 10:38 PM


Posted by: Rob at September 11, 2012 10:38 PM

'"Stealing" votes from either party is NOT a spoiler.'

It's the difference between bad and worse. You won't convince me otherwise, let alone convince a majority of more-or-less left-leaning Americans that a Romney presidency is worth risking.

The good news, of course, is that none of our individual votes makes any difference at all, so, please, vote for whoever rocks your boat. Hell, vote Nazi for all I care.

Posted by: godoggo at September 11, 2012 10:48 PM

"The good news, of course, is that none of our individual votes makes any difference at all, so, please, vote for whoever rocks your boat."

That's the spirit. I'm a lesser of two evils convert myself and really hope Romney loses (I think of it that way rather than hoping Obama wins), but I was just reading the usual Nader-bashing over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money and at Tbogg the other day. I'm not sure what triggered this latest spasm. Maybe it's a regular ritual at those places--I just stumbled across it both times. It's kind of frustrating how self-righteous people can get over their decision to support Lesser Evil. I mean, I buy the argument, but Gore (they were rehashing the 2000 election) was partly responsible for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths due to sanctions and that ought to make people feel a little queasy. Indirectly helping Bush to win should also make people feel queasy. Nobody has clean hands here. Maybe people want to feel like they're making a difference and the truth, that whatever you do at the ballot box is going to have some nasty consequences to the extent that it makes any diffference at all, is just too depressing. It's more fun to bash the other guy for being an idiot.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at September 11, 2012 11:31 PM

When the world gives you carnage, make carnage-ade.

Posted by: weaver at September 11, 2012 11:36 PM

godoggo: I'm not stumping for either of OUR present candidates. They've got US by the balls already and therefore have no need of my help.
I'm DREAMING of a third party, a TRULY independent third party and not a subset of one of the two major parties. A party that considers and promotes SOLUTIONS to the nation's problems and not just pile horseshit in the doorway. A party with more than just a presidential candidate, but one with senators and representatives as well.
I contend that the system will never be changed if the same two corrupt parties supply ALL OUR leadership.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 11, 2012 11:36 PM

Yeah, kind of a catch 22, ain't it?

Posted by: godoggo at September 11, 2012 11:45 PM

godoggo: Yes, indeed, quite a quandary when one stays inside the box. The system is designed to keep everyone inside the two party system, as a STRONG THIRD PARTY, one which the two majors can't crush, absolutely is a spoiler.
BUT someone has to step up to the plate, in fact, a whole LOT of someones have to step up.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 12, 2012 12:12 AM

Realizing that this is all off-topic, but what the hell...

I'd say that one real-world consequence of this argument was one of the main things that turned me off the Greens in 2000 - that I'd read that they had a policy of running aggressively against Democratic politicians in local races even in those cases where the Dems were ideologically close to the Greens; in other words they were focusing on long-term party building at the cost of immediate negative consequences on real people, which is same problem with being a spoiler at the presidential level (assuming you're able to attract enough voters), since there are real differences between the candidates.

Posted by: godoggo at September 12, 2012 12:38 AM

And I don't know offhand what they're policy is on this, but I've never heard a Green candidate place much emphasis on reforming the electoral process. Certainly there wasn't much talk of this at the one rally I went to.

Posted by: godoggo at September 12, 2012 12:44 AM

And I don't know what their policy is on this, but I haven't even heard much talk from Greens on reforming the electoral process; certainly there wasn't much talk about this at the one rally I went to.

Posted by: godoggo at September 12, 2012 12:46 AM

godoggo: I'm not stumping for the Green Party either. I suppose electing a Dem is positive? No negativity from a Dem candidate's election? Both major parties put the nation here. Saying that the Greens going against the Dems causes immediate negativity to real people without examples or PROOF doesn't wash in light of ALL the examples of the REAL harm the Democratic Party HAS caused ALL THE REAL PEOPLE of, not just this nation but, the world.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 12, 2012 02:08 AM

Well, I guess this was probably the article I read 12 years ago (and not since) on Nader:

At this point, though, Nader’s sketch of his strategic vision for the Greens becomes mind-boggling. Two years hence, if a Green runs against his number-two favorite American thing, says Nader, he’ll back the Green. “There’s an overriding goal here, and that’s to build a majority party,” he says. “I hate to use military analogies, but this is war . . . After November, we’re going to go after the Congress in a very detailed way, district by district. If [Democrats in a particular district] are winning 51 to 49 percent, we’re going to go in and beat them with Green votes. They’ve got to lose people, whether they’re good or bad.” Moberg goes on to report that “Nader is willing to sacrifice progressives like [Senators] Russ Feingold in Wisconsin or [Paul] Wellstone [in Minnesota].” Nader explains, “That’s the burden they’re going to have to bear for letting their party go astray. It’s too bad.”

As far as the current race, sorry if this is lazy, but I just googled "differences between Obama and Romney," and got this handy guide for example:

Posted by: godoggo at September 12, 2012 03:06 AM

Main difference is I think Romney's economic policy would be harmful.

Posted by: godoggo at September 12, 2012 03:10 AM

About a month ago our cops shot 34 striking miners at a place called Marikana.

I googled Marikana opportunity -- got a million and a half responses, but the first relevant one on the foot of the page was "Marikana is an opportunity for SA to pick up the pieces..."

Nothing like a massacre for creating opportunities. And pieces. Lots of them.

Posted by: The Creator at September 12, 2012 04:52 AM

never let a crisis go to waste

Posted by: frankenduf at September 12, 2012 09:29 AM

The next logical step would be to look at Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, which shows that natural and economic disasters are also viewed by our leaders as a great opportunity.

Posted by: Duncan at September 12, 2012 10:57 AM

War! What is it good for?

Business, my boy - it's real good for business - and for keeping and increasing political power.

Why Raising Awareness Is Not Enough

Most people believe that increased awareness
leads to involvement, concern, and finally

But does it? Not according to most research.
Awareness may be a prerequisite to concern and
action, but by itself, it does not trigger action.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at September 12, 2012 11:36 AM

One of your best. Thank you.

Posted by: Jusrtin Parker at September 12, 2012 12:32 PM

Golden opportunities show up everywhere and are easy pickin's, low hanging fruit, as they say. Lybia showed up in the news just this morning with four dead embassy personal (OURS) and most likely some of their guards (theirs). (lybia=oil=opportunity)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 12, 2012 12:37 PM

godoggo: AGAIN, I'm NOT stumping for The Green Party.
As for the differences between Romney and Obama, they're easy to see. Its the similarities that astound me. BOTH want OUR money and resources so they can bomb some innocent people in the neighborhood AND torture a few in OUR playground at GITMO. Why, just this morning Mitt was slobbering over the chance to nail some Lybians and Barrack's record can speak for itself.
As for the Romney/Obama economy, BOTH plan on more foreclosures and feeding Goldman Sachs OUR money. Neither one has a clue nor a plan nor the inclination about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.
AS FOR NADER, in light of the last twelve years, the article YOU've mentioned makes Nader a genius.
Progressives seem to think they can "fix" the Democratic Party somehow and all will be right with the world again. Its a rotting corpse and WE ain't Dr. Frankenstein.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 12, 2012 01:17 PM

Should be Libyans & Libya above.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 12, 2012 01:36 PM

difference between Romney and Obama? look at how each is handling the Libyan consulate murders.

Romney sees a political OPPORTUNITY, and is crassly milking it for all he can.

Obama is trying to handle it like an adult.

Posted by: cleek at September 12, 2012 02:38 PM

godoggo's completely right about the realities of first-past-the-post, sadly enough.

Posted by: liberal at September 12, 2012 03:30 PM

cleek; NEW American guns AND new American cars used to kill The New American Ambassador, POTUS took advantage of the OPPORTUNITY long ago. Mitt is just slow, that's all.
I feel sorry for the folks in Libya, both Libyan and American. The day ain't over yet so those people, innocent and guilty, are looking to face some rough days ahead added on to the rough times they've had in the last 40 years.

Liberal: THAT'S the exact reason to try it (third party). Seems NOTHING else has worked.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 12, 2012 05:02 PM

I came to the conclusion awhile ago, that almost without exception (Vaclav Havel?), that anybody that wants to be a head of state, and is capable enough to climb the pile of clawing,scraping, back-stabbing humanity, is a sociopathic megalomaniac, or a megalomanaical sociopath, or both. ;)

Posted by: mikeinportc at September 12, 2012 05:47 PM

mikeinportc wrote, "(Vaclav Havel?)"

Given that he supported Bush's invasion of Iraq, I think he's probably closer to the "sociopath" category than you think he is.

Posted by: liberal at September 12, 2012 07:22 PM

I tried to put this on my Facebook page and it keeps going to an different essay. I just copied the address. Could you please tell me what I'm doing wrong and, while you're at it, may I have permission to share it? It seems to me as close to perfection as it can get.

Posted by: Rosemary Molloy at September 12, 2012 07:26 PM

Never mind my earlier, I was able to get it on Facebook. Hope that's all right with you. This piece is one of the most intelligent and heartfelt I've read about 9/11. It recognizes the terrible human cost, yet refuses to make that an excuse for the equal--or worse, at least in scope--horrors we've been inflicting since. Thank you.

Posted by: Rosemary Molloy at September 13, 2012 06:45 AM

Obama is trying to handle it like an adult.

Well, no. He said, "Make no mistake: justice will be done," and you know what that means. The drones are already in the air. But maybe that's what you mean by handling it like an adult?

Posted by: Duncan at September 13, 2012 11:18 AM

Ah, the OPPORTUNITIES abound across the middle east(low hanging fruit so to speak). Drones (as Duncan points out above)and a carrier group WITH cruise missiles&marines headed to Libya today. Egypt & Yemen are jumping with excitement.(My opportunity) I'm thinking of starting an office pool(as if cows have money) as to which middle eastern capital will be the first to "light up like Baghdad on a Saturday night".

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 13, 2012 01:19 PM

Anyway, I just reread that article I linked to above. I'd somewhat vaguely recalled it having a lot to do with my decision to vote for Gore, but I'd forgotten just how devastating it was.

Posted by: godoggo at September 13, 2012 03:24 PM

Small minds, easily swayed by weak arguments.

Posted by: nodemos at September 13, 2012 08:15 PM

Good lord, Nader. It's about time you showed some sense. Third parties are built from the bottom up, not from the top down. The top tier is controlled by corporate power, and they know how to hang on to it.
If by some remote chance a strong leader could rally the 99% to replace the top leaders, he would most likely end up in a hole in the ground at Arlington where annual tribute would be paid to him by misquoting him and distorting what he stood for.

Posted by: Paul Avery at September 14, 2012 09:55 AM

I don't see the problem as anything as sinister as all that. It just happens to be that our electoral system is poorly designed, an honest error on the part of the founders.

Posted by: godoggo at September 14, 2012 10:39 AM

Paul Avery: Seems sensible to me. But then I'm at the bottom---poor agricultural labor. When I was young maybe Dad could have lent me the money to become a hedge fund manager. As I saw he was a truck mechanic struggling to pay off Beneficial Finance, the thought never crossed my mind.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 14, 2012 12:51 PM

Rev. Terry Jones&The Net---A veritable treasure trove of opportunity.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 15, 2012 07:59 PM

Democrats never get tired of bashing Nader and never will, but it's sad to see it on ATR.

Nader didn't nominate himself for the presidency in 2000, nor did he found the Green Party. His Green Party candidacy was quintessentially grassroots and bottom-up--it was a rallying point for multiple movements, and a vehicle for building support for everything that mattered to the left. Despite his role as a focus for all of that, Nader was ultimately irrelevant to it; it was about the left finally asserting its independence. That so many people abandoned that moment of independence before it had even fully begun, and ran tearfully and apologetically back into the arms of the Democrats (i.e. co-optation and irrelevance), is the greatest failure of the modern U.S. left.

Posted by: John Caruso at September 16, 2012 01:35 PM

Yeah, John, the last time I felt real hope and change (and I don't mean the trademarked logo kind) was 2000. For the first time since, I honestly don't know who to vote for...the Greens really disappointed me with safe state strategy...I don't think Nader's running in California, they've decimated Third Parties with the open's truly a sad time for the left.

Posted by: Peggy at September 17, 2012 12:12 PM

Anyway, sorry for threadjacking. I'm just not normally in the mood on those occasions when John or Jon discusses this subject, but suddenly I found myself in it.

Posted by: godoggo at September 17, 2012 04:16 PM

Peggy: Why not write in YOUR OWN name on that ballot? I'm absolutely positive YOU would make a better choice than what WE face in November.
John Caruso&All: California isn't ALL of America by a long shot. Rules and laws can be petitioned to change--look at DADT.

Folks, a third party will only succeed by many citizens fighting hard. To think that the two majors will GIVE even an inch of power to a third party is to be on the wrong of Mao's rifle.(literally)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 17, 2012 11:31 PM

"1. What is this?"

Controlled demolition.

Posted by: Bill Jones at September 18, 2012 12:02 AM

WE NOW see Mitt was hoping "Some Americans" could get in some kind of trouble so he could take advantage of THE OPPORTUNITY.
Mitt doesn't seem to realize social media REALLY exists and that he's being recorded24/7 by someone, somewhere.
Listen to the whole video. That's America talking there. WE raise 'em that way, folks, that's how Mittens got here with US. NEEDLESS to say, Mitt&Ann ain't alone.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 19, 2012 07:51 PM