Portsiders Reflect on 9/11 Number 4
Ten Years After 9/11
We at Portside asked a number of our past contributors
and all our readers for brief reflections on the
significance of the event and this anniversary.
This is the fourth in a series of comments on that
day and what has come after it.
the Portside moderators
The "Blowback" from 9/11
By Gerald Horne
The attacks of 9/11 were of significance for two major
1. 9/11 was the final chapter in the Cold War, in that
it was probably the most severe case of "blowback" yet
endured by U.S. Imperialism. It is now well-known that
those who planned this assault shared a trench with the
CIA during the 1980s -- probably stretching back to 1978
-- in Afghanistan. The U.S. will be engaged with
"Islamicists" for decades to come.
2. 9/11 delayed, perhaps fatally, a new Cold War
against China. The "spy plane" incident of the Spring
of 2001; the bombing of China's Belgrade Embassy during
the Clinton Administration; the confrontation between
Beijing and Washington in the Taiwan Sraits in 1995 when
a Chinese general supposedly threatened Los Angeles --
all pointed to heightened conflict between the two
giants, conflict delayed by 9/11.
Now Washington is being forced to confront Beijing at a
moment -- today -- when the balance has shifted in favor
of the latter: all thanks to 9/11.
Individual Terrorism - Pretext for State Terrorism
By Carl Finamore
Waves of sympathy for several thousand innocent victims
who died during the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks
in the United States dramatically shifted the tide of
public opinion on matters of war and peace and on issues
of social and economic justice.
Instinctive, humane responses of sympathy and empathy
across the globe were shamefully exploited by U.S. and
European-NATO governments to wage a steady stream of
wars and aggression in the Middle East and Central Asia
without the normal restraints of war-weary and war-wary
State power was strengthened and nowhere was this more
true, and more harmful, than in the United States.
At home, in the dark, shadowy overcast of the September
11 events, the capitalist state machinery, emboldened,
more dangerously exposed itself as little more than the
dutiful adjunct of the rich and powerful.
Almost immediately and simultaneously, congress and the
courts both began a systematic assault on civil
liberties and on living standards.
Congress rammed through the Patriot Act only six weeks
after September 11, allowing further intrusive
government monitoring of our private lives, phone calls
Meanwhile, bankruptcy courts soon began tearing up union
contracts. Companies, mostly major airlines, discovered
sympathetic judges were easier to deal with than the
cumbersome collective-bargaining process, shackled as it
was by aggrieved employees growing more restive after a
decade of concession bargaining.
While the exorbitant salary, bonus and pension contracts
of individual Wall Street executives were protected by
congressional bailout legislation, hundreds of thousands
of airline workers had pensions terminated and wages and
benefits slashed by bankruptcy courts.
These private-sector corporate victories in the years
immediately following September 11, set the stage for
broader attacks on collective bargaining and on the
pensions, wages and benefits of government workers.
Only now can we see the tide just beginning to turn. The
mobilizations in Wisconsin are the best example but this
is still just a glimmer.
Ironically, movements for democracy, human rights and
economic justice shine most brightly today in the Middle
East, where the individual terrorist philosophy of the
September 11 attacks supposedly originated.
Clearly, the U.S. and NATO governments' ostensible
justification for imperialist intervention in the region
has crumbled along with the brutal edifice of their
notorious puppets Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.
Ten years after the Middle East spawned reactionary
religious fundamentalism, the region is today marked by
massive revolts which are inspiring examples for us to
The View From FCI Jesup, Georgia
By Nick Medvecky
That morning started for me in the prison factory at FCI
Jesup, Georgia. Another worker declared that a plane had
crashed into the Twin Towers in NYC. He was wearing ear
buds to his pocket radio.
I thought of the B-25 that hit the Empire State Building
in bad weather in '45.
He later reported that a second plane crashed into the
When he shouted that one of the towers had collapsed,
being from NYC and a pilot myself, I smiled at the
apparent joke and said, "Excuse me, but do you have any
idea how huge those towers are?"
I went to lunch and was returning to work when three
lieutenants placed me in the Segregated Housing Unit
(hole) in total isolation, incommunicado for the next 50
When I was released, I found out that I was one of some
130-or-so in the federal Bureau of Prisons that had been
summarily locked down that morning.
Others included Leonard Peltier, Father Philip Berrigan,
Sundiata Acoli, Antonio Camacho Negron, Raymond
Lavasseur, Richard Williams and Marilyn Buck. Clearly, I
was in good company.
All that the wardens ever explained was, "it was ordered
US can not build an land empire in Asia
By Robert H. Whealey
The American intervention in the Korean War saved Japanese
capitalism but proved to be a military stalemate for the
USSR, PRC and the US. Ho Chi Minh won the French-
Indochinese War in 1954 and the Hanoi government won a
second victory over the US by 1975.
Those three wars should have demonstrated that the US Army
can not build a land empire in Asia. George W. Bush and
Barack Obama learned nothing from the American wars in
Korea, Vietnam and plunged into Afghanistan and Iraq without
any concrete war plan.
The USAF alone could not defeat al-Qaida. Bush and Obama
followed LBJ and Richard Nixon into the deserts and
mountains which proved no easier to control than the swamps
It seems to take most American journalists a long time to
wake up to the simple fact that the US can not build an land
empire in Asia. "Nation building" and "war on terrorism"
were false slogans.
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