Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 11, five years on

This September 11 will be a quiet one for me. I will spend the morning writing an essay for the journal Policy Review on legislating counterterrorism policy. At noon I have volunteered to teach a class at my daughter's high school, to ten teenage girls on just war theory. We will discuss 9-11. They were in eighth grade when 9-11 took place, my daughter was in third grade, and they spent that morning watching smoke rise from the Pentagon from their school windows atop Mt St Albans, the highest point in Washington DC.

I am curious to know how, or whether, they sense it has affected them. It has had an effect on my own daughter. Of course things are changeable, especially for the child of a conservative father and liberal mother, but when I asked her why she, practically alone among her Upper Northwest DC limousine liberal classmates and teachers, was willing to call herself a conservative, her answer was unhesitating.

"Liberals," she said, presumably referring to her endlessly politically correct private school , "always want to tell you what to do and what to think, but then they don't even keep you safe."
I don't think that's exactly fair, and I tell her so, but Democratic Party leaders might want to keep her sentiment in mind: for her, smoke still rises from the Pentagon. It is the defining moment in her political experience and it wouldn't surprise me if it were all her life long.

My own contribution to this fifth anniversary is to look back at what I wrote in the Times Literary Supplement (London), five years ago in its commentary the week following 9-11. It is a meditation on just war theory, a rejection of criminal law models followed by the Clinton administration but shown deficient in the collapse of the Twin Towers, and a call for war. Does it still stand up today? I think so but maybe I am mistaken. Here at SSRN (go to page bottom to download pdf).

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, you've succesfully indoctrinated your daughter despite her 'liberal' education.

I do hope that you're emphasising the 'hands off' nature of conservatism. Unless she's gay. Or pregnant. Or does anything that may harm her potential future pregnancy. Or she's not a Christian.

Meme chose said...

All you appear to be doing is teaching your daughter to think for herself instead of swallowing liberal pap unexamined. That's enough, as it will enable her to find her way to her own conservatism ('hands off' or not) decades before many of her peers.

It has been said that a puritan is a person who worries that somebody, somewhere is happy. Both your daughter's comment and anonymous' above display how a liberal is someone who worries that somebody, somewhere is doing their own thinking.

Anonymous said...

Since she identifies herself as a conservative at an age where most children have no concept of political identity, meme chose's assertion that she is thinking 'for herself' is clearly risible.

As currently practised, there is no such thing as 'hands off conservatism'. To suggest that liberals have a monopoly on worrying that 'somebody, somewhere is doing their own thinking' reveals the extent to which meme chose has lost the ability to retain his or her freedom of thought.

Joseph S. said...

Oh, Anonymous, you are so smart and above us all! How many times will you refresh today to check this site and criticize anyone who doesn't think like you? People like you are funny, in a sad kind of way...

Anonymous said...

I'd be a lot more sanguine about the 'keep you safe' comment if I had confidence in the ability of the adminstration to actively do so in a spirit of honest self-correction and improvement. I do not have that belief, and frankly never have, for any administration I have lived under. It is the curse of this political climate that, by and large, the extremes on both sides see themselves as pure and righteous and the other side as damned. I fear both you and your daughter continue this approach, and that somewhere a left-leaning father and daughter could publish something similar in sentiment by changing some names around. Why therefore should I trust either side to accurately acknowledge the fact that they both might be wrong, somewhere, somehow?

The day when the phantoms in everyone's collective heads matter less than looking at situations as informed, aware and honest citizens is the day we might truly get somewhere. And these days, I have my doubts about that.

mark in boston said...

The concept of keeping us safe is vitally important. And the proof of the current administration's success is that we are commemorating today *the only* terrorist attack on the US from five years ago, and not remembering the series of attacks which never followed that first attack on US soil.

Like Kenneth, I also have a young child (11 years) in a blue environment (the Newton, MA schools). My son also has idenitfied his thinking as conservative. The key for him, as well, is defending the country and our culture. He realizes that without defense there is no life, liberty or pursuit of happiness.

As for the indoctrination anon refers to--my son was bemused this summer by the sophisticated 'liberal' thinking shown by his summer camp roomate who taped a "Bush = Idiot" poster up on the wall.

Any child able to enunciate a conservative world view, does so at their social peril. Only a child intellectually curious and brave enough to trust their own reasoning will swim against such social pressure.

Catch22 said...

Well, anonymous, can you admit that 5 years after the polarizing event, there has not been another serious stateside attack? I'm honest enough to acknowledge that.

Anonymous said...

How many times will you refresh today to check this site and criticize anyone who doesn't think like you?

The site identifies anyone without a Google account as anonymous.

And the proof of the current administration's success is that we are commemorating today *the only* terrorist attack on the US from five years ago, and not remembering the series of attacks which never followed that first attack on US soil.

A point somewhat diminished by there having been no terrorist attacks, originating outside the US, on domestic soil from '93 to '01. The suggestion that, without the actions to defend us, there would have been frequent attacks is without foundation.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on teaching your child complete BS. Bush's policy has made us even less safe. According to Bush admin Sadaam was behind 9/11 despite reality tells us Sadaam had NO ties in 9/11 or with Al Quada. Try teching you kid to think for herself instead of going along with the masses. Moron.

Steven Maurer said...

mark: [T]he proof of the current administration's success is that we are commemorating today *the only* terrorist attack on the US from five years ago

Oh really? The anthrax attack wasn't terrorist?

Well, maybe not. As you no doubt remember, the antrax was sent only to Democratic leaders and an assortment of media that some right wing asshole might think is liberal. So the anthrax sender was probably a conservative white guy. Therefore, not a terrorist. Q.E.D.

It's just like when Anne Coulter said "My only problem with McVeigh is that he didn't go to the Times building". That's obviously not cheering for the terrorist death of thousands of your own countrymen, because McVeigh, the bomber of a federal building with a daycare in it, was a white Christian.

White Christians aren't terrorists.
They're on OUR side, destroying America to save it.

Or something.

Jack Friedman said...

Joseph S:

Anonymous has fulfilled your prediction already!

Tra la ! ! ! ! !

Jack

Anonymous said...

So, wait. How do "liberals" force other people to think like them? At least, in any way different than conservatives do? People in power generally believe their opinions ought to be law. They think if everyone thought the way they did, "and by God, we've got the power to legislate that," the world would run better than it does.

And by the way, if my two year old son says his perception of the world after reading you r blog is that you're a partisan twat, does that make it true?

Anonymous said...

Not surprised to find conservatives identify politically with children.

"I'm skeered"

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous,

"The site identifies anyone without a Google account as anonymous."

You don't have to be anonymous. You can write a name at the end of your posts. Or is that too much work for you?

Byna

Anonymous said...

in regards to the assinine comment that she is of an age not to identify with politics....i remember back in the runup to the 1980 election being called a warmonger by others in my 4th grade class for preferring Ronnie "Ray-Gun" because i thought he, at least, might be able do something about those hostages in iran.

children are much more perceptive then you give them credit for. but i've come to belive that is a common failing among the liberal elite in regards to anyone who does not adhere to the left wing ideology

ke_future

Anonymous said...

"Liberals," she said, presumably referring to her endlessly politically correct private school (the same National Cathedral that hosted ex-president Khatami last week), "always want to tell you what to do and what to think, but then they don't even keep you safe."

Unless she was referring to her mother, in which case she sounds like a normal teenager.

Anonymous said...

I hope that, as a "conservative" from a privileged background, she might pay some heed to those who, like my son, had to serve in a war in Iraq that was inadequately planned, staffed and provisioned.

Rumsfeld fought expanding the Army tooth-and-nail. This resulted in a longer tour for my son in Iraq, and the prospect of more frequently repeated tours in combat zones. More troops are expensive, and of course, "conservative" tax cuts were more important than lightening the burden on Soldiers and Marines, or making sure that Iraq or Afghanistan got rebuilt.

There's a book by your fellow fellow at Hoover, Larry Diamond, a democrat who had the guts to go to Iraq: Squandered Victory. Have you or your daughter read it?

Opium production and Taliban attacks are up in Afghanistan, Iraq is a mess, Bin Laden is free, the Army is exhausted and the national debt is ballooning. But my taxes are down.

Of course, in a certain type of "conservatism," it's all about me, my safety and my freedom from taxes. Obviously, keeping the government's hands off my money is more important than funding the military or the VA at adequate levels.

point five

Anonymous said...

Conservatives (who were in full, unprecedented power on sept.11 2001) always want to tell you what to do and what to think, but then they don't even keep you safe!

Anonymous said...

of course the leftists have to make a racist comment....and congrats to your child...she's obviously one of the smarter children in her class.....

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone hate liberals so much? True, there are problems on both sides with people acting as extreme left or right candidates - but this administration above all others in the past decade has done more to negatively affect American lives and their way of life than any liberal has.

With respect to you as a Professor and educator, what is the purpose of promoting conservatism rather than objectivity? Liberalism is what this country was founded on, notions of freedom and rationalism that we use as a base to tear it down once again.

In my own mind we need to return to some degree of objectivity and understanding, not polemic debate or ad hoc fallacies about what causes terrorism.

Laika's Last Woof said...

"Liberalism is what this country was founded on ..."

No it isn't. Since when were going to war for democracy and recognizing the right to keep and bear arms liberal? Did the Founders put politically correct speech codes into the First Amendment? No, they wrote freedom of speech into the First Amendment. They're about as opposite of liberal as it is possible to be.

If this country had been founded on liberal ideals Cornwallis would've been given a Peace Prize like Arafat and a full-ride scholarship at a prestigious American university like Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi. And George Washington would've been "the REAL war criminal!"

This country was founded on hawkish libertarian ideals, sadly unrealized until Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation ... during yet another distinctly American war for democracy, of course.

Anonymous said...

I do find it funny that "liberals" are the ones blamed for the telling the population what they should think and do. I believe that this is purely a fiscal point of view which underlines the theory that conservatives concern themselves first with themselves followed closely by money. If the aforementioned thought is true, why is that conservatives tell us we can't gamble or take drugs and that the religious right thinks it necessary to regulate others morality. As a registered LIBERTARIAN with a social conscience, I believe both sides should not be involved in my morality. It is for me to decide what is right and wrong. Furthermore, I believe that to truly defend this country and make it stronger is to make sure every citizen of the United States has a right to his/her own free thoughts, health care and education. Remember, "A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link," and I fear that those weak links are becoming increasingly weaker by the actions of our government and the irresponsible priveleged people who tell us how it should be without knowing what it's like to be on the bottom rung of the social ladder. It is those people, unfortunately, who die for the beliefs of the ignorant, segregating wealthy .

Big Perm

Joan said...

Big Perm:It is for me to decide what is right and wrong.

When will you be letting the rest of know which is which? I'd appreciate it if you could get to it quickly. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

not sure that I follow Joan.....I'm not advocating impinging upon others' rights, but religion through government is not how it works. Do good things to others and you'll be fine. However, killing the young men and women of this country to protect the wealthy and idealistic is completely outrageous and in no way makes us safer. Besides, I'll take my chances in life as long as I can enjoy it while I'm here. Doesn't freelance equate to "I don't really have a point?" Furthermore, you have no right to judge another as it is in God's eye. Therefore, you have your opinion. But opinions can be wrong.

Everlasting said...

point five said:

- - - - -
Rumsfeld fought expanding the Army tooth-and-nail. This resulted in a longer tour for my son in Iraq, and the prospect of more frequently repeated tours in combat zones. More troops are expensive, and of course, "conservative" tax cuts were more important than lightening the burden on Soldiers and Marines, or making sure that Iraq or Afghanistan got rebuilt.
- - - - -

First, I doubt cost had a lot to do with fighting "expanding the army." As I understand it, the pressure against it comes from the Pentagon, and that they do not want a permanent increase that would be useless when we pull down troop numbers in Iraq. We have over 2 million troops, and only 150,000 in Iraq. Increasing the size of the army is a welfare exercise, not a martial one.

The real issue is what the Army and the soldiers want. Does your son want a bunch of less trained, less experienced "warm bodies" sitting next to him that he has to rely on in combat, or does he want a few gung-ho, well trained soldiers next to him? And is the length of his tour an issue to him, or to you? The vast majority of the soldiers in Iraq are re-enlisting with the full knowledge that it will extend thier tours. Are you angry at Rumsfield, or your son?

jows said...

The left believes that if you disagree with them on anything, it is because you aren't as smart as them.

"Oh really? The anthrax attack wasn't terrorist?"

Good job pulling that forgotten "attack" out of the ether. No one would have remembered to mention it. I guess that somehow proves whatever point you were making.

Anonymous said...

Everlasting, I don't know what you're talking about when you say "the Pentagon" didn't want to expand the Army. The building was neutral, unconscious or at least silent on the subject. But it was Rumsfeld who testified before Congress saying no more soldiers were needed, and isn't he in charge?

I'm also shocked that you equate being in the Army to being on welfare. Obviously you don't know anyone in the Army, let alone serving yourself in a hellhole like Iraq.

My son spent 14 months there, I can assure you that was more than enough for him. Some of his unit were killed, and he is hoping to serve out his time and not go back. Most other soldiers don't want to go back. As far as those who reenlist, if you knew anything about the Army now, you'd know that many reenlist for a guaranteed assignment away from Iraq.

Steven Maurer said...

It's typical. Point out neocon hypocrisy, or one of their ubiquitous misstatments of fact, and all they can do is whine that you're calling them dumb (or pretend that pointing out their racism is itself racist).

Well, I guess it's a fair cop. I admit the obvious: you guys really are dumber than a brick. By every possible measure, you've failed. Worldwide terrorism is the worst it's ever been. Iraq is now what it wasn't before we invaded: a breeding-ground for Al Qaeda. By trying to win on the cheap, Bush let Osama escape from Tora Bora. Prolifigate Republican spending is achieving Bin Laden's major goal (which was to bankrupt the U.S. to the point where we couldn't project military power effectively). You put Iran-allied Shi'ites, who openly call for the destruction of Israel, in power in Iraq. And just about everything else you've touched is an abject failure.

Oh, but pointing this all out is just "liberal pap".

Buy a clue.

Morons.

Anonymous said...

Poor Stevey, did someone forget to tell you how brilliant you are today? Did nobody 'affirm' your inner being and enlightened thought?
Allow me to thank you personally on behalf of all mankind for your contributions to the social discourse.

"I admit the obvious: you guys really are dumber than a brick.": I'm not sure they told you this yet Steve, but what you wrote above constitutes 'an opinion' not a 'fact'. I don't know if they broke this to you either, but no matter how much you FEEL about position, it still doesn't make it objectively true.

"Worldwide terrorism is the worst it's ever been.": It's difficult for me to take this point seriously considering what happened in the 90's insofar as world wide terrorism. There have been no embassy bombings since 9/11. (Two in the 90's) There have been no major attacks on US Warships in various ports around the world (USS Cole in Aden)...etc.

Facts would help here Steve.

"Iraq is now what it wasn't before we invaded: a breeding-ground for Al Qaeda.": Saddam housed plenty of well known terrorists during his reign. And he did have links to Al-Qaeda. (Let me stipulate something here for the bush deranged. HE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING. The president said this again during his talk the other night) Iraq has a much better chance as a country in the future now than it did before we invaded. 12 Million Iraqis thought enough of that prospect to put their life on the line and vote.

I'd continue Steve but, in truth, you bore me. If you weren't so damn condescending it might have been worth while to try and reason with you a little. But your attitude and smugness can be felt through everything you write. Indeed, it oozes from the monitor.

But none of that smarm and arrogance can hide you're inherent inability to use logic and reason as the starting points for your childish rants.

And it renders you quite pathetic in the eyes of most.

Enlightenment said...

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These "hijackers" somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastical far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.