|Photo taken by me, riding in a Port Authority helicopter, in 1993|
Can you believe it's already been 13 years since the Twin Towers fell?
For the superstitious, the ignominy now associated with today's date likely carries compounded angst. For the rest of us, however, simply having President Barak Obama issuing what sounded like a war cry against ISIS on the eve of September 11, 2014, is uncomfortable enough.
While some conspiracy theorists continue to push for further trials, investigations, and truth-telling on the part of secretive Washington insiders, we know enough about the original 9-11 to understand that most of Obama's speech last night was hollow rhetoric. This new brand of terrorism cannot be bombed into the Stone Age - most of the world's new breed of terrorists already live there mentally.
Basically, with a straight face, Obama said last night that he wants to attack Syria while it's in the middle of a brutal civil war, and he's depending upon Iraq and Saudi Arabia to help flush ISIS out of the Middle East.
Like any of that has any chance of being productive in terms of America's interests.
Syria's besieged Bashar al-Hassad was likely the most capable person to thwart the original opportunity ISIS had of forming in his country. But the Obama administration wanted to fight against him, because they were still under the impression that American-style democracy can simply be imported into the ancient, feudal cultures of the Middle East.
And speaking of feuding, what help can Iraq possibly give anybody these days? They can't stop ISIS, their own military - that we've supposedly trained - is in shambles, and Christianity is being suffocated while the world watches, thanks in large part to intra-Islamic tribalism.
And Saudi Arabia? Last week, at least 28 expatriates living in Saudi Arabia were arrested for holding a Christian-based Bible study in a private residence in the Saudi city of Khafji. Their current status is unknown by human rights groups who keep track of religious intolerance in the kingdom. And it's unclear whether anybody in the Obama administration is taking this egregious violation of civil rights seriously, since Saudi Arabia is considered such a key ally for America.
Which brings us back to 9-11, doesn't it? Do you remember that in the days immediately following the attacks, when American air space was officially shut down? Do you remember hearing that the Bush administration had the FBI fly members of Osama bin Laden's family to secret destinations in Texas, and then to the nation's capital? When America's air space reopened, the bin Ladens were on the first flights out of the United States. Most of the bin Ladens are Saudi nationals, and at the time, critics of the Bush administration claimed that the president was trying to minimize the bad PR Saudis would likely face as details about the people who perpetrated 9-11 came to light.
And sure enough, we would later learn that 15 of the 19 men identified as ringleaders of 9-11 were Saudi nationals. Technically, bin Laden was born a Saudi, but stripped of his citizenship in 1994. But we humble Americans cannot offend the Saudis, because they control so much of our economy with their oil, and they provide token support for our national and human rights interests in that part of the world.
Meanwhile, ISIS is getting its money and technical expertise from somewhere, and it's not Syria or Iraq.
It's easy to see that the easiest way to diffuse the threat of ISIS and extremist Islam is by reducing our dependency upon Middle Eastern oil. Right? But until we do so, there's little any American president will be able to do to "protect the homeland" from Islamist terrorism. We've known that ever since those somber days immediately after 9-11, and the release of the 9-11 commission's report, and the years we spent living with the specter of repeat attacks. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld convinced Bush to invade Iraq, we've ended up wreaking more havoc in Afghanistan than the Russians did before us, and perpetual dithering by Obama has his foes on Capitol Hill circling like vultures - but it's hard to tell whose carcass Obama's foes are waiting to devour: his, or the threat of terrorism.
Why do the heathen rage? Why do the people plot in vain? Kings of the Earth and rulers take counsel together against the Lord. And what does God do? He Who sits in Heaven laughs.
If there's ever been a time in human history when the messes we mortals make for ourselves truly look insurmountable, wouldn't this be it? Or at least, one of the top five? So as we contemplate 9-11 from yet another year afterwards, and since we're no closer to resolving the causes of that fateful day than we were on September 10, 2001, may God remind us that we really aren't as wonderful as we often like to think we are. Yet His own can still call to him, and He will hear us, and answer us.
Unbelievers dismiss such faith as the superstitious delusions of desperate people.
And they think world leaders like President Obama offer any better hope?
O God of Earth and Altar
O God of earth and altar,
bow down and hear our cry,
our earthly rulers falter,
our people drift and die;
the walls of gold entomb us,
the swords of scorn divide,
take not thy thunder from us,
but take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches,
from lies of tongue and pen,
from all the easy speeches
that comfort cruel men,
from sale and profanation
of honor, and the sword,
from sleep and from damnation,
deliver us, good Lord!
Tie in a living tether
the prince and priest and thrall,
bind all our lives together,
smite us and save us all;
in ire and exultation
aflame with faith, and free,
lift up a living nation,
a single sword to thee.
- G.K. Chesterton, 1906