9-11, 20 years later
Nearly 20 years ago while on a plane from Paris to Detroit I started writing the commentary “Two Americans in Paris on 9/11.”
It was published in the Carroll County News on the 10th anniversary of the attack.
Today seems an appropriate time to reflect back and consider what has changed since that awful day — both for better and worse.
When we left Paris eight days after the attack, the whole modern industrialized world was on our side. In the intervening years we have lost a lot of that goodwill due to our internationally very visible public embarrassments:
The invasion of Iraq on false pretenses and our defeat by the Taliban in Afghanistan;
The murder of George Floyd and the subsequent violence by rioters and by the police responding to peaceful protests;
Our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords despite now irrefutable evidence of climate change;
Strained alliances with NATO and other key allies;
The rise of American white supremacists;
North Korea’s development of nukes and ICBMs and Iran’s near-nuclear capability;’
The increased power and influence of China and Russia;
The COVID-19 epidemic, resulting in 630,000 dead Americans, with over 550,000 of those avoidable--the worst track record in the world;
The televised attempt by an outgoing President to overturn the election results by mob violence.
We have, however, made some progress:
Our first Black President and our first person-of-color/female Vice-President;
The huge increase in the number of Americans with health insurance;
The Black Lives Matter movement to bring focus to systemic racism;
Advances in science that allowed the rapid development of COVID vaccines;
An economy that is rebounding strongly from the COVID recession;
Greener energy and decreased reliance on OPEC oil;
And, quite importantly, private enterprise willing to step in and do what it takes to protect public health and citizens’ rights when our state’s legislators are too dumb or too scared to do it.
Despite our mistakes, based on the huge numbers of people trying to get into America illegally, we are still a beacon of hope and inspiration to many of the oppressed peoples of the world.
Yet, in the past 20 years we have squandered much of the international goodwill that we had after 9/11. Let’s try to win it back.