Recently, I went through security for a flight from San Francisco to Palm Springs. I've learned to streamline my security screening by leaving my watch, jewelry and belt in my suitcase.
I was body scanned by a machine that, I suspect, someday will prove to cause various forms of cancer and brain damage. I gathered up my laptop, jacket, hat and carry-on bag from the four plastic tubs and I was ready to go.
As I walked toward my gate, a strange thought crossed my mind. On 9/11, our multi-trillion dollar defense system utterly and completely failed us. The terrorist attack would have happened even if the U.S. didn't have the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, CIA, FBI, NSA or any kind of national security system. Even with our state-of-the-art technology and endless defense budget, we still couldn't avoid the attack.
The U.S. spends more on defense than the next 10 largest countries combined and on 9/11 we were essentially defenseless. A bunch of half-wits with $2 box cutters destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and came close to crashing a plane into the Capitol.
As opposed to attacking the people of Iraq, who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, focusing our efforts on revamping every aspect of our nation's defense systems could have proven to be a more effective route. Most importantly, our number one priority should have been to take a look at what prompted the attack against the U.S., which is a discussion I have never heard take place.
Though actual terrorist threats against America are all but at a standstill, the American government has made the idea of terrorism and the potential for imminent attack a front-burner issue. American people believe the threat of terrorism is pressing enough to warrant the $549 billion allotted to our Department of Defense in 2011 alone. However, the truth is, we haven't been attacked on our home turf since 9/11 and Americans rarely experience attacks abroad. In 2001, the year we lost the most American lives to terrorist attacks, 200,000 people were killed in drunk-driving related crashes while 2,997 people died as a result of terrorism.
We lost the so-called "war on terror" as soon as we attacked Iraq. All we did was send thousands more Americans to get killed and injured on foreign soil, kill and maim thousands of innocent Afghani and Iraqi civilians, generate a worldwide negative image of the U.S. and bankrupt the national economy with pointless and unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The terrorists that attacked the U.S. on 9/11 won this war. Through our actions, they get to kill and injure thousands more Americans. Our response to the terrorist attacks has devastated our national economy with the trillions of dollars we've spent and we have nothing to show for it.
We killed a small number of terrorist leaders along with Osama bin Laden, but we could have done it without attacking, injuring and killing thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis.
The way the U.S. responded to 9/11, by going to war, will amount to an unending and permanent drain on our economy.
The damage caused by the hijackers of 9/11 pales in comparison to the detriment caused by the U.S. in response to the attack. The terrorists have almost single-handedly caused us to bankrupt our national economy. They also vicariously kill and injure the thousands of Americans sent to fight the war on terror overseas. And despite our over-sized Department of Defense budget and amped-up national security, the threat, according to the U.S. government, still remains. Even most of our allies disagree with our policies on the "war on terror."
If we have accomplished anything, was it worth the price we paid? I don't think so.
We lost the war on terror the day we attacked Iraq out of fear and we probably guaranteed it will go on forever.