A Black Harvest

Lughnasa                                                Waxing Harvest Moon

On September 11, 2011 we will have a full Harvest Moon in the sky.

What has been the harvest of the September 11th terrorist attack in New York City?  Is it one we want?  It is the one we have created.

Shock and awe.  The neo-cons Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld’s favorite description for the blitzkrieg-like attack we promised the Iraqi government of Sadam Hussein.  More like a description of our response to 9/11.  We sat back, stunned, shocked by the devastation and awed by the daring of this sudden disruption to our national consciousness.

It inflamed our imaginations, brought us together as a people, a people under attack by a faceless, but brutal enemy.  What to do?  Instead of letting the shock fade and the awe give way to a reality based understanding of what had happened we blundered into the most mistaken metaphor of my lifetime:  A War on Terror.

Wars are fought by armies and air forces and navies.  In wars we blow things up, take people down, topple regimes and conquer nations.  We fight uniformed adversaries with our own uniformed champions, a sort of contemporary knight errantry hired to settle claims between or among rival powers.

Only this wasn’t really a war.  It was a struggle more like an armed criminal investigation.  Their gang, Al Qaeda, against our gang.  Only we chose as our gang the US military instead of, say, the FBI or the CIA.

We know this now, ten years on.  We’re gradually scaling back the ten years war, leaving the field to special forces, blends of military and intelligence operatives, working much like investigative agencies.  OK, really, really well-armed investigative agencies.

In the meanwhile we have followed Paul Kennedy’s prescription in his Decline and Fall of Empires.  We have spread treasure and lives so freely across the Middle East and Central Asia that we have created a weakened economy, one vulnerable to severe shocks like the recent great recession and, possibly, yet a second recession.

Not only have we weakened ourselves economically, we have impoverished once cherished civil rights through such draconian legal measures as the Patriot Act (Orwell, anyone?), extraordinary rendition and the prison at Guantanamo.

We have also created a secret America that continues to expand at an increasing rate, its budgets hidden, its employees unknown and its mandates invisible.

The fruits of this full Harvest moon come from poisoned fields:  people killed and injured, money missing by the pallet load, our own civil rights constricted and a Pentagon of occult agencies both outside and beyond our control.

If we continue to gather in this crop, then, as George W. was fond of saying, the terrorists have won.



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