John Howell’s column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The real hijacking occurred after September 11, 2001

Six years removed and it’s obvious that the real hijacking took place after September 11, 2001.

Catastrophic as they were, the attacks of 9-11-01 pale in comparison to the policies that our leadership subsequently pursued which have plunged this country into a downward spiral from which it will unlikely recover.

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For a few months following those attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, the world offered its universal condolence and promises of support. In military recruiting centers across the country, thousands of young men and women rushed to join in defense of their country.

Then in the months and years that followed came the real hijacking. The power hungry cabal around President Bush — coupling diabolical subtlety and brash power grabs — browbeat this country into a war in Iraq. Iraq’s involvement in terrorism outside its own borders was then considered very unlikely by everyone in the national and international intelligence communities except those hand-picked by the administration to justify its own means to its own uncertain ends.

First they told us we were going to war with Iraq to prevent them from using on us their weapons of mass destruction. That use, they told us, was highly imminent. Don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud, they told us.

While this was going on, we were drastically scaling back our military efforts in Afghanistan (where 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden was supposedly holed up). We claimed victory there. Over and done, slash and burn, on the run to Iraq.

The few military leaders who questioned the administration’s wisdom on any point were derided and sidelined. The yes men were promoted.

When they never turned up any weapons of mass destruction, the administration then told us we went there to introduce the blessings of democracy to Iraq. Those blessings in Iraq would make them the envy of their neighbors who would soon be racing to keep up with the Iraqi Joneses, they said.

The administration may have come up with other interim rationales for this war (I’ve lost track) after they failed to find weapons of mass destruction or to establish democracy. Lately we’re there to protect the region from the destabilizing effect of civil war that will undoubtedly follow our departure and to fight terrorists (“turrists”) over there instead of over here.

Meanwhile, our military has been stretched to its limit, poor policy having betrayed those young people who intially joined our military, some of whom are now in their fifth tour of duty in Iraq.

Adversaries old and new — Russia, China, Iran among them — enjoy our quagmiring.

A bumper sticker says it best: “If you aren’t outraged then you aren’t paying attention.”