For the past few weeks we have been constantly reminded about the attacks on September 11, 2001. We were shown the planes crashing into buildings and told how our lifestyle was attacked on that day. This has been followed by interviews with family members who lost loved ones either in the attacks or in the wars that followed. We were told to remember how that day changed the word we lived in forever.
Yet we are not reminded about the two continuing wars that have killed an estimated one million Iraqis, destroyed the country, and turned millions into refugees. Or about the more than fifty thousand people who have been killed in Afghanistan and the many more who are displaced and desperate. These were not soldiers, or terrorists, just normal people like those killed on September 11. We are constantly reminded about the number of U.S. citizens killed on that day but not how six times that number of U.S. soldiers have been killed since the start of these wars. Nor about those who are suffering from PTSD, who have committed suicide, or are injured or homeless.
Where is the discussion of what the cost of war has done to our lives here at home? We can all see clearly that our schools are understaffed, our roads and bridges are in need of repair and millions of people are out of work, without healthcare, and living in poverty. But we are told there is no money for this and that public services have to be cut.
Yet the companies who make billions from the world’s misery are experiencing their best years ever. War contractors like KBR and Blackwater have record profits quarter after quarter. Oil company profits have never been higher. The cost of these wars is estimated to be near the four trillion mark! But we are told, don’t think about this, instead watch the planes hit the buildings and wave our flags to show that we are proud Americans.
During this same period, the government has been busy handing over huge sums of money to the banks. Meanwhile millions of people have lost their homes, lost their jobs and the government tells us we were supposed to be more responsible. The banks on the other hand don’t need to be responsible at all. That’s because if they get into financial trouble the government will bail them out. The most recent report says the federal government gave the banks – in the US and abroad – over 16 trillion dollars in loans and bailouts.
We have been told that the last ten years of war have made us safer. But if we can’t find work or can’t afford to keep our homes or send our children to school, how are we safer? The government spending of trillions on the banks and the wars give working people a message from those in charge. That is that as long as their profits and system are safe, our lives are irrelevant. Their war is making our lives and the lives of the people in Afghanistan and Iraq, a living terror.
What should we remember on this ten-year anniversary? We should remember that while working people have been struggling to survive, corporations and banks have been reaping billions in profits. We should remember the millions of innocent people who have been affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can mark this ten-year anniversary differently from what the elite want. Rather than a day used to justify their profits, we can decide that we will not live in a world where a few decide for the many. We need to fight for a safe world for all of us — where everyone has a job, a home, health care, the right to an education and a future lived in peace.