by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
Before Bin Laden did 9/11, America had a kind of reputation as a moral leader of the world: the bastion of freedom. We had faced down the Soviet Empire, and when it fell apart, there was only one hegemon left: us.
Our system had prevailed. In the end, we had won the Cold War. Communism had been defeated. Even China turned to capitalism. We had been right all along. And with our insistence on freedom and human rights, we were morally respectable (forget for a moment that we were propping up despots everywhere).
Today things look very different. Because of Bin Laden, we got involved in two unnecessary wars, tortured people, and ended up with a hugely expensive surveillance state.
Bin Laden brought fear into our lives, and turned the United States into a parody of Big Brother, spying big-time on its own citizens.
Think of America before 9/11: the world's undisputed and admired leader. Think of America just after 9/11: the world sympathized with us. Even in Iran, where we had installed the torturous regime of the Shah before he was overthrown in 1979, folks held candle-lit vigils for us.
Then think of us a few years later, when the biggest protests in human history took place all over the world against our imminent invasion of Iraq.
Over a million people in Rome marched against our proposed war with Iraq: that's just one example. And were they ever right to protest. Our war of aggression against an innocent nation that was not threatening us in any way, ended up with over 100,000 Iraqis murdered. And the scandals and atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay brought our moral superiority into disrepute forever. Moreover, the Iraq War became an ideal recruitment tool for Al Qaeda, and multiplied the number of terrorists in the world by the thousands. We ended up creating terrorists instead of diminishing their number.
Of course, Bin Laden also got lucky, because he struck us when two of the biggest idiots serving in government since Caligula appointed his horse as a Roman Senator, were running the country: the mediocre C-student George W. Bush and the eternally paranoid bird-killer Dick Cheney. If Al Gore had been president during and after 9/11, we certainly would not have started a war with Iraq, and might have made a deal with Afghanistan's Taliban for them to hand over Bin Laden, as they were apparently prepared to do, except that Bush/Cheney were so bent on war, they were in no mood to make a deal with the Taliban, even though they used to make deals with the Taliban before 9/11.