Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/2001 on 9/11/2011 - Has anything really changed?

Ten years ago today, an event happened in the USA that many said was the official beginning of a new age: The Age of Terrorism. As far as what happened on 9/11, history is pretty clear on that fact. On the morning of 9/11/2001, four US jetliners were forcibly commandeered and used as large missiles against the WTC and the Pentagon. A fourth plane possibly destined for either the US Capitol or The White House never made it to its target thanks in part to the passengers on the flight battling the hijackers.

The death toll from the attacks was 2,996 people, supplanting Pearl Harbor (ca. 2,350) as the most US citizens killed in a single attack on US soil. Needless to say, the repercussions from the attack were far reaching, from the passage of the Patriot Act (A piece of very bad and unneeded legislation) to two foreign interdictions (Afghanistan as a direct consequence and Iraq as an indirect one).  The foe was called Al-Qaeda and their goals were made plainly evident. There were other attacks against the USA before 9/11, but the USA was on guard against only rational means of doing so; using jetliners as kamikaze missiles was in no way rational. Before 9/11, there was the attack on the WTC in 1993 (which many think was a sort of  advance scouting mission) and  the attack on the USS Cole while refueling in Yemen. An individual by the name of Usama Bin Laden was eventually blamed for orchestrating the attacks and though it took some time (nearly 10 years), UBL was found and killed in May of 2011. It has now been ten years since the events of 9/11, but what has changed and what hasn't?

The Illiterate Ideal or a Penultimate Danger?

The purpose of an Illuminated Bible was so that the illiterate could understand what the bible said, but their inability to read the words for themselves made them dependent on those who were literate. Thus, this gave those who were literate a lot of power under certain circumstances. Regarding at least the western world, literacy rates these days are 95%+

This is far from the case in other parts of the world. The literacy rates in the Muslim dominated countries in and around the ME region are largely appalling:

Afghanistan - 29, 835, 392 Literacy: 71.9%
Algeria - 34,994,937  Literacy: 69.9%
Bahrain - 1,214,705 Literacy: 86.5%
Egypt - 82,079,636  Literacy: 71.4%
Iran - 77,891,220  Literacy: 77%
Iraq - 30,399,572  Literacy: 74.1%
Jordan - 6,508,271  Literacy: 89.9%
Kuwait - 2,595,628  Literacy: 93.3%
Libya - 6,597,960  Literacy: 82.6%
Mali - 14,159,904  Literacy: 46.4%
Morocco - 31,968,361 Literacy: 52.3%
Oman - 3,027,959  Literacy: 81.4%
Pakistan - 187,342,721  Literacy: 49.9%
Qatar - 848,016  Literacy: 89%
Saudi Arabia - 26,131,703  Literacy: 78.8%
Sudan - 36,817,000 Literacy: 61.1% (approx.)
Somalia - 9,925,640  Literacy: 37.8%
Syria - 22,517,750  Literacy: 79.6%
Tunisia - 10,629,186 Literacy: 74.3%
UAE - 5,148,664  Literacy: 79.9%
Yemen - 24,133,492  Literacy:  50.2%

(Source: CIA factbook)

While some of the rates are not that bad (Libya, Qatar, Oman), others in this category should almost be considered criminal (Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia) Saudi Arabia has little excuse for their literacy rate due in part to their massive oil revenues (300+ Billion a year). The point to the aforementioned list is the same regarding the Illuminated Bible. Those in the above list who are illiterate will be dependent upon an Imam or a Cleric to interpret the Qur'an for them...and if the scholar is of an Anti-American leaning, he will will have plenty of people to listen to his clarion call for violence in the name of Allah. If the literacy rates in many of the above listed countries do not improve, there is the potential of even more danger in the future from the numbers of the illiterate. Places like Pakistan and Yemen and Egypt are considered potential flashpoint countries due in part to the low literacy rates they possess. In ten years, this trend has not only not improved, it is accelerating  in some regions.

The Arab Spring - ...not quite...

While both Libya and Egypt ejected their cold war relic leaders, things didn't change in many other parts of the Arab world. The sheikhs in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE weren't affected by the waves of revolt past making a (very) few hollow promises. What is the major reason why this has occured? It has to do with oil production. Though Libya and Egypt produce oil and natural gas, their production is nothing compared to Kuwait, the UAE or Saudi Arabia, thus regime change in those countries could be accomplished with minimal effect. Because the world still depends upon oil and oil products to run their economies, any disruption regarding a major oil producing country would be regarded as counterproductive to the world economy as a whole. Until oil is supplanted by a different means of powering the world economies, the Arab Spring will not fully flower.

The Current Position of the USA
The USA is in a state of fiscal crisis due to a number of factors, but much of what the USA has suffered has been brought upon itself due to its greed and a tendency to live beyond its means. The police actions in Afghanistan and Iraq haven't helped either. Since the time of 9/11, we have made a large effort to balance protection of our citizens against the concepts of freedom (it could be said that it was the latter that allowed 9/11 to occur, but freedom has always been a double edged sword; unless everyone has freedom, no one has freedom.) The economic malaise in the USA is also occurring in Europe and a few well planned attacks could drastically worsen that situation. The USA has ignored its fiscal house of cards for too long; it is time to get it into order before another potential strike paralyzes our capacity to act. The article in Time regarding the Decline and Fall of Europe is an eye opener (,9171,2088040,00.html ; subscription is required), but it remains to be seen if anything is done to address the problem.

What can be done to prevent another 9/11?

The answers to the above question are myriad, from the ineffectual and a threat to our freedom (The Patriot Act wa bad legislation), to the draconian and counterproductive, but there are steps that we can take to lessen the reoccurrence of a massive loss of life and wholescale destruction.
- Open/Controlled immigration without quotas will allow us to know who is in this country and where.
- A consumption tax in place of our current tax code would go a long way towards solving our fiscal dilemma, but such a tax system is Congresses worst nightmare because it would make the money trail more transparent and possibly lead to other needed reforms as an implication of the aforementioned. Cleaning up our monetary mess would give us more time to address the elements of Radical Islam who desire nothing less than our destruction.

- One of the founding principles upon which the USA was built is the concept of tolerance, especially religious tolerance. There is also a flip side to that also contained in the First Amendment. It concerns the right of the people to peacefully redress their grievances and it follows that any means other than peaceful is a violation of the law. Violent agitation in the name of any religion isn't tolerated as a matter of Constitutional Law. The concept of Political Correctness has played a large part in dulling and nullifying this aspect of things and it is in need of being rescued.
Can Shari'a coexist with a Free Republic?
There are a few misconceptions that need to be cleared up first. The USA is NOT a Democracy; we are a Republic that descends from Democratic principles. We are a superset that embraces many demicratic ideals, but our basic governance is based on the concept of a Republic. An 'Islamic Republic' on the other hand is misleading because such a Republic is often times based on Shari'a Law and since such law descends from the Qur'an, an Islamic Republic is essentially a Theocracy. Theocracies are an essentially unworkable form of governance because it readily denies freedom to those not of the sanctioned religion (Islam) amongst other things. In recent years, the USA has attempted to take steps towards compromise such as extending an invitation to those of Islam to participate in space exploration and other such projects, but will those of Islam accept?  When UBL was killed, a personage by the name of Ayman al-Zawahiri took control of Al-Qaeda. The following are some of his more pointed aphorisms:       
“There is no reform except through jihad, ... We have to realize the nature of this conflict: our enemies do not agree with or approve of our rights.”
As long as you use peacful means to address your grievances, you have the same rights as anyone else, but if you use violence, you are in violation of our secular laws and violating our rights.
“People of the crusader alliance behold the disasters that the policies of Bush and Blair will bring upon you and, God willing, on all of those who march behind them"

The Crusaders disappeared shortly after 1193 A.D. Is this honest ignorance or it this quote aimed at those too illiterate to understand the Qur'an?
“It is imperative that, in addition to force, there be an appeasement of Muslims and a sharing with them in governance.”

In other words, not only must we tolerate their violent nature, we have to placate them and allow them to share in governance? This essentially would reward them for committing omnicide; let's hope that we never hit that low key.
On the other hand there are people like Hassen Chalghoumi who must live his life in fear because he has condemed the Holocaust and supported a ban on the burqa in France. Ayman al-Zawahari lives his life fearlessly as he seeks to rouse the fury of the illiterate and uneducated though his rhetoric. How is it possible to reach out to people who are only too ready to incite anger and violence if they feel they can achieve their goals by that means? It follows that detente is a welcome action, but a line has to be drawn in the sand as to what will be tolerated.

Shari'a law is flawed in its restriction of freedom for those not of the faith it represents. It has no real relevance in relation to the Secular Law of a Republic that guarantees the same rights to all regardless of faith.

In the ten years since 9/11, things haven't changed that much overall. While Iraq, Libya and Egypt have new rulership, the potential number of fervent (those devoted to their faith in often times a violent way) will rise unless the literacy levels are increased. Large numbers of the illiterate are fertile ground for people like Ayman al-Zawahari and since it is highly unlikely he will be silenced by any lawful means, reducing the numbers of the illiterate will rob him of a captive audience.
The USA needs to finish its business in Iraq and Afghanistan and then leave the ME area in its entirety. Without US troops on the ground, the radical Islamic sects will not have an external target to use for the purposes of obfuscation. The US should station an AC Fleet in the Indian Ocean with a Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) ready to roll if needed. In exchange for this, advise the ME that if there is any more trouble in that region, no half measures will be used if we are forced to act.
There is no harm in attempting to reach out to the Muslim community, but they need to understand the concepts of secular law first.
A Jaded Bard

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