September 5, 2021 Wayne Northey

9/11 was a test:

The books of the last two decades show how America failed.

Essay by Carlos Lozada

Illustration above: by Patrik Svensson

Sept. 3, 2021

. . . the official response to 9/11 unleashed some of its worst qualities: deception, brutality, arrogance, ignorance, delusion, overreach and carelessness.

WN: Below are excerpts from an outstanding essay by a Pulitzer Prizer winner for criticism in 2019. But the last lines, though intended to be hopeful, ring perversely hollow–especially given what one can read on this website about the horrors of American Expansionism/Exceptionalism/Empire:

America is suffering from a sort of post-traumatic stress democracy. It remains in recovery, still a good country, even if a broken good country.

Perhaps he has no choice but to sound such a note when writing for mainline media that fully endorsed the War on Terror 20 years ago.

He [his pastor-father] is an unusual fundamentalist; for he believes that inerrancy extends to the teachings of Jesus.John Alexander in Your Money or Your Life: A New Look at Jesus’ View of Wealth and Power

Then there is the White Evangelical Community1, perhaps epitomized by Southern Baptist theologian Dr. Richard Land–of (1990s/2000s) “The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission” of the Southern Baptist Convention. I engaged in Alaska with Dr. Land in 1997 on the issue of capital punishment. The following about that is from: Why I Oppose the Death Penalty: “The Talking Place: Discussing the Death Penalty” Forum on the Death Penalty, Fairbanks Alaska, March 22, 1997.

The dialogue was organized by the Presbyterian Church in Alaska because debate was heating up in a state with no death penalty on the books.

It took place March 22, 1997 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and was teleconferenced throughout Alaska including into the Juneau legislature, and also translated simultaneously for the deaf. Questions were posed from the university audience and from the teleconferencing sites. There was a professionally produced video of the exchange made available to churches in Alaska. Parts I and II permitted a statement of my opposition to capital punishment. Part III dealt with specific biblical texts used erroneously, I argued, in defence of capital punishment.

Dr. Land sadly went on to become one of the most outspoken American evangelical voices in support of the War on Terror. See his tragic “Land Letter.

When I was initially invited, it was to a “debate.” I refused to attend. I said that a debate reflects a “winners” and “losers” mentality that is of little use except possibly as entertainment. But I said I would take part if it was a “dialogue.” The event eventually was called “To the Talking Place,” based on a local aboriginal tradition of the entire community coming to “the talking place” to work out differences respectfully and communally. 2

In our very [White Evangelical] protests of trust in the Lord, we find occasion for our deepest self-deceits–Douglas Frank in Less Than Conquerors: The Evangelical Quest for Power in the Early Twentieth Century.

It involved a morning pre-session by a Religious Studies professor at the University on how to read the Bible. The dialogue was moderated by a local radio host. It was highly tasteful and respectful.

Afterwards, Dr. Land shared with me that he was a seventh-generation Texan. That growing up white in that state meant profound “unlearning” on racial issues alone. That when his then 18-year-old son, a top university American football draft pick that year as I recall, discussed the “dirty little war” in Vietnam, Dr. Land told me that, contrary to his Southern Baptist preacher-father, he informed his son that if America again was caught up in another war of that sort, he was duty-bound to burn his draft card! (Dr. Land’s father had warned he would be disowned if he ever burned his draft card during the Vietnam War.)

See too my book review of The War on Terrorism and the Terror of God by Lee Griffith–for a profoundly opposite Christian take to Land’s, and prescient–manuscript at the publisher’s before 9/11 hit.

That Land in this light could ever have written such an incredibly anti-Christ missive as the “Land Letter” in support of the emerging War on Terror called Operation Infinite Vengeance initially, as I recall, shows the continued truth of Jeremiah 17:93, and of our own desperate need for “truth-telling” challenges throughout our lives. Why was Dr. Land not telling all American Christian sons and daughters to metaphorically burn their draft cards ever since the Vietnam War–for all American wars have been “dirty little wars,” driven by imperialistic greed, fear, and will to dominate.

John Alexander observed in Your Money or Your Life that it is the rarest fundamentalist who believes that the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of Scripture actually extends to the words of Jesus . . . So it seemed borne out once again in the life of Dr. Land.4

America, pace the author of the highlighted article below, pace Dr. Land, has ever manifestly been an Evil Empire.

As Douglas Frank warned in his sweeping historical/sociological/theological study of American Evangelicalism as it merged into the 20th century, entitled Less Than Conquerors: The Evangelical Quest for Power in the Early Twentieth Century:

Whether in auspicious or declining times, as we have seen, we [Evangelicals] display a tenacious commitment to self-deceit. It is true that we are those who like to think we heed Jeremiah’s words, ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.’ Our history, however, gives evidence of Jeremiah’s wisdom in adding these words: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?’ (Jer. 17:7, 9). In our very protests of trust in the Lord, we find occasion for our deepest self-deceits (p. 278).

My response to Dr. Land after hearing of his change of view in relation to Blacks, in relation to the Vietnam War, was: perhaps it was time to change “now” his thinking about the death penalty.

Sadly, Dr. Land’s “teachable moment” was seemingly entirely lost (except in his private thoughts?), and he only subsequently entrenched further in the great triple Christian West heresies of Just War, Just Deserts, and Just Hell of eternal conscious torment. A personal letter to him in response to the “Land Letter” went unacknowledged, unanswered. There is none so blind as they who will not see–so it seemed. (For us all a sobering spiritual truth repeatedly on the lips of the prophets, of Jesus!)

America, pace the author of the highlighted article below, pace Dr. Land, has ever manifestly been an Evil Empire. Another essay on this website asks pointedly: Was America Great When It Burned Native American Babies? Dip into any American foreign policy era, and one can legitimately pose a similar question, one pointing invariably to unadulterated terror against its long list of chronic enemies. “America The Great Horror Show” is the way the world has predominantly experienced the nation/empire.

Roman historian Tacitus wrote so long ago:

To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire; they make a desolation and call it peace[/democracy].

Novelist J.M. Coetzee writes in Waiting for the Barbarians (1980):

One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation (p. 133).

American public intellectual Edward Said wrote in the Preface of Orientalism (1978):

Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires5, as if one shouldn’t trust the evidence of one’s eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest ‘mission civilisatrice.’

American Empire has always and supremely been about “plundering, butchering, and stealing,” “the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation,” leaving “desolation,” “destruction and misery and death” in its wake (while calling it “peace and freedom”), and long since has been in voracious bid for worldwide domination, in order to extract maximum wealth from all peoples and the Planet. Our call is simply to practise insurrection against Empire in all its avaricious, brutal and horribly destructive ways. (No small order!) (Some of the above from the Front Page.)

In light of Mr. Lozada’s concluding phrase about America–“still a good country”–one must juxtapose the above–and so much more!

Please see a sequel reflection, September 7, 2021, in The Washington Post, by Ishaan Tharoor, Columnist: The world 9/11 created: The sprawling, dark legacy of U.S. counterterrorism.6

See too: The War on Terror Is Still Alive and Well, by Robert L. Borosage, September 8, 2021.7

Please see a third reflection in The Washington Post, September 8, 2021, by Ishaan Tharoor, Columnist, entitled: The world 9/11 created: What if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq?.8

Further, this is compelling, by , September 9, 2021: 9/11: When Pop Culture Went Into Patriotic Overdrive.9

Another wise article by David Von Drehle, September 11, 2021, is entitled: 20 years later, Americans kid themselves if they think the war born of 9/11 is over.10

[Jason M. Blazakis, a former counterterrorism official in the State Department] warned that “we must confront the real possibility that our next 9/11 could arrive from within.”

Deep within the catalogue of regrets that is the 9/11 Commission report — long after readers learn of the origins and objectives of al-Qaeda, past the warnings ignored by consecutive administrations, through the litany of institutional failures that allowed terrorists to hijack four commercial airliners — the authors pause to make a rousing case for the power of the nation’s character.

“The U.S. government must define what the message is, what it stands for,” the report asserts. “We should offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors. . . . We need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values.”

This affirmation of American idealism is one of the document’s more opinionated moments. Looking back, it’s also among the most ignored.

In the name of counterterrorism, security is politicized, savagery legalized and patriotism weaponized.

Rather than exemplify the nation’s highest values, the official response to 9/11 unleashed some of its worst qualities: deception, brutality, arrogance, ignorance, delusion, overreach and carelessness. This conclusion is laid bare in the sprawling literature to emerge from 9/11 over the past two decades — the works of investigation, memoir and narrative by journalists and former officials that have charted the path to that day, revealed the heroism and confusion of the early response, chronicled the battles in and about Afghanistan and Iraq, and uncovered the excesses of the war on terror. Reading or rereading a collection of such books today is like watching an old movie that feels more anguishing and frustrating than you remember. The anguish comes from knowing how the tale will unfold; the frustration from realizing that this was hardly the only possible outcome.

Whatever individual stories the 9/11 books tell, too many describe the repudiation of U.S. values, not by extremist outsiders but by our own hand. The betrayal of America’s professed principles was the friendly fire of the war on terror. In these works, indifference to the growing terrorist threat gives way to bloodlust and vengeance after the attacks. Official dissembling justifies wars, then prolongs them. In the name of counterterrorism, security is politicized, savagery legalized and patriotism weaponized.

The towers embodied the power of American capitalism, but their design embodied the folly of American greed. On that day, both conditions proved fatal.

Bin Laden did not win the war of ideas. But neither did we. To an unnerving degree, the United States moved toward the enemy’s fantasies of what it might become — a nation divided in its sense of itself, exposed in its moral and political compromises, conflicted over wars it did not want but would not end. When President George W. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, he asserted that America was attacked because it is “the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world, and no one will keep that light from shining.” Bush was correct; al-Qaeda could not dim the promise of America. Only we could do that to ourselves.

Clarke’s conclusion is simple, and it highlights America’s we-know-better swagger, a national trait that often masquerades as courage or wisdom. “America, alas, seems only to respond well to disasters, to be undistracted by warnings,” he writes. “Our country seems unable to do all that must be done until there has been some awful calamity.”

The problem with responding only to calamity is that underestimation is usually replaced by overreaction. And we tell ourselves it is the right thing, maybe the only thing, to do.

The message was unmistakable: The law is an obstacle to effective counterterrorism.

Under the new rules, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was able to rent three-quarters of each floor of the World Trade Center, Dwyer and Flynn report, a 21 percent increase over the yield of older skyscrapers. The cost was dear. Some 1,000 people inside the North Tower who initially survived the impact of American Airlines Flight 11 could not reach an open staircase. “Their fate was sealed nearly four decades earlier, when the stairways were clustered in the core of the building, and fire stairs were eliminated as a wasteful use of valuable space.” (The authors write that “building code reform hardly makes for gripping drama,” an aside as modest as it is inaccurate.) The towers embodied the power of American capitalism, but their design embodied the folly of American greed. On that day, both conditions proved fatal.

Such episodes, led by ordinary civilians, embodied values that the 9/11 Commission called on the nation to display. Except those values would soon be dismantled, in the name of security, by those entrusted to uphold them.

The message was unmistakable: The law is an obstacle to effective counterterrorism. Worrying about procedural niceties is passe in a 9/11 world, an annoying impediment to the essential work of ass-kicking.

Almost nowhere in these memos does the Justice Department curtail the power of the CIA to do as it pleases.

Except, they did lawyer this thing to death. Instead of disregarding the law, the Bush administration enlisted it. “Beginning almost immediately after September 11, 2001, [Vice President Dick] Cheney saw to it that some of the sharpest and best-trained lawyers in the country, working in secret in the White House and the United States Department of Justice, came up with legal justifications for a vast expansion of the government’s power in waging war on terror,” Jane Mayer writes in “The Dark Side,” her relentless 2008 compilation of the arguments and machinations of government lawyers after the attacks. Through public declarations and secret memos, the administration sought to remove limits on the president’s conduct of warfare and to deny terrorism suspects the protections of the Geneva Conventions by redefining them as unlawful enemy combatants. Nothing, Mayer argues of the latter effort, “more directly cleared the way for torture than this.”

To comprehend what our government can justify in the name of national security, consider the torture memos themselves, authored by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005 to green-light CIA interrogation methods for terrorism suspects. Tactics such as cramped confinement, sleep deprivation and waterboarding were rebranded as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” legally and linguistically contorted to avoid the label of torture. Though the techniques could be cruel and inhuman, the OLC acknowledged in an August 2002 memo, they would constitute torture only if they produced pain equivalent to organ failure or death, and if the individual inflicting such pain really really meant to do so: “Even if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent.” It’s quite the sleight of hand, with torture moving from the body of the interrogated to the mind of the interrogator.

After devoting dozens of pages to the metaphysics of specific intent, the true meaning of “prolonged” mental harm or “imminent” death, and the elasticity of the Convention Against Torture, the memo concludes that none of it actually matters. Even if a particular interrogation method would cross some legal line, the relevant statute would be considered unconstitutional because it “impermissibly encroached” on the commander in chief’s authority to conduct warfare. Almost nowhere in these memos does the Justice Department curtail the power of the CIA to do as it pleases.

In these documents, lawyers enable lawlessness.

You have informed us. Experts you have consulted. Based on your research. You do not anticipate. Such hand-washing words appear throughout the memos. The Justice Department relies on information provided by the CIA to reach its conclusions; the CIA then has the cover of the Justice Department to proceed with its interrogations. It’s a perfect circle of trust.

Yet the logic is itself tortured. In a May 2005 memo, the lawyers conclude that because no single technique inflicts “severe” pain amounting to torture, their combined use “would not be expected” to reach that level, either. As though embarrassed at such illogic, the memo attaches a triple-negative footnote: “We are not suggesting that combinations or repetitions of acts that do not individually cause severe physical pain could not result in severe physical pain.” Well, then, what exactly are you suggesting? Even when the OLC in 2004 officially withdrew its August 2002 memo following a public outcry and declared torture “abhorrent,” the lawyers added a footnote to the new memo assuring that they had reviewed the prior opinions on the treatment of detainees and “do not believe that any of their conclusions would be different under the standards set forth in this memorandum.”

Bloodlust, moral certainty and sudden vulnerability make a dangerous combination.

In these documents, lawyers enable lawlessness. Another May 2005 memo concludes that, because the Convention Against Torture applies only to actions occurring under U.S. jurisdiction, the CIA’s creation of detention sites in other countries renders the convention “inapplicable.” Similarly, because the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment is meant to protect people convicted of crimes, it should not apply to terrorism detainees — because they have not been officially convicted of anything. The lack of due process conveniently eliminates constitutional protections. In his introduction to “The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable,” David Cole describes the documents as “bad-faith lawyering,” which might be generous. It is another kind of lawyering to death, one in which the rule of law that the 9/11 Commission urged us to abide by becomes the victim.

Years later, the Senate Intelligence Committee would investigate the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program. Its massive report — the executive summary of which appeared as a 549-page book in 2014 — found that torture did not produce useful intelligence, that the interrogations were more brutal than the CIA let on, that the Justice Department did not independently verify the CIA’s information, and that the spy agency impeded oversight by Congress and the CIA inspector general. It explains that the CIA purported to oversee itself and, no surprise, that it deemed its interrogations effective and necessary, no matter the results. (If a detainee provided information, it meant the program worked; if he did not, it meant stricter applications of the techniques were needed; if still no information was forthcoming, the program had succeeded in proving he had none to give.)

It did not seem to occur to Bush and his advisers that Iraqis could simultaneously hate Hussein and resent the Americans

“The CIA’s effectiveness representations were almost entirely inaccurate,” the Senate report concluded. It is one of the few lies of the war on terror unmasked by an official government investigation and public report, but just one of the many documented in the 9/11 literature.

Officials in the war on terror didn’t deceive or dissemble just with lawmakers or the public. In the recurring tragedy of war, they lied just as often to themselves.

In “To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq,” Robert Draper considers the influence of the president’s top aides. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (long obsessed with ousting Saddam Hussein), Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld (eager to test his theories of military transformation) and Cheney (fixated on apocalyptic visions of America’s vulnerability) all had their reasons. But Draper identifies a single responsible party: “The decision to invade Iraq was one made, finally and exclusively, by the president of the United States, George W. Bush,” he writes.

[Anthony] Shadid understood that governmental legitimacy — who gets to rule, and by what right — was a matter of overriding importance for Iraqis. “The Americans never understood the question,” he writes; “Iraqis never agreed on the answer.”

Bloodlust, moral certainty and sudden vulnerability make a dangerous combination. The belief that you are defending good against evil can lead to the belief that whatever you do to that end is good, too. Draper distills Bush’s worldview: “The terrorists’ primary objective was to destroy America’s freedom. Saddam hated America. Therefore, he hated freedom. Therefore, Saddam was himself a terrorist, bent on destroying America and its freedom.”

Note the asymmetry. The president assumed the worst about what Hussein had done or might do, yet embraced best-case scenarios of how an American invasion would proceed. “Iraqis would rejoice at the sight of their Western liberators,” Draper recaps. “Their newly shared sense of national purpose would overcome any sectarian allegiances. Their native cleverness would make up for their inexperience with self-government. They would welcome the stewardship of Iraqi expatriates who had not set foot in Baghdad in decades. And their oil would pay for everything.”

. . . a top communications official under Bremer, when reporters asked about waves of violence hitting Baghdad in the spring of 2004. “Off the record: Paris is burning,” the official told the journalists. “On the record: Security and stability are returning to Iraq.”

There are lies, and then there is self-delusion. The Americans did not have to anticipate the specifics of the civil war that would engulf the country after the invasion; they just had to realize that managing postwar Iraq would never be as simple as they imagined. It did not seem to occur to Bush and his advisers that Iraqis could simultaneously hate Hussein and resent the Americans — feelings that could have been discovered by speaking to Iraqis and hearing their concerns.

Anthony Shadid’s “Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War,” published in 2005, is among the few books on the war that gets deep inside Iraqis’ aversion to the Americans in their midst. “What gives them the right to change something that’s not theirs in the first place?” a woman in a middle-class Baghdad neighborhood asks him. “I don’t like your house, so I’m going to bomb it and you can rebuild it again the way I want it, with your money?” In Fallujah, where Shadid hears early talk of the Americans as “kuffar” (heathens), a 51-year-old former teacher complains that “we’ve exchanged a tyrant for an occupier.” The occupation did not dissuade such impressions when it turned the former dictator’s seat of government into its own luxurious Green Zone, or when it retrofitted the Abu Ghraib prison (“the worst of Saddam’s hellholes,” Shadid calls it) into its own chamber of horrors.

Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, a former coordinator of Iraq and Afghanistan policy, acknowledged that “we didn’t have the foggiest idea of what we were undertaking.”

Shadid understood that governmental legitimacy — who gets to rule, and by what right — was a matter of overriding importance for Iraqis. “The Americans never understood the question,” he writes; “Iraqis never agreed on the answer.” It’s hard to find a better summation of the trials of Iraq in the aftermath of America’s invasion. When the United States so quickly shifted from liberation to occupation, it lost whatever legitimacy it enjoyed. “Bush handed that enemy precisely what it wanted and needed, proof that America was at war with Islam, that we were the new Crusaders come to occupy Muslim land,” Clarke writes. “It was as if Usama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting ‘invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq.’ ”

In “The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden,” Bergen sums up how the Iraq War, conjured in part on the false connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda, ended up helping the terrorist network: It pulled resources from the war in Afghanistan, gave space for bin Laden’s men to regroup and spurred a new generation of terrorists in the Middle East. “A bigger gift to bin Laden was hard to imagine,” Bergen writes.

“Bin Laden had hoped for this exact scenario,” Whitlock observes. “To lure the U.S. superpower into an unwinnable guerrilla conflict that would deplete its national treasury and diminish its global influence.”

If Iraq was the war born of lies, Afghanistan was the one nurtured by them. Afghanistan was where al-Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, had made its base — it was supposed to be the good war, the right war, the war of necessity and not choice, the war endorsed at home and abroad. “U.S. officials had no need to lie or spin to justify the war,” Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock writes in “The Afghanistan Papers,” a damning contrast of the war’s reality vs. its rhetoric. “Yet leaders at the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department soon began to make false assurances and to paper over setbacks on the battlefield.” As the years passed, the deceit became entrenched, what Whitlock calls “an unspoken conspiracy” to hide the truth.

. . . officials concluded that some 30,000 Afghan soldiers on the payroll didn’t actually exist; they were paper creations of local commanders who pocketed the fake soldiers’ salaries at U.S. taxpayer expense.

Drawing from a “Lessons Learned” project that interviewed hundreds of military and civilian officials involved with Afghanistan, as well as from oral histories, government cables and reports, Whitlock finds commanding generals privately admitting that they long fought the war “without a functional strategy.” That, two years into the conflict, Rumsfeld complained that he had “no visibility into who the bad guys are.” That Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, a former coordinator of Iraq and Afghanistan policy, acknowledged that “we didn’t have the foggiest idea of what we were undertaking.” That U.S. officials long wanted to withdraw American forces but feared — correctly so, it turns out — that the Afghan government might collapse. “Bin Laden had hoped for this exact scenario,” Whitlock observes. “To lure the U.S. superpower into an unwinnable guerrilla conflict that would deplete its national treasury and diminish its global influence.”

The Russians, recent visitors to the graveyard of empires, cautioned that Afghanistan was an “ambush heaven” and that, in the words of one of them, “you’re really going to get the hell kicked out of you.”

The skills and size of the Afghan security forces were frequently exaggerated; by the end of President Barack Obama’s second term, U.S. officials concluded that some 30,000 Afghan soldiers on the payroll didn’t actually exist; they were paper creations of local commanders who pocketed the fake soldiers’ salaries at U.S. taxpayer expense. American officials publicly lamented large-scale corruption in Afghanistan but enabled that corruption in practice, pouring massive contracts and projects into a country ill-equipped to absorb them. Such deceptions transpired across U.S. presidents, but the Obama administration, eager to show that its first-term troop surge was working, “took it to a new level, hyping figures that were misleading, spurious or downright false,” Whitlock writes. And then under President Donald Trump, he adds, the generals felt pressure to “speak more forcefully and boast that his war strategy was destined to succeed.”

Exhausting America’s will is an objective that al-Qaeda understood well.

These are essential debates, but a war should not be measured only by the timing and the competence of its end. We still face an equally consequential appraisal: How good was this good war if it could be sustained only by lies?

In Iraq, the whole country was the wrong house. America’s leaders knew it was the wrong house. They hit it anyway.

He threw a man down the stairs and held another by the throat. After they left, the lieutenant told him it was the wrong house. “The wrong f—ing house,” Nic says to his wife. “One of the things I want to remember is how many times we hit the wrong house.”

Hitting the wrong house is what counterinsurgency doctrine is supposed to avoid. Even successfully capturing or killing a high-value target can be counterproductive if in the process you terrorize a community and create more enemies. In Iraq, the whole country was the wrong house. America’s leaders knew it was the wrong house. They hit it anyway.

“Trump had learned the foremost lesson of 9/11,” Ackerman writes, “that the terrorists were whomever you said they were.”

When Trump declared that “we don’t have victories anymore” in his 2015 speech announcing his presidential candidacy, he was both belittling the legacy of 9/11 and harnessing it to his ends. “His great insight was that the jingoistic politics of the War on Terror did not have to be tied to the War on Terror itself,” Ackerman writes in Reign of Terror. “That enabled him to tell a tale of lost greatness.” And if greatness is lost, someone must have taken it. The backlash against Muslims, against immigrants crossing the southern border and against protesters rallying for racial justice was strengthened by the open-ended nature of the global war on terror. In Ackerman’s vivid telling — his prose can be hyperbolic, even if his arguments are not — the war is not just far away in Iraq or Afghanistan, in Yemen or Syria, but it’s happening here, with mass surveillance, militarized law enforcement and the rebranding of immigration as a threat to the nation’s security rather than a cornerstone of its identity. “Trump had learned the foremost lesson of 9/11,” Ackerman writes, “that the terrorists were whomever you said they were.”

Failures became the reason to double down, never wind down.

Both Ackerman and Greenberg point to the Authorization for Use of Military Force, drafted by administration lawyers and approved by Congress just days after the attacks, as the moment when America’s response began to go awry. The brief joint resolution allowed the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against any nation, organization or person who committed the attacks, and to prevent any future ones. It was the “Ur document in the war on terror and its legacy,” Greenberg writes. “Riddled with imprecision, its terminology was geared to codify expansive powers.” Where the battlefield, the enemy and the definition of victory all remain vague, war becomes endlessly expansive, “with neither temporal nor geographical boundaries.”

[Ackerman] assails Obama for making the war on terror more “sustainable” through a veneer of legality — banning torture yet failing to close the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay and relying on drone strikes that “perversely incentivized the military and the CIA to kill instead of capture.” There would always be more targets, more battlefields, regardless of president or party. Failures became the reason to double down, never wind down.

America is suffering from a sort of post-traumatic stress democracy.

The longer the war went on, the more that what Ackerman calls its “grotesque subtext” of nativism and racism would move to the foreground of American politics. Absent the war on terror, it is harder to imagine a presidential candidate decrying a sitting commander in chief as foreign, Muslim, illegitimate — and using that lie as a successful political platform. Absent the war on terror, it is harder to imagine a travel ban against people from Muslim-majority countries. Absent the war on terror, it is harder to imagine American protesters labeled terrorists, or a secretary of defense describing the nation’s urban streets as a “battle space” to be dominated. Trump was a disruptive force in American life, but there was much continuity there, too. “A vastly different America has taken root” in the two decades since 9/11, Greenberg writes. “In the name of retaliation, ‘justice,’ and prevention, fundamental values have been cast aside.”

Seventeen years after the 9/11 Commission called on the United States to offer moral leadership to the world and to be generous and caring to our neighbors, our moral leadership is in question, and we can barely be generous and caring to ourselves.

Please click on: 9/11 was a test.

Footnotes
  1. There is much on my website about this here. While the race card like anything else “politically correct” can be misused/abused, in this case, I think not. While this malaise is found widely amongst other White American Christians, White Evangelicals are in so many cases the most toxic in their denial of Christ, while ironically the most vociferous in their protests of trust in the Lord, finding rather occasion for their deepest self-deceits. (Douglas Frank paraphrased; see more below.) []
  2. My wife and I discovered an identical process in Rwanda called gacaca courts, used in pre-colonial Rwanda, and revived in response to the 1994 genocide. Please see my “Rwandan Dispatches” (also in Volume Three of my Justice That Transforms series) There are similar ways of conflict resolution, often called Community justice, throughout history and around the world.[]
  3. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?[]
  4. Incidentally, my two teen-aged boys at the time, upon viewing the video of the dialogue, said I had won the “(non)debate” at the point Land informed me that no self-respecting Reformed scholar would ever argue as I do in Part III below. Upon that claim, I walked to my backpack in front of me, pulled out a copy of the Reformed Church of America Acts of Synod 1981, Report 31: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT STUDY COMMITTEE”, Grand Rapids: Christian Reformed Church in North America, pp. 72-73, 448-91), and told him that six Reformed theologians had been commissioned to present their findings published in that book, and that most of my exegetical points of Part III were taken from that publication. Dr. Land fell silent then.[]
  5. See for instance: Empire Lite: Nation Building In Bosnia Kosovo Afghanistan, by Canadian Michael Ignatieff; and my long book review of Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World by Jean Bethke Elshtain. Given the argument of the highlighted article below, events alone in the past 20 years of American imperialism put the lie absolutely to such academic wishful thinking/nonsense. Such silly imperial courtiers, ever at the ready (in the guise of academics and “experts”) to spew forth their wisdom from hell, all at the beck and call of news media imperialistic sycophants, are brilliantly lampooned in Hans Christian Andersen‘s The Emperor’s New Clothes.[]
  6. We read:

    This is the second installment in a short series from Today’s WorldView for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Sign up to get the rest of the newsletter free, including news from around the globe, interesting ideas and opinions to know, sent to your inbox every weekday.

    Twenty years after the attacks of 9/11, the United States has yet to experience a terrorist strike on the homeland anywhere close to that shocking scale. But few even among the Washington establishment see that as an undisputed mark of triumph. Instead, they grapple with debates over American imperial hubris and overreach. Abroad, successive U.S. administrations shoulder a shared legacy of ruinous wars and failed nation-building. At home, the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have seen the curtailing of civil liberties for some communities, an expansion of mass surveillance and the deepening of political divisions.

    In 2013, National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed to three journalists . . . how the U.S. government had built a vast global surveillance system, empowered by secret legal authorities, to essentially have the capacity to monitor whole populations. To many analysts now, the digital spying architecture that emerged was the precursor to a new global paradigm.

    Americans broadly supported the George W. Bush administration’s decision to invade Afghanistan, where the ruling Taliban had given sanctuary to al-Qaeda. The punitive mission turned into something far greater than an anti-crime raid against a militant outfit operating in rustic obscurity.

    Bush declared the advent of a global “war on terror,” warning every nation that “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” The American war machine was deployed across a wide swath of the planet and got mired after two regime-changing invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States built clandestine networks to detain, rendition, interrogate and, yes, torture suspected Islamist extremists. From the military facility in Guantánamo Bay to cells in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, keeping America safe meant installing a security apparatus with fuzzy international legality and documented human rights abuses.

    The American public grew desensitized to the protracted battles fought in its name, which directly caused the deaths of at least 900,000 people and cost American taxpayers some $8 trillion, according to an analysis by researchers at Brown University. U.S. troop casualty numbers over the past two decades — there were more than 7,000 U.S. service members killed in post-9/11 war operations — remain a fraction of those from earlier major American war efforts. Drone strikes and myriad clandestine operations may have upended the lives of civilians on the ground in far-flung countries, but faded into the background of American life.

    “A ‘humane’ form of control and surveillance is taking place beyond America’s borders, with death and injury increasingly edited out of public view. And the improved humanity of our wars, ostensible and real, is not without its vices,” wrote Yale historian Samuel Moyn and author of the new book, “Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War.

    [WN: Amazon describes the book thus:

    A prominent historian exposes the dark side of making war more humane

    In the years since 9/11, we have entered an age of endless war. With little debate or discussion, the United States carries out military operations around the globe. It hardly matters who’s president or whether liberals or conservatives operate the levers of power. The United States exercises dominion everywhere.

    In Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War, Samuel Moyn asks a troubling but urgent question: What if efforts to make war more ethical―to ban torture and limit civilian casualties―have only shored up the military enterprise and made it sturdier? To advance this case, Moyn looks back at a century and a half of passionate arguments about the ethics of using force. In the nineteenth century, the founders of the Red Cross struggled mightily to make war less lethal even as they acknowledged its inevitability. Leo Tolstoy prominently opposed their efforts, reasoning that war needed to be abolished, not reformed―and over the subsequent century, a popular movement to abolish war flourished on both sides of the Atlantic. Eventually, however, reformers shifted their attention from opposing the crime of war to opposing war crimes, with fateful consequences.

    The ramifications of this shift became apparent in the post-9/11 era. By that time, the US military had embraced the agenda of humane war, driven both by the availability of precision weaponry and the need to protect its image. The battle shifted from the streets to the courtroom, where the tactics of the war on terror were litigated but its foundational assumptions went without serious challenge. These trends only accelerated during the Obama and Trump presidencies. Even as the two administrations spoke of American power and morality in radically different tones, they ushered in the second decade of the “forever” war.

    . . . to face a terrorism threat that was seemingly “everywhere, invisible and superhuman,” the United States set about constructing a “maximal security state.”

    Humane is the story of how America went off to fight and never came back, and how armed combat was transformed from an imperfect tool for resolving disputes into an integral component of the modern condition. As American wars have become more humane, they have also become endless. This provocative book argues that this development might not represent progress at all. “Old empires justified brutal acts in the service of human civilization and progress.“] [WN further: When serial killer Ted Bundy was executed in Florida amidst the fanfare of a Mardi Gras-like celebration outside the prison gates, a journalist wrote about the state killing as

    . . . a brutal act done in the name of civilization, an expulsion or execution that results in social harmony.

    Gil Bailie, who adduced this quote, drawing on the brilliant work of René Girard, continues:

    Clearly, after the shaky justifications based on deterrence or retribution have fallen away, this is the stubborn fact that remains: a brutal act is done in the name of civilization. If we humans become too morally troubled by the brutality to revel in the glories of the civilization made possible by it, we will simply have to reinvent culture. This is what Nietzsche saw through a glass darkly. This is what Paul sensed when he declared the old order to be a dying one (I Corinthians 7:31). This is the central anthropological issue of our age.(Gil Bailie, Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads, New York: Crossroad, 1995, p. 79 emphasis added.

    For this very kind of scapegoating, Gandhi famously is said to have responded to the question, “What do you think of Western civilization?” with: “I think it would be a good idea!”. Our version of ‘humanity’ helps compensate for our wars’ extension in time and expansion in space.”]

    Journalist Spencer Ackerman wrote in Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump:

    [Trump] recognized that the 9/11 era’s grotesque subtext — the perception of nonwhites as alien marauders, even as conquerors, from a hostile foreign civilization — was its engine.

    The U.S. government reaction to 9/11 was “not just a series of haphazard policies or incidental responses, but a profound ideological construct that affected our entire political and legal culture,” Baher Azmy, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has challenged the U.S. government repeatedly over the past two decades, told Today’s WorldView. He added that to face a terrorism threat that was seemingly “everywhere, invisible and superhuman,” the United States set about constructing a “maximal security state.”[]
  7. In it:

    “Turns out I’m really good at killing people,”[Obama] quipped, “Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

    The administration is continuing the strategy that emerged under Obama, as, in the words of Hal Brands and Michael O’Hanlon, armchair strategists based at Johns Hopkins and Brookings, the United States “failed its way to counterterrorism success.” In what they dub the ”medium footprint strategy,” large-scale deployments of American troops and nation building are out. Drone bombings and agile US Special Forces are in. Obama expanded the war on terror dramatically but quietly. He lawyered up, inventing legal rationale and procedures that provided a fig leaf for preemptive strikes. His intelligence chiefs like John Brennan peddled the lie that drone strikes were remarkably precise. The president even reviewed assassination targets each week. Obama ended dropping 10 times the drone bombs that Bush did. “Turns out I’m really good at killing people,” he quipped, “Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” [WN: How does America breed such monstrously evil leadership? Or is it indeed culturally, ubiquitously, endemic to humanity? See the commentary by brilliant cultural critic René Girard, for an answer.][]

  8. We read:

    A Washington Post poll in September 2003 found that close to 7 in 10 Americans believed that it was at least “likely” that Hussein was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.That, of course, proved to be preposterous, as was much of the case Bush and his allies made about the imminent threat posed by the Iraqi regime’s phantom weapons of mass destruction. Animated by a neoconservative zeal to oust enemy regimes and wield American might to make right — and unhindered by the bulk of the Washington press corps — the Bush administration plunged the United States and its coalition partners into a war and eventual occupation that would reshape the political map of the Middle East, distract from America’s parallel intervention in Afghanistan and provoke new cycles of chaos and violence.

    The first couple of years after 9/11 marked “an era where the United States made major strategic errors,” Vali Nasr, a professor of international affairs at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, told Today’s WorldView. “Its vision was clouded by anger and revenge.”

    But what if the United States had opted against invading Iraq? The decision to oust Hussein, even more so than the invasion of Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, was an unprovoked war of choice that, on one hand, sealed off a range of other policy options available to Washington’s strategists and, on the other, set in motion events that fundamentally altered the region. It’s impossible to unwind what the Bush administration unleashed, but indulge us at Today’s WorldView as we puzzle through just a few elements of this counterfactual proposition.

    “No matter what — and I say this as someone who was opposed to Saddam’s regime since childhood and wrote his first novel about life under dictatorship — had the regime remained in power, tens of thousands of Iraqis would still be alive today, and children in Fallujah would not be born with congenital defects every day,” Antoon told Today’s WorldView, alluding to the impact of U.S. forces allegedly using rounds of depleted uranium in their battles across Iraq.

    The occupation swiftly became a parable for American blundering and hubris.

    [Sinan Antoon, a New York-based Iraqi poet and author] added that we also would not have seen the rise of the Islamic State had the United States not invaded —a conviction shared by former president Barack Obama and echoed by myriad experts. “In the near term, the Iraqi political order probably would not have collapsed and created a void that nonstate or quasi-state actors could fill,” wrote international relations scholars Hal Brands and Peter Feaver in a 2017 study.

    [Bloodthirsty War Hawk] Henry Kissinger on why he supported the Iraq War: “because Afghanistan wasn’t enough.” In the conflict with radical Islam, he said, they want to humiliate us. “And we need to humiliate them.” Unspoken option three seems like where we wound up: humiliating ourselves.@JustinTLogan

    Instead, by 2007, the United States was compelled to deploy a “surge” of its troops to combat an Iraqi insurgency it would never quite quell. For multiple reasons, from feckless leadership to sectarian enmities, the government that the United States helped prop up in Baghdad would make a catalogue of its own mistakes. The occupation swiftly became a parable for American blundering and hubris.[]

  9. To wit (though in reading it, I gag . . .–See on the idolization of the state: The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict and Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church–William T. Cavanaugh):

    Within weeks, maybe even days, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the entertainment industry mobilized to show that it too was outraged by what happened. As the 1984 Lee Greenwood song that spiked to the top of the charts after 9/11 so memorably put it, they wanted to show they were each “proud to be an American.” The Disney Channel aired red, white, and blue-tinged spots with its biggest stars, the music industry rewarded artists for extremely patriotic songs, and the process of torturing of suspected terrorists became a television show and thus normalized.

    “After the attacks of September 11, traditional forms of entertainment had to reinvent their place in US life and culture,” Lynn Spigel a professor of screen cultures at Northwestern University wrote in her 2004 American Quarterly essay “Entertainment Wars: Television Culture after 9/11.” “[I]n the weeks following September 11, the industry exhibited (whether for sincere or cynical reasons) a new will toward ‘tastefulness.’” Our pop culture reoriented its messaging around 9/11 in a way not seen since the World War II era when splashy posters, radio celebrities, and movie stars would urge Americans to do all they could to support the troops abroad and root out potential enemies at home. “It became unpatriotic to suggest that there was anything wrong with the United States,” Spigel told me.

    “For the first few years, patriotism was a lucrative market,” Stacy Takacs, a professor of American and Screen Studies at Oklahoma State, said. “And no one wanted to be accused of anti-Americanism.”

    In her essay, Spigel describes what happened with the popular political drama The West Wing. First, it scuttled the storyline for its premiere, which was scheduled for September 26, and replaced it with a very special episode. In it, a group of high school students is touring the White House when they are caught in the real west wing after a terrorist bomb threat. There, the trapped students learn all about terrorism and the so-called horrors of Islam. “Why is everyone trying to kill us?” one student asks at one point, which was a question that had been repeated incessantly following the attacks. The White House staffer then tried to explain the long history of US occupation of middle eastern countries but ends with an overly simplistic and implicitly self-congratulatory explanation for why the terrorists “hate” America. After all, in the USA women “can do anything they want including taking a rocket ship to outer space, vote, and play soccer,” he explains to the teenagers.

    There was also, if not a policy of official censorship, some cultural works that were actively discouraged.

    “For the first few years, patriotism was a lucrative market,” Stacy Takacs, a professor of American and Screen Studies at Oklahoma State, said. “And no one wanted to be accused of anti-Americanism.”In her essay, Spigel describes what happened with the popular political drama The West Wing. First, it scuttled the storyline for its premiere, which was scheduled for September 26, and replaced it with a very special episode. In it, a group of high school students is touring the White House when they are caught in the real west wing after a terrorist bomb threat. There, the trapped students learn all about terrorism and the so-called horrors of Islam. “Why is everyone trying to kill us?” one student asks at one point, which was a question that had been repeated incessantly following the attacks. The White House staffer then tried to explain the long history of US occupation of middle eastern countries but ends with an overly simplistic and implicitly self-congratulatory explanation for why the terrorists “hate” America. After all, in the USA women “can do anything they want including taking a rocket ship to outer space, vote, and play soccer,” he explains to the teenagers.

    I was just a few months shy of my 13th birthday on September 11, 2001, and I still remember the aggressively jingoistic tunes that dominated the radio airwaves. Clear Channel may have believed that Benny and the Jets by Elton John could be too traumatizing, but its absence was apparently compensated for by a slew of patriotic songs designed to uplift the country’s spirits. Even as a middle schooler in suburban Washington, DC, I found that some of them were hard to stomach. In particular, Toby Keith’s cringe-inducing “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American).”

    Just in case you don’t feel like listening to the whole thing, let me highlight one of the verses, and you will see what I mean.

    Justice will be served and the battle will rage
    This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage
    And you’ll be sorry that you messed with
    The US of A
    Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass
    It’s the American way [WN: How quaint!]

    But if you didn’t want to let your children hear a swear word in the Keith song, one could always tune into the Disney Channel. The popular kids’ channel aired a series of television spots in which their biggest stars would divulge the details of how much they loved America.

    Hilary Duff, of Lizzie McGuire fame, described seeing a firetruck with a flag blowing in the wind. Spontaneously, she and the other people who were there broke into cheers and applause. “The flag means everything to me,” Beverley Mitchell, one of the stars of 7th Heaven said. “It means life, it means freedom, it also means unity and it means love.”

    “It’s a beacon of peace and liberty and justice and democracy,” Joey Lawrence, who starred on Brotherly Love, said while holding up a giant flag and standing in front of an even bigger flag with his younger brothers Matt and Andrew.

    Torture was used as a way to keep the plot moving, and it happened so ritually and successfully that people were convinced that torture works.

    But perhaps nothing captures post-9/11 pop culture like the hit drama series 24. The show, which first aired a few weeks after September 11, first gained attention because of its unusual formatting. Each season recounted a 24 hour time period and each episode was one real-time hour; viewers could watch the clock tick down at the corner of their screens. In it, Kiefer Sutherland plays Jack Bauer an agent for the (apparently) fictional US Counter Terrorist Unit. After the attacks, the torture methods Agent Bauer used to deter terrorist attacks felt more real. “Torture was used as a way to keep the plot moving, and it happened so ritually and successfully that people were convinced that torture works,” Takacs explained. Bauer eventually goes on trial for his torture methods, “but it was more of a way to defend his actions.”

     Suspects at prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay were abused and tortured by members of the military, clear violations of international law. The high-ranking officials who supported torture, such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, were committing war crimes in the name of “freedom.”

    “I am literally in awe of the creativity of the brains behind the program,” right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh said, adding that Cheney and Rumsfeld loved the show too. Rumsfeld, who died this year, the architect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq frequently demonstrated a flagrant disregard for human rights. In one of the most appalling gestures of patriotic posturing and pandering, in 2002, People Magazine deemed him the sexiest Cabinet member. [See my War Criminal Donald Rumsfeld Found Dead at 88: The human and economic costs of Donald Rumsfeld’s wars are staggering.]

    We may congratulate ourselves on considering hyper-patriotism in pop culture as a thing of the past. But just wait until the next convenient enemy comes along.

    In 2011, Howard Gordon, a 24 producer who also produced a similar terrorism-related show Homeland, told Mother Jones that he regrets a billboard promoting the show:

    In season two, the story involved a Muslim American family, and the father and the mother—and the son—were party to a terror plot. It was sort of a purple conceit in a way. But it was maybe a year and a half after 9/11, and on the 405 freeway there’s this giant electronic billboard, and I think the line was: “They could be next door.” The writers and the producers were not party to that campaign, but we quickly put an end to it, and realized how dangerous and potentially incendiary this show could be.

    Soon South Park was parodying the rapid rise of patriotism. Saturday Night Live stars performed a sketch mocking the cavalier attitude the country had about invading Afghanistan.

    And yet, the country band that was then known as the Dixie Chicks received intense backlash from country music fans after one member, Natalie Maines, had the audacity to criticize the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq.

    The stereotyping of Muslims had devastating consequences. In 2017, hate crimes against Muslims exploded, surpassing 2001 levels.

    Pop culture believed that its role was to help the country unite around a common enemy. But now, there are no Toby Keith songs about bombs raining on distant countries at the top of the charts, and 24 aired its final season in 2010. The war in Afghanistan, which just ended after two decades, killed 2,448 US soldiers, more than 47,000 Afghan civilians, and displaced many more. It’s price tag for the United States was $3 trillion.[]

  10. The author writes:

    Initially, the attack shocked us awake after a long lack of interest. For all the trillions of dollars spent on arms and warriors by the United States after World War II, by the late 1990s, with the Cold War ended, Americans had other things on our minds. The AOL stock price and the president’s lechery, for example. Market liberalism was ascendant globally. Trade would cure the bloodlust and power plays of the past. We would make sales, not war.

    People scoffed when a president said civilians could help the war effort by going shopping. Yet there was a kernel of truth in his remark. Our principal weapon in this gray war — gray interrupted by gruesome bursts of scarlet — has been money. We have loosed a fateful charge card. Billions for security at buildings around the world. More billions to harvest the world’s communications and comb the data for warnings. Still more billions to buy help from among the planet’s least reliable sources. Adding up to trillions for a war of whack-a-mole.

    Most of the time, this war has felt like war only to the few, the deployed: the special operators, the contractors, the diplomats, the spies, the data analysts at their glowing screens, the drone pilots in their darkened rooms hunting the enemy by satellite link.

    For the rest, it has felt like mom’s birthday, finals week, the playoffs, just another April. At intervals we were jolted to attention — and then for a day or a month, we were as interested in war as war was interested in us. The 2003 capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who dreamed up 9/11, was such a jolt. Even more, the killing of bin Laden in 2011.

    Jolt: Who’s Charlie Hebdo?

    Jolt: What the heck is ISIS?

    Jolt: How did the Taliban get back to Kabul?

    Between the jolts we might have been keeping up with the Kardashians. We might have been making America great again. We might have been trading bitcoin or disassembling structures of privilege. We might have been defending our freedom to spread disease. In the disunited states of America, our varied and individual interests have been paramount.[]

Wayne Northey

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

%d bloggers like this: