I remember that Tuesday morning the way I remember much of the Bosnian War: in vivid detail. The confusion, the shock, the horror of the burning and crumbling towers, the pillar of black smoke coming from the Pentagon. But the world didn't stop turning. And nothing actually changed that day.
Within weeks, the man who got into the Oval Office on a promise of a "more humble foreign policy" had launched a war without end. Except that the "War on terror(ism)" was lost before it began. U.S. policymakers have persisted in believing their own myth about the "good" terrorists (i.e. ones they could control) versus the "bad" ones (the ones that would attack America), no matter how much the terrorists themselves blurred that line, repeatedly. They even begged jihadists to like them (again)!
Eventually, the "War on Terror" became a "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism", a term signifying precisely nothing. Instead of fighting fear and terror, the Empire unleashed them upon the world. The discrepancies between reality and fantasy were discounted through perception management. The 2006 mockumentary "Borat" was supposed to have been a comedy. But when the title character enthuses about the "war of terror", it wasn't funny. It rang true.
Seven years after that fateful Tuesday, the American public knew it wasn't really involved in a war on terrorism any more, only in the protracted and pointless occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq (a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, but was nonetheless invaded). The man who promised Hope and Change promised to end those wars. He hasn't delivered.
In May this year, the alleged mastermind behind 9/11, Osama bin Laden, was killed in Pakistan. If the official version of events is to be believed (so many lies have been told about the wars, it's hard to believe anything any more), he was taken out by Seal Team Six, a special forces unit. The question that begs to be asked is, couldn't something like that have been done in the first place, without two full-scale invasions and a bunch of proxy wars? Instead, bin Laden's alleged purpose - to bleed America dry in the sands of the Muslim world - seems to have been achieved, all right.
I'm not a conspiracy theorist (I'm more interested in conspiracy facts). Nor do I believe for a second that everything would have been just fine had America not "provoked" the jihadists, as some well-meaning folks think. Jihad isn't some benevolent ideology of spiritual self-fulfillment, but a religious commandment to perpetrate violence upon the infidel. Many people who call themselves Christians may not take the commandments of their faith very seriously. Rest assured, many Muslims do. The real error was believing that jihad could be harnessed, controlled and directed to achieve a strategic purpose. That belief was wrong in 1978, it was wrong in 2001, it is wrong now, and it will be wrong tomorrow.
It isn't quite right to say that nothing has changed since that Tuesday, ten years ago. While the government, and the thinking behind it, has remained much the same (though a different faction is in power; that ought to suggest a few things, by itself), the United States of America isn't the same country any more. I have trouble recognizing it, and I've witnessed the transformation, gradual as it was.
Whether things keep getting worse, or some day take a turn for the better, there is no going back. Panta rei.