Everyone came together in the days after the attacks, but in hindsight 9/11 looks like the moment when everything started to fall apart.
By Sean DAVIS
Was 9/11 the beginning of the end for America? In the 22 years since the attacks, I've begun to worry that the answer to that question is "yes."
It spawned the worst and most destructive foreign policy in the country's history. The government response to 9/11 birthed the constitutional abomination that is the modern warrantless surveillance state. The Patriot Act enabled the government to weaponize its vast resources against its own people.
Bush's failed foreign policy led directly to Obama's presidency, and indirectly to Biden's, both of which are responsible for diminishing the U.S. at home and abroad, militarily and economically. After two failed forever wars that wouldn't have happened without 9/11, our government is now desperately trying to foment a potentially nuclear forever war against Russia.
Meanwhile, all the massive surveillance powers claimed by the U.S. after 9/11 are being ruthlessly deployed against American political enemies of the regime via the most insidious censorship-industrial complex the world has ever seen.
And then there's the crippling legacy of debt enabled by America's response to 9/11. Not content to spend trillions on poorly thought out invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, our leaders spent as thoughtlessly at home, creating insane amounts of new entitlements, while doing nothing to put the country on a sound financial footing.
And where are we today? The ruling political party is criminalizing its opposition and attempting to throw its top political opponent and his supporters in prison, all under the guise of "democracy."
While the national unity in the days after the towers fell was unfortunately fleeting, the changes to the country, its laws, and its leaders were not. Perhaps there's no better example of this than watching the man who scoffed during a presidential debate at the notion of America engaging in global "nation-building" suddenly declare that it was America's mission to spread democracy to the ends of the earth with the "ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
It is clear that 9/11 spawned the most destructive foreign policy in modern American history. Instead of simply eliminating the Taliban and the terrorist havens in Afghanistan - an objective that had largely been achieved by the end of 2001 - the U.S. government insisted on grafting Western democracy onto the people of Afghanistan. Without 9/11, there is no 20-year forever war in Afghanistan that ends with China in control of an American airbase and the Taliban in control of tens of billions of dollars of American military equipment and weapons.
Without 9/11, there is also no war in Iraq, which morphed from a mission to eliminate weapons of mass destruction to a war to bring democracy to a hodgepodge of tribes, warring factions, and religious sects throughout the Middle East. Yes, I know the official original rationale was that the war was launched entirely to capture weapons that we now know didn't exist, but without 9/11, there's no "axis of evil" speech and resultant march to war to depose Saddam Hussein. In his 2003 State of the Union address on the eve of the Iraq invasion, Bush himself explicitly claimed that Hussein was personally working with al Qaeda, and warned that Hussein might give al Qaeda weapons they could use to attack the United States.
While Bush and Republicans rode the wave of post-9/11 sentiment to political victories in 2002 and 2004, the honeymoon was short-lived. By 2006, the country had largely soured on the war in Iraq amidst increasing casualties with little progress to show for them, paving the way for massive Democrat gains in Congress and a flip of both houses away from Republicans and into Democrat hands. And in the 2008 Democrat political primaries, it was Barack Obama who rode the anti-war wave onto the presidential ballot by defeating Hillary Clinton, who had supported Bush's efforts in Iraq. A war-weary country that had soured on global military intervention at any cost overwhelmingly voted for the anti-war Obama over the pro-war John McCain.
Without 9/11, there is no war in Iraq, and without the war in Iraq, there's likely no President Obama, no President Trump (whose opposition to the war in Iraq and America's hamfisted approach to foreign policy propelled him into the presidency), and certainly no President Biden. When America was caught in the quicksand of Iraq in 2008, Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the country of Georgia. When America revealed itself to be a paper tiger in Afghanistan after 20 years of failed efforts to turn it into a beacon of Western liberalism, Putin seized Crimea. The seeds of each of those events were sowed on 9/11.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration seized on the emergency created by 9/11 to construct the largest surveillance state in world history. Almost overnight, the Patriot Act was passed, the Department of Homeland Security was created, and warrantless wiretaps were authorized, and it didn't take long before each of those tools was weaponized against the American people. At the time, only a handful of people voted against those laws, and they were roundly mocked for their opposition (Rep. Barbara Lee was the sole vote in the House against the Afghanistan war, while Sen. Russ Feingold was the lone vote against the Patriot Act in the Senate). The U.S. government ended up using tools that were intended to be used against foreign terrorists to instead spy on the political campaign of Donald Trump. Tools that were supposed to be used to monitor terrorist chatter overseas are right now being used to justify censorship of American citizens. And all of it is being done based on laws and institutions that were created in the wake of 9/11.
Finally, at no point did America's representatives in Washington consider actually paying for the trillions and trillions of dollars that would be used to prosecute their failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. No, those costs were financed by debt that will eventually have to be repaid by the grandchildren of those who authorized it. On top of that, Congress and the president heaped new entitlement on top of new entitlement, year after year. After the growth of the national debt finally began to slow in the 1990s following the end of the Cold War, the national debt nearly doubled during George W. Bush's presidency, doubled again during Obama's tenure, and will double again between 2016 and 2026 according to Office of Management and Budget projections. A country with this kind of debt growth is a country that is all but begging for hyperinflation and currency devaluation. It's not a question of if, but when.
In hindsight, America's response to 9/11 crippled the country. It birthed a disastrous foreign policy ideology that is still wreaking havoc on our own country, as well as the rest of the world. It spawned a surveillance state that threatens to rip the fabric of the country in two. It led to monstrous debt growth that will destroy the country financially from within if the trends are not quickly reversed.
We generally remember 9/11 as the day that the towers came down. I now worry that future historians will look back on it as the day that America started to fall.