The immediate reaction of most Americans to 9/11 showed me how important unity is, how essential it is to support the organizations that help people in need. Like many people, I tried to donate blood, I donated money and time to the red cross, and any and all fire departments and police organizations. Like most New Yorkers, I worshipped the FDNY for the sacrifices they made. I still do.
I also got more involved in politics, and I learned more about how our politicians deal with issues like terrorism, our oil supply and Islam. I started blogging, got a chance to talk to some people in the State Department and the CIA, visited the Middle East. I talked to people from all sorts of religions. (which I did before 9/11 too, we just didn’t feel the need to identify ourselves by religion then. We all weren’t as obsessed with the subject as we are now)
From these discussions, I learned that some of the most conservative Muslims can be the most pro-American people on earth (Kurdistan). I learned that the press has a tendency to be completely clueless about how powerful terrorists are (al Sadr). I learned that the CIA spends an awful lot of time wrangling our press. And I learned that our State Department puts the interests of Saudi Arabia before everything else. I also learned that, when we remember 9/11, dreams of justice against the people responsible for 9/11 will always remain just dreams.
Al Qaeda was always a Saudi operation, staffed, sponsored, financed and run mostly by Saudis. (although other Gulf Arabs, and the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood chips in). When, after 9/11, the US government researched the groups who had financed al Qaeda, they investigated Saudi banks, religious organizations and charities. In a poll taken immediately after 9/11, 95% of educated Saudis stated that they supported Bin Laden’s goals.
That’s ninety-five percent.
How many Saudis have been sent to jail or even arrested for their involvement in the attacks? How many Princes from the Emirates have been arrested?
If our government, Republicans and Democrats, has anything to say about it, none. The Republicans criticize the democrats for supporting terrorism as Bush kisses King Abdullah at Crawford. The Democrats criticize the Republicans for their friendships with the Saudis while ignoring the millions of dollars that Sauds have donated to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and others.
Both sides worry about illegal immigrants while ignoring the fact that most of the hijackers entered the country legally, through our state department’s “visa express” program. The state department is currently welcoming tens of thousands of Saudi students to study here. Most of the press calls the Saudis our allies in the war against terrorism.
The horror of 9/11 should have opened our eyes to the violence and to the military disasters that will result from allying with our enemies. But it didn’t. For whatever reasons, the people who carry out our foreign policy lack the ability to learn from their mistakes. Mourning is about all we can do.