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Ear to the Ground

‘The Price of 9/11’

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Posted on Sep 5, 2011
Jackie (CC-BY)

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who, along with Linda Bilmes, once calculated the staggering cost of America’s wars, takes a look at the “mostly avoidable” economic devastation we imposed on ourselves in reaction to the terrorist attacks a decade ago.

Joseph Stiglitz in Project Syndicate:

NEW YORK – The September 11, 2001, terror attacks by Al Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to Al Qaeda – as much as Bush tried to establish a link. That war of choice quickly became very expensive – orders of magnitude beyond the $60 billion claimed at the beginning – as colossal incompetence met dishonest misrepresentation.

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By bogi666, September 9, 2011 at 10:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s a mistake. The name Al Kaiduh was the name of someone inadvertently mentioned in an communique from somewhere in the ME and somehow construed to be a name of an organization. Al Kaiduh. it’s all a misunderstanding, as it turn out Al Kaiduh never existed except in the mind of some Bush administration propaganda operative and just as there was never a south Vietnam, there is no Al Kaiduh, with the name spelled to implicate Muslims. If you think this doesn’t make sense, look at the “official” explanation.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, September 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

Our nations youth and national treasure combined with the best creative minds have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to do what?

For 10 years we have been chasing shadows at great cost to the non-military segment of our society.

The founders had the game plan right all along, arm the citizens at home and if some terrorist overseas pissed them off issue a letter of marque and let the free enterpise system take care of them.

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By gerard, September 6, 2011 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

Ten years later and still chewing over the same name names blame games?  No new ideas?  No organizing of citizens to create and encourage new initiatives? No prospects for a humane future for our children? That’s the real damage done by 9/11.  That, with the wreckage of the wars that followed and still follow it, has created a huge moral vacuum, and the vast sucking noise we hear is our national soul sliding down the drain of history. 

Don’t go with this line.  Join people who are working hard every day, with very limited resources, to build for tomorrow.  Try local self-help groups working on affordable housing, cleaning up pollution, demanding equality and freedom of speech, lobbying their local senators and representatives. contrbuting to UNICEF or OXFAM or helping Eve Enslelrl’s work with women in Africa.  Please do help build moral integrity wherever you are, however you can.  Enough chewing over the terrible mistakes of the lsst decade. The future begins now.

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By omop, September 6, 2011 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

The Bush administration adopted the recommendations of the “Clean
Break Proposals” already developed by a US study group as noted in
Wikipedia and summarized below and put into action after 9/11.

“The reason to invade Iraq was part of a report of a Study Group on a
New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, for Bibi Nethanyahu. Former United
States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the “Study
Group Leader”, but the final report included ideas from James Colbert,
Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, Douglas Feith, David
Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.”

The plan proposed new policies:
1. Rather than pursuing a “comprehensive peace” with the entire Arab
world, Israel should work to “contain, destabilize, and roll-back” those
entities that are threats.

2. Changing the nature of relations with the Palestinians, specifically
reserving the right of “hot pursuit” anywhere within Palestinian territory
as well as attempting to promote alternatives to Arafat’s leadership.

“SYRIA challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and
one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the
strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah,
Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon,

That Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and
moral that Israel abandon the slogan comprehensive peace and move to
contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction
programs, and rejecting land for peace deals on the Golan Heights.

That Israel can shape its strategic environment, by focusing on
removing Saddam Hussein from power in IRAQ.— an important Israeli
strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s
regional ambitions.

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By felicity, September 6, 2011 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

As I’ve said before, the savvy terrorist takes his
revenge, waits for (hopefully) a massive retaliation
by the offended party, welcomes the world-wide renown
that will inevitably follow (attracting legions of
faithful followers in the process.)

Other than that, I recall FDR’s radio message
following the bombing of Pearl by the Japanese (I was
nine-years old.) Comparing that memory with Bush’s
inane remark to America following 9/11, “go shopping”
I’ve reflected on how that remark by the president
following the bombing of Pearl would have played in
America. (We would have thought the guy had lost his

These reflections have led to my conclusion that this
country has developed some sort of cavalier attitude
toward war(s) in general.  They’re not really serious
business, they’re merely an on-going necessity, a
business-as-usual, unavoidable yet (strangely) of no
import.  (I read the other day that funding them may
have moved from the discretionary side of the budget
to the non-discretionary side. If true, this is

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By rbrooks, September 6, 2011 at 8:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Stiglitz, thank you for this. But this is half of the picture; we need to know the beneficiaries in order to complete the story.

We need to see a companion to this piece laying out the flip side: who profited? Who made this happen? The motive is painfully obvious; it’s not complicated. The military industry owns the American government, and profits from endless war go into a few pockets, and are spent on, among other things, intensifying and extending the grip of the few on the American society.

But the real story is - whose pockets did the bulk of that three trillion go into? I’m betting it’s a short list.

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By thecrow, September 6, 2011 at 5:11 am Link to this comment

No more time for bullshit.

Investigate or perish.

International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001

Ryerson University, Toronto, September 8 - 11

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By blogdog, September 6, 2011 at 12:59 am Link to this comment

RE”...anyone - let alone a Nobel laureate - could believe…”

given the massive media duping of the citizenry at large, not hard to imagine who could believe…  even a Nobel laureate can unwittingly play the the ‘useful tool’

the perfect cover: blowback & incompetence - the biggest intelligence failure of all time - in truth: the biggest intelligence success of all time

all adds up: the patsies, the moles, the professionals, the media - all perfectly compartmentalized - most unwitting - to the mercenary professionals, just another job… need to know only; don’t ask, don’t tell

but, in case one hasn’t heard, there are whistleblowers

in the end, who benefits? the global finance oligarchy, of course

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By munky, September 6, 2011 at 12:47 am Link to this comment

Even the 2001 Afghan invasion was unnecessary. The al-Qaeda cult was tiny. It was similar in size to the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. It was a CULT, not a military. It wasn’t a “nation.” It was a CULT. Hello??? Everybody, including the 9/11 Commission, agrees that the Taliban had no prior knowledge of the 9/11 crime. So, it was ridiculous to overthrow the Afghan government. Most people would have supported sending a small military force to capture/kill bin Laden and his small band of terrorists. But, in order to make big bucks for defense contractors, Cheney needed to turn a small terror conspiracy into a “global war.” He fooled the public into believing that a tiny Islamic cult was an “army” of “tens of thousands.” He created the “war.” It was his “Pearl Harbor” moment. It worked beautifully to score big dollars for a tiny section of America, defense contractors and Wall Street investors, not to mention Israel.

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By bogi666, September 5, 2011 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

WR Curly, good comments thanks. Even more insidious and insane is that the atrocities being foisted on the world by the USG is funded with debt, counterfeit debt with interest. Counterfeit in that legitimate debt only occurs when used for productive assets which can repay the debt. The USG debt FUNDS $TRILLIONS in fraud, graft and corruption, unproductive assets without the means for repayment.Also, debt is a liability but Wall St. devised schemes and viola, liabilities were turned into assets, all done in cyberspace, counterfeit with interest. The debt used by the USG is for destruction not production which means it cannot be repaid. The only solution when counterfeit debt reaches the current magnitude, is debt forgiveness, which is in accordance with the the teachings in the Book of Leviticus, OT.

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By WR Curley, September 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


But I still don’t get how anyone - let alone a Nobel
laureate - could believe that a posse of ragtag,
underfunded, technopoverished desert militiamen could
ever pose any kind of credible threat to the global
gonzo superpower.

9/11? No one you know or I know will ever really know
how that all came down. Suffice to say, US commercial
airliners, then and now, were and are, flown “by
wire”, like predator drones, from remote US
locations. Keyboard jockeys flit you and your loved
ones to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving. Flight crews are
along for the ride.

If Al Qaeda actually exists as a global terrorist
entity, we’d have 9/11 every month. Tim McVey, the
dead, no genius, buzz-cut, all-American gyrine, blew
the face off the Murrah Federal Building with a
rental truck filled with fertilizer. We have an
estimated twelve million undocumented (under the
radar) people wandering around the US, many driving
trucks for whatever low-ball business chose to hire
them. Many are $7/hr landscapers running fertilizer.
How hard could it be?

Think about, ferchrissakes.

Trillions (thousands of billions, thousands of
thousands of millions, thousand of thousand of
thousands of thousands) every year spent on the
absurd pretext that a cabal of starving rug-knucklers
can bring down the American Empire.

Think about it.

If we do not disabuse ourselves of this media-induced
hallucination, it’s gonna come true.

Ferchrissakes, think about it.

WR Curley
Elizabeth, Colorado

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