“The Empire Is Eating Itself”

That’s the title of a Ralph Nader piece that ran in Counterpunch last week, and on this 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Weekend, with sovereign nations joining the “TBTF” club, stock markets careening every which way but loose and formerly robust economies grinding to, if not a halt, at least a noticeable slowdown, it’s as apt a description of the current state of affairs as I can imagine.

The collapse of the iconic Twin Towers may have been the end of the World Trade Center, and some would say life as we knew it, but it was just the start of many far-reaching consequences that spun out as the US, and to a lesser extent, the world, was swept into a vortex of paranoid hysteria.  We struggled to come to grips with the obvious fact that Daddy Government wasn’t looking after us like he said he was — instead he was out getting drunk on dollars, bar-hopping from the Big Oil Brewery to the Wall Street Cafe to Rick’s American Big Bank Bar.  When mayhem struck we were home alone, and it was hard to face.

Instead we took the path of least resistance, rewarding Big Daddy’s dishonesty and ineptitude by allowing him to run even further amok.  In the intervening years between 9/11 and now, a lot of things were allowed to happen that in “normal” times would be unthinkable.  Civil liberties took a back seat to “safety”.  Former “Bastions of Freedom” were degraded to the status of shit-hole failed states where torture, kidnapping and “black sites” are acceptable, even routine.  We stared into the abyss.  In our fevered imaginations, The Enemy was among us.   We became like the starving plane crash survivors who, in the absence of nourishment, began looking hungrily at each other, forks and knives flashing in our bulging, bloodshot eyes.

But that’s history and maybe it can be put behind us.  Nader’s article looks to the future, and asks how we can move forward by fixing some of our post-9/11 mistakes:

But many Americans might also want to pause to recognize — or unlearn — those reactions and overreactions to 9/11 that have harmed our country. How, in this forward-looking manner, can we respect the day of 9/11?

Read the whole thing.

(Image from the Arab-American Institute)

20 Responses to ““The Empire Is Eating Itself””


  1. 1 BC Mary Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    … By executive order of President Harry S. Truman, the U.S. dropped the nuclear weapon “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945,[3][4] followed by the detonation of “Fat Man” over Nagasaki on August 9.
    Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki,[1]with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. The Hiroshima prefectural health department estimates that, of the people who died on the day of the explosion, 60% died from flash or flame burns, 30% from falling debris and 10% from other causes. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness. In a US estimate of the total immediate and short term cause of death, 15–20% died from radiation sickness, 20–30% from flash burns, and 50–60% from other injuries, compounded by illness.[5] In both cities, most of the dead were civilians.

    – Wikipedia

  2. 2 JJ Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Maybe I’m just thick (or maybe it’s the blonde lebanese) but I’m not quite sure what you’re saying…?

  3. 3 hemmingforddogblog Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 1:40 am

    I think if I hear 9/11 one more time, I will scream! Overload, overload…

    Quick, everybody panic! *sigh*

  4. 4 Peter Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 3:27 am

    Why was it unspeakably inappropriate for the likes of Blatchford and Kay to criticize Layton during the week of his funeral, but now perfectly appropriate for the likes of Nader and his domestic and foreign fans on the left to use the anniversary of the horrors and tragedies of 9/11 to indulge in yet another round of predictable and timeless anti-American trash-talking?

    Time, place?

  5. 5 smelter rat Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 5:54 am

    I think she’s trying to put death, destruction and commmemoration in perspective.

  6. 6 hemmingforddogblog Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Because Layton’s body hadn’t been buried and they were trashing him. 9/11 was TEN YEARS AGO and America still goes through the “poor us” “never again” routine every year. They talk about the people killed as heroes. They were victims, not heroes. I make a point of turning CBC off on Sept 11 — it is too embarrassing to listen to them pander to the Americans.

    For some odd reason MSNBC did a story on kids that were born on Sept 11. I don’t get it…

  7. 8 JJ Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Maybe I’m just not watching much TV or reading many blogs, but I haven’t found it quite as overloaded this year as it’s been in previous years (the first and fifth anniversaries in particular were awful). It’s as if the US might finally be putting it behind them. Not forgetting about it, but the psychological damage might finally be starting to heal.

    Then again, I haven’t been watching TV, so maybe this assessment is completely wrong.

  8. 9 JJ Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Two things: (1) Blatchford’s screed was published before Layton’s body was even cold, let alone buried — a personal attack on a dead guy just hours after he dies could be considered a little classless (at least by me).

    (2) I don’t think Nader’s column (or Stageleft’s post, or my post for that matter) are anti-American trash-talking. (I don’t do anti-American trash-talking.) Also, there are plenty of Americans who feel exactly the same way… probably over half of them. Commemorating 9/11 should naturally be about remembering the victims, but it’s also an opportune time to think about the wrong turns taken since then and how to right the ship.

  9. 10 psa Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    JJ! How very sneaky of you to start blogging when I wasn’t looking. And Peter, Layton’s death didn’t result in an outpouring of vengeful, murderous war-making. Layton’s death left alegacy of hope that we might do and be better. Violence begets violence, hope should beget hope or at the very least, in the hours following the death of a respected leader, a little decorum.

  10. 13 Peter Monday, September 12, 2011 at 3:16 am

    We stared into the abyss. In our fevered imaginations, The Enemy was among us. We became like the starving plane crash survivors who, in the absence of nourishment, began looking hungrily at each other, forks and knives flashing in our bulging, bloodshot eyes.

    You think over half of Americans think that? Boy, Obama really needs new speechwriters.

  11. 14 JJ Monday, September 12, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Haha, once I get going on the hyperbole its hard to stop 😉

    Some maybe overly-ostentatious language describing the deranged political divisiveness that ensued after a disaster that should have brought everyone together is hardly trash-talking. It’s reality.

    But I wouldn’t go so far as to say 9/11 is “an occasion for shame”. Now that’s harsh.

  12. 15 Naked Ape Monday, September 12, 2011 at 11:15 am

    September 11th 2001 marked the beginning of the Endarkenment where reason officially started taking a backseat to unreasonable superstitions in the world’s decision making processes. I wish that 10 years of this lunacy would be enough and we could get back to thinking about important decisions with our heads again and leave the digesting to our guts, but I don’t really see any signs that would indicate this is the case.

    The religion guided missiles that took out the towers were all the excuse that Shrubya needed to kick off the War on Terra (and book-learnin’) which from certain perspectives appears to be little more than two groups of superstitious wack-a-loos fighting over who has the best invisible friend. Does General W.G.Boykin ring a bell?

    And speaking of civil liberties taking a back seat to safety, wasn’t it that crazy old ‘anti-American’ hippie Ben Franklin who said: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

  13. 16 Peter Monday, September 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Heh. Yeah, that old Canadian hyperbole about the Rapacious Yankee Trader is part of our birthright, I guess. Especially as we can always be counted on to follow it up by insisting we really do like them and are just trying to help them solve their problems. It’s like a never-ending run of Beauty and the Beast. Still, given our self-appropriated literary license, we could perhaps try not to go quite so apeshit when one of them says we are kind of boring and lousy tippers to boot.

    But you are right about one thing. However critical we can be, we’ve got nothing on anti-American Americans like Chomsky, Nader, Krugman etc, who seem to want to go back to 1776 and start over with another revolution. I learned this in the early oughts when we vacationed in New England, No Canadian I’ve ever met talked about Bush so bitterly and biliously as those descendents of the Puritans. As Hitchens once said, an outsider observing American political debates could be forgiven for worrying they were just two speeches away from another civil war.

  14. 17 JJ Monday, September 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    we really do like them and are just trying to help them solve their problems

    No no, I’d never be so patronizing as to think I could help anyone outside my own little sphere of influence 😉

    I don’t see what’s wrong with retrospection even if it means admitting that we’ve (not just Americans, either) become inferior humans since, and because of, 9/11. It’s not mutually exclusive with honouring the victims — if 9/11 can ultimately make us better people, there’s no greater way to honour the victims than that, IMO.

    an outsider observing American political debates could be forgiven for worrying they were just two speeches away from another civil war.

    Indeed. It’s a little frightening sometimes. But these guys fight civil wars to decide if the country’s staying together, we just have referendums where everyone votes Oui or Non and it’s all over.

  15. 18 JJ Monday, September 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    “The Endarkenment” — I like it 🙂 Not the actual Endarkenment, but the expression — nice turn of phrase.

    I wish that 10 years of this lunacy would be enough and we could get back to thinking about important decisions with our heads again and leave the digesting to our guts, but I don’t really see any signs that would indicate this is the case.

    Can’t say I disagree.

    There’s not much appetite for compromise or respect on either side, but the right in particular seems to revel in the divided state of politics today.

  16. 19 Peter Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 2:08 am

    No no, I’d never be so patronizing as to think I could help anyone outside my own little sphere of influence

    JJ, you are really risking your progressive credentials with that. Have you forgotten God put Canadians in the world to solve everyone elses’s problems? Have you despaired of the legacy of the Canadian peacekeeper and diplomat travelling to remote and savage places to spread the gospel that there is no problem on Earth that can’t be resolved through several rounds of publically-funded community consultations? 🙂

  17. 20 JJ Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 11:07 am

    JJ, you are really risking your progressive credentials with that

    Sadly, my ProgCreds already lie in as smoking a ruin as the wreckage of the World Trade Center on this day 10 years ago. Weighed, measured and found wanting by arbiters of progressiveness, I stand before you a PINO 😯 😯 😛

    there is no problem on Earth that can’t be resolved through several rounds of publically-funded community consultations

    Not all progressives think the answer to every problem is for the government to throw money at it.


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