How did it come to this? Whose pot of ignorant hubris got boiled down to such pure evil? How much did a human love of drama ignite the burners? Is the Devil himself wearing the toque and apron?
I can hardly believe that it's been 7 years since that morning I descended the stairs of my dingy bachelor apartment in Pacific Beach, only to find that the second tower had just been hit. One tower, that could be an accident, we thought. One tower, a tragedy, but not totally implausible. But two towers...wait a second. That implies a whole different level of coordination, of planning, of intent. The trap door flew open beneath our thoughts, and we fell into a dark basement of conspiracy, suspicion, and fear.
My hippie roommate, who had been expressing admiration for Bin Laden's ability to evade capture just days before, suddenly had a look on his face like a toddler who had his Tonka truck snatched away on the playground: "Hey! That's not fair!" Like, hey Al Qaeda, I know you're struggling against The Man and all, but you didn't have to go that far!
In the mechanical engineering division at Qualcomm where I worked, employees wandered the halls like zombies, seeking updates and tidbits of info: has there been another plane? What flight was so-and-so on? Did she make it home safely? Should I give money to the Red Cross? Join the Army? What the heck is going on?
Long story short, the US economy ground to a halt, the US kicked the Taliban out of Kabul, Bin Laden fled to Pakistan, and the frustrated momentum of the American response spilled up into Iraq. Sadaam's regime, which hosted tons of Uranium and several terrorist training camps, collapsed quickly. Almost as fast, those violent ambassadors of ill-will known as the US Army rapidly alienated their potential friends on the ground, so much so that the Iraqi Sunnis struck a deal with the devil - they welcomed Al Qaeda as partners in the struggle to get their country back.
Fast forward 5 years later to today...after a blossoming of terrorism on their home turf, the Sunnis finally reject Al Qaeda and their psychotic ways. A freshly threatened and insecure Iranian regime continues to undermine stability in the eastern part of Iraq, the Kurds run a de-facto nation-state in the North, and the democratically elected Iraqi parliament is desperately trying to hammer out an agreement as to what tribe gets to steal which portion of the oil wealth.
Keep in mind, that there is always a Bigger Picture...
The British and Americans divided up the Middle East to begin with after WWI, put the tribes in power who rule to this day. Our intelligence agencies and oil interests have shaped the modern face of the region as much as Bedouin culture or Islam. Our interests have been inextricably entwined for over 100 years. Sense of responsibility? Accountability? Does it seem like there is no easy answer?
Do we know what the question is?