9/11 Is But One Piece Of The Puzzle

A visual comparison of deaths at the World Trade Center and deaths from the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus and its variants.

Unlike today’s students being preyed upon by military recruiters counting on manufactured patriotism — patriotism on steroids since the unfortunate events of 9/11 — I was there. No, not in NYC, or Washington DC, or even in Maine where one of the alleged masterminds of the alleged takedown of the twin towers in lower Manhattan boarded his first plane.

I was in California, on my way to work, with a preteen child in the car — one whose sense of security was demolished on Sep. 11, 2001.

A few years later I was back in Maine trying to count the flags that had sprung up everywhere (too many to count in a car traveling 45 mph).

Some things are best understood in retrospect.

That nearly 3,000 “Americans” (27 were actually foreign nationals) died in the World Trade Center was a fact repeated as often as the videos of both towers collapsing. Oh, and WTC Building 7 which collapsed 8 hours later. This magnitude of death was the pretext for going to war on Afghanistan which allegedly harbored the Saudi masterminds of the terrorist attack. Except it was Pakistan doing the harboring. But they have nuclear weapons, don’t they?

The main things that 9/11 provided were an enormous spectacle to justify the endlessly profitable wars of imperial expansion for the U.S., sometimes doing business as NATO.  (If you wonder what NATO is doing in Australia since that’s about as far from North Atlantic as you can get, maybe read blogger Caitlin Johnstone.)

The other signficant thing that 9/11 provided cover for was the 300 page so-called Patriot Act which gutted constitutional rights of citizens and terrorists alike. Swiftly gutted them, and created the Department of Homeland Security and created ICE — both of which we had gotten along without prior to 9/11.

A lot of torture happened after 9/11. No, not the torture of being an Afghan or Pakistani child trying to sleep while surveillance robots droned overhead 24/7 waiting to unleash their Hellfire missiles on your home. Torture in secret prisons and in the gulag known as Guantánamo which is on Cuba’s territory without their consent.

Torture that resulted in persecution of torture whistleblowers

Torture of Chelsea Manning for refusing to reveal how she shared evidence of U.S. war crimes. 

Torture of Julian Assange for sharing evidence of U.S. and allied forces’ war crimes and dirty financial dealings. 

Almost torture of Edward Snowden for revealing the spying that digital technology and security state overreach have made ubiquitous. He lives in exile in Moscow now, with his young family, still trying to warn us about how to protect ourselves from the “security” state.

9/11 was used to justify war on Iraq via lies that Saddam Hussein had something to do with it. 

Source: Brown University, Watson Institute, Costs of War Project

9/11 was used to drive fossil fuel consumption and thus climate crisis.

9/11 was used to justify war on people in Syria. And Yemen. And Somalia. 

9/11 was used to consolidate U.S. government support of Israel’s human rights violations and war crimes against Palestinians.

Source: The Daily Times “Eagleton fifth-graders study 9/11” Sep. 10, 2016 

9/11 was used to produce a lot of canned curriculum that teachers are told they must use to inform kids that are not upset about 9/11. 

Becuase they were not even born when it happened.

And really, how much should they care about 9/11? Their young lives have been upended by a public health disaster of far greater proportions, still rampaging out of control. This time the heroes they’re encouraged to worship aren’t in firefighter or military uniforms, they’re in scrubs and PPE.

What will this much larger disaster be used for?

Want More Jobs In Maine? Stop Building Warships

We are often told here in Maine that Bath Iron Works, our shipyard owned by war industry behemoth General Dynamics, can only build warships because “jobs.”

The implication that only Pentagon contracts can provide jobs at union wages with benefits is false. But war contracting is insanely profitable, so the politicians owned by the war industry make sure to also repeat this false talking point.

Maine’s congressional delegation knows that building a roster of useful things at BIW would actually produce more good, union jobs than building warships does. 

Far more, in fact.

They know because for years their constituents have been sharing economists’ research demonstrating this fact. And they know because, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, BIW actually did this.

Below is my op-ed on actual conversion to building for healthcare, published in the Bangor Daily News June 7, 2020 :

Bath Iron Works leads the way in conversion to peaceful production

Last month, a milestone was reached. No, not the 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, though it is related to that sobering statistic. Rather, it’s that heritage shipyard Bath Iron Works has taken its first step in a conversion to building valuable tools for humanity instead of weapons of war.

Specifically, in response to a pandemic that has infected more than 6 million people, BIW is manufacturing machines needed to produce nasal swabs used for testing. These nasal swabs are a specialized diagnostic tool, and shortages due to limited manufacturing have led to headlines like, “ Many nursing homes still haven’t tested any residents or staff for the coronavirus.”

Even better, several of BIW’s subcontractors are also contributing to the effort to make these essential items for protecting the public’s health.

As part of a coalition that for years has called on BIW’s owner, General Dynamics, to convert the shipyard to producing solutions to the climate crisis rather than weapon systems that contribute to it, I am greatly encouraged by this news. What’s more, we now have a blueprint for how BIW can continue to provide great union jobs, while no longer creating war ships that are increasingly irrelevant and costly.First, there must be a clear and pressing problem and sophisticated manufacturing tasks that address it. Certainly, COVID-19 fits the bill; the machines are for customer Puritan Medical Group in Guildford, one of only two facilities in the world that had been making the sophisticated swabs (the other is in Italy) necessary for accurate testing. So, too, does the climate crisis. Maine knows all too well how quickly our valuable fishing waters are warming and the increasing frequency of violent storms that knock out power and endanger lives. Only with increasingly smart renewable energy technology and considerable changes in behavior can we hope to avert increasing disaster.

Second, there must be political will to address the problem. In this case, Puritan chief financial officer reports that Sen. Angus King and other government officials called on Puritan to increase capacity to address the testing deficit. For the climate crisis, as many as 60 percent of registered voters are in support of a Green New Deal — BIW and our elected officials both must take heed of the people’s will.

Third, BIW needs monetary incentives. In this case, the speed and efficiency with which management used federal funding available under the CARES Act is astonishing and impressive. And yet the $75.5 million funded through the Defense Production Act is a pittance in comparison with the multiple billions needed to create Navy destroyers. Think of what that kind of cash infusion could do for the renewable energy industry.

Finally, there is the need for collaboration. While we have often heard how difficult conversion would be, given all of the subcontractors and partners involved, it appears BIW has managed to collaborate with more than 10 other Maine businesses in a matter of weeks. This is both incredibly impressive and exhilarating, as it suggests so much potential for addressing the climate crisis in collective fashion.

When Bath Iron Works remained open to continue building war ships during a global pandemic, it was clear our priorities were badly misplaced. Claiming that building yet another war ship is an “essential” business, when we already have more destroyers than all the other navies in the world combined, is the kind of poor thinking that has characterized the executive branch of the federal government during this crisis.

But maybe we have finally turned a corner. It’s now clear the conversion of BIW to peaceful production is entirely possible, as this rapid shift to address a critical medical shortage shows. And it need not come at the expense of good union jobs. On the contrary, economists’ research has demonstrated time and again that building weapon systems is a poor jobs program in terms of the number of jobs generated. Their estimates show converting BIW to produce clean energy systems instead of war ships would generate roughly 50 percent more jobs — with the same investment — than the 6,000 employed before the pandemic.

A demilitarized Green New Deal is the obvious course forward for a country full of workers desperate for good jobs. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Lisa Savage is an Independent Green candidate for U.S. Senate.