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Obama and McCain on 9/11: “unity” in support of war and repression
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain walked side by side down the ramp into the pit where the World Trade Center once stood Tuesday in what was promoted as a demonstration of national unity on
|Monday, September 15,2008 10:53|
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain walked side by side down the ramp into the pit where the World Trade Center once stood Tuesday in what was promoted as a demonstration of national unity on the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The symbolic gesture followed a week of bitter attacks by the Republican campaign against Obama, including a lying ad charging that he had promoted “comprehensive sex education” for kindergarten students, and a ludicrous controversy—amplified and endlessly repeated by the media—over whether the Democratic candidate’s use of the words “lipstick on a pig” constituted a sexist smear.
The appearance of the two big business candidates at the site where some 2,700 died will do nothing to assuage the enduring grief of those who lost children, parents, spouses and loved ones seven years ago. Nor will it do anything to further the rebuilding of the area, which, after all of this time, remains a gaping hole in the ground, with neither new buildings erected nor any memorial erected to those who perished.
What the appearance was meant to bolster is the fading pretense that the 9/11 attacks are a common touchstone of national unity. This was always a hollow myth propagated by the ruling establishment and the corporate media. Before the dust had settled from the collapsed twin towers, the stark class divisions, the corruption and parasitism that pervade American capitalism made themselves felt in this catastrophe, just as they do in every other facet of social life.
While hundreds of firefighters and other emergency service workers gave their lives in an attempt to rescue people from the towers-and thousands of others sacrificed their health in an attempt to recover the dead—the top financiers on Wall Street used the occasion to further enrich themselves, grabbing hundreds of millions worth of stock options at fire-sale prices after the attacks forced the markets to close.
The real content of the myth of national unity promoted in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks was the attempt to manufacture popular support for war abroad and repression at home. This is the cause to which both candidates leant themselves to again on Thursday.
Obama issued a statement for the occasion, expressing thanks to “the Americans defending us every day in our communities at home, and in our military abroad.” He called on the American people to “remember that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 are still at large and must be brought to justice” and vowed to “defeat terrorist networks” and “defend the American homeland.”
McCain, meanwhile, used the occasion to deliver a speech at the memorial service in
In the evening, both candidates participated—separately—in a forum on “national service” held at
For most of the past seven years, the American people have been subjected to government propaganda that has systematically attempted to intimidate them with the supposedly omnipresent threat of terrorism. The unending refrain has been that, without wars of aggression, domestic spying, torture, extraordinary rendition and the evisceration of the US Constitution, there would be “another September 11” or worse.
Recent polls have indicated that this relentless campaign of fear is producing diminishing returns. While in 2002 and 2004, fully a quarter of those surveyed in the US described terrorism or national security as the number one problem confronting the country, that share fell to 16 percent in 2006 and, in the current election year, has plummeted to 4 percent.
Media reports have attributed this decline largely to passage of time since the tragic events of seven years ago. It is an “issue that has lost prominence for American voters as the deadly attacks recede in the public memory,” the Washington Post asserted.
However, far more powerful forces have been at work on mass consciousness than merely fading memories.
First there are the wars in
Finally, there is 9/11 itself, which remains an event shrouded in mystery. To this day, there has not been a single genuinely independent investigation of what was worst single loss of civilian life on American soil. Nor has anyone in the
What is indisputable is that the terrorist organization that is blamed for the attack was led by individuals—including Osama bin Laden—who had earlier been counted among Washington’s allies and the CIA’s “assets” in a US-funded effort to overturn a Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan.
Moreover, there is ample evidence that those who carried out the hijackings seven years ago included individuals who were well known to
The apparent high-level protection enjoyed by these individuals strongly suggests that there were those in the
The events of 9/11 were not the cause of the eruption of American militarism that followed, but rather the pretext for this violent shift in
The World Socialist Web Site warned that this was
“The attacks on the
The shoulder-to-shoulder walk down the ramp into the pit at
Both parties continue to promote the fundamental conception that the
There are tactical differences to be sure. Obama has criticized the Bush administration and Republican candidate McCain not for their support for war in general, but rather for what he charges is the over-concentration of US military power in Iraq at the expense of the American intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he presents as the “real central front” in the so-called war on terror.
McCain has charged Obama with seeking “failure in
However, as the Los Angeles Times noted Thursday, “Beneath the harsh rhetoric, the two candidates—who meet today in New York City to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks—seem to be moving toward consensus on their broad-brush strategies.”
The newspaper went on to quote Brian Michael Jenkins, described as a “leading authority on terrorism” at the Rand Corp. “The process of political campaigning has exaggerated the differences of the two candidates on trivial issues,” said Jenkins. “But when it comes to where the campaigns have outlined their platforms on
In other words, both candidates support policies that translate into the protracted occupation of Iraq—albeit, if possible, with fewer ground troops—an escalation of the war in Afghanistan and its extension across the border into Pakistan and the continuation of domestic spying and other forms of political repression in the US itself.
And, as the display of “unity” on September 11 indicated, both are determined to continue promoting a global “war on terror” as the pretext for the use of military power in pursuit of
Under these conditions, mass opposition to militarism can find no viable political expression through either of the two corporate-controlled parties. The struggle against war and the fight to defend living standards and basic democratic rights cannot be waged outside of an irrevocable break with the Democratic Party and the building of a new independent political movement of the working class based on a socialist program.
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