9/11: The Beginning Of The End Of The US Empire Project

| Educate!

Above Photo: Smoke pours from the World Trade Center after it was hit by two hijacked passenger planes September 11, 2001, in New York City. (Photo: Robert Giroux / Getty Images)

Today, it has been 16 years since the events of September 11, 2001, in the United States. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, and more than 6,000 were injured in the spectacular violence across New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC.

The Bush/Cheney administration used these horrible events to justify projecting the US empire deeper into the Middle East by invading Iraq, as well as launching into war-torn Afghanistan. They also used the opportunity to pass the so-called PATRIOT act, which amounted to a vicious attack on civil liberties and human rights at home.

Any pretense that the US intended to seek justice or increase world stability via its so-called War on Terror has been dramatically overshadowed by increased global resentment toward the US, which has in fact generated more terror attacks around the world.

It is precisely this legacy that continues today: ongoing US military violence abroad, increased domestic surveillance and repression at home, and a world more violent and less safe for all.

The Numbers

Having reported from Iraq, on and off between 2003 and 2013, I witnessed the ravages of US imperialism abroad firsthand.

Reporting from inside Fallujah during the April 2004 US military siege of that city, I watched women, children and elderly people being brought, dead or alive, into a small makeshift clinic. Most of them had been shot by US military snipers, while drones buzzed above and US warplanes roared in the distance.

When the US military failed to take the city that month, a truce was called as the US waited for Bush to be reelected later that year. Days after the election, the US military laid siege to that city, committing war crimes while slaughtering thousands of civilians.

Six months later, I co-authored a piece with Jonathan Steele for the Guardian, and called Fallujah a “monument to brutality” of the US empire. “In the 1930s the Spanish city of Guernica became a symbol of wanton murder and destruction,” we wrote. “In the 1990s Grozny was cruelly flattened by the Russians; it still lies in ruins. This decade’s unforgettable monument to brutality and overkill is Fallujah, a text-book case of how not to handle an insurgency, and a reminder that unpopular occupations will always degenerate into desperation and atrocity.”

As the US occupation of Iraq ground on, the numbers of civilians killed by the US military and other violence that wracked the country reached apocalyptic totals.

Authors of a report titled “Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror,'” told Truthout the numbers of dead in Iraq and other countries the US had waged war on since the events of September 11 had reached “genocidal dimensions” and “could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.”

In Afghanistan alone, well over 31,000 civilians have died violent deaths from the war, and uncounted numbers have suffered — and continue to suffer — from wounds and health impacts and being unable to get treatment or assistance.

Afghanistan, already a war-ravaged country, has been made even more difficult to live in by the US occupation, which the US has just amped up again by sending nearly 4,000 more troops. Issues like lack of sanitation, extreme poverty, lack of basic healthcare, pollution and malnutrition have all grown worse, not better, with the US presence there.

Back in the US, estimates from six years ago pegged the price tag of the so-called War on Terror at 3 to 4.4 trillion dollars when direct and indirect costs are calculated, and that figure continues to rise on a daily basis. A 2016 study increased the total to nearly 5 trillion dollars.


While then-president Bush saw a temporary bump in his approval ratings by launching the US into wars abroad, they rapidly plummeted and largely stayed low until the end of his administration.

While President Obama rode this wave of anti-Bush and anti-US Empire sentiment into office by promising “hope” and “change,” he did not bring an end to either of these wars.

Obama simply followed Bush administration policy by making a slow withdrawal from Iraq while maintaining a US presence there in the form of “advisers,” surveillance, air strikes, artillery, drones and later, troops. All of this continues under the Trump administration, but with more troops on the ground.

The US occupation played a huge role in the radicalization of Iraqi youth and drove many of them into ISIS (also known as Daesh), which continues to plague portions of war-torn Iraq today.

The US occupation and destruction of the Iraqi state also played a key role in destabilizing Syria, which is now another failed state, with hundreds of thousands dead and millions of refugees multiplying as the bloodbath continues.

All the while, a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan has never been discussed seriously.

Given that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was, at least in part, about gaining control of that country’s oil, the US occupation failed on that front as well. While ExxonMobil owned one of Iraq’s largest oil fields in the wake of the occupation, China, without deploying one soldier or firing one shot, has slowly yet methodically been moving into the mix, and angling for more control of Iraq’s oil, in addition to being its largest oil consumer.

Denise Natali, an expert on the Middle East with the National Defense University in Washington, DC, told the New York Times in 2013, “The Chinese are the biggest beneficiary of this post-Saddam oil boom in Iraq.”

Even before 9/11, the Bush administration was being heavily criticized around the world for the US government’s positions on both domestic and international issues. US policies that were furthering poverty, inequality, geopolitical conflict, environmental degradation and globalization were all hot-button issues, which were exacerbated by the US’s response to 9/11.

In the US, Amnesty International even argued that the so-called War on Terror, “‘far from making the world a safer place, has made it more dangerous by curtailing human rights, undermining the rule of international law and shielding governments from scrutiny. It has deepened divisions among people of different faiths and origins, sowing the seeds for more conflict. The overwhelming impact of all this is genuine fear — among the affluent as well as the poor.”

Human Rights Watch, in a 2004 report titled, “Above the Law: Executive Power after September 11 in the United States,” stated, “The Bush administration’s anti-terrorism practices represent a stunning assault on basic principles of justice, government accountability, and the role of the courts.”

All the while, the US military maintains roughly 300,000 active military personnel in over 150 countries and nearly 800 bases globally.

So, has the so-called War on Terror succeeded?

Even if we take seriously the criteria by which it was propagandistically sold to the US public, as well as the rest of the world, the answer must be a resounding “no.” The Global Terrorism Index revealed that, as of 2014, there had been a fivefold increase in global terrorism fatalities since 9/11.

Another result of these post-9/11 policies has been the decline of the US empire. US power in the world and its days of being the sole superpower were already waning when 9/11 occurred. Today, especially with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, whatever vestiges of the US empire project that are left are being summarily burnt out.

Clearly, there is no merit in preserving the US empire. The primary question we are left with, then, is how many more people will die as this empire fights a losing battle to maintain its dominance?



  • ignasi

    The lie of the century happened on 9/11

  • Patricia Gray

    The very first statement in this article makes the article trash. “Smoke pours from the World Trade Center after it was hit by two hijacked planes on Sept. 11, 2001.” Interesting that the third building that was brought down by controlled demolition on this day is in the picture but not mentioned in the article.

    Until we face the fact of the total corruption of our government, we will continue to decline as a nation. It is PAST TIME to face the facts and stand up and take back our nation and move toward democracy and peace on earth.

  • DHFabian

    Although a minor point in the article, it would be worthwhile think about the “vicious attack on civil liberties and human rights at home.” This actually went into force by the 1990s. Democrats took a chance on stripping our poor — those not currently needed by employers — of a list of fundamental civil and human rights. This served to gauge the existence/strength of a US left. Understand that this agenda meets the definition of “fascism,” and even US liberals of this era have found it to be acceptable.

  • DHFabian

    We are never going to root out the facts from the conspiracy theories. People are still, after 54 years, hotly debating the Kennedy assassination.

  • Jon

    Whoa Fabian! Much truth is out there but one has to see it to understand it. Just the opposite of what you say. All can agree that what happened on 9/11 was a criminal conspiracy–by definition of the terms! What remains to be understood is who were the conspirators, and for what purpose?
    The science is now in from some 10 years of forensic work by physicists, chemists, architects and engineers, whose very profession is to create safe buildings. What they have concluded is that in the weeks preceding 9/11, extremely powerful, sophisticated explosives were put in place to be detonated AFTER planes hit, thereby conflating the latter with the actual cause. Point in case, Building 7–an obvious controlled demolition, but announced as HAVING ALREADY HAPPENED 20 minutes before it came down, and after the building was evacuated by personnel saying it was going to come down!
    Prof of engineering at Univ of Alaska Fairbanks, currently completing his scientific model of what happened to Building 7, said without hesitation in response to the question, “What is the probability that the government’s narrative could be true?” “Zero!”

    As for the JFK murder, the plot is unraveled by James Douglass in “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he Died and Why it Matters.”

  • Robert H. Stiver

    I’ve admired Dahr Jamail for a decade-plus, but his title here doesn’t match the text of his (understandably) Iraq-centric analysis; I was immediately turned off by his reference to “the events of (the 9-11)…attacks….” Any fool must conclude by examining countless expert findings that the 9-11 “event” was an Occupied WashDC-Zionist false-flag operation of audacity laced with faith in the dumbed-down sheople — apparently including Jamail — of the US. By neglecting the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the regional room, Jamail severely compromises his credibility. The psychotically criminal Zionist regime so-called Israel, via the demented focus of its Zionazi fuhrer and countless agents and operatives since circa 1992 to eviscerate Iran, drives Occupied WashDC’s flailing and failing empire. (Note to the naïve: circuitous roads lead from Tel Aviv-WashDC to Iraq to Iran to Syria to Hezbollah to…PALESTINE, which is Still THE Issue.)