On September 11, let's set hypocrisy aside to mourn victims in the US as well as the many more massacred by American retaliation

Yonden Lhatoo laments the lack of memorials for the hundreds of thousands of innocent victims killed in the US response to the 9/11 attacks

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 September, 2015, 6:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 11:41am

Sorry, it’s September 11 and I know I’m treading on hallowed ground here, but today I’ll be mourning so much more than just the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

While Americans hold their annual vigils, memorials and tributes for the nearly 3,000 who died on this day in 2001, I for one will be thinking of those innocents along with the hundreds of thousands of victims of the disproportionate and misdirected response to 9/11, and some of the hypocrisies inherent in the 9/11 sequelae.

Yes, those innocents died horrifically 14 years ago and their devastated families continue to feel unimaginable loss and pain.

But I don’t see why the rest of the world, egged on by the mainstream media, treats it like the only sacred cow around. If we must mourn victims of horrendous mass murder, let’s put the facts into perspective.

After the George W. Bush administration declared its so-called “war on terror” following 9/11, it slaughtered up to 20,000 Afghans in the first four months of bombing the country. That figure surges to hundreds of thousands, factoring in the US-led invasion that followed.

Keep in mind the vast majority of casualties were not fanatics brandishing AK-47 assault rifles, but innocent civilians – just like those who died on American soil.

Where are the memorials for them?

Even worse was the Iraqi catastrophe after 9/11, when the US bombed the country, once a cradle of civilisation, back into the Stone Age on the pretext of removing a dictator and looking for weapons of mass destruction that never existed. The Iraqi body count within the first four years of the American invasion was anywhere from 500,000 to more than a million.

Fourteen years after 9/11, most Americans can afford to get over it and move on. Afghans don’t have that luxury. Their country has been reduced to a bombed-out basket case and left to the wolves.

The same goes for Iraqis. Now that the US has destroyed their country, they’re at the mercy of terrorist groups and warring militias that didn’t even exist before the Americans “liberated” them.

Their September 11 is still going on. I don’t see anyone lighting candles or staging laser shows for them.

I was in the audience when one of the architects and cheerleaders of the “war on terror”, Condoleezza Rice, gave a lecture at Chinese University in 2010. We journalists were not allowed to ask questions, for obvious reasons, but I would have imagined that in such an illustrious gathering of intellectuals and leaders of liberal thought, there would be less  bowing and scraping and more  hard grilling when members of the audience were invited to ask questions.

It didn’t happen. Instead, I heard people clap when she said she would do it all over again if she had the chance.

A couple of brave students put the audience to shame by staging a protest in the auditorium and reminding Rice that she had blood on her hands.

They were quickly kicked out and the audience applauded when she said something to the effect that it was thanks to Washington’s “war on terror” that they were able to hold such protests. That same old nonsensical rhetoric about terrorists attacking the West because “they hate freedom”, and how the US is bombing babies so that ingrates such as myself have the “freedom” to write articles like this.

When we remember 9/11 today, I hope someone will lift this jaded hack out of his quagmire of cynicism by sparing a thought for the nameless victims who remain unmourned by the world.

If it’s going to be business as usual, I’m running out of tears.