At some point, we must say, “No.”

At some point, we must recognize that every member of Al Queda or ISIL we kill comes back to haunt us – in the form of five more recruits. Five more people who hate us. Who are determined to pay us back. Who will not rest until they have.

So often we hear that we are a Judeo-Christian nation. I don’t buy it, but let’s play along.

Confession is a key component of both systems of belief. So at what point do we confess to our mistakes? Does anyone reading this really think our leaders – ANY of them – will ever stand at a podium and admit that there is one thing and one only (fossil fuel) that keeps us meddling in the Mideast, supporting an apartheid regime in Israel, and killing brown people?

I am ashamed of our inability to fess up. Great nations can, you know. Great nations – and we are not one of them – use the rearview and the information it provides to gauge and adjust the effectiveness of their policies going forward. By what measure does our behavior and history in the Mideast amount to anything other than colossal failure, let alone proof positive that renewing our efforts to kill brown people is the informed course?

“Better to fight terrorists there than here.” Or we could stop giving them a reason to fight.

A mere fraction of the billions upon billions spent on making war in the Mideast – applied instead to border security – would have solved this problem. Without bloodshed.

Instead we ignored the first WTC bombing in 1993. We left our borders porous. We didn’t put hardened, 24/7/365 security on the roofs and in the parking garages of every iconic American property.

In short, in the face of evidence that bad people were trying to make a bold statement like the one they made 13 years ago today (and 21 years after that first attack) we failed to do what we twist ourselves into pretzels claiming we are doing in the Mideast: Defend the homeland.

What might we have learned, had we inquired about what was behind that first attack? If introspection had taken the place of hubris? Could we have worked proactively to stop using the Mideast as our gas station and mothballed our weapons plants?

Of course.

But that’s not what we’re interested in.

We want to impose our will all across the world. And that means killing people. Doing it keeps the engines (jet engines, specifcially) turning. It keeps the munitions lines rolling. It keeps the Offense Industry – can we please start calling it what it actually is? – humming. From drone manufacturers to casket makers.

And all across the world, we are hated – deeply – for it.

We (and by “we” I mean our military leaders) are addicted to oil and gas and to destroying lives and the planet to get them. But it’s more than that. We go and get and continue to use oil and gas because we can, with absolute impunity. You know it and I know it.

But what U.S. official has ever stood up and said so, let alone expressed appropriate shame over it? Or admitted something else we all know: Had we put the same effort and resources into developing alternatives to oil and gas that we did getting to the moon, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared, we would not be hated, and CO2 levels would have remained safe.

And maybe – just maybe – the “Peace Dividend” we heard so much about when the Cold War ended would have actually materialized.

Anthony Noel

Anthony Noel