Good Things Trump Recently did that the Leftist Media Ignored

With the leftist media singularly focused on the issues of impeachment, taxes and an array of other scandals, they ignore lots of positives of the Trump presidency. The chief executive is not perfect and no one is saying he is. Plenty of scandals with his administration have merit including the current impeachment mess. While this is true, even broken clocks are right twice a day. Just like the broken clock, Trump is doing good things even in the midst of the web of scandals.

            Yesterday, he signed an executive order creating a task force on missing and murdered American Indians. In doing so, the president highlighted an often overlooked issue, that of significant numbers of American Indian women and girls going missing. During the press conference, Trump referenced a sobering statistic that “more than 5,000” went missing in a year. As of December 31, 2017, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database contained 88,089 active missing person records. What this task force will do in reality is make collaboration between different levels of government and law enforcement organs go smoother. Any practical affect this will have is unknown at this time.

            The only drawback of this endeavor was that the executive order was signed in the Oval Office –right in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson. The 7th president is remembered for two things: Jacksonian Democracy, the expansion of suffrage to most white men and the Indian Removal Act. Of course, the former is laudable but the same cannot be said of the latter which resulted in the Trail of Tears. For this reason, President Jackson and American Indians do not mix terribly well. Tribal leaders were present for this occasion in the Oval Office. Signing the executive order in the presence of American Indian officials with a large portrait of Jackson on the wall was a simple blunder that could have been avoided by signing it anywhere else in the White House. Diplomatic faux-pas like this make one wonder if anyone in the White House took a history course.

            On the counterterrorism front, Trump did some work. A day before the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the president signed an executive order reorganizing sanctions to better combat terrorism. One of the things this act does is expand the entities classified as terroristic in nature. According to the State Department,

“Today, the Department designated Hurras al-Din, an al-Qa’ida-affiliated group in Syria, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT).  The Department has also designated as SDGTs 12 leaders of previously designated groups, including Hizballah, HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-West Africa, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.  In addition to these actions, the Department of the Treasury has designated 15 terrorists affiliated with ISIS, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-Khorasan, al-Qa’ida, HAMAS, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force under the same authority.”

-State Department

            The other part of the executive order is the denial of the financial institutions of the United States to the blacklisted entities. Since more parties have found themselves on the blacklist, the logic is that financing their operations will be more difficult. Sanctioning terrorists isn’t new. America has been doing it to Islamic terror groups for a long time. In fact, the executive order Trump signed is really just an expansion of one Bill Clinton signed in 1995 (Executive Order 12947). Regardless of what someone thinks about Trump’s taxes, the mess with Ukraine or any of his other scandals, it is hard indeed to disapprove of fighting terrorism more efficiently.

            Building on that, Trump revealed on Tuesday that Mexican drug cartels will be designated as terrorist organizations. The same logic that applies to Middle Eastern terrorist groups applies to Mexican and Central American drug cartels. Regulations on commerce with the organization and material support of it will come into effect when the declaration comes down. The New York Times elaborated,

“Once a group has been designated as a terrorist organization, it is illegal for people in the United States to knowingly provide support for it, and its members are barred from entering the country. Financial institutions are also forbidden from doing business with the organization.”

-New York Times

            Beyond the economic implications of this counterterrorism move, Trump didn’t rule out the military option. In the original interview with former FOX News anchorman Bill O’Reilly, the president was asked if he would consider drone strikes in Mexico. Trump responded, “I don’t want to say what I am going to do, but they will be designated.” It is telling that force wasn’t ruled out in the interview. Whether this is precursor to further action against the cartels, even action of the military persuasion remains to be seen.

            The Trump administration is plagued by scandals and they do deserve lots of media coverage. While the press has a duty to cover those, they also should cover the genuine positives that the president has accomplished. In the midst of the constant negative pounding by the press, good things are happening –even if the press isn’t covering them.

Photo credit: President Trump Says Mexico Will Pay for the Wall. But His Tax Plan Means Americans Will” via Fortune

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Our Allies are Dying and the President Doesn’t Care

            Around a week ago, Turkey marched into Syria. Their mission is to drive back the Kurdish YPG militia. The YPG is backed by the United States because they are liberals fighting both the Al-Assad government and ISIS. Indeed, they function as one of the main ground forces fighting ISIS in the region. Ankara’s attack placed America and Turkey against each other. Trump was forced to stand or fold and the stakes were high. In the critical moment, the president’s resolve failed. He ordered American forces out of the region just before the attack.

            The conservatives unleashed a cacophony of criticism immediately. Seemingly everyone on the right responded in unison. Their condemnations took no prisoners.

“I don’t believe it is a good idea to outsource the fight against ISIS to Russia, Iran, and Turkey. They don’t have America’s best interests at heart.

–Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

“I feel very bad for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the ISIS Caliphate because this decision virtually reassures the reemergence of ISIS. So sad. So dangerous. President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are NOT tired of fighting us.”

–Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

“We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend

–Nikki Haley (former US ambassador to the UN)

“If reports about US retreat in #Syria are accurate, the Trump administration has made a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”

-Marco Rubio(R-FL)

“This President’s decision to abandon our Kurdish allies in Northern Syria is ultimately a victory for Assad, Russia, Iran, and ISIS. The Administration must immediately reconsider withdrawing the few remaining U.S. troops who are playing a vital peacekeeping role.”

–Mitt Romney (R-UT)

            The quixotic Kentucky senator Rand Paul was one of the few who came to Trump’s defense. Predictably, his statement had nothing to do with the nuances of foreign policy and the need for compromise in such. Senator Paul contented himself with platitudes about “endless wars” and proceeded to not offer a plan for keeping ISIS from resurging.

“I stand with @realDonaldTrump today as he once again fulfills his promises to stop our endless wars and have a true America First foreign policy.”

–Rand Paul(R-KY)

            Conservatives and leftists in the House of Representatives actually united to oppose Trump’s Syria pull out fiasco by means of a non-binding resolution of condemnation. The resolution didn’t pass by a hair line margin either, it was quite the opposite. The chamber voted 354-60 in favor of it. The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who is a New York Democrat said “What kind of message does this send to the world? How can America be trusted to keep its word when we betray one of our close partners?” When something can draw the scorn of leftists and conservatives alike to the extent that the House passes a resolution on it, it can safely said that it deserves condemnation.  

            Trump seemed to develop a multiple personality disorder in the aftermath of the invasion; He would say one thing and then do something different. To his credit, the action taken after his grave mistake of pulling troops from the Syrian border region is tolerable. Responding to Turkey’s incursion into Kurdish territory Trump hit back with economics. A proposed $100 billion bilateral trade deal was shelved. Steel tariffs went up. The Treasury was empowered to sanction specific Turkish officials.

            That is all well and good but it is not enough. America’s European allies have taken the initiative in opposing Turkey. Germany and France have both halted their arms shipments to the country. Talk is brewing the European Union corridors of power of a complete arms embargo on the aggressing power. Beyond this, the French say that Turkey’s very membership in NATO is in question. Economic measures are just not enough. The European powers recognize this and in their seriousness to stand against Erdogan have acted on it. If Trump was serious, he would stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies.

            Not only did he not do this, his rhetoric told a different story than his actions did. Much in the vein of Rand Paul’s cookie cutter criticism, Trump took to twitter and wrote,

“I am the only person who can fight for the safety of our troops & bring them home from the ridiculous & costly Endless Wars, and be scorned. Democrats always liked that position, until I took it. Democrats always liked Walls, until I built them. Do you see what’s happening here?”

–President Donald Trump

            In the midst of a crisis, he still managed to make it about the only person he seems to care about, him. Trump’s fixation on Trump is not what is at issue here though. What he did was frame the entire Syria situation through the lens of “bringing the troops home” and in doing so committed a major oversimplification. Whenever the United States leaves a country lacking in development such as Syria, it creates a power vacuum that allows one unsavory element or another to take power. In the end the result is worse than it was when it started. That line of thought can fairly justify not intervening in the first place but that is not relevant here. America is already there and if its forces leave, there will be a power vacuum. How to pull out of this sort of situation has baffled military and civilian officials alike for decades but one clear principle of it is to not pull out in the middle of large scale war (and there are currently multiple wars raging in Syria). One can argue how much water firemen should expend on a burning building to put it out and how much to soak it down afterwards so it doesn’t start up again but who will argue that the firemen should leave while half the building is still aflame? That is exactly the situation Trump has precipitated with his pull out and yet he defends it with his absurd platitudes.

Trump’s bumbling buffoonery only continued as the days and the invasion wore on. In another bid to defend the retreat, he expressed willingness to concede US influence to our enemies. Again on twitter, he wrote,

After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria….

….and Assad to protect the land of our enemy? Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!

–President Donald Trump

            Those two tweets have a lot to unpack. What stands out the most is that he admitted he would abandon US influence in the Middle East and cede it to Russia, China or judging by his reference to the long dead French emperor (who, unlike Trump, was a master of strategy) quite literally anyone else who wants to show up. No matter what way one looks at it, it doesn’t make sense for any country to voluntarily shrink its sphere of influence. But for some reason, the president is oblivious to this. Aside from this, he forgets that the Kurds are the best bet Syria has for at least part of it to become a free, liberal state. The only democracy in the region is Israel and just one other small state with a like political persuasion would aid America’s regional position. Not to mention that millions of more people would live free. Not to mention that the Kurds have fought valiantly against ISIS. Just how valiantly did they fight? They only fought hard enough to lose 11,000 troops killed in action (this is a significant amount).

            If only Trump could content himself with snubbing the Kurds and leaving them to die! He did not have the decency to even that. Instead he openly maligned them a few days later! The president said of the Kurds they are “not angels” which is a slap in the face considering they were our closest ally in the fight against the ISIS barbarians who truly, were no angels. The Guardian summed up his following comments nicely, “At one point the US president declared the Kurdish insurgents in Turkey (the PKK), strongly linked to Kurdish forces in Syria, ‘were more of a terrorist threat than ISIS.’ His remarks closely mirrored Ankara’s talking points but were starkly at odds with US intelligence and defense assessments which identify ISIS as a direct threat to US security” Even though Turkey invaded Syria, the Europeans are discussing removing the country from NATO and they are currently fighting a critical US ally, Trump expressed zero concern for the safety of US nuclear weapons in Turkey. If Erdogan has shown he cannot be trusted to not invade his neighbors, how far can he be trusted with some of the most powerful weapons ever designed within his borders?

            What this all comes down to is that Turkey is fighting a US ally and the president is standing by and letting it happen. He has done a few things to punish Turkey but the real punishment is being doled out by the Europeans. He has not expressed any desire to curb Turkey’s ambitions by means of exclusion from the NATO alliance or given serious talk to a full arms embargo. If his actions painted him as against the attack, his words painted him as indifferent to it and supportive of conceding US influence to the Russians and the Chinese. This retreat and his subsequent enabling words will be remembered as the great betrayal of the Trump presidency if nothing changes.

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Why I as a semi-Libertarian can never vote for a Libertarian Party candidate

The other day, I was scrolling through YouTube and watched an hour and half long debate at the Libertarian SoHo Forum.[1] Two libertarian activists, Dave Smith and Nicolas Sarwarck, were sparring over whether the LP should ever run candidates like Gary Johnson and Bill Weld at the top of the ticket. Considering the fact that the Johnson/Weld ticket won almost 4.5 million votes in the last election (which is an astounding feat for a third party), I was given to think that more candidates like them should run in the future. Gary Johnson is not Ron Paul, he’s not kind of like Ron Paul, and he’s not in the same football stadium as Ron Paul. The latter is a firebrand who took stands on the issues, while the former is not an intellectual and supplemented his deficiencies with eyebrow-raising gaffes (think Aleppo). Bill Weld is a lukewarm Republican who is about as energizing as a dead catfish lying on a beach.

            That being said, they did better than any other candidate in the history of the LP and that’s says a lot. The facts are that there aren’t that many libertarians in America, which precludes them from running firebrands for the Oval Office. Republicans and Democrats have a huge, (perhaps soon not insurmountable) advantage in manpower. Because of that, they can afford to run the radicals. Even so, that often fails; look at the Goldwater campaign. Therefore it made little sense to me for the LP to do anything but run Johnson/Weld like tickets even though they are lightyears from perfect, otherwise, they would have no chance of ever winning.

            I mentally mused on these points throughout the debate and was not swayed throughout its course. While watching it, I couldn’t help but notice the rhetoric they used with regards to foreign policy and the military. It is a policy plank of the libertarian movement that they are anti-war and are for a limited international role for the United States. That is all well and good, but the phraseology they use is troubling at the highest order. When I listen to them talk on this subject, they talk more like revolutionary Marxists than rightists. They are, of course, not rightists, but libertarianism is fundamentally a lot closer to conservatism than leftism. With that in mind, I did not expect rhetoric invoking Hitler and Stalin when talking about the US government’s security infrastructure and vitriolic attacks on the US military.

            In the first ten minutes of the debate, Dave Smith said the following:

  1. “we’ve got a warfare state that can’t find a conflict that it doesn’t want to get bogged down in … and a police state that would make Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin impressed”
  • “You think that Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler wouldn’t look at what we have and go ‘god damn, they gave the department of education a SWAT team. These bastards are good.’”
  • “Do you guys remember the George W Bush administration? ‘[Imitating George Bush] Ooh, the terrorists are wrong and the troops are the good guys’ and he [Ron Paul] went ‘eh not so much. The troops are kind of the bad guys in this fight and the terrorists are kind of acting how any of us would if someone did that to them.’”

I feel compelled to respond these claims so, one by one, responses follow. To the first part of point one, it is indeed true that the US is involved in a large amount of global conflict. That’s an objective reality. Why is this? The US is by far the strongest power in the free world and no other nation comes close. She is the international vanguard of liberty. America does the hard jobs around the world that no-one else wants to or is able to. Lots of mistakes have been made and no one is going to say otherwise. The 2000s Middle Eastern wars were beset with blunders –mostly by Washington bureaucrats sticking their nose into the military’s sphere. The profuseness of America’s campaigns abroad is not indicative that they are about shoring up an empire or subjugating foreigners; rather, they could be chalked up to fighting the global war on terrorism that no other nation seems to want to help in.

            The Hitler and Stalin references are completely uncalled for. A long time ago, my high school AP European History teacher had a saying that goes like this, “Don’t talk about Hitler in politics unless we’re actually talking about Hitler. The first person to bring up Hitler loses.” In other words, if a person starts talking about Hitler when the subject is not history, or the political theory of the Nazis or the like, it is an act of desperation. It is a last ditch appeal to emotion made by a losing party. With that aside, the reference is not even accurate. It is very true that the technology the state can use for surveillance has rapidly increased from the 1930s, ‘40s and early ‘50s. Governments around the world have webs of surveillance that are far too expansive. Those two dictators would be impressed, but they would be impressed by the technology – not how we use it. If America is a totalitarian state comparable to the Soviet Union’s Stalinist era, then we are making really bad use of our technology. How many political prisoners are sent to gulags every year? How many dissidents are shot in front of bullet-riddled brick walls every day? Most importantly, do we the people have to live in fear of the state because of this? Those questions have self-evident answers. America has all a lot of surveillance tech, but they don’t use it in a way that would constitute totalitarianism. If that were not the case, Freedom House which is the preeminent watchdog group for democracy and freedom would not be producing more or less glowing report on America’s situation. If Hitler and Stalin had this kind of tech, the story would be different. If that were the case, then the history of those two bastions of evil would be significantly worse than the Orwellian nightmare 1984. That being said, a lot of work has to be done to dismantle much of the surveillance apparatus the state has accumulated. This includes getting rid of that Department of Education SWAT team.

            I can stomach the Hitler and Stalin references and the criticism of American foreign policy as a “warfare state,” though I patently disagree, but I draw the line at what came next. When I heard what Dave Smith said in point three, I said something completely unprintable. Saying that the troops are the bad guys is my line in the sand. When that is crossed, I can’t in good faith, support that figure or what he represents. There are, indeed, some instances where American forces have committed atrocities; take the Biscari massacre in WWII where dozens of Axis prisoners were killed. Wanton acts of violence against prisoners like that are unconscionable and no one would defend them. The commission of atrocities is the only case where specific US troops should be called “bad guys.” But that is not what this libertarian activist meant:  He was saying not only were the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan wrong (a fair position), but the troops themselves were the “bad guys,” which then leaves the terrorists as the “good guys,” (a completely unfair position). Forgive me for believing that the terrorists who suicide bomb civilians, drive trucks into crowds, and fly planes into towers are the real “bad guys.” Forgive me for believing that upstanding men and women sometimes, not out of their teens who join the armed forces to defend freedom and justice, are the “good guys,” even when the mission they are sent on falls short of the high ideals they signed up for. There can be legitimate disagreements over the necessity of a military operation, but one has to realize that the US does not embark on manifestly unjust campaigns. America does not go around annexing countries, going to war with other democracies, and outside of instances of total war, (such as the WWII carpet bombing campaigns), She does not kill civilians just to kill civilians. Those actions are unjust, but the United States does not do things like that. Without doing things like that, in what world would those men and women who joined the armed forces be the bad guys?

            My family has a long history of military service in this country going all the way back to the days of WWI. I love America because I learned about the sacrifices they made to defend freedom and justice at an early age. Those veterans are all long since dead now, but the sacrifices they made do not die. Freedom has not been consigned to books long since burned by one totalitarian power or another because the international vanguard of liberty that is America was there when the world needed Her. Without men and women like those who served in my family, the world today would resemble a dystopian Hell as envisioned by Ray Bradbury or George Orwell.

The libertarians that I watched on the SoHo Forum don’t seem to see this and that is a reflection of both the LP and the wider movement itself. Voting for LP candidates, doing activist work for them, donating to them, or doing anything that would give them material support is, thus, untenable for me. I’ve always considered myself a conservative with some libertarian leanings and I probably still will, but I will make two changes from now on:

  • I will need to forever make the distinction that I support the libertarian movement only on the basis of freedom and economics – never on foreign policy or the military.
  • I will never vote for a candidate running on the LP ticket because that would imply my endorsement of not only the freedom and economics angle, but also the foreign policy and military angle, which is unacceptable.

Photo credit: “Libertarian dream ticket stumbles at convention” via Legal Insurrection

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Rhetoric Over Guns Burns White Hot

                Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said last week, “Hell yeah we’re going to take your AR-15. If it’s a weapon designed to kill people on the battlefield, we’re going to buy it back.” This was the start of a now viral twitter exchange which is keeping the debate on guns hot. Texas representative Briscoe Cain retweeted O’Rourke with the caption “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.” The Democrat took advantage of Cain’s aggressive tweet and responded, “That is a death threat, representative. Clearly you shouldn’t own an AR-15 –and neither should anyone else.” This exchange shows in sharp relief how toxic the gun control argument has become.

                That wasn’t the only time O’Rourke was in the news on gun control lately. He also has been squaring off with Mayor of South Bend Indiana Pete Buttigieg on and off twitter. Buttigieg, seeing the political danger of openly calling for gun confiscation turned on his fellow Democrat. On CNN, Buttigieg remarked that O’Rourke’s comment “will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns.” He further said that this is a “golden moment” to move on gun control. In a thinly veiled reference to Buttigieg, O’Rourke tweeted, “Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are ‘at least pretending to be open to reforms’? That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let’s have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it.”

                News coverage wise, O’Rourke has been popular as of late. He also has been making headlines because his rhetoric has been heating up in a different sense –he is constantly cursing. It has become such a phenomenon that Politico even wrote a story about it appropriately titled, Can the F-Bomb Save Beto After the El Paso shooting, reporters questioned him about Trump’s role in the violence which incensed O’Rourke. Feeling the president’s role was obvious he responded by saying, “members of the press, what the f-ck?” Politico also noted that O’Rourke described the rash of mass shootings as “f-cked up.”

                It says something about the state of American politics that a mainstream publication ran a story weighing the pros and cons of obscenity. This is not the time for moral grandstanding about cursing. It is not hard to hear obscenity on TV, read it on the internet or even hear it shouted on the highway. Cursing pervades society but does it really have a place at the highest level of political discourse? Extreme obscenity hurts the dignity of the office O’Rourke is pursuing. While the topic is at hand, Donald Trump should refrain from public cursing for the same reason –it is simply below the office. If it’s the shock value O’Rourke and to a lesser extent Trump wants, this isn’t the way to get it. Even so, this suffers from diminishing marginal returns as it would be called in economics jargon. Every time it is invoked, the shock value decreases. It may have grabbed both the president and the prospective president a headline or two early on (indeed, we’re still talking about it) but the political capital that can be harvested from it will steadily decline until the cost (being below the office) outweighs the shock value.

                Elsewhere, the city of San Francisco in their infinite wisdom decided it was a good idea to brand the National Rifle Association a terror group. The city made their declaration in response to the shooting that occurred at the Gilroy Garlic Music Festival and was passed on September 8th. In response, the NRA filed suit against the city. One would expect something so bizarre to be the work of Saturday Night Live or some other satire show but this is serious. One would not imagine that the proper conduct of local government includes branding their political enemies as terrorists but that is exactly what happened. There is something very dark about even symbolically declaring that political enemies are actual traitors and codifying it in resolution. In the background are echoes of the conduct of authoritarianism. To the historically inclined, it may even conjure up images of the Soviets denouncing supposed traitors as capitalists, imperialists, foreign spies, Trotskyists and the like before they brought the hammer down. America treads on dangerous territory.

Post script: The post frequency of The Conservative Critique has dropped off as of late as I have started a new semester of college and my studies have made me devote less time to this website. I apologize sincerely to those who read these articles because I cannot convey to the readers how the readers mean to me. The Conservative Critique will continue indefinitely, but for the foreseeable future, the post frequency will be diminished. All I ask is that readers do not unsubscribe because of this. I will continue to strive for quality and intellectual honesty.

Photo credit: GunDailyNews.com

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We will never forget

Today is 9/11. 18 years ago America was changed forever by 19 men with box cutters. In a brazen act that could not be imagined by civilized men, the innocents were slaughtered by the hundreds and the thousands. Women, children and men of peace were blown away without discrimination. They had not war’s decorum to take up their grievances with the men and women tasked with protecting the people. Rather, they picked targets that could not defend themselves. In all the annals of history, few more cowardly displays of hate can be found. They knew they would die in the attacks and would never sit in an American court room where they would be found guilty and if there was any justice in this world, executed. They choose the coward’s way out by perishing in the attack rather than face righteous retribution. The depth of the cowardice, savagery and abject evil of the 9/11 attacks cannot be overstated.

                2,977 Americans were killed that fateful day. Almost two decades since, the death toll continues to climb. When the towers fell, the dust cloud filled with contaminants swept over the city. Untold thousands were exposed to toxic substances from the burning jet fuel to asbestos and everything in between. Terrible illnesses resulting from 9/11 have claimed over 1,700 lives as of 2018. At the same time, just shy of 10,000 cases of cancer have been attributed to that evil day. What’s even worse is that the current cancer numbers are likely just the tip of the iceberg.

“I don’t think we have reached 15 percent of the cancer we’re going to see,” -Dr. Ray Basri, New York Medical College professor

In the years ahead the price in human lives is only set to increase. The terrorists still kill even though they are almost two decades dead.

                The costs in terms of dollars are just as staggering. The Balance cited a New York Comptroller’s office survey which found the attacks cost America $55 billion. $24 billion of that came from the lost income generated by the thousands of dead, cleaning up the site cost another billion, treating injuries initially cost $5 billion, repairing other buildings cost $5 billion, fixing the subway system cost $6 billion, big ticket items like cars cost another $6 billion and replacing the towers with the new building cost $8 billion more. When one factors in extra spending on the military, homeland security and the healthcare that will be needed by war veterans, as the New York Times did, the estimate rises to an eye popping $3.3 trillion.

                In the end it really doesn’t matter just how much productivity was lost by the thousands killed or the amount America shelled out on defense. None of that can ever equal the damage dealt in terms of innocent men, women and children blown away. Like the Civil War and Pearl Harbor in generations gone before, 9/11 is a hole in heart of America. The damage dealt is so gargantuan, so titanic, so obscene and absurd that it is tattooed on the nation’s spirit.

                18 years have passed. The rubble is cleared away. Monuments have been built. Old buildings have been fixed and new ones erected. What remains of it all? As another year passes, what still lasts? The only way one can answer that is the sacrifice of the thousands. Dollars don’t stack up next to lives and neither do towers of glass and steel. All that matters are the 2,977 who died that day and all those who died because of the lethal dust since. Those fine Americans gave their lives for their country even though they never saw a battlefield. The victims of 9/11 are heroes and as platitudinous as it may sound we must never forget their sacrifice.

We must face our enemies and proclaim that we will never forget. We will the people will never forget the ash in the New York sky. We will never forget the flames over Washington. We will never forget the heroes who went down in the Pennsylvania field. We will never forget the over 5,000 US servicemen who perished in combat since 9/11. America will never forget.

Photo credit: “Iconic 9/11 flag, missing for years, returns to New York City” via CNN

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