from RT Website
The World Trade Center in New York City burns,
early September 11, 2001.
© REUTERS/Jeff Christensen
20 years after 9/11,
I no longer recognize my country.
The US has become
a malignant narcissist,
infecting all it encounters...
In the two decades
after September 11, however, the US
has learnt nothing about itself.
There was no concept of
entitlement - everything that came your way was either earned or
suffered, based on your actions or the actions of others in your
We moved every year and a half, on average, which meant, from the time I was born until I graduated high school, we packed up our belongings and started a new life somewhere else no fewer than 11 times, and I attended three different high schools:
We learnt to love our country not from some inflated sense of worth, but rather from seeing it as others saw it:
This experience defined me as an adult, especially when I followed
in my father's footsteps and joined the military - in my case, the
Marine Corps - and lived a life defined by service overseas.
When, as millions of other Americans, I watched in horror as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were brought down, as smoke billowed from a hole in the side of the Pentagon, and a farmer's field was marred by the wreckage of a passenger jet, all because of the actions of terrorists bent on doing harm to my country, I was filled with outrage.
As I watched the American people come together in the aftermath of the attack, and the global community rally around us in sympathy, I was comforted by the thought that the terrorists had lost.
That, through their
actions, they had not defeated us, but made us stronger, both as a
nation and as part of the global community of nations. I have never
been so wrong about anything in my entire life.
In short, we were the only nation that mattered, and everyone had to conform to our direction.
We invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of exacting revenge more than seeking justice, and then followed up that action by invading and occupying Iraq - a nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with the events of 9/11.
Iraq was not supposed to be an isolated event, either, but, instead, the initiating action of a larger effort at regional transformation that saw the US trying to topple the governments of Syria, Iran, and other nations for the purpose of installing governments that we alone deemed acceptable, with no consideration whatsoever for those who lived in those countries, or for those we insisted join us on these misadventures.
As I reflect on the national hubris that wrought such death and destruction, I am struck by how badly Americans squandered the opportunity that had emerged from the ashes of 9/11.
The world had rallied around us in the aftermath of that horrible day, and we had a choice to,
We chose the latter...
Notably, underneath this
veneer of extreme self-confidence is a fragile ego vulnerable to the
The other symptoms roll off the tongue, readily recognized by anyone capable of self-reflection:
Maybe we were always this way, and it took 9/11 to bring these horrible traits to the surface.
But in reflecting on the past 20 years, I don't recognize the country we've become: a nation of narcissists who have allowed the malignancy of our condition to detrimentally impact the rest of the world.
But to do so, we need to
reflect on what we've become, recognize that this condition is not
acceptable, and be willing to undertake whatever remediation is
necessary to correct the underlying condition.
On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I fear the underlying symptoms of our national personality disorder are only worsening, with our malignancy infecting all we encounter.
This may not be the
legacy people think we deserve after the horrors of 9/11, but it is
the legacy we have earned through our actions.