The Terrorists Won, and That’s the Tragedy of 9-11

by JDH on September 10, 2011

Every media outlet is offering their commentary on the meaning of the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, gives the New Yorker’s perspective that we will never get over it. I assume she is correct; living through the needless deaths of thousands of innocent people, and the destruction of two iconic buildings, would leave an indelible impression on anyone.

My perspective, however, as a Canadian, far removed from the epicenter of the attacks, is somewhat different.

I have a great deal of sympathy for the those who are left behind, without fathers, mothers, spouses, friends and family. The human tragedy was enormous. War was declared on innocent civilians without the formal declaration of war. There was no way to prepare. The attack came and ended before there was any chance to respond or defend ourselves.

That’s a tragedy.

But to me, the far greater tragedy is the sad reality that, in fact, the terrorists won.

The terrorists brought America, and to a large extent the entire “civilized” world, to it’s knees.

Now, in order for me to fly to Florida for a vacation, I’m required to arrive at the airport two hours early. I’m questioned at customs. My body and baggage are X-Rayed. I have to take my shoes off, because my shoes might be a bomb.

The terrorists have us running scared, which is exactly what they wanted.

No-one has ever blown up a plane with their shoes, but Big Brother (or Big Sis) has decided that we should all remove our shoes before getting on a plane. It does no good, but it is a stark and visual reminder to us all that the terrorists won.

They must be laughing at us as businessmen, children and grandmothers take off their shoes.

But it’s not all a laughing matter.

9-11 has allowed the U.S. to create a new multi-billion dollar industry, called “Homeland Security”. Moderately educated pretend cops now get to decide on where you can go, and when.

A 64 year old Canadian woman was denied entry into the U.S. because four years ago she attempted suicide, and presumably that’s a security risk to the mighty United States of America.

How in the world do U.S. customs agents know that police were called to her home four years ago? They obviously have a very extensive database on everyone; not just American citizens, but obviously Canadians as well.

That’s scary to me, but I’m sure it’s hilarious to the terrorists.

I’m sure that the terrorists are amused that New York is spending billions on security, including having their own navy to patrol their shores.

And of course, on cue, we find out that there is a “credible” threat this weekend. We don’t know much about this threat, but it will be the perfect excuse to have more police, more checkpoints, more cameras, more security.

We can’t just go about our lives; our lives have changed.

We now live in a police state. And if the police are called to your home, four years later your name will be on a list somewhere, and you won’t be able to fly to Los Angeles. That’s how it works, because the terrorists won.

On September 10, 2001, the Dow closed at 9,605. The Dow today, 10 years later, stands just below 11,000, at 10,992. That’s a 14% gain in 10 years, or less than 1.5% per year. Unfortunately the government approved inflation rate over the last ten years is almost 28%, so in real terms the stock market is much lower today than it was ten years ago.


Perhaps it’s because the government has spent over $3 trillion on the war in Iraq, most of it using borrowed money. Of course the over 5,000 lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan is a much greater tragedy. Unfortunately you can’t take $3 trillion out of the economy and expect it to have no impact.

Had we not had these wars, perhaps there would be no deficit.

(Of course many will argue that the recession would have started in 2001 if the terrorist attacks had not revived the economy by creating a new multi-billion dollar industry, but that’s another discussion).

The terrorists won, and we are now paying the price.

So what should we do?

We should stop the airport security show, and bring in meaningful security measures.

We should stop fighting wars on foreign soil. Is America more secure today because Saddam and Osama are dead? It would appear not.

And finally we should reduce the size of government, and allow citizens to create jobs and move the economy forward.

Sadly, based on my read of President Obama’s job creation speech this week, I can only surmise that we are in for more government spending, more security, and more government intrusion on our lives.

The inevitable result will be the continued weakening of the U.S. economy, and the U.S. dollar.

So, sadly, I will continue to hold gold, and hope for the best.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

RCH September 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I always enjoy your commentary – please keep up the good work. But I must says tsk tsk to day. There have been 100s of thousands of lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the overwhelming majority of those losses are tragic.