As a mark of respect, I didn’t post on September 11th.

I did this mostly because I didn’t have anything positive to say. I would love to report that from an outsider’s perspective America has rebuilt and reflected since that awful day, and just look at her now!

But that never happened.

The terrorists are stronger than ever, rejoicing at their defeat of the West. It’s only a matter of time before they press the advantage, and trigger the Next War. Maybe a dirty bomb at a crowded Delta-superspreader baseball match. More Wikipedia entries in the ‘mass casualties’ list.

On September 11 2001, I was working nightshift. I walked into the common room where a bunch of guys were clustered around a roof-mounted monitor, staring in silent disbelief. Nobody was talking. I watched footage of aircraft flying into the World Trade Center, over and over again.

I knew the US would demand retribution of biblical proportions.

Twenty years and $20 billion later, the death of 2977 civillians has been avenged by the deaths of over 7000 US service members, 8000 contractors, 177,000 uniformed Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi and Syrian allies, and the suicide of at least 30,177 US veterans of the post-9/11 war.

For every American killed on 9/11, another 75 Americans or friendlies died.

But, totally worth it, right?

On 12 October 2002, the Islamist terror group Jemaah Islamiyah detonated a carbomb and backpack bomb in Kuta, Bali, and another outside the US embassy in Denpasaar. In total, they killed 88 Australians. It was all the excuses we needed, and within months we were murdering unarmed Afghanis for fun.

Islam became the enemy.

We played the computer games. We watched the movies. They took over from the Russians as the enemy of the free world. We fought them in theatres across the planet, battles small and large, but for all our superiority over these tribesmen, we lost.

It’s why they call Afghanistan “the graveyard of empires”. Maybe China will have better luck, or, as one geopolitical expert has predicted, “Because the Chinese are more vicious, yes, I think they’ll have a better chance of achieving their goals than [the US]. But having a better chance doesn’t mean they’ll succeed. I think they will just take longer to fail.

Biden was right to pull out of Afghanistan. But that doesn’t mean the War on Terror is over. It’s just entering the next phase. We have commemorated one day on the Western calendar for twenty years. How soon before we add another day?

War never changes. And we all know what comes next, because we played the game.

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