What have we learned?
To the editor,
Now that the 10th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 have passed, my question is this: What have we learned?
On Sept. 11, 2001, a handful of terrorists acting under the guise of “religious” men were able to highjack four planes and cause the destruction of those four planes, two buildings, one partial building and most importantly 2,997 lives. Studies suggest that it took less than $400,000 in combined planning and preparation to pull this off.
According to a study by the Brown University Watson Institute for International Studies, the cost of our justified retaliation is as follows:
4,404 Americans troops have died and 31,827 injuries have been reported in the three battle theaters.
Over 224,000 combatant and civilian lives have been lost in those battles, including 1,315 civilian contractor deaths, many of those also Americans.
The total cost of all related military, contractor, reconstruction and ancillary payments now stands at $3,700,000,000,000. That is $3.7 trillion.
So, what have we learned from this experience? It is hard to believe that we would have signed on for all of this if on Sept. 12, 2001 if a report was released saying that we would expend that many lives, that many resources and that much money to find and kill those few people who planned and executed the attacks on 9/11. But that is what we did.
Hindsight is 20/20 and nobody can predict the future cost of current conflicts. However, we do know this: When we choose to go to war, our projections of future costs are a fraction of actual costs. Our prediction of lives lost is a fraction of actual lives lost. And, our vision of the end result is never the picture we had in mind.
If we are to truly honor the 2,997 victims lost, the 4,404 soldiers killed, the 31,827 men and women wounded and the 300 million Americans who spent $3.7 trillion and their potential fiscal future to fund our response, we should learn from this and do better going forward. We are a great, brave, intelligent and creative people. Terrorism by small groups is the “new normal” and I know that we can find a better way to protect, prepare and react going forward.
I am an American, I know that anything is possible!