Post-9/11 America

For those of you who did, what was it like growing up in that atmosphere?

I hated it. Hated the sudden, seemingly-unquestioned shift towards authoritarianism...hated how seemingly everything else went to shit...


  • edited 2018-09-16 06:38:25

    For me, it was like discovering our world's "Day of Lavos" video.  It was a "loss of innocence" moment combined with a revelation of a bigger picture.

    For those who don't get the reference, it's something from Chrono Trigger, an SNES game where you spend the beginning getting into trouble with a time travel device and accidentally getting yourselves involved in some conflicts between rival kingdoms.  But soon, you find yourself accidentally traveling to the far future, and discovering that something much greater than any petty conflict has destroyed your world, leaving it in shattered ruins and leaving what survivors there are with little hope.  And the rest of your story is trying to find ways to prevent that from happening.

    My political involvement up 'til then was mainly being angry that Gore was denied a proper recount in Florida.  So I'd seen some conflicts, both in the high school social scene and in the "professional" political realm of the country.  But 9/11 was a gamechanger.  It basically revealed to me that there's a much, much bigger plotline going on, of a scale far, far beyond the petty day-to-day conflicts that I had yet seen.

    I was skeptical of stuff like the PATRIOT Act.  (I also disliked Bush for other reasons, such as pulling the US out of the Kyoto Protocol.)  I supported military action in Afghanistan in 2001, but I then strongly opposed military action in Iraq in 2003 (though I do not at all pretend that the former had no downsides nor the latter no upsides).  I did briefly become interested in foreign policy, even taking a class on it, but my own political opinions/activity has gradually shifted toward domestic issues rather than foreign relations (as I find domestic issues more directly salient with regards to the effects of policymaking on voters, and foreign relations have proven far, far harder to speak airtightly about them).
  • I've learned to tolerate drama...except on the boat
    I think a lot of Americans simply don't grasp foreign policy... it's hard for me to get a handle on!

    I was always against the war in Iraq, even if Hussein was a horrible man...the war in Iraq did give us ISIS, didn't it?
  • edited 2018-09-17 05:10:42

    I don't think it's just that Americans don't grasp foreign policy; it's that foreign policy itself is very difficult to grasp.

    The best way I've found for interpreting it is to understand a few principles:

    * There is no single cause, for most things.  There may be an obvious "trigger" or "catalyst", but there are a huge number of possibly relevant causes for many things.  And these causes can change.

    * There is, often, no single motive for many things.  This means that any single action can have motives that one deems "good" and motives that one deems "bad", at the same time.  This doesn't mean you can't make decisions at all either -- you have to decide what things are more important, if you're a policymaker.  And you'll get flak from somebody no matter what you do, but you still have to do it.

    * Unintended consequences are a frequent result of broad-scale policy decisions, and foreign relations abound with such examples.  For example, 2001 US military action in Afghanistan did bring down the Taliban and Al Qaeda...but it's left the US participating in a long-term military commitment with no end in sight.  On the other hand, 2003 US military action in Iraq was a waste of treasure and lives for the sake of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, but deposing Saddam Hussein likely stemmed the ecological damage to the wetlands between the Tigris and Euphrates and the genocide of the Marsh Arabs.

    * It's almost never simply a "zero sum game" where there's only a fixed amount of advantage/benefit to go around.  The parameters of the problem can frequently be changed.
  • edited 2018-09-19 02:06:59

    I remember 9-11 clear as day, but I on the remember much of anything of an aftermath. The next day, I went to school and learned about the olympics, and that was the event of the decade, a once-in-a-lifetime world event to blow my little Utahn mind.

    Mostly what I remember people talking about after 9-11 is the anticipation for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. At the time, I thought that the twin towers thing was a demolition or an accident or a sad and scary movie that makes adults upset (like Schindler's list) and I didn't realize how much of the anticipation was connected to the fear that the games would be attacked, and how much of the hype was the adults reassuring themselves that things like the Olympics were still happening and needing something else to focus on.

    Something big had happened that was beyond my ability to comprehend, and I knew it was beyond my understanding and that it was something sad and terrible. I'd never been anywhere with skyscrapers, and I'd only seen planes as part of the sky, not as a physical thing I could ever touch or interact with. But the Olympics, I could (and did) see in person.

    The whole "flags in every yard" thing just reminded me of Veterans day and the thing the boy scouts do where they put flags everywhere, and we were already saying the pledge of allegiance every day in school.

    Also, my little sister was born in December 2001, so my recollections of that time are more about her than anythhing else.

    Heck, I felt more of an aftermath from the Challenger disaster, because my uncle worked at ATK-thiokol and my cousin said his job was in trouble, and I was terrified that my cousins would have to move away from the house next door.

    I guess, what I'm saying is, I was a selfish little provincial brat who only noticed local stuff.

    Were the 2002 SLC games a huge cultural thing outside of Utah?
  • Aliroz said:

    We're the 2002 SLC games a huge cultural thing outside of Utah?

    They were, to the extent that Olympic Games generally are, I think.  I mean, it's a once-every-two-years sporting event (once-every-four-years if you mean specifically the winter games), and it's basically the highest-level tournament in a number of sports.  I remember a number of names from the winter games (e.g. Mario Reiter, Picabo Street, Michelle Kwan), though I'm not sure that they necessarily competed at SLC as opposed to me remembering them from a different winter games.

    IIRC the SLC Olympics became a big thing again on the national stage during the 2012 campaign wherein Mitt Romney touted that as an example of his success at managing something big.
  • The moonlight is the message of love.
    I had this weird naive belief that things would eventually "go back to normal". Sure, this massive security clampdown after the attack was an expected response, but once people see how unreasonable it all really is, we'll go back to the way things were before, right?

    One of the most disillusioning moments of what I guess would technically qualify as my young adult years was when I realized that even the "good" politicians had no desire to undo the post-9/11 government power grab. Obama was elected in 2008—and I voted for him—but he and his administration never even considered things like dissolving the Department of Homeland Security, or stripping back airport security to reasonable levels.
  • I think I just sorta grew to accept that security actually had been pretty lax and had gotten somewhat more reasonably secure after that, and I can see why the police would be more antsy about letting people leave their cars curbside at the airport because of crowding, even though I did also feel it kinda sucked not being able to see parents/children up until the moment they went on board a plane.
  • Always weird to be reminded that I'm closer in age to GMH than others. But very similar response re: Bush v. Gore, did not support any military retaliation, but when you are freshly thirteen not many people listen unless they already know you.
    I remember the day that Bush was re-elected, one of my other ROTC friends was in the history class with me in the row next to mine, and the teacher had turned on coverage because he heard they were going to call the election soon, and when they did, friend and I turned to each other and said "our friends are going to die"
    so for me, living in a town with a reserve base it was lots of increased recruiting efforts, checking in on friends who were going in, on friends whose loved ones were enlisting or reserves getting activated. So there was a lot of pent up nervous energy and lots of patriotism tied up in "i support the troops but i do not support the war" because not supporting the troops in a base town? oof.

    similarly disappointed by lack of rolling back of surveillance methods, and the whole air of not taking culpability for our role in creating instability in the first place etc. so lots of "if you want this problem fixed, your local community will have to show it cares" came from high school protests of the war and such.
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