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As the world appproaches the solemn occasion of the 20th anniversary of the most horrible 9/11 attack, it feels weighed down also with the recent reality of the Taliban , still maintaining its links with Al-Queda, being back in the seat of power in Kabul. Questions relating to the when, where and why of the war against terror going wrong are being asked every day. We also need to face a deeper and wider question—how did the world’s most celebrated democracy lose its way?

The USA emerged from the second world war , despite its avoidable first and second use of a nuclear weapon, being regarded as a savior by countless people . In addition it now had the additional strength of the US dollar as worldwide accepted currency. All that the USA democracy  had to do was to maintain a clean record and show a firm commitment to peace and justice. This would by itself have ensured its success and durable respect by people worldwide, enabling it to emerge as a clear winner against all forms of authoritarianism, a victory rooted in people’s support.

But the USA instead resorted to ill-justified invasions and created all sorts of problems for several governments following the interests of their people, sometimes even toppled them, unleashing violence and disruption. At the same time its various regimes pursued and promoted big business interests in highly unethical ways, harming people in many parts of the world including the USA internally. This required cover-ups, truth started getting pushed back by falsehoods and half-truths. Democracy suffered heavily in the country which was supposed to be the savior of democracy.

As world history has repeadly shown, those who seek to conquer others by force inevitably end up harming themselves in more serious ways than they realize. So it was with the USA. Cover-ups damaged democracy within the USA grievously, while the close big-business orientation of policy damaged in many ways the nutrition, health, livelihoods, social ties and education of people, particularly children. Policy and politics got to be increasingly controlled and driven by big business interests, needing more cover-ups and lies, a vicious cycle.

To discover its greatness and  significant role in resolving the problems of a very troubled world ( it is still possible), the USA must learn to face truth and emerge as a truly great democracy, discarding cover-ups. And herein lies the possibility of making a big start in this direction on and around the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The troubling cover-ups relating to 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror should be discarded , serious mistakes must be admitted , in the process announcing the arrival of a great democracy that is truly capable of self-correction.

Even if we confine ourselves only to the narrative of accounts published officially and/or by those who held official positions at the time of 9/11, there are many troubling aspects that still need proper explanation even after 20 long years. CIA chief George Tenet  himself stated that the system was blinking red for weeks or even months before 9/11. On August 6 President Bush got a briefing stating Al Queda attack is very likely and mentioned hijacking related attack more specifically. Bush called the warning historic but in the remaining  35 days leading to 9/11  called no top-level meeting on this issue, as admitted by the 9/11 official commission.  .

Then after 9/11 we see the terrible hurry visible right from September 12 onwards to somehow find some reason for attacking Iraq by linking Saddam to 9/11 (when no such link existed), and despite repeated requests ground level commanders at Tora Bora fighting with just 100 troops were denied additional troops , allowing Bin Laden and close companions to escape to Pakistan in mid-December.

The list of those aspects of 9/11 which have not been explained in a satisfactory and credible way yet is a very long one, and many deeply troubling questions need to be sorted out. Explaining all this truthfully is not just a commitment to the near and dear ones of those innocent persons who had to die in very painful ways in the 9/11 attack. It should also be seen as the beginning of the redemption of US democracy.

Let there be no doubt about it—the USA has been losing out only because it has neglected its biggest strength—true democracy. It is by only by winning internal and worldwide trust and respect for its democracy, for its real potential strength, that the USA can aspire to a benevolent, respected leadership role in our deeply troubled world.

Many family members, near and dear one of victims of 9/11, have been pleading for a long time for a more truthful and credible understanding and explanation of the terrible events of September 11 2001 and as we remember these innocent victims on the 20th anniversary of this terrible tragedy hopefully a new beginning can also be made towards a truthful and credible explanation of the events of 9/11.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author, is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children and Man Over Machine.


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