OPINION: Trump’s going to lead us to another 9/11

Sideways American flag with the silhouettes of missiles emerging from red stripes
Graphic by Anaga Srinivas

It’s been nearly a week since the 18th anniversary of 9/11 and I can’t shake the eerie, doomed feeling that history might be repeating itself. The frequently forgotten lead-up to 9/11 was fraught with American exceptionalism, the same American exceptionalism we see our administration emitting today. 

American exceptionalism, a term coined by Joseph Stalin and the American Communist Party in the 1920s, is made up of three essential ideas, according to The Week. The first is that our nation’s history is inherently different, unique and therefore better than all other nations. The second is that the U.S. has an altruistic (in actuality, not altruistic at all) mission to improve the world. The third is that because of our county’s mission and history, we are superior to other nations.

Here’s an example: In 1990, shortly after Saddam Hussein forcefully occupied Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush signed off on Operation Desert Storm, part of the Persian Gulf War. Desert Storm killed 10,000 Iraqi soldiers and 2,300 civilians, and also resulted in 219 U.S. army casualties, according to news reports.

This is a sad example of America inserting itself, thinking we’re going to magically solve all international conflicts, and in reality, murdering thousands of innocent people. 

You don’t have to be a genius to understand that having a president who so carelessly threatens people, and even worse, carelessly bombs people, is putting our entire nation in danger. If history repeats itself, innocent U.S. civilians are going to pay the price.

This isn’t to say America had no place in the Gulf War. Natural crude oil seems to be what makes the world go round, and as the largest consumer of that oil, we are in the middle of any conflict surrounding the collection of crude oil, according to the Department of Energy. The shocking and appalling part of America’s involvement in the Gulf War is that we killed thousands of Middle Easterners, as reported by PBS/FRONTLINE, as if their lives were less important than ours.

The anger and hate aimed at America after the Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm was not random. I will never claim that what Osama bin Laden did is justifiable, or that the loss of 2,977 innocent lives, according to CNN, during the World Trade Center’s attack makes sense. I will, however, say that our current administration is putting our country in danger of another massive terrorist attack. 

President Donald Trump is practicing the same American exceptionalism that George H.W. Bush used to justify Operation Desert Storm in the ongoing Syrian conflict. 

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As Trump continues to insert U.S. forces (and missiles) into the Middle East in ways that mirror Bush’s behavior during the Persian Gulf War, it is entirely possible that someone is going to get very angry and retaliate.

In just one Trump U.S. military-led campaign against ISIS, we killed 2,600 civilians, according to NPR’s Ruth Sherlock and Lama Al-Arian. In addition, this president uses violent rhetoric and threatens Iraq almost weekly. While campaigning for office, he vowed to “bomb the shit out of” countries in the Middle East.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand that having a president who so carelessly threatens people, and even worse, carelessly bombs people, is putting our entire nation in danger. If history repeats itself, innocent U.S. civilians are going to pay the price. 

The proposed national security budget for 2020, released by the Department of Defense in March of this year, is $750 billion. The largest portion of the budget, $57.7 billion, has been dedicated to air domination. In other words, the bombs and missiles this president carelessly deploys.

Of course, this does not lie solely in the hands of Republicans, a fact all too often overlooked. An article on Politico clearly outlines all of the 2020 presidential candidates standings on military spending. Of the 12 Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 still running as of Sept. 18 that have declared a position on military spending, half of them want to increase the budget. (All the female candidates want to slash it, but that’s for another article).

This notion that all our presidents seem to praise, that physically destroying nations will somehow resolve their conflict, is the grimmest oxymoron I’ve ever heard. 

America is not the best and that’s clear now more than ever. We can’t continue to treat other countries like they are less than we are. It’s the classic middle school bully scenario. Someone bullies the wimp day after day for years. Then one day the so-called wimp comes back, bigger, stronger and with a hijacked plane full of terrorists.

We owe it to the thousands of people whose lives were turned irreversibly upside down by 9/11 to demand more from our administration. Demand that we treat humans like humans and help instead of hurt. Demand that we feel safe in our own country. 

We must demand that history never repeats itself. We need to honor the lives of those lost in 9/11 through change and progress, because in all honesty, thoughts and prayers once a year just aren’t serving their memories justice.

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Georgia Scott PZ ’23 is from Marin County, California. She loves the color yellow, her dog Diego, classic rock, “This American Life” and movies.

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