You could hardly have been alive in America last weekend and not noticed that Sunday was the 10th anniversary of the horrible Sept. 11 attacks, and the remembrances caused me to ponder the effect that day had on us in the horse world. What have we had to sacrifice' How have our lives and the sports we pursue changed as a result of the attack that, 10 years ago, I called our generations? Pearl Harbor' Time magazine chose a refreshing point of view for their special commemorative issue, which they call ?Beyond 9/11.? Instead of an extensive photographic and written review of the day?s attacks, they focused on the impact on survivors of the attacks, on government leaders, on soldiers who?d fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, ad on citizens of those two countries. The final page contains a thought-provoking essay by novelist and playwright Kurt Andersen. His conclusion is that the impact on our lives has been ?not so much. It was a jolt that altered the course of American history spectacularly, but it has not, for better and worse, transformed the American people. Terror, we discovered, has a half-life.? Sure, getting on airplanes and entering many buildings has become time-consuming and often highly annoying, and for the first five or six years most of us were looking over our shoulders, at least part of the time. Otherwise, unless we're related to or close to a victim or survivor of the attacks, or to a soldier who's fought since then, the attack?s effects have been tangibly minor. Andersen argues persuasively that the real effect has been in the opportunity that we missed as a nation. Andersen writes: ?There was one large way in which America and Americans should?ve and could?ve changed but did not. That would have required President Bush to announce an urgent national project for the post-9/11 age: Because our dependence on oil is ultimately what sustains the jihadist pathology, he could have said, we must start reducing that dependence as quickly as possible. In the emergency can-do window of 2001 and 2002, he could have rallied Congress and the public to support a serious, sensible, radical new energy policy, including significant new taxes on petroleum.? But, unfortunately, that's not at all what happened. I remember a comedian joking then that Bush?s energy policy read like the Exxon or Chevron annual report. Consequently, the price of gas and diesel has climbed from $1.50 per gallon in 2001 to more than $4.00 a gallon?so tHere's one way Sept. 11 has affected us horse people. Time?s issue also contains an interview with Valerie Plame Wilson, whose cover as a CIA covert operations officer was exposed by a syndicated conservative columnist in late 2003, after her husband wrote an article showing that Iraq didn't have any weapons of mass destruction, the justification Bush had used for invading the country in March 2003. Says Wilson: ?The intelligence was manipulated, and the American people were sold a war that maybe wasn?t in our best interest. I don't think history will judge those decisions well, because we're almost eight, nine years into two wars, and the amount of blood and treasure that has been spent by this country?not to mention the civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan?is incomparable. I'm afraid it is a legacy that will endure for generations.? The extension of what Andersen and Wilson are saying is that the economic decline We've suffered for the last three years is, largely, a result of the Bush Administration?s misdirected response to Al-Qaeda?s attacks on us. What if instead of invading Iraq?a country that time has shown had almost nothing to do with the attacks?and Afghanistan?the country that harbored Osama bin Laden and will forever by mired in the dark ages?President Bush had led us down a path toward fixing the problem instead of just seeking revenge' Would we have experienced the unsustainable real estate boom that went so tragically bust' That boom was initially caused by big investors searching for something real to put their money in (because they were anxious about he war?s effects on the stock market) and then was twisted about by creative swindlers. If not for the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, would those investors, instead, have invested in renewable energy technologies, creating a new energy infrastructure that would now be driving a truly green economy' And think of what we could have used the trillions of dollars (and lives) We've spent on those wars to do! Sept. 11, 2001, was a moment that could have given us the impetus to make pivotal, long-lasting changes for the better, changes for all of us. Instead, We've had a decade of anxiety, annoyance and very real pain?pain that clearly isn?t likely to ease any time soon. Had those human and financial resources not been at war, would we be now cruising along on an economy that, while it may no have risen as high as it did in 2005, didn't crash so precipitously in 2008' that's probably the way that Sept. 11 has affected us in the horse world, just as it has everyone else.
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