Paul Theroux on 9/11

The writer and travel-author Paul Theroux writing about 9/11 ten years on (h/t to Adam Waterman):

I search in vain for something positive in the aftermath of 9/11. The Iraq adventure has been disastrous, Afghanistan is unwinnable, pacification is further off than ever, and we seem to be bankrupting ourselves. We are mocked by our own statistics. According to a Pentagon report a few months ago, the US military spends more than $20 million annually on air conditioning for its personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

t is humbling to realise how ineffectual we have been, and to see how little we have learned in the past 10 years. Humility is not a trait that anyone ever associated with this country, and no American ever thought of our government as beleaguered and broke. I think we are humbler, a good thing, but I also think humbled folk can represent a great opportunity for a demagogue. Living through this past decade has not been pleasant, but for those who cared to look for the meaning of events, it’s been an education. No silver lining, but there is something grimly bracing in the reality of it all, in our being able to say with Shakespeare’s Leontes, “I have drunk, and seen the spider.”


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