Thoughts on September 11, 2001

Thoughts on September 11, 2001

Here are some thoughts on September 11, and some possible lessons that can be drawn from the atrocities committed that day in 2001.

First, let’s address the reasons why the 2 towers in lower Manhattan collapsed, greatly increasing the death toll.  The steel supporting the towers has a melting point well above 2,000 degrees Farenheit, but begins to lose strength above 1,000 degrees Farenheit.  The steel as it reaches such high temperature begins to lose its rigidity and its tensile strength (it begins to soften and very slowly begins to be pliable).  There was much talk that as jet fuel burns at around 1,500 or so degrees F, the towers could not have collapsed because of the fires from the jet fuel.  This incorrect view assumes that steel maintains all of its strength right up until it actually melts (liquifies).

One thing of importance to note is that the structural steel in the twin towers, constructed in the early 1970s, had been treated with asbestos on the lower floors.  Due to environmental and health “concerns”, this treating the structural steel with asbestos was stopped during construction and the upper floors were not thus protected by asbestos coatings from high temperature fires.  (Substitutes for asbestos were used on the upper floors, but there is much controversy as to their effectiveness in protecting the steel.)  Asbestos coatings protect the steel from high temperatures such that the steel does not begin to weaken at 1,000 degrees F, but maintains more of its strength for longer periods of time at high temperatures encountered during fires.  It may just be that had asbestos been used on the upper floors, where the fires raged, more time would have elapsed before a possible collapse occurred.  An extra hour or two before a collapse would have allowed many more people to have been evacuated and thus the loss of life would have been significantly reduced. 

Here are some links to good articles on this topic.  On asbestos and how it might have helped save lives.   A fireman’s take on the collapse of the towers and on construction of skyscrapers.  (Concrete is the best builidng material to resist fire.)

The asbestos that led to cancer and other serious health problems for the shipyard workers during World War II was “blue” asbestos, technically known as crocidolite.  The white asbestos (chrysotile) used in treating structural steel does not pose the same serious health threats that the shipyard workers were exposed to.  The process of encapsulation can prevent the asbestos fibres from getting into the air that officer workers are exposed to.  In fact, the health concerns surrounding white asbestos are greatly exaggerated and not supported by real world evidence.  (A good book from years ago that deals with many exaggerated claims by “environmentalists” is Environmental Overkill – Whatever Happened to Common Sense? by Dixy Lee Ray with Lou Guzzo (HarperPerennial, 1993, 1994).  Paperback, 260 pages.)

Some conspiracy type individuals have asserted that the towers were brought down by explosions (thermite) in the basements or ground floors of the buildings. This appears to me to be an easy assertion to refute.  A careful viewing of the film clips of the collapse of the towers (some are currently on YouTube) shows that the top floors are “pancaking” or cascading down on to the lower floors.  An implosion, or controlled demolition (of the ground level structural supports), is from the bottom of the building up, so to speak. The upper floors come down intact and shatter near ground level when they impact the rubble of the lower floors.  This is clearly seen in any film clip of an implosion of a vacant building.

Now, let’s see what we “know” (or think we know) about culpability for these atrocities of mass murder on 9/11/2001.  Osama Bin Laden, living in a cave in Afghanistan at the time(?), is often blamed for the terrorist attacks.  But, do we really know this for certain?  There has been so much misinformation and disinformation thrown at the public from all quarters, not the least from the US government, that about the only thing we can be certain of is that we cannot be certain of anything in this area of culpability.  If new “facts” are released to the public, can we believe them?  Can we trust a government that routinely keeps us in the dark (for our own good, of course!)?

Most of the aircraft hijackers had Saudi Arabian passports.  Were the attacks of September 11, 2001, the work of the Saudi intelligence agency?  Who can say for sure?  One thing is certain.  The US took out Saddam Hussein, a potential threat to Saudi Arabia, 18 months after the 9/11 attacks.

One thing that most Americans and most outside of Arabia do not know is that the Saudis  made a deal with the Wahhabis about one hundred years ago.  In return for their backing of the Saudi family claim to rule all of Arabia, the Wahhabis were given free reign in the area of religion.  The religious fanatics backed the Saudi family (the secular authorities), and the Saudi family backed the Wahhabis.  It is no secret that Saudi Arabia provides much funding to schools throughout the Muslim world where young students are taught (really indoctrinated and brainwashed) to hate all things Western.  Some “ally” of the United States!

There are some who see Israel’s Mossad as having a hand in the 9/11 attacks.  Again, how can we know one way or the other?

Now, for some geo-political lessons.  The US ought to deal harshly with those entities and organizations and nation states that attack its civilians and its military personnel.  The US has both a right and a responsibility to defend itself and its citizens.

Having said that, we think that America would be better served by disengaging from the Middle East.  This could be done rather easily if there was the will to do so.  The USA has ample energy reserves.  (Consider what is being done just in one small state, North Dakota, and only on state and private lands for increasing domestic energy production.)  We ought to tell the environmentalists (really eco-fanatics) to get out of the way.  Conservation and stewardship principles allow for responsible development of our energy resources (which are enormous!).  Let China, Japan, India and Europe buy Middle Eastern oil.

As well, the other reason why the USA is so heavily involved in the Middle East is Israel.  Yet, Israel is quite capable of defending itself.  Even before the revelations in the mid 1980s by Mordechai Vanunu (who had worked at the plant at Dimona in the Negev desert), it was widely known that Israel had atomic weapons.  And, Israel has the means to deliver those weapons to targets hundreds of miles away.  Israel’s conventional military forces are strong and well trained.  Those facts should be sufficient deterrent to aggressive neighbors.

A word of caution to those Christians who do not temper their religious fervor with reason.  Urging continued US involvement in the Middle East so as to play a role in the unfolding or fulfillment of prophecy (from The Book of Revelation – last book in the Bible) so as to hurry God in His timetable for bringing about the “Rapture” or the end of the world, is neither helpful to the people of the Middle East nor to the rest of the world, and must be offensive to God.

We have found out – very painfully – that nation building in that most unstable part of the world simply does not work.  The religious sectarian divisions and animosities, and the tribal hatreds just run too deep and go too far back in the history to be easily rooted out.  A realistic, even cursory, study of the history of the Middle East would have shown us this. Not everyone wants democracy.  And, truth be told, not everyone is up to the task of building a successful and stable democracy.  One last lesson or observation to consider is that Islam, or at the very least militant or fundamentalist Islam, is incompatible with democracy.  Islam is an authoritarian religion.  More so than any other major religion.


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