Or what about celebrating the 12th anniversary of Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force, the joint resolution that a panicked and cowed body passed on September 14, 2001? It wasn’t a declaration of war — there was no one to declare war on — but an open-ended grant to the president of the unfettered power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” in what would become a never-ending (and still expanding) “Global War on Terror.”
Or how about the 11th anniversary on January 11th — like so many such moments, it passed unnoted — of the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, that jewel in the crown of George W. Bush’s offshore Bermuda Triangle of injustice, with its indefinite detention of the innocent and the guilty without charges, its hunger strikes, and abuses, and above all its remarkable ability to embed itself in our world and never go away? Given that, on much of the rest of the planet, Guantanamo is now an icon of the post-9/11 American way of life, on a par with Mickey Mouse and the Golden Arches, shouldn’t its anniversary be noted?
Or to look ahead, consider a date of genuine consequence: the CIA’s first known assassination by drone, which took place in Yemen in 2002. This November will be the 11th anniversary of that momentous act, which would embed “targeted killing” deep in the American way of war, and transform the president into an assassin-in-chief. It, too, will undoubtedly pass largely unnoticed, even if the global drone assassination campaigns it initiated may never rest in peace.
And then, of course, there are the little anniversaries from hell that Americans could care less about — those that have to do with slaughter abroad. If you wanted to, you could organize these by the military services. As last year ended, for instance, no one marked the 11th anniversary of the first Afghan wedding party to be wiped out by the U.S. Air Force. (In late December 2001, a B-52 and two B-1B bombers, using precision-guided weapons, eradicated a village of celebrants in eastern Afghanistan; only two of 112 villagers reportedly survived.) Nor in May will anyone here mark the ninth anniversary of an American air strike that took out wedding celebrants in the western Iraqi desert near the Syrian border, killing more than 40 of them.
Nor, this July 12th, to switch to the U.S. Army, should we forget the sixth anniversary of the infamous Apache helicopter attacks on civilians in the streets of Baghdad in which at least 11 adults were killed and two children wounded? All of this was preserved in a military video kept secret until released by WikiLeaks. Or how about the first anniversary of the “Kandahar massacre,” which passed on March 11th without any notice at all? As you undoubtedly remember, Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales allegedly spent that night in 2012 slaughtering 16 civilians, including nine children, in two Afghan villages and, on being taken into custody, “showed no remorse.”
When it comes to the Marines, here’s a question: Who, this November 19th, will mark the eighth anniversary of the slaughter of 24 unarmed civilians, including children and the elderly, in the Iraqi village of Haditha for which, after a six-year investigation and military trials, not a single Marine spent a single day in prison? Or to focus for a moment on U.S. Special Forces: will anyone on August 21st memorialize the 90 or so civilians, including perhaps 15 women and up to 60 children, killed in the Afghan village of Azizabad while attending a memorial service for a tribal leader who had reportedly been anti-Taliban?
And not to leave out the rent-a-gun mercenaries who have been such a fixture of the post-9/11 era of American warfare, this September 16th will be the sixth anniversary of the moment when Blackwater guards for a convoy of U.S. State Department vehicles sprayed Baghdad’s Nisour Square with bullets, evidently without provocation, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounding many more.