By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation is one of those books, as comic book icon Stan Lee suggests on the back cover, which will likely be a source for future generations of high school kids to learn about the attacks, and it's certainly an honorable, nonpartisan addition to the growing body of stuff that's out there for adults, as well. What struck me most about the narrative, though—and this has nothing to do with the book being a graphic adaptation—was the repeated appearance of the Law of Unintended Consequences in this still unfolding, seemingly undying story. Examples are plentiful. When the U.S. supported "Afghan rebels" with secret billions of dollars of military aid against the Soviet invaders during the 1980s, we didn't intend for those rebels to morph into a Taliban so emboldened by victory over one superpower that they then turned around to try to defeat the other one, us. When Republicans impeached Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky thing, they didn't intend for the President to get so distracted (did they even care?) that he couldn't concentrate on the threat from Bin Laden. And of course there's the fact that the invasion of Iraq has become the best recruiting tool the terrorists ever dreamed of.
The mess that has followed 9/11—the disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq and the plummeting of America's moral leadership in the world—is a fateful combination of errant ambitions, gross stupidity and the unforeseeable cunning of history. Before the next war starts—North Korea, Iran, wherever—it helps to keep in mind that many wars don't ever really end: they live on, especially in the hearts and minds of fanatics who bide their time until history opens a space where they can return to curse the future in exponentially dangerous ways.
THE 9/11 REPORT: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION BY SID JACOBSON AND ERNIE COLON; HILL AND WANG. PAPERBACK, 144 PAGES, $16.95.