For those who lived through them, it can be hard to believe that the 9/11 attacks were 20 years ago. For those who weren’t around yet, or were very young, they’ve never known a world that wasn’t shaped by that mass murder — and the U.S. response to it.

Earlier this year, I wrote about my own adolescent experience of the 9/11 attacks, and my bewilderment at the militarized response that turned out to be generation-defining. Last month, I wrote about the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan that’s finally come to and end. And last week, Farrah Hassen wrote about one of the war on terror’s darkest symbols: the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

This week, we take a long view of the last 20 years.

Lindsay Koshgarian shares some truly stunning research on the costs of two decades of war — in lives, dollars, and missed opportunities. She shows how spending $21 trillion on militarization over the last 20 years not only failed on its own terms, as the collapse of Afghanistan’s government shows, but left the American people more exposed to bigger threats than terrorism — including climate change, a horrible pandemic, and an unequal economy. But she also shows how much less it would cost to make the investments we truly need.

Mitchell Zimmerman, meanwhile, takes inspiration from both the 9/11 memorial in New York and a small Holocaust memorial in Germany to offer another worthwhile idea: a monument to the innocent people who’ve lost their lives in two decades of post-9/11 wars.

Also this week, Martha Burk and Khalil Bendib comment on the Supreme Court’s disturbing OK of the extreme anti-abortion law in Texas. And Jim Hightower says we need to protect workers from the heat.

New This Week…

9/11 at 20: Two Decades of Missed Opportunities | Lindsay Koshgarian
For just a fraction of what we’ve spent on militarization these last 20 years, we could start to make life much better.

A Chill Wind: Texas Unleashes Bounty Hunters on Women | Martha Burk
For now, the Supreme Court has allowed Texas to sic bounty hunters on women seeking constitutionally protected abortions.

The Victims of Our Post-9/11 Wars Deserve Remembrance, Too | Mitchell Zimmerman
Countless innocents died in the 20 years of war our country launched in the name of our 9/11 dead.

Protect Workers from This Heat | Jim Hightower
As temperatures rise, we need to stop corporate lobbyists from blocking common sense rules to keep workers safe.

Aborted Justice | Khalil Bendib
The Trump-packed Supreme Court has all but ended a constitutional right.

In Case You Missed It…

The Day I Became Anti-War | Peter Certo
A personal recollection on the day that launched the Iraq War — and its lessons for us 18 years later.

Tax the ‘Trillion-Dollar Seven’ | Bob Lord
Democrats want to spend $3.5 trillion on jobs and infrastructure. A third of that could be covered by just seven billionaires.

Now Close Gitmo, Too | Farrah Hassen
Biden is right to end the forever war in Afghanistan. Now he needs to close the forever prison that it built.

Everyone Deserves Clean Air and Water — No Matter Their Zip Code | Justin J. Pearson
The right to clean air and water should have nothing to do with luck.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of

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