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Principles or Profits?
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Saturday, September 11th, 2021
Dear Chris,

Twenty years on, I find myself back in New York city with my family. Then, my wife was eight months pregnant, my son two years old and we lived six blocks north of the World Trade Centre. From there I witnessed that horrific and surreal morning a morning that altered the trajectory of nations, institutions, and families like mine. Looking back the paths that led from that day all had consistent refrains; it is one of ‘profits over principles’, the exact opposite of what we teach our children.

The killers of that day were Saudi, like their leader in Afghanistan, but the Bush 42 war was in Iraq. How come?. What we saw and knew was countered by a constant government and media narrative and we, in the main, accepted it, wanting a return to regularity; casting aside ‘principle for our profit’.

This same dictum has been crystalised over the past year in three memorable snapshots of similar disbelief. The first is the image of the Chinese Bat Lady, who for a decade, altered corona viruses for research and created chimeras not found in nature. But when these viruses emerged from Wuhan, where she conducted research, we were told by our scientists, who had undisclosed links with her lab, that no…it was a Pangolin not her lab. Soon the Pangolin became the new Iraq. The actual culprit, China and those who funded the research, were quietly shuffled into the background. ‘Principles over Chinese profits’ prevailed.

The second image is of Obama, our 'Hope and Change' leader, the man who marketed himself as the One to bring back principles, shimmying on the dance floor on his 60th birthday. After eight years in office, he brought little change and we lost hope; and within a speedy four years of leaving office he became a multi-millionaire, once the preserve of petty dictators of little nations. The birthday sashay only cemented his legacy of ‘his profits dancing on our principles.’ A depressing outcome.

The final image is of Talib fighters dressed in US special forces kit, a kit that represents the global brand of the uniqueness of American power, so easily recognisable through Hollywood movies. After two trillion dollars and twenty years of armed presence, the consequence was thousands of dead, and Afghanistan has retained its global dominance in opium exports to the tune of $60bn+ a year. Go figure. Who are the beneficiaries and why is this never discussed? Who knows, but clearly profits were made and principles were sacrificed.

As the morning sun begins to cover the city, the police are everywhere, in cars, on foot, on motorcycles; rivers of blue. Crowds are congregating around fire stations, as multiple Presidents arrive to pay homage. The same Presidents that have demonstrated, via their actions, that they too have a clear penchant for ‘profits over principle’. Yet we will have to endure their solemn drama that is magnified by the press.

My plan is to retrace my steps of that day, trying to avoid the heavy presence of dignitaries. As for the next twenty years - who knows where I will be - but I can only hope that Principle will make a comeback over Profit. This outcome would be the true tribute to the event that was September 11th 2001.

See you in a few weeks.
Mustafa
 
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