Let the Sunshine In: A 9/11 Conflict Analysis


Marilyn Langlois, TRANSCEND Convener for USA-West Coast – TRANSCEND Media Service

Ten years ago, on September 11, 2001, shortly before 6:00am the bedside telephone rang.  It was my daughter, a New York University student living close to the World Trade Center.  “There’s a fire in one of the twin towers, we can see it from our window.  We don’t know if it was a bomb or a small plane hit it.”  That was the last I heard from her until late afternoon.  On TV I watched each tower descend at free fall speed amid mushrooming clouds of pulverized concrete, gripped with anxiety about her safety.  She later said she heard boom! boom! boom! like a series of explosions when the towers came down. Her building shook, the power went out and she joined others fleeing uptown through the dust and smoke.  I’m grateful she survived, yet I remain troubled that after ten years the true perpetrators of this unspeakable crime have not yet been prosecuted and we are still far from recognizing and solving the underlying conflict.

Beyond my personal interest as a mother whose daughter’s life was endangered on that day, as a member of the TRANSCEND network of peaceful conflict transformation[i] I approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with a conflict analysis that seeks a deeper understanding and sustainable solutions.[ii] Johan Galtung, founder of the TRANSCEND network, has defined violence as “an avoidable insult to basic human needs”, and asserts that behind every act of violence there is an unresolved conflict.  Violence can take the shape of murder and destruction, and also the less sensational but pervasive forms of grinding poverty and despair.  It can be prevented by correctly identifying the underlying conflict and transforming it in a way that meets everyone’s basic needs.

In order to begin analyzing the conflict, we need to first recognize who actually perpetrated the crimes.   George W. Bush and much of the corporate media have claimed that the conflict behind 9/11 is between freedom-loving Americans and radical Muslims who hate Americans because they have freedom.   Still others see it as part of a clash of civilizations between the Muslim world and the West, viewing 9/11 as a public execution by radical Muslims of three buildings symbolizing US military and economic domination.  The problem with both of these analyses is that they assume radical Muslims were responsible for the crimes of 9/11, when there is little if any solid evidence to support this assertion.

Although there has not yet been a complete and thorough investigation of the events surrounding 9/11, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that 9/11 was an act of state-sponsored terrorism facilitated by elites within the US military-industrial complex.    US Air defense failures before and during the airplane strikes; the President’s and Secret Service members’ behavior upon learning of the attacks; the overwhelming evidence and testimony by experts of controlled demolition of the World Trade Center’s twin towers and Building 7; violation of standard crime scene procedures at Ground Zero;  anomalies regarding what happened at the Pentagon; and the reluctance to form the 9/11 Commission followed by the Commission’s failure to undertake a full and transparent investigation are some of well documented topics pointing to complicity at the highest levels of the US government and about which much has been written by highly credentialed independent 9/11 researchers.[iii]

For those who have not yet considered the likelihood that 9/11 was an inside job, it may be difficult to grasp the possibility that agents of the US government, which carefully cultivates an image of being a model democracy and force for the good, could betray the American people so brazenly and then try to cover up their involvement by blaming others.  A closer look at the underlying conflict will provide a perspective consistent with the assertion of US government complicity.

The pervasive conflict at the root of 9/11 is, I suggest, between the superrich and the rest of humanity.  The former are relatively few in number and live in opulent luxury, while the latter who constitute the bulk of the world’s population, are struggling to survive.  It is an inherently abusive and imbalanced relationship. The superrich use military force and often extremely violent and repressive means to maintain control over the earth’s resources, while the rest of humanity mostly acquiesces, with a few pockets of either nonviolent or armed resistance.

This conflict is largely unacknowledged and often concealed under cultural, religious or ideological conflicts. While a significant cultural and religious conflict clearly exists between the Muslim world and the predominantly Christian West, the official 9/11 narrative’s focus on that conflict deflects attention from the bigger conflict that permeates both the pre- and post-9/11 world.

In fact, the superrich do their utmost to make sure the rest of humanity is either distracted from or unaware of this conflict.  A joke circulating on the internet portrays three men sitting at a table:  a Wall St. billionaire, a unionized public employee and a Tea Party Republican.  The billionaire has a huge tray piled high and overflowing with thousands of cookies in front of him while there is one cookie on the table between the other two.  The billionaire says to the Tea Partier, “Watch out for that union guy—he wants to steal your cookie!”

The meta-conflict between the superrich and the rest of humanity can be contextualized through the lens of deep culture and deep structure, two concepts central to the TRANSCEND method of conflict analysis.

At the level of deep culture, much of the US population holds a pervasive belief in US exceptionalism, viewing themselves as God’s chosen people.  Those who enjoy the spoils of US policies and actions–with God on their side–are seen as having earned the blessings of wealth and stature.

These deep cultural assumptions imply that because of US exceptionalism, its leaders deserve to have control over the distribution of resources in the world, which can also mean partnering with wealthy elites from other nations who worship at the same altar.  The poor and downtrodden deserve their miserable fate and only those who pay sufficient homage to the high priests of US exceptionalism–obedient law enforcers, compliant workers, subservient technocrats and deferential professionals, for example–may be rewarded with a modicum of material comfort.  Thus the conflict between the superrich and the rest of humanity is disguised as a moral imperative to justify the inequities of the status quo.

Because the official narrative of 9/11 has taken its place within US consciousness as a sacred story or myth of the chosen people, it not only reinforces this chosenness but, like many religious myths, is permitted to contain miracles, as well as violations of the laws of physics.[iv] By the same token, its special religious status makes it unquestionable. Those who challenge it are deemed blasphemers.

Scholar and theology professor David Ray Griffin, in his 2006 lecture entitled “9/11:  The Myth and the Reality”, has stated:

One way the Bush administration prevented public questioning of the official account of 9/11 was by presenting it as a sacred story, so that any questioning of it would be regarded as not only unpatriotic but also sacrilegious. On the only mainstream television show in the United States on which I have appeared, the host, Tucker Carlson, said:  “For you to suggest…that the US government killed 3,000 of its citizens” is “wrong, blasphemous and sinful.”[v]

The deep structure of the conflict behind 9/11 lies within a global economic system that distributes the earth’s resources in vastly inequitable ways.  There are about 800 billionaires in the world.[vi] Bill Gates alone has a net worth of $40,000,000,000,[vii] and to illustrate the magnitude of this figure, if he spent one dollar per minute 24/7, it would take nearly 80,000 years to spend it all.  In the US, the top 0.01% earn an average of $27,000,000 per year, while the bottom 90% of the population average $31,244.[viii]  Worldwide, half of the human population—over 3,000,000,000 people–live on less than $2.50 per day. The system is rarely challenged by those in a position to change it, including the US electorate, despite evidence that this structural violence of growing inequality in wealth and income is damaging to the entire social fabric.

Structural violence can be just as lethal if not more so than violence from weapons and explosives.  David DeGraw calls it “financial terrorism” being perpetrated by the economic elite and has estimated that in the last ten years over a million people per year in the US alone have died prematurely from causes related to poverty. [ix]

Epidemiologists Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson have demonstrated the close correlation between income inequality and a range of social ills that result in great human suffering.[x]  Countries that distribute their income the most equally have the highest quality of life.  The more equal countries have greater life expectancy, lower infant mortality, better child well-being, less obesity, lower homicide rates, fewer school drop-outs, lower teen pregnancy, higher civic trust, less drug abuse, lower rates of imprisonment, and lower rates of mental illness.  Among the so-called “rich” industrialized countries, the US is the least equal, with the worst outcomes in all of the above social indicators.  Their research does not include regions like sub-Saharan Africa, where there are five billionaires[xi] while the social outcomes for the vast majority of the impoverished populations are abysmal, as a result of sustained economic exploitation by Europe and the US.[xii]

Within this context of deep culture and deep structure, it is apparent how much the events of 9/11 directly benefitted the very wealthy.  Michael Ruppert, a former Los Angeles policeman, has suggested the 9/11 crimes be examined by posing standard investigative questions: who had means, motive and opportunity? Who profits? His investigation sketches the connections between Wall Street and the CIA, the global trade in illicit drugs, and the fight for energy dominance in the time of Peak Oil, concluding that US elites were the perpetrators.[xiii]

The official 9/11 Commission avoided asking who profited from the crimes.  Informed traders, for example, with connections to both Wall Street and the US Intelligence community, made millions of dollars through short sales of United and American airlines stock, betting correctly just before 9/11 that the values of these stocks would soon decline. [xiv]

The “war on terror” precipitated by 9/11 has been a gold mine  for weapons manufacturers as well as military suppliers, logistics providers, oil companies, private mercenary services, a whole range of security-related enterprises and the Wall Street financiers who manipulate people’s fear of terrorism to keep their coffers overflowing. At the same time, millions of Afghans and Iraqis have faced death and destruction, numerous US (and allied) soldiers have been killed and wounded, personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures in the US are soaring and a huge pool of destitute people throughout the world ensures a steady stream of cheap labor for the profiteers.  It is not unreasonable to conclude that elements within the US military-industrial complex deliberately initiated this “catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor”–an expression coined by the Project for a New American Century one year before 9/11 [xv] —in order to achieve their goals of fast-tracking the upgrade, redesign and deployment of sophisticated weapons systems, with resulting increased domination of the world’s energy-producing regions by US elites.

9/11 should serve as a wake-up call, exposing the lengths to which some will go to preserve their wealth if left unchallenged.  Such outcomes will continue until people in the US and beyond open their eyes to what is really happening, collectively proclaim that no one is above the law and assert that it is not acceptable for anyone to have excessive wealth at the expense of those who suffer destitution and misery.

Movements that have called for more equitable and racially just resource distribution—including the Haitian revolution 200 years ago, the Lavalas movement in Haiti today; the Cuban revolution; and the Poor People’s Campaign Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was organizing shortly before his as yet to be fully investigated assassination—have been vilified or marginalized by the US elite power structure.  In Haiti, under the leadership of overwhelmingly popular and democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide between 1994 and 2004, Haitians saw a rise in the minimum wage, expanded public education, beginnings of quality public housing construction, the establishment of a medical school for the poor, disbanding of the repressive Haitian Army and efforts to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes,[xvi]  resulting in a coup d’etat carried out by the US, France and Canada[xvii] that has undermined social and democratic institutions to this day.  After being kidnapped by US Marines,[xviii] Aristide remained in forced exile for seven years, returned in Haiti in March, 2011, in spite of US efforts to prevent him from traveling to his home country.[xix]  Aristide told tens of thousands welcoming Haitians at the airport: “The problem is exclusion. The solution is inclusion.” and voiced the simple but profound Haitian proverb, tout moun se moun. (“Every person is a human being.”)[xx]

            Widespread recognition that the official story of 9/11 is false may precipitate profound changes in the United State and possibly hasten the fall of the US empire. The resulting psychic upheaval could sweep the US in one of two directions.[xxi]  One, US fascism, would be based on fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of ordinary people taking hold of their own power to better their lives. The other, US blossoming, could be based on moral health, love of life, love of humanity and of the earth.

If we want to make sure we move in the second direction, we must waste no time in recognizing and addressing the underlying conflict between the superrich and the rest of humanity.  We must support, grow and consolidate all of the existing movements that are inclusive and nonviolent in their struggles to hold the superrich accountable and ensure a good life for everyone.  Policies that lessen income inequality– implementing progressive tax reform, reducing military spending, raising the minimum wage, improving worker pensions, strengthening labor unions, fully funding education and health care for all, and guaranteeing a minimum standard of living for everyone– will lead us on a path to greater social well-being.

In order for humanity as a whole to reclaim the inordinate power and wealth currently held by those who constitute the superrich, we can learn from the devastating, and devastatingly fraudulent crimes of 9/11 and shift global priorities from arming and harming to healing, while creating new realities based on equality, inclusion and solidarity.  By moving the global economy away from ruthless hierarchies and towards a network of mutually supportive communities, centers of innovation and cooperative enterprises, we can achieve true security that is sustainable rather than the false security of weapons and warfare.   Poverty would disappear, as would inordinate wealth, and everyone, including the formerly wealthy, would be taken care of and able to live well.  By opening our eyes and letting the sunshine in, we can achieve Dr. King’s vision of The Beloved Community:

Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth.  In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.  In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace and justice will prevail over war and military conflict.[xxii]


[i] www.transcend.org

[ii] This commentary is adapted from unpublished chapters by this author in the proceedings of a TRANSCEND-USA conference in Greensboro, NC in March 2011, with input from Graeme MacQueen, co-organizer of the Toronto Hearings, www.torontohearings.org

[iii] The writings of David Ray Griffin, the Toronto Hearings sponsored by the International Center for 9/11 Studies, organizations such as Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and Firefighters for 9-11 Truth are among the many credible resources easily searchable on the internet.

[iv] www.ae911truth.org

[v] The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, by David Ray Griffin. Olive Branch Press, 2008, pp. xvii, xviii

[vi] “The Richest People in the World”, Forbes Magazine, March 30, 2009

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] “It’s the Inequality, Stupid”, by Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot, http://motherjones.com/print/99036

[ix] “Exclusive:  Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America: Over I Million Deaths Annually, 62 Million People with Zero Net Worth, As the Economic Elite Make Off with $46 Trillion”, on www.ampedstatus.org

[x] The Spirit Level:  Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Bloomsbury Press, 2009.

[xi] “The Richest People in the World”, Forbes Magazine, March 30, 2009

[xii] King Leopold’s Ghost, by Adam Hochschild. Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

[xiii] Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, by Michael Ruppert. New Society Publishers, 2004

[xiv] The Terror Timeline, by Paul Thompson. HarperCollins, 2004, p.62

[xv] http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf, p. 51

[xvi] We Will Not Forget: The Achievements of Lavalas in Haiti  http://www.haitisolidarity.net/article.php?id=399

[xvii] An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President, by Randall Robinson. Basic Civitas Books, 2007

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] http://www.thenation.com/article/162598/WikiLeaks-haiti-aristide-files

[xx] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsQ6OvI-E88&feature=related

[xxi] The Fall of the US Empire—And Then What? Successors, Regionalization or Globalization? US Fascism

or US Blossoming?”, by Johan Galtung. Kolofon Press, 2009

[xxii] http://www.thekingcenter.org/history/the-king-philosophy/


Marilyn Langlois has been a community mediator and TRANSCEND member since 2004.  She currently works as a community advocate in the office of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin of Richmond, California, and sits on the Board of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 5 Sep 2011.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Let the Sunshine In: A 9/11 Conflict Analysis, is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

9 Responses to “Let the Sunshine In: A 9/11 Conflict Analysis”

  1. This is the kind of essay most will not want to read, that many will find excruciating to read, but that all must read.

    It is devastating to think we are so unsafe (particularly and aptly jarring for those of us who have been taught our skin color, class, ethnic or national identity shields us from collateral damage) in the grasp of our home country. But it is more devastating to acknowledge the unthinkable inequalities that structure the world we live in–and that we are daily victims to them.

    Thank you for this provocative analysis.

  2. Well said, Marilyn. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  3. Paul Palmer says:

    Marilyn: I love your statement and certainly agree with the entire article. One thing bothers me though. The definition of violence that you want to use. You say it is: “an avoidable insult to basic human needs”. This may be an interesting derivation with some deep meaning but we all know that this is not what anyone means by violence. Basically, we mean the use of an unopposable force to do physical harm to someone else. And sometimes we include other life forms and even figurative life such as our planet or its resource base.

    The use of the word avoidable is especially troublesome as it is not part of a definition but is a private view that does not belong.

    I may just be a stickler but I believe in assigning communally known meanings to words and then using those words as tools for communications. A few decades ago, when a successful campaign had been waged to make the words racist and racism insults of great power, the left tried to piggyback on that success by defining whatever they didn’t like as racism. To my mind this dilutes the language and turns simple statements into political claims. The word “violence” has a long history of being abused this way also.

    This is a largely theoretical comment since you don’t actually use that definition anywhere. But there are others who will. Is there a basic human need to express anger? In a fistfight between individuals, liberally infused with defense, anger and justice, what is avoidable and what are the needs? We know a fight is conventionally violent but under that definition, what are the parts?

    Sorry if I’m being a bit pedantic. Your article expresses exactly what needs to be said to the American public. I was recently told by a rational friend that anyone who thinks that 9/11 was “a conspiracy” must be a fanatic and a nutcase and not worth listening to. I explained that there is only one conspiracy argument – the government claims that 19 muslims entered into a conspiracy. The Truth movement claims that powerful public officials did what they always do. They evolved a plan, they gave orders, they arranged funding and they ensured classification, favors and other motors of secrecy. Just normal stuff. But he needs to put that down as a unique conspiracy argument. I am afraid he is typical.

  4. Marilyn,
    Wonderful article.

    I have been very doubtful about the official line on 9/11 for some time. In fact when I first heard it on the radio my thoughts rolled back to the stories of the Reichstag fire. If it could happen in Germany it could happen to us. We are not more civilized than Germany.

    You, however, have put our suspicions into the context of the kind of world that the rich and powerful are trying to force us into, all too successfully.

    • Stella Goodpasture, OP, (MSJ) says:

      Thank you, Marilyn! For years I have known about unexplainable things in the 9/11 attack. I have read and sought answers. Yet, I have not put pen to paper about it. You have spoken truths we know and fail to name. I really appreciate that you do this with issues you hold important. I particularly hold in thought, “…shift global priorities from arming and harming to healing, while creating new realities based on equality, inclusion and solidarity.” It is time to thank the engineers, researchers, and thinkers who have been working for years not only to find the truth, but to find a way to help the American people follow a path to self understanding and to changes called for in our society, in our world

  5. […] was endangered on that day, as a member of the TRANSCEND network of peaceful conflict transformation[i] I approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with a conflict analysis that seeks a deeper understanding […]

  6. Thank you Marilyn for this life changing reflection and priceless informations. As being a peace practictioner, I actually hope, other folks will find these facts as helpful as I do and work toward openeness, real truth and reconciliation.

  7. Michael E. Kerr says:

    Post a link to your article on my Facebook page. Thank you Marilyn for your excellent article. http://www.facebook.com/#!/MichaelKerrMEKorganic

  8. […] the 9/11 attacks were an act of “state-sponsored terrorism.” In 2011, Langlois wrote for “Transcend Media Service” saying the U.S. “deliberately initiated” the bombing of the U.S. World Trade Center in order […]