It seems odd that anyone would have chosen December 7th as International Civil Aviation Day, and then continue celebrating it for 17 years after commercial airliners were used in attacks on September 11, 2001.
History conscious people know that December 7th, 1941 would remain “the Day of Infamy”. It is the day of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that killed over 3000 Americans, causing the US to declare war and enter into World War II immediately afterwards.
It obviously wasn’t civilian air craft that the Japanese used that sunny morning. But the second consequential surprise attack on Sept 11, 2001 killing nearly 3000 Americans, was accomplished using them. And, that horrific day sparked a national commitment to wage a global war against an undefeatable target — a tactic called terrorism. Today, almost 17 years later and upwards of five trillion dollars spent, this war still has no end in sight.
By Chuck Woolery, Activist, not TV Host
In 2002 Howard Zinn authored an article titled “Our Enduring War” predicting such. But more recently it was made clear that US troops would not be leaving Afghanistan anytime soon and Americans were asked to prepare themselves for an “enduring war.” A war that even President Trump wanted out of.
Today’s technology advances will soon be translated into pilotless air taxis and commercial drone deliveries capable of carrying anything or anyone they can physically lift into the air. There will certainly be laws restricting what and who they can carry but you can bet your worried behind that there will be insufficient government money or human power to effectively regulate or enforce most of the laws passed.
What is carried by the wings of any kind of flying machine, or launched by catapults or bows, will not be easily stopped prior to landing or unloading its given payload. And, with any imagination and limited budget, formidable biological and chemical weapons will not be difficult to acquire.
Even if by some miracle 99% of destructive payloads are stopped, and only 1% succeed in a lethal delivery, that sector of commercial or private flight would likely be crippled economically. And it would likely impact others.
Economics and passenger safety are the primary drivers of Civil aviation rules for both private and commercial efforts and success. They remain vitally important future investments in the technological and engineering development of the industry. Civil aviation is also important to the social and economic development for at least the wealthiest half of the world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be doing much for the poorest half. In fact, it appears to be accelerating even more damage to the world’s environment and the exploitation of the world’s poor, than most people even consider.
For now, it is less environmentally damaging to travel across the US by air than car. But as solar power decreases environmental and economic costs of generating electricity — eventually bullet trains, vacuum tubes, or electric cars will become more affordable and hopefully safer.
And, for now, US commercial airlines are shockingly safe. Except for that one unfortunate lady sucked from her window seat partly out the window of the plane carrying her across county, there hasn’t been a single fatality in nearly 10 years. Given all the airmiles flown that seems impossible. It was achieved by rigorous engineering standards and maintenance procedures that were enforced by both government, public and professional entities.
Here’s the trillion-dollar question. What is the one factor that prevents our national government and/or the UN from achieving such a profound track record in protecting lives and preventing future catastrophic failures?
If you can answer that question you should be running for Congress, or at least meeting with them regularly and telling them what they need to do (if they would like to be reelected) to save our nation money, protect American freedoms, and best ensure America’s security.
Sure. It’s amazing a tourist or business traveler can make it all the way from the rain forests of Africa to New York’s LaGuardia airport in under 12 hours. But given the incubation period of Ebola, Lassa fever, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and dozens of other pathogens — we must face the fact that this amazing and affordable transportation system comes with profoundly dangerous downsides. There are few things that could inflict more damage to US freedoms, prosperity, and security than a pandemic (natural or manmade) accelerated by commercial or private air travel.
Perhaps there should be a 1% airline tax codified for investments in the prevention of such diseases and deplorable conditions where infectious disease and ideologies are created and accidently or intentionally mutated. It is the wisest and most affordable means of protecting the world from the inevitable spread of their lethal consequences resulting from the global injustices we now largely ignore.
And then there is the endless future potential of turning civilian aircraft into weapons. It will be as hard as stopping cars and trucks from ramming groups of people or blowing up federal buildings. And even un weaponized future aircraft will be increasingly vulnerable to other technologies such as drones, computer viruses, or cyber hacks providing fake landing coordinates. One of the US militaries most advanced and expensive surveillance drones was hijacked by Iran hackers emitting a stronger GPS guidance signal. They landed it without a scratch in their own back yard.
Another failure of Imagination?
Anyone familiar with Japan’s use of Kamikaze pilots toward the end of WW II should have been able to predict Islamic extremists turning commercial air liners into self-guided WMD. Shockingly (and this is no conspiracy theory) in the final summary of the official 9-11 Commission Report the commissioners concluded that the attacks that day were the result of a “failure of imagination”. WTF? OMG? Our government couldn’t imagine it happening? That’s not a failure of imagination. It’s a massive failure of government systems (independent agencies) and structures (political minds).
The prediction that terrorists would use civilian planes as weapons was offered in at least 11 open source documents prior to 9-11. That doesn’t include an issue paper I personally authored nearly 3 years before the attacks. Even Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Press Club on November 10, 2001 warning that ‘someday, terrorists would bring death to Americans in the “belly of an airplane.” And today, the most likely delivery of a nuclear weapon to the US air space is in the belly of a faked commercial or private airline carrier. Not targeting a city, but instead attempting an EMP attack that could kill tens of millions of Americans if not more (see yesterday’s Electricity Dependence Day feature).
An airline tax may be a start in transforming the world’s hell holes into petri dishes of freedom and prosperity. But sustainable transformation would require trillions, not billion of dollars. And that money is only a short commercial air flight away in various off shore accounts where at least $32 trillion dollars of illicit money is stashed to avoid exposure to any form of justice. Kleptocrats, drug cartels, and wealthy capitalists avoiding taxes robs the rest of humanity the money needed for basic human needs, protection of other human rights, global security and environmental sustainability. Just a portion of these ill-gotten funds could largely achieve the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals urgently needed to improve global conditions for the half of the world’s people who cannot afford a ticket out of their corrupt, failed or failing states.
They may not be able to leave on an airplane but those festering nation states will speed the flow of infectious diseases, terrorism, poverty and environmental consequences to our shores as fast as a civil aviation flight from the Congo to New York, and as surely as night follows day.
Tomorrow, Dec 8th will highlight our civilian American superpowers. If you want to know how you can take the most powerful action from within the most powerful nation in the world — and have a profound impact in forwarding the vision that our nation’s Founding Fathers offered in the Declaration of Independence, treat yourself to it. A personal action that can make a credible assist in transforming the world from its current state of increasing chaos and lawlessness to one with ’liberty and justice for all’.
FYI: Civil Aviation Day exists to raise and reinforce awareness about December 7th’s importance, and about the role the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has in facilitating a global aviation network to benefit everyone. The ICAO, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations, is made up of about 190 countries that work together to come up with standards for air travel around the world. Each country has a civil aviation authority that oversees areas of civil aviation. For example, in the United States there is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The civil aviation authority in each country regulates aviation licensing, oversees flight operations, issues certificates of airworthiness for aircraft, oversees aircraft maintenance organizations, designs and constructs aerodromes, and manages air traffic services. The ICAO was established by the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, a document signed on December 7, 1944. International Civil Aviation Day began being celebrated by the ICAO in 1994, on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Chicago Convention. In 1996 the United Nations adopted a resolution that proclaimed the day as International Civil Aviation Day, and urged government and government organizations to take steps to observe the day.