Fifteen years have passed since the planes hit the towers in New York.
Beyond the immediate tragedy, the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 gave birth to the disastrous "war on terror." A decade and a half and multiple wars later, the world is a far more dangerous place.
On the second anniversary of 9/11, the United States had been in Iraq for six months. Then, seven in 10 Americans falsely believed that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Hussein was a secularist who was viewed as an enemy by al-Qaeda-type groups. As a matter of fact, Osama Bin Laden turned against the United States because he was not given a chance to fight Hussein after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991. He thought the U.S.-led coalition in the first Gulf war violated the Holy Land of Hijaz by operating from Saudi Arabia.
As former Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neil revealed in Ron Suskind's book "The Price of Loyalty", George W. Bush was planning the Iraq invasion as early as February, 2001, seven months before the attacks.
Bush employed lies to turn 9/11 into a catalyst for his neoconservative aims. He used the tragedy to push his ideological agenda on the people of the world, setting in motion the violence and terrorism that would ravage the Middle East and target Western cities from Paris to Brussels to San Bernardino.
President Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize in his first year in office, but unfortunately, he followed in his predecessor's footsteps, albeit through different tactics.
The Bush and Obama administrations have failed in containing and destroying the extremism that led to the murder of thousands of Americans on 9/11.The same kind violent psychopaths who attacked the United States in 2001 control swaths of land across the Middle East despite — if not because of — the war on terror.
Bush's Iraq war was a well-documented disaster. The invasion, followed by de-Baathification policies, are direct reasons behind the rise of ISIS.
Obama did not make matters better. His intervention in Libya proved to be catastrophic. The North African nation is now divided between two governments and countless militant groups, including ISIS, which has controlled parts of the coastal city of Sirte.
Although a U.S.-backed campaign to recapture the town from terrorists appears to be succeeding, regaining Sirte will not rid Libya of the violence. Militants fleeing Sirte will pose a threat to neighboring Tunisia and other African countries.
Obama's Syria policies have also further destabilized the region. While Washington has failed miserably in its quest to find and support "moderate" rebels, U.S. allies (namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) have been backing radical anti-government groups, including al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization that attacked America on 9/11.
History repeats itself. As the CIA backed the anti-Soviet Mujahideen in Afghanistan, various intelligence agencies and regional allies are backing questionable militants in Syria, who could one day turn their guns against the United States, like Bin Laden.
Both Obama and Bush strengthened the underlying causes of extremism by contributing to the resentment against the United States.
Bush's invasions and Obama's drone wars perpetuated the notion that America is an enemy of the people of the Middle East.
In his historic 2009 speech in Cairo, Obama made it clear that the United States is not at war with Islam. But his actions over the following seven years did not match his rhetoric. His "targeted killings" have caused hundreds of civilian casualties.
The lack of transparency around the drone program keeps the American people in the dark while failing to quell the expansion of terrorist groups in the region.
The American government has also maintained its close ties with Saudi Arabia, which, in the words of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, pours money into peaceful countries to nurture extremism.
Washington continues to sell the tyrannical Gulf monarchy billions of dollars worth of weapons, overlooking the kingdom's abuses and disregard for human life.
On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, our hearts go to the victims of the attacks, not only the thousands of innocent New Yorkers, but also the subsequent millions of atrocities of the War on Terror.