Michael Dresser says that the Sept. 11 attacks permanently changed transportation ("Traveling forever changed," Sept. 7). He's only partly correct. It is definitely less convenient and pleasant to fly, it's true. But the vast majority of "transportation" or its safety has not changed at all. Most American transportation is done by car.
There was another huge tragedy that occurred in 2001. Yet, unlike Sept. 11, it is rarely spoken about and it seems that nobody really cares. Just under 3,000 people died as a result of the Sept. 11 hijackings. In 2001, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 42,196 people died in traffic accidents in the U.S. Although this is over 14 times more lives lost than in the terrorist attacks, this tragedy recurred in 2002, 2003, etc., to the present with little change.
As of 2009, over 300,000 Americans have died on the roadways since 2001.
Worse, both of these tragedies are related. The discontent that fuels terrorism is itself fueled by repressive oil-funded regimes around the world. Oil money keeps them in power, and we send them the money because we want the oil.
The tragedy of the memorials to Sept. 11 is that they commemorate our failure as a nation to have taken the deaths that day, and those of 300,000 others since that time, seriously. The core problem is not the ill-educated, primitive, and violent men in Afghanistan or somewhere else. It is that we continue to send our billions of dollars abroad to finance the regimes and the systems that keep them at our throats and in our nightmares.
Today the New York Times is reporting the total cost of the War on Terror has been $3.3 trillion in addition to the loss of thousands of brave men and women. If we had spent half of that money on research, development, and policies to reduce our dependence on oil, we'd be a long way toward cutting off the head of the snake that keeps biting us. Instead, we feed it. When are we going to stop doing al-Qaida's work for them?
Bradley E. Alger, Baltimore