The seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States passes this week with Americans united in their terrible memories of the loss of life and destruction that resulted from the attack. We are united also in our determination to do whatever we can to prevent it from happening again.

But unity, whether it’s from a natural disaster or from a human-made one like 9/11, is momentary. Why? Because larger forces come into play.

Instead of taking the outrage and sympathy generated from the 9/11 tragedy and giving leadership in making it into a real worldwide effort to end such senseless violence, the Bush administration used 9/11 for its own narrow aims.

The world responded in 2001 with solidarity and sympathy. People marched in Tehran with candles lit expressing their human ties with us. Cuba offered medical help and a political initiative to end worldwide terrorism through international cooperation. Sudanese teachers sent messages of solidarity to their union counterparts in the U.S. French communists stood for a moment of silence to honor the victims of 9/11.

Despite all the calls here and abroad to respond in a unifying, thoughtful and effective way, the Bush administration unleashed U.S. military might: first invading Afghanistan in October 2001 and then Iraq in March 2003. Neither military adventure has brought our country any more security. In fact, U.S. international relations are severely damaged and terrorism is on the rise.

Then the Bush administration unleashed its agenda for the domestic front under the guise of fighting terror. With great fanfare it rounded up people who it said were terrorists and imprisoned them at Guantanamo, throwing out international and U.S. laws and principles. It rammed through new laws that allow it to spy on the American people. After all this, Osama bin Laden continues to operate freely and no one has even been successfully brought to trial for 9/11.

To this day many brave first responders and other victims of the 9/11 tragedy go without the medical and other care they need.

Yet in this election cycle, as it did in 2004, the GOP continues, despite its disastrous leadership in the fight against terrorism, to use the tragedy to try to scare up votes.

We wonder whether the CEOs who watched the Twin Towers crumble that day realized how rich many of them would become as a result of the tragedy. Yes, the Republicans proceeded to shower their corporate sponsors with countless lucrative military contracts. So, seven years after 9/11 a lot of Republicans have gotten rich but we are no safer today than we were then.

The policies of militarization, invasion, imposing “democracy” at the barrel of a gun and feeding the military contractors cost American lives and treasure. They have not and will not make the world free of terrorism. Only a new approach that emphasizes cooperation, working together with other nations to solve global problems — from climate change to poverty — can bear fruit in the struggle to end terrorism.