Writers and pundits exercise a hallowed tradition in January, they ruminate on the past year’s exploits and offer resolutions for the coming year. As we consider the horrific failures done in our name by this administration this past year and contemplate the impending election year, reviews and resolutions become ominous declarations for needed actions based on principles that can “change things and relations,” as Henry Thoreau put it. Thirteen months ago, December 23rd, 2002, almost three months before Bush introduced the world to “shock and awe,” I wrote an article for Counterpunch, “US vs Iraq the Tale of the Tape: the Road to Basra and Back,” contrasting the combatants in a vain effort to demonstrate the consequences of the impending slaughter threatened by the Neo-cons as they deceitfully offered the UNSC a second resolution seeking its blessing on their invasion of a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the US. Let’s begin our review at this point.
Cheney, Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz and all the members of the Neo-con Cabal that rule in this administration sold the American people on the impending threat Iraq posed for the security of the US because it possessed WMD, biological and chemical weapons, and supported the 9/11 terrorists. None of these allegations were true; we knew this to be so then and we know it to be true now. Yet they took America to war. Now, as American soldiers die daily in Iraq, as Iraqi civilians die daily in Iraq, as the number of terrorists increases daily in Iraq and around the globe, we must ask how this administration has made America more secure following the 9/11 attacks. By linking Iraq to 9/11, the Neo-cons duped Americans into believing that their invasion of that nation continued the administration’s “war against terror” thus insuring greater security for the United States. It did the opposite. Even the President has told us that Iraq is the new center of terrorism in the world. He created it.
But the deception that brought us to this state blanketed a reality that the American people knew nothing about, but a reality that was well-known to this administration. Let me quote a paragraph from that December 2002 article: “Before and during the brief war (the 1991 Gulf War), the US flew more than 116,000 air sorties losing 75 aircraft. Iraq on the other hand lost 36 fixed wing aircraft, 6 helicopters, 87 aircraft lost on the ground, 3,700 tanks, 2,400 assorted armored vehicles, 19 naval ships sunk, 42 divisions made combat-ineffective, and 2,600 artillery pieces destroyed…. Since the Iraqi forces consisted, at the time, of 4,280 tanks reduced to 471, and 3,110 artillery pieces reduced to 510, the available hardware for this upcoming war (the present war against Iraq) appears rather thin…. However one looks at it, Iraq has about 10-15% of its former ordinance to hurl against the current US forces, almost 90% of its ordinance having been destroyed.” Add to this accounting the fact that America’s sanctions since the Gulf War prevented Iraq from rebuilding its infrastructure that was destroyed as well and it’s obvious that the second Iraq war was a “turkey shoot” for the American military. For the administration to present Iraq as a threat to the US, given the reality of its devastated military forces and its current population that consists of more than 50% under the age of 15, is more than deception of the American people, it is pure barbaric inhumanity that cost the lives of approximately 9,000 innocent civilians (IBC), three times the number of Americans lost on 9/11. Americans are not a bloodthirsty people; if they had known the hoax perpetrated upon them by the administration and the resulting slaughter and devastation wrought as a consequence, they would be shocked indeed, and, no doubt, stand in awe of the gall that pulses through the veins of those who speak for this administration. What does Bush have to show for his “revenge against the perpetrators of 9/11” but a reverse “turkey shoot” where American boys pop up like targets before the disaffected, the deprived, and the deranged. He created it.
The Bush misadventure in Iraq caused America to lose track of its true purpose following 9/11: what caused that catastrophe and how can further atrocities of like kind be prevented? Consider Bush’s sole explanation for the atrocity of 9/11: “They hate our freedoms.” Who are the “they”? What “freedoms” do they hate? “Why do they “hate”? We have no answers but the ubiquitous “al Quaeda.” But who are the al Quaeda? Where are they? How many are there? How do we know they caused 9/11? What evidence exists that they are responsible? Did their leader, Osama bin Laden, direct the attack? How do we know? What freedoms do they hate? Freedom of speech? Have they not proven to the world that they can speak their mind whenever they wish? Freedom of movement? Have they not freely moved throughout the world? Freedom of assembly? Do they not meet when and where they desire, in whatever country they desire? Freedom of religion? Have they not practiced their religion wherever they assemble, in whatever country they live? How then do they hate our freedoms? Is the answer so simple that they desire to prevent Americans from having the freedoms they enjoy so readily? What does that accomplish but to prevent them from freely moving within the United States as they become victims of their own ends?
Consider further the actual events of 9/11. Nineteen men, according to the FBI, hijacked four commercial airliners, crashed two of them into the North and South towers of the Twin Trade Center in NYC, one into the Pentagon, and a fourth, destined for an unknown target, destroyed in a field in Pennsylvania. Why did these nineteen men undertake such a suicidal mission? What mentality would allow a person to guide an airliner, including innocent passengers, into a tower knowing full well the ineluctable carnage that would ensue? Did they anticipate the collapse of the towers? Did they know that thousands would perish or did they expect that only a couple hundred would die on the floors hit by the plane? Were they connected to the six Israelis who filmed the planes striking the towers as they danced on top of a van in a Jersey parking lot? Can they be traced directly to Osama bin Laden and hence to the Royal family in Saudi Arabia? If so, why were the family members allowed to leave the US the day after 9/11 on the only aircraft permitted to fly through the US air space? Why, if fifteen of the nineteen came from Saudi Arabia, did the US attack Afghanistan before it determined any connections to 9/11 of the Saudi state? So many unanswered questions; so much havoc and devastation as answer to the unknown.
Now consider what the man accused of these atrocities has actually offered as reasons for attacking America. In his letter to America, November 24, 2002, Osama provided three categories of concerns that propel people to “hate” America: 50 years of oppression in Palestine, US support of Arab and non-Arab countries that bow before American power thereby suppressing and humiliating their own people and/or capitulating to American interests that exploit their people and their natural resources, and the need for Americans to submit to his understanding of the Quran since he “cannot fail.” Now ask if this administration ever considered addressing these issues?
Indeed, instead of addressing 50 years of oppression in Palestine, this administration initially disengaged itself from the conflict there (although it continued its monetary and military support) until Sharon’s savagery became so blatant the world community forced it to reconsider. Reconsideration amounted to mimicking Sharon’s condemnation of Arafat as irrelevant, an action bound to ingratiate America to the Arab world! The administration followed that action by acquiescing to Sharon’s increased building of the settlements, illegal assassination of individuals without arrest or trial, continued terrorist attacks of innocent civilians from F-16s and helicopters in overcrowded ghettos, destruction of homes without provision for the people so displaced, murder of international dissidents like Rachel Corrie, and construction of a “Berlin” wall around the indigenous population the better to ensure an almost total theft of Palestinian land. This cynical reaction to just demands made by Palestinians and Arabs over decades against the occupying forces of Israel guarantees the continuation of terrorism against America and its interests at home and around the world. Bush’s shame-faced cow-towing to Sharon’s demands, including his willingness to invade Iraq on behalf of Israel and his obsequious acceptance of Sharon’s commands that he curtail US engagement with Syria, only infuriates those snubbed and degraded. His more than cynical demand to the UN that it force Iraq to abide by resolutions directed against it by the Security Council when no mention is made of resolutions directed at Israel over 50 years, all defied by that state, mocks the very demand being made even as it makes obvious the administration’s bias against an Arab state.
Add to Osama’s condemnation of Palestinians by Jews (with America’s 3 billion per year fiscal support) the invasion by the US of Iraq and its continued occupation of that country, and it’s graphically clear to all in the Arab world that the US intends to control all of the mid-east and its natural resources. Consider as well the US military’s use of Israeli forces as consultants (Julian Borger, The Guardian, 12/9/03) to fight the indigenous population in Iraq – the surrounding of towns with barbed wire, the check points and ID cards, the searches, breaking in of homes with dogs, and the assassination of individuals “suspected” of acts against the US – and the hatred grows deeper as America is seen as an Israeli-type occupier with no concern for Iraqis as individuals, but as “terrorists” that must be hunted down like dogs. Israel becomes a US puppet regime operating in the area secured by American military might controlled by a predominantly Jewish Neo-con Cabal that has a decided conflict of interest in its policies toward the mid-east. Nothing could be more corrosive to America’s security than this Cabal’s desire to yoke America’s mid-east policy to that of the Sharon regime. This failure to address the primary causes of the 9/11 attacks ensures the continuation of terrorist acts against the US. To use an appropriate Bush analogy, strike one against the administration.
Now consider Osama’s second issue, America’s control of other nation states, especially Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and its infliction of Capitalism across the globe as a minority of wealthy industrialists exploit and humiliate populations in the under-developed nations. What has this administration done to address this issue? Nothing! Indeed, once again, the administration has supported the oppressing powers – the trans-nationals that impose their bottom-line efficiency on exploited people in Mexico, the Carribean Islands, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and China, the corporate agreements that steal local control from the people like NAFTA, GATT, the IMF and WTO – demonstrating no awareness of the consequences of the disparity of income, the joblessness, the hazardous working conditions, the poverty wages, the unsanitary conditions, the overcrowded housing, the debt burden on the populations. Add to this America’s control of the oil in Iraq, its control of gas pipe lines in Afghanistan, its desire to rehabilitate the oil lines through Iraq and Jordan to Israel, its control of the government in Saudi Arabia through its control of the House of Saud, its control of Jordan, Egypt, Berain, Qatar through its infusion of wealth to those who serve its interests, and one can understand how Osama gathers to his cause the disaffected and deprived.
Roger Altman put it succinctly when he cited the dichotomy that exists between the “haves” and the “have nots”: ” … half of the world’s population is increasingly threatened with economic oblivion. … That is dangerous for world stability, and we should not resign ourselves to it.” What happens if the West does not address a redistribution of wealth and the utilization of the world’s resources? “The Fourth World, the least developed parts of Africa and Asia, will become even more fertile territory for brutality, state sponsored terrorism and mass tragedy.” Strike two for the administration!
Now we turn to Osama’s last concern, the need for America to accept his interpretation of the Quran. No one would suggest that Bush should accept his interpretation, but to ignore the implications of this demand is to court doom. We have seen its demented spirit as the Twin Towers slid into oblivion. Yet no one in this administration has addressed this issue; no one has called together the principal religious figures of the various faiths to condemn the fanatical interpretations that propel these movements, the Islamic Jihadists, the Christian Zionists, the Jewish Zionists, any and all who abuse religious teachings, the purpose of which is to bring people together, not to slaughter them. And, yes, it must be the fanatics of the Christian and Jewish right as well as the fanatics of the Islamic faith. All are guilty of inciting to riot, of support of terrorism, of manipulation and control of beliefs that foster devastation. For Tele-evangelists to harangue their congregations by condemning Osama and his cohorts for believing that Allah has demanded obedience to Him and destruction of those opposed to His teaching is no different from the Christian right exhorting their masses to heed the word of the only true God, Jesus Christ, who commands allegiance in the Book of Revelation and condemns to Hell all who oppose His inevitable rule following Armageddon. The Christian right’s support of the Jewish settlements to the tune of millions of dollars screams to the Islamic world the truth of the Islamic fanatics that they are at war with enemies who would destroy Islam.
This administration must condemn the Christian Zionists, break allegiance with the Likud Party and the right-wing Israeli Zionist parties that support it, bring together religious leaders from across the globe seeking from them their active commitment to stem the influence of these fanatical sects as a primary responsibility of their positions, and declare their serious support for separation of church and state with tolerance of all religions as a fundamental right. Only then will the preaching of the fanatics be quelled and the lie given to those who claim the martyr rises before the Almighty’s throne bringing him immediate gratification in eternal life even as he receives the adulation of those in his congregation as one committed to god’s revelations. Unless and until this administration addresses this issue and makes moot the belief that certain clerics can read the “word of god,” the havoc of 9/11, the firing of terrorist missiles into masses of civilians by a state driven by fanatics, and the “Christianizing” of the mid-east will ensure continued decades of terrorism against America and its Capitalistic interests at home and around the world. By doing nothing, this administration has struck out!
What resolution can be offered in light of this review of our administration’s failures to address the primary issues that caused 9/11? Only one: remove it from power, by impeachment preferably, by ballot if required. One can only hope that a year from now, when reflecting on what our government has done in our name, the review will be of a different administration, one concerned with America’s role within the community of nations, not concerned, as this administration is, with ruling the world community.
William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His new book, Psalms for the 21st Century, was just published by Mellen Press. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU