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When facts are inconvenient, when international law, human rights and history get in the way, when war crimes can’t easily be justified or explained away, when logic doesn’t help much, the current crop of American political leaders turns to what is now the old reliable: 9/11. We have to fight in Afghanistan because … somehow … it’s tied into what happened on September 11, 2001. Here’s Vice-President Joe Biden: “We know that it was from the space that joins Afghanistan and Pakistan that the attacks of 9/11 occurred.” 1
Here’s Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC): “This is the place [Afghanistan] we were attacked from 9/11.” 2
Rep. Mike Pence, the third-ranking House Republican, asserted that the revelations in the Wikileaks documents do not change his view of the Afghan conflict, nor does he expect a shift in public opinion. “Back home in Indiana, people still remember where the attacks on 9/11 came from.” 3
Here’s President Obama a year ago: “But we must never forget this is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.” 4
And here is the president, two days after the release of the Wikileaks documents, referring to Afghanistan and Pakistan as “the region from which the 9/11 attacks were waged and other attacks against the United States and our friends and allies have been planned”. 5
Never mind that out of the tens of thousands of people the United States and its NATO front have killed in Afghanistan not one has been identified as having had anything to do with the events of September 11, 2001.
Never mind that the “plot to kill Americans” in 2001 was devised in Germany and Spain and the United States more than in Afghanistan. Why hasn’t Washington bombed those countries?
Indeed, what actually is needed to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? A room with some chairs? What does “an even larger safe haven” mean? A larger room with more chairs? Perhaps a blackboard? Terrorists intent upon attacking the United States can meet almost anywhere, with Afghanistan probably being one of the worst places for them, given the American occupation.
There are many people in Afghanistan and Pakistan — the ones still living — who deeply resent the US presence there and the drones that fly overhead and drop bombs on their houses, their wedding parties, their funerals, their life. As in Iraq, the American “war on terrorism” in Afghanistan regularly, routinely, and conspicuously creates numerous new anti-American terrorists.
The only “war of necessity” that draws the United States to Afghanistan is the need for protected oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea area, the establishment of military bases in this country that is surrounded by the oil-rich Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf regions, and making it easier to watch and pressure next-door Iran. What more could any respectable imperialist nation desire? Oh, did I mention that the military-industrial-security-intelligence complex and its shareholders will be further enriched?
But the war against the Taliban can’t be won. Except perhaps by killing everyone in Afghanistan. The United States should negotiate the pipelines with the Taliban, as the Clinton administration tried to do, without success, then get out, and declare “victory”. Barack Obama can surely deliver an eloquent victory speech.
WILLIAM BLUM is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.
He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com
1. State Department Documents and Publications, March 10, 2009
2. Face the Nation, CBS, July 4, 2010
3. Washington Post, July 27, 2010
4. Talk given by the president at Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, August 17, 2009
5. White House press release of Obama’s remarks of July 27, 201