9-11 and 20 years on: act with haste, repent at leisure
We are coming up to 20 years since 9-11.
President Biden wanted to time the pull-out from Afghanistan to remind us of that. What he did not intend, I am sure, was to make the anniversary a time that would force us to reflect on the folly of war, 20 years of lying and bad faith, and deplorable executive decisions that have cost us incalculable losses in lives, money and confusion of national priorities.
The media are so busy blaming him for a debacle of a departure that they forget he is the President least worthy of such scorn. What can you do in 7 months? President W Bush is the one who should be called to criminal account to answer for a war that never made sense then, and as every year went by, on President Obama’s watch and then President Trump reign, made less and less sense. No wonder that President Biden said, “Time to get the hell out of here!”
That might sum up to an odd assessment but it adds up to saying Trump and Biden were right and Obama and Bush were wrong. Bush’s folly became the longest war the USA has ever fought with so many resources spent for so little return. The invasion was to dislodge the Taliban. We did that. Now we leave and we have done a deal with the Taliban that allows their return. Imagine invading Berlin and then inviting Hitler back?
Let’s go back to the start. Who were the high-jackers and bombers on 9-11? Since we went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq, they of course had to be the main culprits. They had declared war on us, so war was the only answer. But look it up. Google tells you:
The hijackers in the September 11 attacks were 19 men affiliated with the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda. They hailed from four countries; fifteen of them were citizens of Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was from Lebanon, and one from Egypt.
There were none from Afghanistan and none from Iraq.
Did we invade Saudi Arabia? Or UAE or Lebanon or Egypt? Not at all. Osama Bin Laden was from Riydah, Saudi Arabia and there is evidence that Saudi officials were actively involved in supporting the high-jackers, but the Saudis are our oil friends. The other Bin Ladens’ were important enough to fly their relatives out of the USA in case they came under scrutiny.
No, we decided that Afghanistan and Iraq would serve as surrogates for the people we wanted to hold responsible. At Tora Bora, the USA forces had Bin Laden trapped and could have taken him out thereby crippling the Al Queda network. But no. We prefer war because it gives our military something to do. If we give them 500 billion dollars a year to play with, we may as well give them some real war games to play.
The forces fighting us in Afghanistan were familiar to us, as was Bin Laden, because against the Russians, they were considered allies. And if supporting their extremist form of Islam, the Mujahideen, helped motivate their disgust for the invader, why not? Once they beat the Russians back, they were expendable. We left their nation to the wreckage of years of Russian occupation and vandalism. That was the first ending that predicted this more devastating last post.
How come we are such experts at starting wars, but as far as ending them, we have a track record of disaster. No one, least of all the Afghanis, should be the least surprised. USA never cared before and they clearly don’t much care now.
What 20 years of war have done is the opposite of its intention. The clear goal was to take out Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, not run a recruiting campaign for terrorist schools. But that is what we did. And now when we pull out, and try to make the best of a bad loss, the media that cheered us into the mess now go self-righteous on the mess that the leaving had to be, well organized or not. Even if we had been able to leave with some decorum, all that would have saved us is the reality check of abject failure. We came here to destroy the sanctuary of terrorists and we end up turning it back into the hands of the same terrorists. We achieved the exact opposite of what we set out to do. If that is not a good reason to get out of Dodge, what is?
After Vietnam, we thought we had learned the perils of international war and the arrogance of empire. But no, the neoliberals learned nothing. They believed that Pax Americana could only be built by American muscle, exerted by bullying, torture and threats leading to violent overthrow. We will keep on doing this because no one is ever blamed or called to account. You can get away with murder.
Congress seems to have got used to an annual impeachment but in this scenario, the defendants are George W Bush, his goons and his torture squad, and President Obama and his accommodators.
Don’t blame Trump or Biden for this one. But no, we will pile on Biden because that is what media do. And we will let Bush and Obama escape any accounting. Such is the United States of Folly that the United States has become.
People want to mark the American demise with President Trump saying our national corruption began with all his lies. But Trump never lied us into war. He had the healthy disgust that any leader must have for “foreign entanglements.” That is what President Washington called them. It is bad that you try incompetently to overthrow an election you lost by 6 million votes or try to use a foreign government to flood social media with lies that probably in the end only competed with the lies both campaigns were already telling. But lying the nation into war, that surely is a crime of treason that is most especially heinous.
We suffered it with LBJ and McNamara and the Gulf of Tonkin. And no heads rolled. And we suffered it with Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld and Rice and their concoction of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that a nation that had nothing to do with 9-11 was supposed to have, and therefore was deserving of annihilation. This might have been good aggression outlet therapy. When you get beat up, pick a weakling and destroy them. All good bullies do that to make themselves feel better. And you can fly on to a aircraft carrier and declare “Mission Accomplished” and think people are still stupid enough to think that invading Iraq had anything to do with 9-11, when it had nothing to do with it. And invade Afghanistan, not because they attacked us, but because the would not give up the Saudi Arabian terrorist leader that we could have eliminated ourselves.
The end is a debacle, but the war was a debacle, and the deceit of previous Presidents a national disgrace that finally is revealed. President Bush knowingly lied us into war. President Obama knowingly continued to propagate that lie. And President Trump, not known for any foreign policy chops, could see it was folly, and demanded a pull out that President Biden must see through to its bitter end.
Americans are addicted to happy endings. When the script does not conform to our delusions, we understandably get upset. But just imagine what story we leave behind for the Afghanis. If some of them come after us for our invasion first and our betrayal now, no one can say we are innocent. We just made the world more unsafe for everyone. What a way to remember 9-11, twenty years on. Seems like we have not learned a thing.