By Scott Horton Antiwar.comÂ May 20, 2007
â€œThere are a lot of things that are different now [that the U.S. occupies Iraq], and one that has gone by almost unnoticed â€“ but itâ€™s huge â€“ is that â€¦ we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. Itâ€™s been a huge recruiting device for al-Qaeda.
â€œIn fact if you look at bin Laden, one of his principle grievances was the presence of so-called crusader forces on the holy land, Mecca and Medina. I think just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to open the door to other positive things.
â€œI donâ€™t want to speak in messianic terms. Itâ€™s not going to change things overnight, but itâ€™s a huge improvement.â€ â€“ Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Vanity Fair May, 9th 2003
The rhetoric and spin about Congressman Ron Paulâ€™s â€œblaming Americaâ€ for the September 11th attacks is symptomatic of the problems of foreign interventionism plaguing this country. The media establishment is so out of touch with reality they donâ€™t know where to begin analyzing an actual informed opinion.
First of all, Dr. Paul did not â€œblame America.â€ What he said was that the United States government â€“ which is not â€œAmericaâ€ and is certainly not the innocent American citizens who were murdered that day â€“ had enacted a foreign policy that was a â€œcontributing factorâ€ in the attacks as it created what the CIA calls â€œblowbackâ€ against those innocent American citizens. Even then, there is a big difference between provocation and â€œinvitingâ€ the attacks as Fox News questioner Wendell Goler put it and Giuliani disingenuously repeated in his demand that Paul retract the plain truth that he had spoken.
He also did not say, contrary to Fox Newsâ€™ John Gibson, that â€œthat the U.S. actually had a hand in the terrorist attacksâ€ or that â€œPresident Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks beforehand.â€ And despite the thousands of ways his actual statements have been and will be paraphrased, he most certainly did not say that anyone in America deserved to be attacked. Nor was Paul defending the terrorists, excusing their behavior or explaining 9/11 away â€“ he was just explaining it.
Congressman Paul also specifically said, in the very same debate, the following about the fight against Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network that he rightly holds responsible for committing the attacks of September 11th:
â€œ[J]ust think. We gave the president authority to go into Afghanistan, and here we have Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. They have nuclear weapons, and weâ€™re giving them money.
â€œAnd we forgot about him, and now weâ€™re over in Iraq in a war thatâ€™s bogging us down, and we have forgotten about dealing with the people that attacked us. And here you have a hypothetical attack that youâ€™re dealing with; we ought to be dealing with the one we have right now on our hands.â€
As is to be expected, the TV news hairdos, having no idea what they are talking about, act as though it is Dr. Paul who is in ignorance.
MSNBCâ€™s Chris Matthews, on his show â€œHardballâ€ May 16, in â€œdebunkingâ€ Paulâ€™s assertion that al-Qaeda was provoked in part by Americaâ€™s perpetual bombing of Iraq from bases on the â€œholyâ€ Arabian Peninsula revealed his ignorance as much as his sycophancy to the War Party in this exchange with NBC political director Chuck Todd:
Matthews: â€œ[Y]ou canâ€™t say itâ€™s because we put troops in Iraq, over the no-fly zone, because they tried to blow up that same building back in â€™93, before all these skirmishes over the no-fly zone. You canâ€™t say that particular argument.â€
Todd: â€œI mean, I just think â€“ look, it â€“ it â€“ Rudy, he owns 9/11. And he just proved it.â€
Matthews: â€œI know.â€
Has Chris Matthews somehow forgotten â€œOperation Desert Storm,â€ AKA the War in the Persian Gulf, and that the U.S. military began building and occupying bases in the Saudi desert â€“ â€œOperation Desert Shieldâ€ â€“ in 1990 and started bombing Iraq from them in January 1991?
If he only read Time magazine, he would know that bin Laden, who had just finished fighting a successful, U.S.-backed holy war against the Russians, was enraged by the Saudi kingâ€™s decision to allow American forces onto the Arabian Peninsula in 1990 â€“ he wanted to expel Saddam from Kuwait. And if Matthews were to quickly peruse the Jim Lehrer Newshour Web site, it would reveal bin Ladenâ€™s â€œfatwaâ€ of 1996, which is titled â€œDeclaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.â€ Pretty subtle, huh?
It is apparently necessary to remind those who give us the news that the bases in the Saudi desert were used to launch attacks on Iraq all through the 1990s. Indeed, in the â€œdeclaration of war,â€ bin Laden cites the presence of foreign combat forces near Mecca and Medina and â€œblood spilled in Palestine and Iraqâ€ as his casus belli.
The good thing is that we donâ€™t have to believe bin Laden about his motives at all. He is an evil mass murderer of innocent civilians. Why would anybody listen to him?
Why would anybody listen to him?
The only reason anyone listens to or follows bin Laden is because he points at specific foreign policies of the U.S. in order to maintain that he is the one fighting on the defensive. Michael Scheuer, the former head analyst at the CIAâ€™s bin Laden unit, and author of Imperial Hubris, told me this himself. He said that the Ayatollah Khomeini spent the 1980â€²s railing against American culture and the entire region yawned. Osama bin Laden, on the other hand, kept his pitch straight and to the point â€“ and it worked.
He told them that America was the aggressor, and cited 6 specific policies as evidence:
1: The bases in Saudi Arabia
2: Unquestioning support for Israel (The 1996 Fatwa came on the heels of the first Qana massacre in Lebanon)
3: The no-fly zone bombings and blockade of Iraq which killed hundreds of thousands of people (now replaced on the jihadist sales pitch list by the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan which have killed hundreds of thousands more)
4: Support for dictators across the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, etc.)
5: Pressure on the oil producing states to keep their prices set where America wants them
6: Support for Russia, China and India in their wars against Muslims
This is why al-Qaeda is not just bin Laden and Zawahiri sitting around hating â€œthe Jewsâ€ and American culture from their motherâ€™s basement. They have a following because they point at concrete examples of how the U.S. government makes life worse for the average guy in the Islamic World â€“ when itâ€™s not taking it from him outright.
As Professor Robert A. Pape proved in his book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism â€“ by studying every single individual suicide bomber on Earth between 1980 and 2004 â€“ the one characteristic that all suicide bombers have in common is the presence of foreign combat forces in their country â€“ not Islam. Whether itâ€™s Sikhs in India, the Communist and atheist Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Hamas in Palestine, al-Qaeda fighters from Saudi Arabia and Egypt crashing planes in the United States, or Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
None of the September 11th hijackers was from an â€œaxis of evilâ€ state (Iraq, Iran or Syria). They were all from countries whose governments are our governmentâ€™s â€œalliesâ€ â€“ in truth, client dictatorships. Most of them were from Saudi Arabia.
It is unbelievable that the media is handling this entire thing as a victory for Rudy Giuliani and his position â€“ as he asserted to Sean Hannity after the debate â€“ that al-Qaeda members want to attack us because we have â€œfreedom for women.â€
This is Giulianiâ€™s shining â€œReagan debate momentâ€? When he is completely wrong and the statement heâ€™s denouncing and the man making it are 100% right? Now Paul should be excluded from future debates for having actually read a thing or two about our enemies, unlike his opponent who claimed to have â€œneverâ€ heard such an â€œabsurdâ€ thing before?
Now to Dr. Paulâ€™s argument that al-Qaeda is happy to have the U.S. military in the Middle East presently. This may be too complicated for the folks at Fox and MSNBC, but for the rest of you, hereâ€™s veteran intelligence beat reporter James Bamford:
â€œAyman al-Zawahiri argued that al-Qaeda should bring the war to â€˜the distant enemyâ€™ in order to provoke the Americans to strike back and â€˜personally wage the battle against Muslims.â€™ It was that battle that bin Laden and Zawahiri wanted to spark [with the 9/11 attacks]. As they made clear in their declaration of war â€˜against Jews and Crusaders,â€™ they believed that the United States and Israel had been waging war against Muslims for decades. Now their hope was to draw Americans into a desert Vietnam, with bin Laden in the role of North Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh.â€
It is very important to emphasize: They want to suck us in so they can bleed us dry and then push us out for good â€“ while empowering themselves in the process.
Ask an old Commie. Heâ€™ll tell you, â€œThe action is in the reaction.â€
This is why they knocked down the towers: al-Qaedaâ€™s purpose was to give the United States â€œno choiceâ€ but to come fight on their territory personally instead of, as they saw it, through their Western-installed governments and the Israelis, and then â€œbleedâ€ us until the American people demand an end to the intervention or the dollar breaks, whichever comes first.
Bin Laden couldnâ€™t have laid out his strategy more clearly than in his speech of October 2004:
â€œAll that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations.
â€œThis is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat. â€¦
â€œSo we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.â€
They wanted to bring the U.S. army to Afghanistan, scene of their victory over the Russians. America did bring an army to Afghanistan and that war continues â€“ though bin Laden and his friends got away. Overthrowing the tyrant Saddam Hussein, who bin Laden reviled as an â€œinfidelâ€ and a â€œsocialist,â€ however, was an additional â€œgiftâ€ to the al-Qaeda movement in the words of former CIA-man Scheuer. The Bush teamâ€™s invasion killed a few birds with one stone for bin Laden: It got rid of the Baâ€™athists, put tens of thousands of Americans within rifle range and it created a training ground and propaganda tool for new recruits.
There had never been a suicide bombing in Iraq before 2003. Never. Now there have been well over a thousand. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of the â€œIslamic State in Iraq,â€ a Sunni Arab insurgent group, has bragged that Iraq has become â€œTerrorism University,â€ thanks to the U.S. invasion.
The CIA put out a National Intelligence Estimate in the spring of 2006 which says the Iraq war has worsened our terrorism problem over all â€“ by far.
According to Centcom, in a letter from an al-Qaeda leader named â€œAtiyahâ€ to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the now-dead leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, captured in December 2005, he was instructed,
â€œ[D]o not be hasty. The most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day. Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest, with Godâ€™s permission.â€
Also in 2005, the Saudi government and an Israeli think tank did studies tracking the individual jihadists traveling to Iraq to be trained in fighting Americans. They both found that virtually all of them were youngsters who had been radicalized by the invasion of Iraq â€“ that the only thing older jihadists had to do with it was in sending them off.
This very month of May 2007, there have emerged two strong pieces of evidence to support Dr. Paulâ€™s view of the situation.
On May 5th, Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Ladenâ€™s number two guy despaired in an interview that the U.S. Congress was showing signs of wanting to withdraw from Iraq. ABC News reported:
â€œâ€˜This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap,â€™ Zawahiri says in answer to a question posed to him [by] an interviewer.
â€œContinuing in the same tone, Zawahiri says, â€˜We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson.â€™â€
And on May 17th, Yahoo News India reported:
â€œSuspected militants being held in Saudi Arabia on charges of plotting terror attacks have told prosecutors their main aim had been to draw the U.S. into Saudi territory, Saudi media reports said Tuesday.
â€œThey also said they had planned to attack Saudi Arabiaâ€™s Bqeeq oil field under the instruction of Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
â€œThey believed that the U.S. would have moved in to protect the oil field if the attack was carried out. If this had happened, according to the militants, the U.S. would have been an easy target for al-Qaeda attacks.â€
They donâ€™t want American combat troops stationed at bases with the permission of their government â€“ they want a war there. They want to radicalize as many people as they can to their cause, shoot our soldiers and bleed our treasury dry.
In England, the Royal Institute for International Affairs, long thought of as the center of their foreign policy establishment, wrote a report in which they advise
â€œThere is no doubt that the situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK, and for the wider coalition against terrorism. It gave a boost to the al-Qaeda networkâ€™s propaganda, recruitment and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, provided an ideal targeting and training area for al-Qaeda-linked terrorists. â€¦Riding pillion with a powerful ally has proved costly in terms of British and U.S. military lives, Iraqi lives, military expenditure, and the damage caused to the counter-terrorism campaign.â€
So you see, foreign occupation â€“ American foreign policy â€“ is a â€œmajor contributing factorâ€ in creating terrorism today, just as it was in the years before September 11th.