My Facebook friend Bob writes:
“It’s hard for me to overcome [my friends’] objection that Muslims are out to conquer the world. Any ideas?”
It just ain’t so. America is an empire, and those who promote it and profit from it have to tell lies in order to justify what they do. For example, they have, since 9/11, pushed the lie that the attack came out of the clear blue sky, that it represented the cutting edge of the new rising bin Ladenite caliphate taking over the world “from Spain to Indonesia” as claimed by George W. Bush. America had to be innocent and all of Israel’s enemies had to be America’s, therefore the enemy changed from al Qaeda — a group of Saudis and Egyptians numbering no more than 400 at the time of the attack (no more than a few dozen by New Year’s ’02), and based in exile in Afghanistan — into “Islamic Extremism,” which included the Taliban, Iraq (secular enemies of bin Laden), Iran (Shi’ite enemies of bin Laden), the al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigade (irrelevant), Hamas (Sunni enemies of bin Laden), Hezbollah (Iranian backed enemies of bin Laden), etc. ad infinitum. What all of these groups have in common is that they are not part of al Qaeda’s war against America.
Bin Laden’s war against America did not begin on 9/11, but when America lied and bribed King Fahd in Saudi Arabia into allowing the US military to begin the indefinite occupation of the “holy” Arabian Peninsula, in order to wage a war against Iraq resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and which lasted a dozen years preceding 9/11. The attacks began in 1996. He declared war on CNN and issued a fatwa called the “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places [Mecca and Medina],” and detailed only actual earthly grievances against the American government – legitimate or not – rather than having anything to say about freedom and democracy other than that he thinks since “we the people” are the American government and control, endorse and pay for what our government does, it makes us all fair game for his planned attacks. There was nothing in there about hating our goodness, our freedom, wealth, nice weather, womens’ rights to wear miniskirts to primary elections, rated-R movies, etc. at all.
The grievances were: the occupation of Arabia from which to bomb and blockade Iraq; Israel’s permanent occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and repeated invasions of Lebanon (it was issued just on the heels of the first Qana massacre during Operation Grapes of Wrath, which incidentally is when lead hijacker Mohammed Atta filled out his last will and testament as a symbol of his dedication to avenge those killed); US support for fascist dictators in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen, Pakistan, etc.; pressure on them to keep oil prices artificially low and taking all the profits; and our support/blind eye turned toward Russia, China and India in their wars against Muslims.
They began killing Americans right around that time in 1996, I forget off-hand if it was before or after the fatwa, with an attack on the US embassy and the massacre of 19 airmen based at the Khobar Towers — attacks which the FBI preferred to blame on “Iranian-backed Saudi Hezbollah,” which was complete nonsense. They followed up with more attacks including the African embassies in 1998 and the Cole and failed Millennium plot in 2000. (Depending on your point of view, the Blind Sheik Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, etc.’s bombing of the WTC in 1993 and plots in NY and the Philippines in 1994 and 1995 may also count, as Rahman was associated with Zawahiri who later joined with bin Laden, and Yousef is the nephew of KSM, who later joined with bin Laden.)
And it is perfectly okay to hate bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s guts and want them to die, as well as to refuse for a second to believe that they are sincere in what they claim to be their motivations.
Why should any of us believe that they are the slightest bit more honest than any other mass-murderer criminal wannabe politician? We should not. And we don’t need to in order to understand that without the immoral US actions in their part of the world to cite, they would never be able to recruit a soul to join the fight against us or the fight for them and their power and influence. These men do not control a single state anywhere on earth. They have no power to tax, no power to conscript, no money, no navy, no air force, no tank divisions, nothing but walk-in recruits to do their dirty work.
And as Americans who joined up in response to 9/11 could tell you, the pitch is a lot easier to believe when things are on fire and people are dying. In that sense, bin Laden is the William Kristol of the Salafi movement. On the average day, he’s just a kook ranting on a street corner, but when things start exploding and he’s there with the ready-made explanation for what it all means, those ignorant of their history and how it determines the present become ripe for the fooling (and dying).
The result of our modern American jihadists’ – call them, say, “the jingoists”‘ – war of us against all in the Muslim part of the world is the fulfilling of exactly the reaction Osama bin Laden wanted. Just as the US helped to give the Russians “their own Vietnam” in Afghanistan, he wanted to give us the treatment we had helped him and his old buddies give the Russians back then: lure us in (as the US had done to the Russians in 1979) and then bog us down in endless guerrilla warfare at such expense in blood and treasure that it bankrupts us. All of this with the goal of forcing our empire out of the region for good, as well as rallying new recruits to their cause, elevating their presumed power and influence.
It’s already worked. We’re broke. But we didn’t destroy ourselves before getting rid of Osama’s enemy in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, discrediting all our puppet regimes in the region fully, and destroying the very freedom here at home that the war party claimed was their motive all along. Goodbye “Great Writ” habeus corpus. 800 years. We hardly knew ya.
(It’s important to note that al Qaeda attacks on civilians here, in Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have ensured the last part of their goals listed above has failed. People hate the US, but they hate bin Laden too. Hezbollah’s Nasrallah polls much higher across the Middle East.)
With this understanding, one should be able to see that more war, more occupation, more support for tyrants – more of what caused our problem – is not the solution to the problem. We gave our government the authority to go after those who attacked us, and instead they have invaded 5 countries and counting, killed more than a million people and helped to create generations worth of ill will among the people of the Muslim world. The clash of civilizations may be where we are headed, but it never had and does not have to be this way.
The US inherited the British empire in the Middle East after the second world war, and has done enormous damage there among people who used to love and respect us for having defeated and driven off the British ourselves and refusing evil Godless Commie atheism, etc. There is no reason in the world that Western civilization and Islamic civilization must be in opposition. Just ask Ronald Reagan. He’ll tell you.
Saudi and Israeli studies in 2005 showed that virtually 100 percent of the “foreign fighters” who traveled to from Arabia, Syria, Libya, etc. to Iraq to fight against the American occupation were young men who had been radicalized by the invasion and occupation itself, not to mention the pictures from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib — but none of them were old Mujahedeen veterans from the 1980s Afghan war. Their only involvement was limited to logistics and help in getting the youngsters to Iraq. So “fighting them over there” as though Iraq is flypaper and the many-but-finite number of jihadists will go there so we can kill them – the war party’s favorite lie of 2004 – is more like fighting flies by swinging raw steaks around trying to swat them, all the while creating more and more of them in the breeding ground of the wreckage left by our flawed strategy.
More: Dozens of former and current military and CIA have explained and verified exactly the above. From my show to their official NIE on terrorism from 2007. Just look around.
Robert A. Pape’s book Dying to Win proves the case with math.
Michael Scheuer’s book Imperial Hubris is the trump card. (He was the head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit from 1996-99 and helped to give Bill Clinton 10 chances to kill bin Laden before 9/11.)
The Gallop Poll book Who Really Speaks for Muslims? will also provide great insight to Americans about what Muslims actually think about themselves and about us.
Again: The US is the empire, the terrorists are the rebels. That doesn’t make them good or even deserving of mercy, but it is what it is, and it is not “radical Islam.” Terrorism is a reaction, and it’s purpose is to get a reaction. They may dress up their arguments with religious propaganda, as does the war party on our side, but if bin Laden lies that our war against them is motivated by our Christianity which is dedicated to eradicating all Muslims and occupying all Muslim land, why should it be true when American terrorists say the same thing about him?
[Updated for betterness.]