With the 9/11 anniversary upon us once again, Middle East expert Robert Fisk in Beirut has written an instructive article about our predicament. He says that we have lied to ourselves for 10 years to avoid asking the one real question: Why did it happen? Without motive, there would have been no attack.
Fisk says we’ve been lying to ourselves about the motive, but the reality is a little different. We have been constantly misinformed and misled. We are on the receiving end. We have swallowed the lies. How could we be so naive?
Some of us have taken the route of avoidance, saying, “Hey, I don’t give a damn about the Middle East and those people—why should I?” But what happens out there is affecting us back here. What our leaders do in the Middle East has dramatic, adverse repercussions on the home front.
“Thanks to 9/11, America was railroaded into invading Iraq. That invasion was based upon a mountain of mendacious propaganda produced for Americans by their own government.”
In CIA parlance, what happened on 9/11 ten years ago is called “blowback,” the unforeseen or at least unintended consequences of US foreign-policy decisions. It would be wise to understand what Washington, in all its glorious malfeasance, has been doing in our name in the greater Middle East.
I don’t think we are in any real external danger from “the Muslims” or “the Arabs” or anyone else. Rather, I believe we have put ourselves in harm’s way. We—meaning the average citizens—are not directly responsible. We are only along for the ride. We are almost irrelevant. It is Washington’s policymakers who have done it. They have created danger where there was none before. But we have allowed them to do it.
The average American is far too trusting of official explanations. We have swallowed their bilge and failed to take action to prevent them—be they named Clinton, Bush, or Obama—from pursuing self-destructive and counterproductive initiatives. So we suffer the consequences.
The US has been meddling militarily in foreign affairs at least since 1917 with Woodrow Wilson’s entry into the Great War. For us, the most horrific and visible consequence of Washington’s mischief-making has been 9/11. Like the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the 9/11 atrocity was the direct result of an errant, incendiary US foreign policy, sold to the American people as something entirely different.
In his article, Fisk mentions Kenneth Pollack and his 2002 book The Threatening Storm: The Case for invading Iraq. The establishment media hyped the book to the skies. While Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, working in tandem with their odious neocon playmates, ginned up the fear propaganda about “weapons of mass destruction” from inside the government, it was Pollack’s fat book that reaffirmed the mass hysteria from the outside and gave it a scholarly gloss. It was all part of the same mindless talking-head crusade in response to 9/11.
Everybody who was anybody wanted to hop on that war wagon, including the ambitious future Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as well as the rest of the Senate’s liberal Democratic leadership. Among the more notable “liberal” pundits beating the war drums were Tom Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, George Packer, Richard Cohen, and the hyperactive Christopher Hitchens. The neocons who called themselves “conservatives” were all gung-ho. Both sides have traveled together inside the bipartisan war wagon ever since. Meanwhile, Ken Pollack has been rewarded for his service to The Cause by being made the Director of Research for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
On the day after the 9/11 attacks, Robert Fisk wrote a powerful piece for the Independent in London entitled “The wickedness and awesome cruelty of a crushed and humiliated people.” The only thing Fisk got wrong was the number of casualties.
In March 2002, ex-CIA operative Robert Baer gave an interview to London’s Sunday Observer. The article was entitled “Bombing Saddam is ignorance.” Baer had worked in the Directorate of Operations for 25 years, mostly in the Middle East. From the article:
After a quarter of a century abroad, Baer hardly recognises the States and is appalled at the level of public ignorance. “There is no debate,” he says. “People will not address the question of Palestine in the context of the World Trade Centre attacks. It’s not in the terms of discussion.”
In June 2004, FBI Special Agent James Fitzgerald testified about the hijackers’ motives before the 9/11 Commission and suggested that the attackers “identify with the Palestinian problem.” His remarks never made it into the Commission’s final report.
Until America comes to grips with what motivated the terrorists to attack New York and Washington on 9/11, there will be scant hope of Americans regaining control of their country. 9/11 is the basis for everything which followed. Thanks to 9/11, America was railroaded into invading Iraq. That invasion was based upon a mountain of mendacious propaganda produced for Americans by their own government. There has been no accountability. Under Obama, only the rhetoric has changed. US foreign policy remains the same.
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