War & Peace
On 9/11, America Creating More Potential 9/11s
Each year on the anniversary of the worst (received) terrorist attack in our nation’s history, Americans fear a new 9/11. But as is too often the case, America is once again acting in a manner that’s likely to foment more, not less, anti-American terror.
First, let’s acknowledge that the Islamic State fighters in America’s crosshairs are without a doubt some of the most medievally barbaric brutes we’ve faced in a very long time. We’ve a tendency to (deceitfully) paint everyone we’re about to bomb as the “new Hitler,” but in terms of shocking brutality, IS ranks right up there with some of our more murderous foes (and friends).
Never mind that the United States has killed more innocent men, women and children in the region over the past couple of decades than anyone besides maybe Bashar al-Assad; we kill innocent people the “right way” — never on purpose (despite official predictions of how many dead civilians, known in Pentagon-speak as “bugsplat,” will result from a given US strike) and always with “regret,” unlike those head-chopping, America-taunting IS monsters.
Never mind that IS did not exist on 9/11, that it arose as a direct result of America’s 2003 elective invasion and occupation of a stable, sovereign state which, while having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, had been targeted by neocon hawks for “regime change” (and resource redistribution) since the earliest days of the Bush administration.
That merits repeating: US policies and actions in Iraq are directly responsible for the rise of IS:
1- US invades Iraq, overthrows secular Sunni-dominated government, outlaws Ba’ath party, disbands Iraqi army, hand-picks Shi’a prime minister whose regime wages sectarian war against Sunnis. Sunni militancy inevitably rises in response to Shi’a repression.
2- US/NATO help overthrow secular, nationalist Libyan government. Washington allies itself with anti-Gaddafi forces, many of whom are battle-hardened jihadists with al-Qaeda connections and American blood on their hands. Militant Islamist groups fill the vacuum left by Gaddafi’s demise, seizing an arsenal and making their way to Syria to wage war on Bashar al-Assad’s secular, nationalist regime.
3- IS and other anti-Assad fighters in Syria see their ranks swell from an influx of foreign fighters, and their arsenal grows thanks to funding and weapons from the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia (which, by the way, is as deserving of regime change as just about anywhere on earth, but… oil) and Qatar. Not to mention all that spanking-new American military hardware they’ve acquired as Iraq’s US-trained and -armed army flees their impressive advance. (Sobering aside: Your tax dollars are funding IS atrocities)
4- US answers IS aggression and atrocities with yet more violence, stoking a cycle of war that’s been spinning since before the young adults entering college this month were even in preschool. Think about that for a moment — there’s a whole generation of Americans who’ve known nothing but war their entire lives. But I digress…
Despite the uncomfortable facts above, there is no denying that IS has committed unspeakable atrocities. Including what can certainly be called genocide against religious minorities, including Christians. Perhaps that’s why so many Americans — 71 percent, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll — support bombing IS back to the Stone Age from whence it apparently came.
But have we learned nothing at all?
After 13 years of incessant warfare, the cost of which has been enormous in not only blood and treasure (at least 150,000 lives and at least $6 trillion), but also in global standing and, more importantly, the very security which our (mis)leaders claim to seek even as they poke one hornet’s nest after another. The best defense is to give no offense, and it doesn’t take a PhD in political science to understand how yet another American war in yet another Muslim nation might further incense and radicalize Muslims.
We shouldn’t act surprised when the “next 9/11” strikes our shores, but we will. The reactionary blowhards will bloviate about how “they hate us for our freedoms.” No. They hate our government for its incessant interventions, its paying lip service to freedom and democracy while supporting some of the region’s most brutal dictators, its refusal to even acknowledge Israel’s crimes against humanity while labeling Palestinians “terrorists,” its predatory corporate imperialism.
We shouldn’t ask ourselves why an increasing number of American Muslims are turning to jihad. The answer is right under our noses. Religious fundamentalism plays a major role, of course, but so do US policies and actions. Kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims and some Muslims will seek revenge. You might, too.
What we should ask ourselves is why a president who ran on a platform of ending wars has waged wars in more nations than even his neocon-inspired predecessor. Really! Count ’em:
- Bush — Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia
- Obama — Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria
What we should ask ourselves is what is America’s endgame in Iraq and why we think we can get it right this time, after half a million troops, trillions of dollars and eight years of fighting couldn’t get the job done the first time around.
But what we should really be asking ourselves is this: Is war the only way? For this entire century, war seems to be the only language America speaks or understands. Even so-called progressives, especially those with grandiose ambitions, are clamoring over each other to shed blood in the Middle East. We’ve come to the point where most Americans actually believe it’s a good idea to launch yet another war of choice, and to do it on 9/11 to boot.
It appears as if we haven’t learned a thing at all. As we did post-9/11, we’re playing right into the hands of our adversaries. Our endless war goes on without an end in sight, with dangerous new (and old) fronts opening as others close. Contrary to official proclamations, those who would do us harm are not on the run. If they are, it’s toward us, not away. And with each innocent child killed by US or Israeli bombs and bullets, with each new slickly-produced IS beheading video, the ranks of our foes swell a bit more.
Can anyone really claim we’re winning the war against terrorism?