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September 11 and the origins
of the "War on Terrorism":

A revisionist account

Part one




I offer here what might be called a moderate revisionist account of the September 11 terror and the origin of the U.S. "war on terrorism."

The official story permeating the major media runs something like this: the U.S. war on Afghanistan was simply an ad hoc response to the horrific events of September 11, which struck as a bolt from the blue, totally unexpected by American security agencies. The Afghanistan war emerged overnight as a simple effort to punish, and thus bring to justice, the perpetrators of the abominable deeds — namely, the al Qaeda terrorist network masterminded by the infamous Osama Bin Laden, ensconced in his cave in Afghanistan (accompanied, no doubt, by his dialysis machine). Presumably, the punishment of the perpetrators would make America safer from terrorism.

Because the Taliban government of Afghanistan harbored Bin Laden — the official line goes — it was necessary and just for the United States to overthrow that regime, which according to the U.S. Department of Justice was not actually a government at all but simply a vipers' nest of terrorists, as evil as Bin Ladin and al Qaeda. [1] In the event, the United States's elimination of the nefarious terrorists had the effect of liberating the oppressed Afghan people from tyranny.

The media, quoting government sources, identified Bin Laden as the likely culprit within hours of the attacks on the Twin Towers. It took more time for the story to evolve to the point where the Taliban became equivalent in evil with Bin Laden and al Qaeda, but soon enough, the whole affair was openly presented as a Manichæan conflict between good and evil, even including the claim that the United States was attacked because evil folk hate good folk.


The official line has finally begun to wear thin, and even such mouthpieces of Establishment platitudes as Chris Matthews and Michael Kinsley are now able to discern that the war is directed toward much broader purposes than a simple effort to punish the actual culprits of September 11. Kinsley writes: "But how did the 'war on terrorism' change focus so quickly from rooting out and punishing the perpetrators of 9/11 — a task that is still incomplete — to something (what?) about nuclear proliferation?" (Parenthesis in original.) [2] In Matthews's view, the limited punitive war has been "hijacked" by people with other, broader aims — including, as he specifies, the proposed effort to prevent members of the "axis of evil" from developing weapons of mass destruction. Matthews writes:

A month ago, I knew why we were fighting. You knew why we were fighting. We were getting the killers of Sept. 11 before they could get us again. If that meant tracking down Osama Bin Laden and his filthy gang to the ends of the Earth, we were up to the task.

So what happened to that gutsy war of bringing the World Trade Center and Pentagon killers to justice? Who hijacked that clear-eyed, all-American front of September-to-January and left our leaders mouthing this "axis of evil" line? Who hijacked the firefighters' war of righteous outrage and got us reciting this weird mantra about Iran, Iraq — and North Korea, of all places? [3]

Kinsley and Matthews make significant (though very obvious) observations here. The war is far different from a simple effort to punish those responsible for the September 11 atrocities. There is absolutely no connection between that event and President Bush's current concern with his "axis of evil." In fact, the White House does not even attempt to make such a connection. As columnist Robert Novak notes, commenting on the 2002 State of the Union speech, "Bush abandoned seeking some connection between the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the next step in the war on terrorism. Indeed, the nexus between the three rogue nations and any kind of terrorism was slender, with the president asserting these countries 'could provide' weapons of mass destruction 'to terrorists.'" [4]

Even the idea that the war has transmuted from its original intent represents a revisionist interpretation. And it is a short step from the transmutation thesis to the position that the war was never intended to be a simple, straightforward "firefighters' war of righteous outrage" and that from the very outset the September 11 events simply gave America's foreign policy elites the excuse to put their pre-war agendas into action. As I will show, American penetration of energy-rich Central Asia has been a much-discussed foreign policy objective for some years. Moreover, there is evidence that, prior to September 11, the United States had actually been making plans to remove the Taliban regime.

Further, Zionist elements in the American ruling establishment have always sought to direct the United States against the "terrorist" states, which are, not coincidentally, the enemies of Israel. Certainly, that group — which has had its tentacles in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations — has long talked of taking a tougher line toward Iran and Iraq, as well as giving greater support to Israel's war on "terrorists."

In short, it is apparent that the war was anything but an overnight improvisation to address the September 11 atrocity; rather, the September 11 atrocities provided the pretext for the United States to put her existing war plans into motion.


There is nothing novel about policymakers taking advantage of certain events to achieve a pre-existing agenda. In the 1840s James K. Polk exploited the Mexican army's firing on American troops in the disputed region of south Texas in order to achieve his goal of acquiring Mexican territory by military means. In 1898, the explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor provided the pretext for American imperialists to launch a war to grab overseas colonies, notably including the far-distant Philippines. And, of course, in 1941 the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor provided Franklin Roosevelt his long-sought opportunity to enter World War II against Germany. If a real incident doesn't present itself, it becomes necessary for the crafty politico to fabricate one — as Lyndon Johnson did with the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Examples could be provided ad infinitum, so let me simply say that latching onto events to justify the implementation of a pre-existing militaristic agenda has long been the standard operating procedure of ruling elites, especially in formal democracies where a war-averse populace has to be persuaded of the righteousness of whatever policy of mayhem and murder government leaders intend to pursue. (I should add that in today's context the word "persuaded" is too strong a term, since the contemporary American public needs minimal intellectual persuasion. Instead, like the less-intelligent creatures of Orwell's Animal Farm, it believes whatever story the government and the official media feed it.)

Even if only this much were true — that the September 11 events served as a pretext to achieve preexisting aims by military action — the meaning of the war on Afghanistan would depart radically from the conventional public presentation. But going even further, there are intimations that the United States (and her close ally Israel) had prior knowledge of the impending attack and did nothing to impede it, in order to obtain the needed justification for war. Since that more-extreme thesis is more difficult to prove, this article will devote considerable space to the evidence for it.

I acknowledge that my counter-interpretation of September 11 is hardly original. While the mainstream media have naturally eschewed it, and assiduously, it is quite evident on the Web. [5] In its purest conspiratorial form — that the U. S. government had prior knowledge or actually facilitated the atrocities — it is most popular on the hard Left and the conspiratorial far Right. In its milder form — that from its very outset the purpose of the war was to achieve broader goals than simply the punishment of those responsible for September 11 — the revisionist thesis actually seems to predominate outside the United States.


Cui bono?

What evidence exists for the revisionist thesis? According to the traditional adage, when a crime is committed, the first question to be asked is "Cui bono?" — "Who benefits?"

The Afghanistan war has obviously been advantageous for American Big Oil and for policymakers who think in terms of U.S. world hegemony. It has enabled the United States to position herself so that she can secure the immense oil and gas reserves of Central Asia. The stabilization of Afghanistan is a crucial element for the attainment of that prize. [6] As a consequence of the war on Afghanistan, it appears that U.S. military and political influence will be a permanent fixture in Central Asia, a region of key geostrategic importance for American global hegemony. Later in this article I will develop at greater length the issue of American resources and geostrategic interests.

Obviously, the other primary beneficiary has been Israel. For Israel the "war on terrorism" not only provides a green light for the crushing of the Palestinian people, entailing their expulsion or total bantustanization[7], but also puts American power on the side of Israel against her enemies across the entire Middle East. [8] That is because the officially designated "terrorists" and countries that "harbor terrorists" turn out to be the major enemies of Israel. Note that Iran and Iraq make up two-thirds of President Bush's diabolical "axis" and that North Korea is mainly included because she supplies weapons to those countries. It is interesting, too, that the very phrase "axis of evil" was coined by Bush's speechwriter, David Frum, a hyper-Zionist who holds dual United States/Canadian citizenship. (It is not apparent that the protection of American national interests is foremost in Mr. Frum's mind. I think Mr. Frum is one of those people whom the perceptive Joe Sobran would never accuse of dual loyalty. I also expect that Mr. Frum's single loyalty would not be to Canada.)

A policy of militarily restraining and diminishing the military strength of her neighbors serves ipso facto to maintain nuclear-armed Israel's monopoly of power in the Middle East, which has been the long-standing fundamental objective of Israeli foreign and military policy. As illustrated in 1981 by her military strike on the Osiraq reactor in Iraq, Israel has been willing to use force to maintain her regional nuclear monopoly. Long before September 11, the United States was actively helping Israel preserve that monopoly by maintaining a hypocritical double standard: ignoring Israel's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction while opposing the transfer of even peaceful nuclear technologies to others.

Israel currently views Iran as the neighboring state most likely to develop nuclear weapons, and she has been pushing to have that blocked, using the issue of Iran's alleged support of terrorism as the ostensible justification for a military attack. Hints are even floating about that if the United States doesn't do something, Israel herself will act. [9] The initial move of the U.S. military into Afghanistan saw efforts on Iran's part to improve relations with the United States, but that tentative rapprochement has now been aborted, and for the fundamental cause of that one must look at the influence of Israel and her American supporters.

One crucial point must be clear: a military effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons has nothing to do with an effort to punish the perpetrators of the September 11 atrocities, an operation with which Iran has cooperated extensively. [10]

It is significant that the interests of Big Oil and Israel converged on the Osama/Afghanistan issue. In the past, the interests of the two groups have often diverged — with the oil interests seeking to placate Israel's oil-producing enemies. It is not clear that either group could have achieved success on its own. While the oil interests loom large in the Bush administration, Zionist influence reigns supreme in the Establishment media. It is unlikely that any major military action could succeed without the media's being favorably disposed — witness the contributions of a hostile media to the Vietnam fiasco.

However, while the interests of Big Oil and Israel coincide on Afghanistan, their overall interests are not identical. Big Oil seems to desire a more limited war — restricted largely to Afghanistan and benefiting from the cooperation of an "anti-terrorist" coalition of "moderate" Islamic states. Secretary of State Colin Powell appears to be the administration spokesman for that position. In contrast, Israel and her American supporters want a broader war against "terrorism" — that is, a war against the enemies of Israel. In that corner, one finds Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol and the Weekly Standard, Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, Richard Perle, and neoconservatives in general. [11] Such a "war against terrorism" would work against Big Oil's desire to form a coalition of moderate Islamic governments to counter Islamic "fundamentalism." Zionists, for their part, understand that a coalition of "moderate" Islamic states in bed with the United States could be used to put diplomatic pressure on Israel to moderate her policies toward the Palestinians.


Other important groups have benefited from September 11, especially the Bush administration itself. With the country going nowhere and the economy sliding downward, September 11 was a godsend to the beleaguered regime. Bush's popularity has soared to astronomical heights. More than that, the entire Republican Party has sought to capitalize on the popularity of the war. Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, has been urging Republicans to focus on the war theme. [12] Paraphrasing Roosevelt aide Harry Hopkins's notorious election-winning formula — "Tax, tax; spend, spend; elect, elect" — a Republican activist jokingly said to me: "Bomb, bomb; elect, elect." For that matter, even Franklin Roosevelt, seeing his popularity flagging, found it necessary to transform himself from "Dr. New Deal" to "Dr. Win-the-War."

Also benefiting from the war and its accompanying fever is the once-denigrated military-industrial complex, which naturally will expand in size and prestige. An influential, though often overlooked, element of that complex are the old Cold Warriors (and the institutions that house them), who need an Enemy to justify their existence. Many of those people would face unemployment should there ever be a "peace scare." [13]

However, these latter two groups — Republican politicos and the military-industrial complex — serve largely as auxiliaries in the pro-war movement, rather than as seminal forces. They would tend to support any war, anywhere. The point is that while these groups are predisposed to support war per se, they have not determined the specific parameters of this particular war with its focus on Central Asia and on Israel's enemies. [14]

March 11, 2002

To part two.

© 2002 by WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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