- Development & Aid
- Economy & Trade
- Human Rights
- Global Governance
- Civil Society
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
This column is available for visitors to the IPS website only for reading. Reproduction in print or electronic media is prohibited. Media interested in republishing may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On October 7, 2001, George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, allegedly in retaliation for the terrorist attack of September 11 on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. This was the start of the “war on terror”. The atrocious violence of 9/11 was totally unjustified, and the USA received much sympathy as a victim. Instead of uniting against the US government for its errors, people united against the attackers. But with its violent response, the USA has forfeited the world’s initial good will. Both terrorism and state terrorism have demonstrated that violence is counterproductive and backfires.
As Martin Luther King said, “You cannot overcome darkness with more darkness, only with light.”
Some Arabs-Muslims had grievances. But a nonviolent demonstration of Muslim women dressed in black surrounding US embassies, asking for dialogue about their complaints, contacting the media, would have communicated infinitely better than violence.
After 9/11, a psychologist answered parents’ questions on TV. One mother said, “My 8-year old boy asked what we have done that they are so angry at us?” The psychologist responded, “Tell your boy that there are good and evil people in the world. Those people were simply evil, and what they did has nothing to do with anything we did.” The boy had reached stage two on Piaget’s stages of mental development -reciprocity- whereas the psychologist was stuck on stage 1–autism.
An analysis of 2000 reports on 9/11 showed that the media reported war and violence without analysis or proposals. This is not peace journalism.
It is important to understand the reasons why 9/11 happened. That in no way means condoning or justifying it, but if we do not know the causes, we cannot prevent a repetition.
Since the US attack on Tripoli in 1805, the West has militarily attacked and/or occupied Muslim countries at least 27 times (see my book “50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives”) and the US has carried out nearly 250 foreign interventions. But the main conflict underlying the atrocious 9/11 violence is between the US and Saudi-Arabia -Islam’s Holy Land- over accords of March 1945 between president Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud (giving the USA access to oil in return for protecting the Saudi monarchy against its own population) and over the use of Saudi Arabia as staging area for wars on Iraq in the 1990s. Imagine the West’s reaction if Saudi Arabia had stationed troops in the Vatican. Most likely, 9/11 was the execution of two buildings for having sinned against Allah (with military attacks and economic exploitation); that explains why 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.
The invasion of Afghanistan used 9/11 as pretext, but no proof has ever been offered that 9/11 was prepared from Afghanistan (as opposed to violence in Chechnya and Kashmir), nor that bin Laden was organizer (as opposed to adept commentator). The true US goals seem to be military bases (established immediately) and an oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to the Indian Ocean via Afghanistan-Pakistan (established in May 2003). The war is against Muslims who will never capitulate to infidels; against an umma (community of the believers) of 1,560 million Muslims in 57 countries committed to defending Islam with the sword when trampled upon; and against a triple motivation: to protect Islam against secularism, to protect local autonomies from a central government in Kabul and its puppet masters, and against being invaded. The war produces more terrorists than it incapacitates, and US-NATO produces its own insecurity through revenge.
The invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003 also used 9/11 as pretext; but no proof has ever been offered that Saddam Hussein cooperated with Al Qaeda, nor that he possessed weapons of mass destruction. The true goals seem to be oil and bases. Iraq is an artificial country constructed by the UK to have oil near Kirkuk- Mosul and Basra within one colony, split between Kurds, and Sunni and Shia Arabs. Any imposition of a unitary state ruled from Baghdad is doomed to fail. The war produces more resistance than it eliminates.
Neither the US (after 9/11) nor the UK (after the 7/7/2005 terrorist attack in London) made any serious effort to solve the underlying conflict through mediation and reconciliation. In contrast, after the March 11, 2004 attack in Madrid -all of them atrocious, totally unacceptable acts- Prime Minister Zapatero addressed the source of the conflict that produced the violence: he withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq, travelled to Rabat for a dialogue with King Mohammed VI, legitimized close to half a million illegal Moroccan immigrants (provided they had found jobs), and initiated with Prime Minister ErdÂ”gan of Turkey under UN auspices an Alliance of Civilizations, which hosts East-West dialogues. An example to follow.
The US has damaged itself through its reaction to 9/11. The Patriot Acts I and II, surveillance of the US population and others, torture, secret courts, all destroy the spirit of democracy from the inside, on top of ruining the economy, also through the extremely expensive wars against Afghanistan, Iraq and now also Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
The US Empire destroyed itself by the way it reacted to 9/11. Economic contradictions accumulated, the US lost wars, and faith in the US as “exceptional” faded. By contrast, countries like Turkey- Iran-Russia-China start working on solutions. The US will not suffer defeat (they will withdraw before that) but something worse: US-NATO irrelevance. (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)
(*) Johan Galtung, Rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University, is author of “The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What?” ( www.transcend.org ).