Let’s use this anniversary to honestly evaluate the actions that have so bloodied our soldiers, while transferring trillions of US taxpayer dollars to Bush- & Cheney-related military contractors
The complete stupidity and ignorance and just meanness of Bush-Cheney’s absolutely. They were nearly as bad and criminal as Trump. Then that second term - I barely made it to my classroom to teach the next morning after S COTUS completely illegally declared Bush the winner - again. I still wonder what we’d be like if the actual winner, Al Gore, had been allowed ALL his very legitimate. But another Bush (and Roger Stone) intervened. Am I still angry! Oh yeah
You are quite right Thom, but people don’t seem to know or learn from history. A basic understanding of why the Iranians are angry at the U.S., based on our involvement in the 1953 coup, would explain a lot. But that event, among similar ones elsewhere, is not discussed in the mainstream media. “They hate us for our freedoms” was a quick and meaningless soundbite that Bush babbled, and it worked because it appealed to emotions, not logic.
I’m a geography professor who also spent some time in Afghanistan before the Soviets came. That was part of a much longer trip overland from France to Nepal, and then by ship, plane and car to Argentina before heading north by bus. And I continue to travel extensively.
And from my experiences in the 1970s I then came to the conclusions that one could expect two things about Afghanistan: Any land war there was hopeless due to the mountains, and any land war there was hopeless due to the resistance the people would give. (I also felt that overall Islam was building up to some serious anti-Western activities and that Iran was very shaky.) This was all well summed up by a man I met in Kabul who proudly showed me a road and said, “We beat Alexander the Great here!”
I still believe that when 9/11 occurred we had to go in there. The American people demanded immediate vengeance. There was no more question about that than there was after Pearl Harbor.
However, I said at the time that the only way this would work was if we went in and out fast. Perhaps following up with physicians, engineers and the like would then have been possible. But an inept thrashing around war was going to end nowhere. This was especially so in a culture which no “traditional” American bureaucrats seemed to understand and where the people were happy to pretend to go along while stealing everything they could. Throw in tribal and family connections and it was far beyond our experience. For me the only surprises were how long it took for Washington to realize how hopeless the whole thing was…and then utterly screw up the withdrawal.
I used to think that the one good thing about the Vietnam War was that it taught Americans not to get into such conflicts. If we hadn’t been in Southeast Asia our fighting would have been in Nicaragua or Angola or some other such place. But a new generation came of age and thought they could make the strategy work, “this time.” The same lies about Iraq were ones I’d heard about Vietnam, and the results were the same, if not worse; ISIS should build a statue to Dick C., as without him they never would have existed. But in any case, both wars have been shoved down the memory hole and are rarely discussed anymore. Maybe these disasters will be the end of such overt adventures, at least for a while, and if the empire goes bankrupt, for all time.
The old duffer has a few words to say, all right, about Thom's topic today. 60,000 words in fact, in a book I'm just now finishing, "Derelict Democracy and the War on Terrorism: American's Interlocked Tragedies."
Here are some things we know (documented in 400+ endnotes).
Let's start with the Afghan war.
1. In December of 2000, after the bombing of the USS Cole, the Taliban offered (in a meeting with U.S. officials in Frankfurt, Germany) either to assassinate Osama bin Laden or to turn him over into U.S. custody. A month later George Bush took office. He declined the offer in early February. He did so again in March, once more in June, then again just nine days before 9/11, and for the last time just five days afterward. (In Quetta, Pakistan: this is the meeting Thom refers to.) A "War on Terrorism" isn't possible without an iconic terrorist alive, at large, and in residence.
2. In early August of 2001, after negotiations with the Taliban failed (for a pipeline route across Afghanistan for the Unocal Corporation) the Bush Administration promised them "...military action before the end of October." 9/11 was six weeks in the future.
3. The Taliban offered to surrender unconditionally, to disarm and disband, on December 5, 2001, just two months after Bush invaded, "... effectively ensuring the Taliban could no longer function as a military entity."
(Details here: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/08/18/taliban-surrendered-2001) Bush refused the offer, needing his troops to remain in the Mideast--to attack Iraq, his prime reason for the GWOT.
Now the Iraq war:
1. In February, 2003 Saddam Hussein offered to enter voluntary exile, in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt. Separated from his weapons (real or imagined) he could threaten no one. This would give Bush the "regime change" he said he was after, but this offer was refused, as well. Bush needed a "terrorist" alive in Iraq.
2. Almost a year before Congress authorized the attack on Iraq Bush ordered his Defense Department to undertake planning the invasion. (Two sources vary slightly, but it was late in 2001.)
3. In the same time period the State Department was developing a scheme to transfer control of 87% of Iraq's undeveloped oil reserves to Exxon/Mobil, Chevron/Texaco, Royal Dutch/Shell, and BP/Amoco.
1. Throughout the spring and summer of 2001 Bush had dozens of accurate and site-specific warnings of bin Laden's intentions long before 9/11, from domestic intelligence agencies and foreign sources in Italy, Israel, Germany, France, Morocco, Egypt, India, Russia, the UK, Argentina, Jordan, and the Cayman Islands.
2. In the files of the national security agencies the details of Project Bojinka are archived. It was a mid-1990's al Qaeda plot to crash hijacked airliners into the Pentagon, the CIA headquarters, the White House, the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco, the Sears Tower in Chicago, and the World Trade Center in New York. Its architect was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who later succeeded with a scaled-down version of his plan on September 11, 2001.
In recent years George W. Bush was awarded six national, prestigious awards for moral courage, international leadership, and for men of "... courage and conviction who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe." He has received honorary degrees from eleven universities and was named "Person of the Year" by Time magazine. Twice.
And so it goes. (Hat tip to Kurt Vonnegut.)
We have never had national reflection on this. Consider that W was given a "medal of freedom" by Biden for his...service to veterans (!) and that Michelle Obama proclaimed that she liked W because they "have the same values." We clearly haven't come to terms with the Iraq invasion and its thorough cruelty and criminality. I am now inquiring whether peace organizations have in mind any sort of day of reckoning for Saturday, March 19, 2023, the 20th anniversary of the invasion. Even with today's colossal distractions, I hope we have the capacity to reflect.
To see how much damage the United States military has done to Afghanistan one need only look at the infant mortality numers (number of children who did before reaching 5 years of age out of 1000). With countries in Europe it is fewer than 4 per 1000 (as compared to 7 to 8 per 1000 in places like Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Alabama). In Afghanistan the figure is 106 per 1000 or 25 times as great thanks to the complete failure of our military and our government.
The invasion of Afghanistan by the U.S. was done to protect the gas pipeline known as TAPI that is to take gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. The primary investor in the project is Unocal which is based in California.
Having a son in the army who endured multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, I thought Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz should have gone to jail. Lying about the need for war is obviously a long tradition in this country. The military personnel, who rendered honorable service to the country and all the innocent civilians who were killed or maimed were just the cost of doing business for the war profiteers. There are always profiteers in war. To make plans to invade a country and confiscate their natural resources is a war crime. A crime of epic proportions. My son became an instrument of foreign policy. He and thousands of others were sent to invade and shoot at people with whom they had no argument. The real motives for those wars were greed and a thirst for power. Maybe Karma is coming back around for the US. What goes around comes back around.
Taxi To The Darkside is not just a documentary title, it's an apt description of our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. The torture, murders, renditions, Abu Grahaib, Guantanimo, and the endless insanity of how the occupations were executed cost us much more than 14 trillion dollars. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld encouraged and even authorized most of it. They exchanged our credibility and moral high-ground on human rights for war crimes.
The shame is not in how we exited either country. That Republican construct is just misdirection.
Thanks for the facts, Thom.
Thank you Thom for a REAL history lesson.
I would like to see those that prosecute a war in such an unjustified manner brought to account. It strikes me that the International Court of Justice would be a logical option. Our Congress doesn't seem willing to get or acquire a back bone of any sort.
I think the prosecution of a POTUS if even posthumously would carry some weight. But better would be while still alive to confront the damage perpetrated on not only other citizens in other countries, but also the damage to our own troops. Never mind the great expense involved.
Let’s hope that you are right and the end of this perverse brand of Republican lunatics is at hand. It’s seems to me that a cornerstone of their inelegant ruse is cracking like dry sticks underfoot. They are bigots all and insufferable lemmings for trumps dynasty of misfits, and yes deplorables.
What a farce these liars-in-chief have perpetuated on the world . This, just because they could. And the fact that these despicable Republicans gained in wealth at the expense of these poor countries, ought to get them a ticket to hell. Now we have Trump as a follow up. I think we’ve seen enough Republicans in Satans clothing. Please no more.
"Teach your children well." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj8FlXGPcOQ "The children understood. The children happen to be good." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIBlLJSJrS0
Nature is an all-powerful force yet, in essence, is purity and innocence untouched by human thought, which is merely the fragmented memory of life. Beyond the basics of survival and science, what do adults, who can't even learn the lesson of war, teach their children? Perhaps we have more to learn from them than they do from us.
If we're to list all the wars we were lied into then we need to make it a non partisan list and include Vietnam under LBJ.
Also don't forget not only was bin Laden upset over US troops in Saudi Arabia but guess who was in Lebanon during the Lebanese war when boxcar sized shells pounded into housing form the US battleship parked offshore, bin Laden, who swore he would make America pay for that.
"The Holy Kaaba [Saudi land] is an honour to die and defend. So this is our aim — to liberate the lands of Islam from the sinners.”" First, a minor correction: It seems from the parenthetical insertion of "Saudi land" after "The Holy Kaaba" is defining the Kaaba as Saudi land. The Kaaba is the sacred House in Mecca, which Muslims believe was originally constructed by Abraham and his son Ishmael, to which all Muslims turn in prayer. It is called "Masjid all Haram," and is the most sacred site in all of Islam.
America needs to learn the story of this shameful war in Afghanistan and the subsequent one in Iraq. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice et. al should be tried for war crimes. Haliburton, Black Water and the other war profiteers that milked the US Treasury and soullessly destroyed two innocent nations should have their assets confiscated and the proceeds should be dedicated to reconstructing Afghanistan and Iraq and paying reparations to all who lost land and loved ones in those criminal wars. And perhaps a portion of that money could go to reparations for the service people or their families who were killed or maimed through being used as equally-deceived puppets of this Great Lie.
This was such an important article that I was moved to upgrade to a paid subscription. Thank you for all your excellent work.