Was War the Only Answer to 9/11?
By Noam Chomsky
This is the 10th anniversary of the horrendous atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001, which, it is commonly held, changed the world.
The impact of the attacks is not in doubt. Just keeping to western and central Asia:
On May 1, 2011, the presumed mastermind of the crime, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated in
One of the leading specialists on
At every level of society, Lieven writes, Pakistanis overwhelmingly sympathize with the Afghan Taliban, not because they like them but because “the Taliban are seen as a legitimate force of resistance against an alien occupation of the country,” much as the Afghan mujahedeen were perceived when they resisted the Russian occupation in the 1980s.
These feelings are shared by
The military is the stable institution in
The potential disasters are drastically heightened by
Both of these are legacies of the Reagan administration. Reagan officials pretended they did not know that Zia ul-Haq, the most vicious of
The catastrophe lurking in the background is that these two legacies might combine, with fissile materials leaking into the hands of jihadis. Thus we might see nuclear weapons, most likely “dirty bombs,” exploding in
Lieven summarizes: “
The most significant WikiLeaks documents to have been released so far are the cables from U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson in Islamabad, who supports U.S. actions in Afpak but warns that they “risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan â(euro) .125.”
Patterson writes of the possibility that “someone working in (Pakistani government) facilities could gradually smuggle enough fissile material out to eventually make a weapon,” a danger enhanced by “the vulnerability of weapons in transit.”
A number of analysts have observed that bin Laden won some major successes in his war against the
As Eric S. Margolis writes in The American Conservative in May, “(bin Laden) repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the
In his 2004 book “Imperial Hubris,” Michael Scheuer, a senior CIA analyst who had tracked Osama bin Laden since 1996, explains: “Bin Laden has been precise in telling
He continues: “
The succession of horrors across the past decade leads to the question: Was there an alternative to the West’s response to the 9/11 attacks?
The jihadi movement, much of it highly critical of bin Laden, could have been split and undermined after 9/11, if the “crime against humanity,” as the attacks were rightly called, had been approached as a crime, with an international operation to apprehend the suspects. That was recognized at the time, but no such idea was even considered in the rush to war. It is worth adding that bin Laden was condemned in much of the Arab world for his part in the attacks.
By the time of his death, bin Laden had long been a fading presence, and in the previous months was eclipsed by the Arab Spring. His significance in the Arab world is captured by the headline in a New York Times article by
That headline might have been dated far earlier, had the
Within the jihadi movement, bin Laden was doubtless a venerated symbol but apparently didn’t play much more of a role for al-Qaida, this “network of networks,” as analysts call it, which undertake mostly independent operations.
Even the most obvious and elementary facts about the decade lead to bleak reflections when we consider 9/11 and its consequences, and what they portend for the future.
© 2011 Noam Chomsky
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.
This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/was-war-only-answer-911-1315234772. All rights are reserved.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs