Just as I suggested last Monday, the killing of Osama bin Laden isn’t going to change a thing. The war on terrorism will continue, along with the invasions, bombings, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, kangaroo tribunals, torture and abuse, assassinations, indefinite detention, foreign aid, support of dictatorships, and, of course, the out-of-control federal spending and ever-growing infringements on the freedom and privacy of the American people.
In fact, the killing of bin Laden itself, according to U.S. officials, has caused the terror alerts to go up again, given the large number of terrorists who might be seeking to retaliate for bin Laden’s killing.
And now we learn that last week, U.S. forces tried unsuccessfully to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, reminding us that U.S. presidents and their military forces now wield the power to assassinate Americans too.
As I wrote back in September 2001, immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the so-called war on terrorism is perpetual in nature. Like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going and going and going, no matter whom they kill and no matter how many people they kill.
Yesterday, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Peter Bergen, director of national security studies at the New America Foundation, entitled “5 Myths About Osama bin Laden,” in which he stated:
[Myth] 2. Bin Laden attacked us because of our freedoms.
This was a common trope of President George W. Bush. Nine days after Sept. 11, Bush addressed Congress. “They hate our freedoms,” he said, “our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Yet, in all the tens of thousands of words uttered by bin Laden, he was strangely silent about American freedoms and values. He didn’t seem to care very much about the beliefs of the “crusaders.” His focus was invariably on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
In a review of 24statements made by bin Laden from 1994 to 2004, political scientist James L. Payne found that 72 percent of the content of the speeches referred to alleged Western or Jewish attacks against Muslims, while only 1 percent criticized American culture or way of life.
In a 2004 video, bin Laden directly rebutted Bush’s assertions about al-Qaeda’s motivations for attacking the United States: “Contrary to what Bush says and claims — that we hate your freedom. If that were true, then let him explain why did we not attack Sweden.”
For many Americans, U.S. history begins on 9/11. They think that what happened before 9/11 was irrelevant. “The terrorists came over here on 9/11 and killed Americans, and that’s all that matters,” they exclaim. The refusal to engage in any deeper, more critical thinking than that is obviously a testament to the government schools their parents were forced to send them to.
What those Americans are scared of confronting is that the terrorists came over on on 9/11 to retaliate for what the U.S. Empire had been doing to people in the Middle East prior to 9/11. The Empire had been killing people, abusing people, and humiliating people and supporting the brutal Middle East dictatorships that were doing the same.
Consider: Hundreds of thousands — some estimates go as high as a million — Iraqi children killed by the U.S. Empire through the cruel and brutal sanctionsthat the U.S. Empire enforced against Iraq during the 11 years prior to 9/11.
Consider: The U.S. Empire’s official spokesman to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright announced to the world that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.” That was in 1996, and the sanctions lasted another six years.
Question: If Americans were filled with anger, rage, and thirst for vengence over the killing of some 3,000 Americans, why wouldn’t people in the Middle East be filled with the same degree of anger, rage, and thirst for vengeance over the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children?
And that was just part of what the Empire was doing to provoke people in the Middle East prior to 9/11. There was also the massive killing during the Persian Gulf War, the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage supplies with the intent of spreading infectuous illnesses, the illegal no-fly zones that killed even more Iraqis, the stationing of troops near Islamic holy lands, the support of Middle East dictatorships, and the unconditional foreign aid provided to the Israeli government.
Perpetual crisis and conflict are great for an Empire, given the ever-growing spending and power that come with a warfare state, but they are not good for the people of the nation, given the accompanying ever-growing rise in taxes and inflation along with the ever-growing infringements on the civil liberties of the people.