Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shock Doctrine 3

I do not subscribe to the theory that the Bush administration knew the attacks of 9/11 would happen before hand (other than the warnings they were given), or that Bush orchestrated them. He and his buddies were not bright enough to pull that off without getting caught. It happened because we continued to meddle in the affairs of the Middle east (as the U.S. has in almost every other country that was of some strategic interest, and which didn't have the power to repel it) and those meddled with rightly didn't like it, thus they retaliated the only way they knew how, and with the resources that they had... a few box cutters.
Does that sound unpatriotic, dear readers? Does it stand against the creed "America right or wrong"?
I apologize if it does, but I tend to be reality based, and most times ignore heated, politically motivated, nonsensical rhetoric. And I have no patience for the general idea of American exceptionalism. This country is exceptional in many ways, just as other countries are exceptional in many ways. There is nothing exceptional in that. I do believe that when America is proven wrong in philosophy or deed, it should be set straight and held accountable.
Bin Laden himself said that meddling was one of the things that motivated his actions (as well as his belief that U.S. foreign policy had oppressed, killed, or otherwise harmed Muslims in the Middle East). He was particularly upset that U.S. troops were stationed in his homeland, Saudi Arabia (even though the Saudi government had invited them there), which of course is the most revered state of the Islamic religion, containing the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer has stated "They [Bin Laden and his followers] hate us for what we do, not who we are."
That makes a great deal more sense then the drivel George Bush was telling the American people, "They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we already knew all of that Rick, you say dear readers. But where did Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda come from? How did he become so important, and what the hell does all of this have to do with the "Shock Doctrine?"
Well, it's funny you should ask. Have patience dear readers. I'm trying to provide a little back story here, a little perspective, a perspective I find a tad distressing.
Why is that Rick?
Well, it seems that we invented him, or at least gave him a great big assist.
I agree with you. Listen:
From December of 1979 to February of 1989 the Soviet Union was involved in a war in Afghanistan, just like the United States is now. The U.S.S.R. was trying to prop up the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, which was recognized as the legitimate government of that country, and which was communist with close ties to the Union. The DRA was in the midst of a civil war, with rebels called the Afghan Mujahideen (loosely translated "Muslims who struggle in the path of God"), who were fighting the government and Soviets, with the help of foreign volunteers. Since this was still the era of the Cold War, The U.S. thought this conflict would be a good opportunity to draw the Soviets into a long protracted military engagement thereby draining it's military and economic resources. In other words we wanted to cause as much trouble for the Russians as possible without a direct confrontation which might have led to nuclear war. Several countries also backed the mujahideen, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and others.
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev came into power as the General Secretary of the Soviet Union in 1985. He inherited the war in Afghanistan and didn't like it. Thousands of Soviet troops had died, military morale was deteriorating, and the Soviet people back home were beginning to protest the war (unheard of until then in a communist country). He wanted to get out of there, and made preparations to do so.
Ronald Reagan had been in power since 1981, and after taking office he intensified America's so-called passive involvement in the conflict. The United States became instrumental in training, equipping and leading mujahideen forces against the Soviet Army. Reagan funneled billions of dollars, along with top-secret intelligence and sophisticated weaponry to these fighters through the Pakistani intelligence service.
Gorbachev was faced with the same problem we are now... how to extricate themselves from Afghanistan while providing support for the local government, and guaranteeing some type of stable and permanent transition.
In February of 1987, he tried to make a deal with the United States. Soviet forces would pull out of Afghanistan if America would stop supplying the rebels with assistance and weapons.
Reagan would have no part of such a deal.
So, Gorbi couldn't proceed with his plans to withdrawal.
Instead he escalated the fighting.
In April, Soviet troops, attacked a new compound of Islamic fighters along the mountain passes of Jaji, near the Pakistani border. The leader of those fighters was a thirty year old, well educated man, born from a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia... Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden.
"The battle lasted for about a week. Bin Laden and 50 Arab volunteers faced 200 Russian troops. … The Arab volunteers took casualties but held out under intense fire for several days. More than a dozen of bin Laden's comrades were killed, and bin Laden himself apparently suffered a foot wound. … Chronicled daily at the time by several Arab journalists … the battle of Jaji marked the birth of Osama bin Laden's public reputation as a warrior among Arab jihadists. … After Jaji he began a media campaign designed to publicize the brave fight waged by Arab volunteers who stood their ground against a superpower. In interviews and speeches … bin Laden sought to recruit new fighters to his cause and to chronicle his own role as a military leader. He also began to expound on expansive new goals for the jihad." -Steve Coll, "Ghost Wars."
In September of that year Gorbi again let the U.S know they planned to pull out of Afghanistan, and asked for help in containing a Islamic fundamentalist movement within the country. The Reagan administration didn't trust him and did nothing.
The Soviet military did indeed leave the country, the last troops withdrawing in February of 1989.
What might have happened if Reagan had taken Gorbi up on his initial offer, or second offer concerning the Soviet troops leaving Afghanistan? We have no way of knowing for sure. We do know that the "Battle of Jaji," would probably have never taken place, and quite possibly Osama may not have become so influential within the Arab jihadist movement, and then quite possibly the attacks of 9/11 may never have occurred. But who knows? Osama was a wealthy man. He could have bought influence and carried out his plans. What we do know for sure is this:
Bin Laden formed Al Qaeda in 1988, then returned to Saudi Arabia. Iraq attacked and occupied Kuwait in 1990, putting the Saudi kingdom at risk. Osama pleaded with the Saudi aristocracy not to rely on non-muslim help from countries like the United States, offering to defend Saudi Arabia with his mujahideen. His offer was declined, and the House of Saud invited the U.S. military inside the country, which incensed Bin laden. He denounced the Saudi government, and made his plans to attack the west for reasons already mentioned. The Saudi government eventually became tired of Bin Laden's criticism and banished him from his home country. He settled in Sudan and established a new base for mujahideen operations. After a failed attempt by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which Osama was closely associated with, to assassinate the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, Sudan was pressured to expel him as well. In 1994 Bin Laden had his Saudi citizenship revoked, and his billionaire family disowned him.
By 1996 the worst fears of Mikhail Gorbachev, and his advisors came true. The Taliban, an Afghan religious fundamentalist movement, came to power.
That year Osama bin Laden returned to Afghanistan and began making plans.

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