WoT & the deeper malaise

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Ian Cobain in the Guardian, 9 November 2017, ‘ . . . From the late summer of 2003, as the war in Iraq began to go badly for the US and its allies, it became increasingly clear that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction – the WMD programme that officially justified the invasion of Iraq – did not exist. But if Gaddafi could be persuaded to abandon his own nuclear plans, those who had pressed for war against Iraq could claim the invasion had been vindicated.’ click here

Michael Savage in the Observer, 5 November 2017, ‘The US defence department knew that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction but kept Britain in the dark, according to an explosive new claim from Gordon Brown. In an extraordinary allegation, the former prime minister states that a secret US intelligence report into Iraq’s military capabilities was never passed to Britain and could have changed the course of events. The revelation leads Brown to conclude that the “war could not be justified as a last resort and invasion cannot now be seen as a proportionate response”.’ click here.

John Pilger in Counterpunch.org.31 May 2017, ‘In the current election campaign, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made a guarded reference to a “war on terror that has failed”. As he knows, it was never a war on terror but a war of conquest and subjugation. Palestine. Afghanistan. Iraq. Libya. Syria. Iran is said to be next.’ click here.

Samuel Osborne in the Independent, ‘George W Bush’s administration saw Iraq as “unfinished business” and had their “minds made up from day one,” a former CIA analyst has said . . . “You know, they had their minds made up from day one. And then after 9/11, that’s when the death warrant for Saddam Hussein was signed.” The CIA interrogator has previously said it quickly became clear Mr Hussein had not developed weapons of mass destruction when he questioned him.’ click here.

Robert F Kennedy writing in politico.eu, ‘. . . A 1997 U.S. Department of Defense report found that “the data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvement abroad and an increase in terrorist attacks against the U.S.” Let’s face it; what we call the “war on terror” is really just another oil war. We’ve squandered $6 trillion on three wars abroad and on constructing a national security warfare state at home since oilman Dick Cheney declared the “Long War” in 2001. The only winners have been the military contractors and oil companies that have pocketed historic profits, the intelligence agencies that have grown exponentially in power and influence to the detriment of our freedoms and the jihadists who invariably used our interventions as their most effective recruiting tool. We have compromised our values, butchered our own youth, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, subverted our idealism and squandered our national treasures in fruitless and costly adventures abroad. In the process, we have helped our worst enemies and turned America, once the world’s beacon of freedom, into a national security surveillance state and an international moral pariah.’ click here.

John Shute interviews Lord Dannatt, former Chief of General Staff, in the Telegraph, 1st October 2016, ‘So with the benefit of hindsight and a fresh historical perspective, how then would the general now describe the war? Lord Dannatt coughs and peers out of the window once more before selecting the appropriate verbal grenade to lob in to the debate.

“A strategic error of near biblical proportions was made to go into Iraq in 2003,” he says. “There wasn’t a clear plan for what happened next so we really had no option but to muddle through. And of course the muddling through is largely responsible for the ongoing vicious unrest in that part of the Middle East. . .” click here.

Robert Fisk in the Independent, 15 September 2016, ‘For if the Saudi identity of the whole operation [9/11] had been acknowledged from the start, how could the US and the country led by a prime minister whose name I find it difficult to utter, have claimed so imperiously that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – not Saudi Arabia – was behind the destruction of the Twin Towers. The very proposal to go to war in Iraq would have been highly questionable if we had absorbed the information contained in the censored passage of the 9/11 report. That – and that alone – was why the report was so important. It was tampered with so that we would attack Iraq and leave our Saudi allies in peace.’ click here

Patrick Cockburn in the Independent, ‘. . . there is still very little understanding among Western leaders about what happened in Afghanistan after 2001 and in Iraq after 2003. Whatever the humanitarian justifications for foreign intervention there, the wars rapidly transmuted into neo-imperial ventures not much different from those undertaken during the high days of imperialism in the 19th century. Even supposing that Blair is sincere in his oft-stated claim that the motive for the war in Iraq in 2003 was to overthrow Saddam Hussein, this is a simple-minded and misleading explanation of what really happened and what went wrong.’ click here.

Michael Burleigh in the Evening Standard, ‘It is salutary to be reminded of how hard-fought-for institutional checks on “imaginative” intelligence materials delivered from domestic and foreign agencies were artfully circumvented to make the false claim (dutifully reported within hours by this newspaper) that Saddam Hussein’s battlefield artillery shells were really ballistic missile warheads that could hit Cyprus within 45 minutes…Although his formal status was unclear to outsiders, the ubiquitous Campbell played a major role in shaping the case for war. One of the few to query what was going on was the cool and correct former submariner Admiral Michael Boyce, who had assumed the awesome responsibilities of Chief of the Defence Staff at war. According to Bower, on one occasion when Campbell showed up with Blair at a meeting, Boyce said to Admiral Alan West (now a Labour peer) “How dare he come to a meeting in the Ministry of Defence, an unelected spin man who’s had a mental breakdown?”   click here.

James Slack and Alan Drury in the Daily Mail, ‘… The extraordinary story of how Mr Blair dragged Britain to war in Iraq is detailed in a biography by acclaimed investigative journalist Tom Bower, serialised in the Mail this week… Bower reveals that, within hours of the 9/11 attacks on America in 2001, an excited Mr Blair told ministers and officials: ‘We shall support America in anything they do.’

In November 2001, Mr Blair – now a multi-millionaire – was already asking Whitehall aides to produce a policy paper on Iraq, sowing the seeds for invasion. In March 2002, Mr Blair’s adviser David Manning briefed the British Ambassador in Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, that the then PM favoured ‘regime change’ – and failure wasn’t an option. Yet, at a Cabinet meeting on March 7, Mr Blair spoke only of bombing Iraq.

Andrew Turnbull, who was about to take over as Cabinet Secretary, said: ‘I wouldn’t call it a lie. “Deception” is the right word. You can deceive without lying, by leaving a false interpretation uncorrected.’ click here

John Newsinger in Monthly Review, ‘… One of the pretexts for invading Iraq had been Saddam Hussein’s supposed links with al-Qaeda. It was purportedly part of the War on Terror. This was pure fiction of course. The War on Terror was from the beginning nothing more than an ideological construct intended to provide popular justification for the U.S. attempt to reassert itself in the Middle East, rather than an attempt to deal with what was only a marginal security problem posed by terrorism. The only way to justify an unprovoked attack on Iraq was to somehow implicate Saddam Hussein in the 9/11 attacks. He was certainly guilty of terrible crimes, all of which the United States had condoned, but had no involvement in 9/11. But now his non-existent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction had to be destroyed or the next terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland would be chemical, biological, or even nuclear. Instead of eliminating a terrorist threat from a terrorist state, the Iraq invasion successfully created a terrorist threat from a terrorist state.’ Click here.

Max Hastings in the Daily Mail, 2nd November 2015, ‘…we must never forget MI6’s shameful role in helping Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell launch their criminal deceit of the British people to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion.’  click here.

Jason Groves and Ian Drury for the Daily Mail, 20th October 2015, ‘…The extraordinary memo, which was uncovered by the Mail on Sunday, revealed that Mr Powell told George Bush that ‘Blair will be with us’ on Iraq in March 2002, fully 12 months before the disastrous war started. At the time, Mr Blair still claimed he was pursuing a diplomatic solution, and that Iraq could avoid conflict if it handed over what turned out to be non-existent ‘weapons of mass destruction’. click here.

Peter Beaumont and Joanna Walters in the Guardian, ‘In his long-awaited memoir – out tomorrow in the US – Greenspan, 81, who served as chairman of the US Federal Reserve for almost two decades, writes: ‘I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’ … Greenspan’s damning comments about the war come as a survey of Iraqis, which was released last week, claims that up to 1.2 million people may have died because of the conflict in Iraq – lending weight to a 2006 survey in the Lancet that reported similarly high levels…The Lancet survey was criticised by some experts and by George Bush and British officials. In private, however, the Ministry of Defence’s chief scientific adviser Sir Roy Anderson described it as ‘close to best practice’. click here.

Peter Frankopan in the Independent, 27th August 2015, ‘…the mineral wealth of the heart of Asia, particularly its oil and gas but also its pipeline infrastructure, made the belt commercially important as well as strategically vital….So perhaps it was not surprising that two days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place, an action plan was issued that set out the importance of engaging Iran and of contacting the authorities in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China – Afghanistan’s neighbours and near-neighbours. A plan was set out to “[re-]energise” them urgently, with a view to preparing them for forthcoming military action against the Taliban. The first step of the response to 9/11 was to line up the countries of the Silk Roads.

In fact, ambitions were soon going well beyond ensuring their co-operation. By 30 September 2001, the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, was offering President Bush his “strategic thoughts” about what the US could and should seek to achieve as part of its imminent “war aim”. “Some air strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets are planned to begin soon,” he noted, marking the start of military action. It was important, he wrote, to “persuade or compel states to stop supporting terrorism”. What he proposed next, however, was dramatic and astonishingly ambitious. “If the war does not significantly change the world’s political map, the US will not achieve its aim.” What this meant was then spelt out clearly. “The [United States government] should envision a goal along these lines: new regimes in Afghanistan and another key state (or two).” He did not need to specify which states he was talking about: Iran and Iraq…Including Iran within an “axis of evil” a few years later, amid signs of an improving relationship, was opening a dangerous can of worms. Then again, opening cans of worms seemed not to worry many of those taking decisions in the weeks and months after 9/11. Despite there being no evidence to link the hijackers to Iraq, attention was focused on a major invasion and on regime change. The question was simple, as planning notes for a meeting between Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks, the chief of Central Command, make clear: “How [to] start?”. click here.

Paul Krugman in the NYT, 18th May 2015: ‘…America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war. The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11. And at this point we have plenty of evidence to confirm everything the war’s opponents were saying. We now know, for example, that on 9/11 itself — literally before the dust had settled — Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, was already plotting war against a regime that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. “Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] …sweep it all up things related and not”; so read notes taken by Mr. Rumsfeld’s aide.’ click here

Declassified memos show that on the day of the September 11 attacks, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked aides to evaluate a plan to “hit SH @ same time” as Osama bin Laden. By November 2001, Rumsfeld was producing page-long outlines on the Iraq invasion with bullet points including “How start?” Bush began meetings in December 2001 with US army general Tommy R Franks and others to begin planning the war, according to the book Plan of Attack by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward. As the war drew closer, other analysis suggests, the administration cherry-picked intelligence to suit a goal that was already in place: take Saddam out.  click here, 5th April 2015

There is a growing awareness of a deeper malaise….the botched and dishonest War on Terror (WoT) is a saga of authoritarianism, war mongering, political opportunism, commercial interests, manipulation and a means of deflecting attention from real social challenges…


Dossier started in  October 2008 (Regularly updated) 

Eric Margolis in Commondreams.com: “Back in the Cold War, almost all groups opposing western domination were called communists. Today, al-Qaida has replaced communism as a hot button name. The widespread – but probably mistaken – belief that Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida was responsible for the 9/11 attacks has made anything “linked” to al-Qaida fair game for liquidation. Branding your foes “terrorists” is a fine way of de-legitimizing them and denying them any political or humanitarian rights. Israel did this very effectively with the hapless Palestinians, who foolishly cooperated by bombing civilians. However, the obvious problem here is that doing so creates an endless supply of ‘terrorists’ and pressure to take action against them. That and oil are the reason US special forces are now beating the bush all over black Africa. It’s the never-ending ‘long war’ that America’s militarist and neocon circles want, and against which President Dwight Eisenhower so presciently warned back in the 1950’s. 11 Jan 2014

“…But the effort to depict Muslims as something other than “real Americans” has long been a centerpiece of the US political climate in the era of the War on Terror. When it was first revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration was spying on the communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law, a Bush White House spokesman sought to assure everyone that this wasn’t targeting Real Americans, but only those Bad Ones that should be surveilled (sic)…”

“Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction.
Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was ‘active’, ‘growing’ and ‘up and running’. A special BBC Panorama programme tonight will reveal how British and US intelligence agencies were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries”.

“On a Sunday morning in November 1997, less than two days after I had arrived in Washington to take up the job of ambassador, I received an urgent call from Tom Pickering, one of the State Department’s most senior officials.
Saddam Hussein, Pickering said, was once again defying the United Nations inspectors whose job it was to ensure that the Iraqi dictator was not concealing weapons of mass destruction. Would I come to his office the following morning to discuss what was to be done? From then on, Iraq was to run like a toxic stream through my time in the United States. It seems now almost inevitable that, after Saddam’s defeat in the first Gulf war of 1991, when he was left wounded but still in power, there would have to be one day a settling of accounts between him and the Americans…In Clinton’s presidency, there had been constant pressure from the hawks and the ideological hard Right of the Republican Party – the notorious ‘neo-cons’ – to bring down Saddam and conclude what was seen by them as the unfinished business of the first Gulf war….I remember being almost pinned against a wall after a concert at Washington’s Kennedy Centre as Paul Wolfowitz furiously claimed that Saddam ran an al-Qaeda camp in northern Iraq. But, the case against Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11”.
Sir Christopher Meyer, UK’s Ambassador to US http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/9919816/Iraq-War-Sir-Christopher-Meyer-Im-with-you-whatever-Tony-Blair-told-George-Bush.html

“We’re not in the middle east to bring sweetness and light to the whole world. That’s nonsense. We’re in the middle east because we and our European friends and our European non-friends depend on something that comes from the middle east, namely oil.” – Midge Decter, author, May 21, 2004.

“Of course it’s about oil, it’s very much about oil, and we can’t really deny that. From the standpoint of a solider who’s now fought in the middle east for six years – my son-in-law’s fought there for four years, my daughter’s been over there, my son has served the nation – my family has been fighting for a long time.” – Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of CENTCOM, October 13, 2007.

“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” – Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, in his 2007 memoir.

General Wesley Clark (ret.): “About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon …. and one of the generals called me in. He said, ‘We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq’ …. I said, ‘We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?’ …. He said, ‘I guess they don’t know what else to do.’ So I said, ‘Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?’ He said, ‘No, no.’ He said, ‘There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.’ He said, ‘I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.’ And he said, ‘I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.’”

Paul Bignell writing in the Independent, 19th April 2011: “Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show… The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain’s involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair’s cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time….”

Helen Pidd writing in the Guardian, 17th February 2011 after revelations that an Iraqi agent had admitted to German intelligence of lying about Iraq’s WMD. She quotes Germany’s former foreign minister Joschka Fischer: “On the one hand we didn’t want to withhold from the US any bit of relevant information we had about possible WMD in Iraq. On the other hand, we did not want to take part in any propagandistic exploitation of material, which was far from proven, to justify a war”.

James Moore in The Independent, 23rd Dec 2010 writing on disruptions at Heathrow during the snow spell: “The most egregious example of this is the way passengers have been kept on planes and warned that they will be arrested under terrorism laws if they attempt to disembark”.

Glen Ford in Commondreams.org: ” The FBI — first under George Bush and then even more aggressively under Barack Obama — has fabricated the illusion of a wave of terror that did not, for the most part, exist. In doing so, the U.S. government has perpetrated at least two classes of crimes: one, against those it has directly entrapped and prosecuted for crimes conceived and executed by the government, itself; and the second, larger class of crime, conspiracy to deliberately deceive and terrorize the American people, for the purpose of depriving the American people of their civil rights, and to foment a public hysteria that would facilitate the launching of military attacks on other peoples.”

Paul Craig Roberts in CounterPunch, 17th Oct 2010: “The ‘war on terror’is now in its tenth year. What is it really all about?

The bottom line answer is that the ‘war on terror’ is about creating real terrorists. The US government desperately needs real terrorists in order to justify its expansion of its wars against Muslim countries and to keep the American people sufficiently fearful that they continue to accept the police state that provides ‘security from terrorists,’ but not from the government that has discarded civil liberties.

The US government creates terrorists by invading Muslim countries, wrecking infrastructure and killing vast numbers of civilians. The US also creates terrorists by installing puppet governments to rule over Muslims and by using the puppet governments to murder and persecute citizens as is occurring on a vast scale in Pakistan today.

Neoconservatives used 9/11 to launch their plan for US world hegemony. Their plan fit with the interests of America’s ruling oligarchies. Wars are good for the profits of the military/security complex, about which President Eisenhower warned us in vain a half century ago. American hegemony is good for the oil industry’s control over resources and resource flows. The transformation of the Middle East into a vast American puppet state serves well the Israel Lobby’s Zionist aspirations for Israeli territorial expansion….”

Daily Mail, 8th October 2010: “The U.S. has been accused by a top Pakistani diplomat of exaggerating the terror threat from Al Qaeda for political ends. Intelligence officials also suggested the White House has tried to ‘stitch together’ rumours of attacks to ramp up security fears….Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s high commissioner to Britain, claims the U.S. warning was a bid to justify drone attacks in his country. And he also raised the prospect Washington was trying to show its strength ahead of next month’s mid-term Congressional elections…
‘If the Americans have definite information about terrorists and Al Qaeda people, we should be provided that and we could go after them ourselves. ‘Such reports are a mixture of frustration, ineptitude and lack of appreciation of ground realities.’

European intelligence experts have also questioned the likelihood of a co-ordinated plot targeting Britain, France and Germany.

‘To stitch together [the terror plot claims] in a seamless narrative is nonsensical,’ one source told the paper.”

Ed Milliband reported in the Guardian, 28th September 2010: “Miliband, who was not in parliament when the vote was taken on the invasion of Iraq, said this particular policy decision was ‘wrong’ . ‘I do believe that we were wrong. Wrong to take Britain to war and we need to be honest about that,’ he said.”

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, 28th July 2010: “I cannot avoid the conclusion that, just as the Pashtun are said to be “hardwired to fight”, so now are certain western regimes. War is about sating the military-security-industrial complex, a lobby so potent that, long after the cold war ended, it can induce democratic leaders to expend quantities of blood and money on such specious pretexts as suppressing dictators in one country and terror in another.”
Haroon Siddique in the Guardian 21st July 2010: “The former MI5 director general Eliza Manningham-Buller today delivered a withering assessment of the case for war against Iraq…In evidence that undermined the case for war presented by the former prime minister Tony Blair, she was asked whether it was feared Saddam could have linked terrorists to weapons of mass destruction, facilitating their use against the west. ‘It certainly wasn’t of concern in either the short term or the medium term to me or my colleagues,’ she replied….Manningham-Buller said there was no evidence of Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks on the US, a view she said was shared by the CIA and which prompted the then US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to set up an alternative intelligence unit.”

Gareth Porter in AsiaTimes Online, 12th Feb 2010: “Evidence now available from various sources, including recently declassified United States State Department documents, shows that the Taliban regime led by Mullah Mohammad Omar imposed strict isolation on Osama bin Laden after 1998 to prevent him from carrying out any plots against the United States….The August 1998 US cruise missile strikes against training camps in Afghanistan run by bin Laden in retaliation for the bombings of two US embassies in East Africa on August 7, 1998, appears to have had a dramatic impact on Mullah Omar and the Taliban regime’s policy toward bin Laden.

Two days after the strike, Omar unexpectedly entered a phone conversation between a State Department official and one of his aides, and told the US official he was unaware of any evidence that bin Laden ‘had engaged in or planned terrorist acts while on Afghan soil’. The Taliban leader said he was ‘open to dialogue’ with the United States and asked for evidence of bin Laden’s involvement, according to the State Department cable reporting the conversation. …”
Simon Jenkins in The Guardian, 11th Feb 2010: “The so-called war on terror saw a politically weak American president seek popularity in redefining a criminal act as a ‘war between states’. Tony Blair agreed. His assertion to the Chilcot inquiry that “9/11 changed everything” was self-serving. The attack was just the latest in a line of attempted terrorist atrocities by Islamist extremists, albeit one that succeeded horrifically.

To call such crimes acts of war gives them rhetorical force, but in no sense did al-Qaida or its imitators threaten the integrity or security of a western state. These countries are too strong for such threat to be meaningful. The only damage they can do beyond sudden carnage is self-inflicted, by governments that decide to react with exaggerated fear. Yet the pretence of ‘going to war’ has unleashed two of the most destructive, costly and prolonged state-on-state aggressions in half a century.
Brian Gould in The Guardian, 25th Jan 2010: “Why did he [Blair] support it [invasion of Iraq]? He had by this time convinced himself that he was a world statesman, equipped to partner George Bush in a duomvirate which would re-shape the world. Underpinned by a hitherto undeclared religious conviction, he increasingly saw the world in terms of absolutes ñ good and evil, right and wrong. Like the American conservatives, but for moral and religious reasons rather than misplaced ideological opportunism, he could not resist the chance to strike a blow not only for enlightenment but for his own destiny.

This messianic posture was brilliantly exploited by the Bush administration. After six years of the increasingly tedious and vexatious business of governing Britain, what a wonderful confirmation of his destiny it must have been to receive the unalloyed plaudits of a fawning American establishment and media. The carping of domestic critics could safely be ignored when the world’s greatest power recognised him as a saviour. We invaded a foreign country to assure Tony Blair of his place in history. The irony is that it will not be the one he had imagined.”

Gary Yonge in The Guardian, 3rd Jan 2010: “During the Bush years that terror was routinely leveraged for the purposes of social control, military mobilisation and electoral advantage. Meanwhile, the administrative processes that might prevent the next attack were tragically lacking. In short, Bush’s anti-terror strategy was not about protecting people but about scaring them.

To galvanise the nation for war abroad and sedate it for repression at home, the previous administration constructed a terror threat that was ubiquitous in character, apocalyptic in scale and imminent in nature. Only then could they counterpose human rights against security as though they were not only contradictory but mutually exclusive.

Al-Qaida was only too happy to oblige. In such a state of perpetual crisis both terrorists and reactionaries thrive. Terrorists successfully create a climate of fear; governments successfully exploit that fear to extend their own powers….”
Stephen Kinzer in The Guardian, 28th December 2009: “One way for the US to have reacted to the Soviet invasion would have been to cheer the Soviets’ stupidity and wait patiently for Afghan resistance fighters to do their duty to history. This would have been a prudent, restrained policy, one of limited ambition and risk. It would have kept the US out of a dangerous place where it had not previously been entangled and which it did not know well.

Instead the US chose the opposite path: hyperactive engagement. The CIA launched its biggest operation ever, pouring billions of dollars into the Afghan resistance, matched dollar-for-dollar by Saudi Arabia. This operation contributed decisively to the Soviet defeat, culminating in the Red Army’s retreat back across the Amu Darya in 1988.

America’s decision to escalate this war also had other effects that only became clear later. It brought tens of thousands of foreign fighters, including Osama bin Laden, to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. With them these outsiders brought harsh forms of Islamic fundamentalism that had been little known in Afghanistan. Their influence ñ Wahhabi fanaticism preached to Afghan resistance fighters in a war paid for by the US and Saudi Arabia ñ gave birth to the Taliban. Pakistan served as eager midwife and quickly turned the Taliban into its proxy force in Afghanistan. Once in power, the Taliban offered a safe haven to al-Qaida, which prepared the September 11 attacks there.

…Thanks to the marvels of declassification, we now know precisely when America’s engagement in Afghanistan was set in motion. It was on 26 December 1979, just two days after the Soviet invasion. President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, sent him a memo entitled ‘Reflections on Soviet intervention in Afghanistan’. Carter endorsed it, and soon the CIA was funnelling huge amounts of money through Pakistan to fundamentalist warlords. A year later, after Ronald Reagan replaced Carter, American involvement further deepened.

‘It is essential that Afghanistan’s resistance continues,’ Brzezinksi wrote in his historic memo:

This means more money as well as arms shipments to the rebels, and some technical advice. To make the above possible, we must both reassure Pakistan and encourage it to help the rebels. This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, more arms aid and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our nonproliferation policy’.”

The Guardian Politics Blogger at the Chilcot enquiry, 30th November 2009: Manning also wrote a memo…describing the outcome of a meeting that took place between Blair and Bush in the White House on January 31 2003. The memo shows that Bush was, by then, determined to invade regardless of what happened at the UN and that the two leaders discussed the idea of getting Iraq to shoot down an American spy plane painted in UN colours to create a pretext for war. Philippe Sands, the British law professor who revealed the existence of the memo, said it raised ‘some fundamental questions of legality, both in terms of domestic law and international law’
Glenn Greenwald in commondreams.org, 27th November 2009: “Yesterday, the British Ambassador to the U.S. in 2002 and 2003, Sir Christopher Meyer (who favored the war), testified before the [Chilcot] investigative tribunal and said this: … attitudes towards Iraq were influenced to an extent not appreciated by him at the time by the anthrax scare in the US soon after 9/11. US senators and others were sent anthrax spores in the post, a crime that led to the death of five people, prompting policymakers to claim links to Saddam Hussein. . .On 9/11 Condoleeza Rice, then the US national security adviser, told Meyer she was in ‘no doubt: it was an al-Qaida operation’ . . . It seemed that Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy, argued for retaliation to include Iraq.

But the anthrax scare had ‘steamed up’ policy makers in Bush’s administration and helped swing attitudes against Saddam, who the administration believed had been the last person to use anthrax.

What makes this particularly significant is that the anthrax attack is unresolved and uninvestigated. The FBI claimed last year that it had identified the sole perpetrator, Bruce Ivins, but because Ivins is dead, they never had the opportunity — or the obligation — to prove their accusations in any meaningful tribunal. The case against Ivins is so riddled with logical and evidentiary holes that it has generated extreme doubts not merely from typical government skeptics but from the most mainstream, establishment-revering, and ideologically disparate sources. Just consider some of the outlets and individuals who have stated unequivocally that the FBI’s case against Ivinis is unpersuasive and requires a meaningful investigation…”

Declan Walsh in the Guardian, 24th November 2009: “British officials decided not to get involved in talk about regime change in Iraq in 2001 even though some parts of the new Bush administration began to discuss the possibility two years before the invasion, the opening hearing of the UK [Chilcott] inquiry into the war heard today.”

Andrew Gavin Marshall in globalresearch.ca, 16th October 2009: “The war on Iraq, as well as the war on Afghanistan, also largely serve specifically American, and more broadly, Western imperial-strategic interests in the region. In particular, the wars were strategically designed to eliminate, threaten or contain regional powers, as well as to directly install several dozen military bases in the region, firmly establishing an imperial presence. The purpose of this is largely aimed at other major regional players and specifically, encircling Russia and China and threatening their access to the regions oil and gas reserves. Iran is now surrounded, with Iraq on one side, and Afghanistan on the other. ”
Eric Margolis in Commondreams.org, 23rd August 2009: “The current war in Afghanistan is not about democracy, women’s rights, education or nation building. Al-Qaida, the other excuse, barely exists. Its handful of members long ago decamped to Pakistan. The war really is about oil pipeline routes and western domination of the energy-rich Caspian Basin.”
Oliver Knox, AFP, 21st August 2009: “Former US homeland security chief Tom Ridge charges in a new book that top aides to then-president George W. Bush pressured him to raise the ‘terror alert’ level to sway the November 2004 US election.

Then defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and attorney general John Ashcroft pushed him to elevate the color-coded threat level, but Ridge refused, according to a summary from his publisher, Thomas Dunne Books.”
Barrister Matthew Ryder in The Observer, 10th August 2009: “In December, I was appointed as one of the national role models for Reach. This is a government-supported scheme aimed at raising the aspirations and attainment of black boys and young men…research from the University of Kent reveals that role models who emphasise their material success are more inspirational to young black men. Importantly, they were more likely to be emulated than those role models who focused on moral and social respect….Initially, I rejected this way of appealing to boys, as a matter of principle. Perhaps romantically, I had always believed that the male role models who had influenced my life ñ friends, relatives, my father and my uncle, even historical figures ñ had not inspired me because of money.

….This challenge is not unique to the black community. Society as a whole is having to come to terms with this form of money-obsessed materialism. My work as a barrister frequently involves dealing with people accused of terrorist offences, so it is ironic that the most pervasive, pernicious and destructive ‘extremist ideology’, which I am confronting on a daily basis, is nothing to do with that. Rather, it is this extreme materialism, which prizes money and profit above all else, that exacts the highest social cost. ‘Get rich or die trying’ merely articulates a much larger sociopathy. It is a form of the same behaviour that brought our economy to the brink of collapse last year and has cost us hundreds of billions of pounds. We must combat it together.”
Simon Jenkins, 13th October 2008

“…H L Mencken said practical politics was the business of ‘keeping the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary’. Today’s hobgoblin has been a war on terror. The credit crunch is not imaginary. It should cause government to concentrate on things that matter. It should mean no more macho distractions such as 42-day detention, extravagant surveillance and Home Office-generated anti-Muslim prejudice. There should be no more crazy defense projects and bloated security programmes. There may even be an end to the Titan prisons…..”
Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian, 6th October 2008: “…Now, as it all totters, we can take stock. We can ask how and why the critique – of which Frank was a part and Polanyi the bible – which was emerging in the late 90s was crippled. The anti-globalisation movement argued that neo-liberal capitalism was unjust, unstable and destructive to human and environmental well-being. Sounds sensible now, but at the time it mysteriously got smeared by association with anarchists with a penchant for smashing Starbucks’ windows. The broad network of social grassroots movements – US unions, Mexican peasants, Indian farmers – were misnamed, misunderstood, ridiculed and ignored. There is no alternative, the politicians intoned mantra-like.

Then 9/11 and for the next seven years a sideshow was offered as a distraction with caricature villains and thriller drama. While eyes were on the absurd charade of the ‘threat of Islamist terrorism to western civilisation’, the real doomsday scenario that poses a far greater threat to western civilisation (whatever that is) was gathering pace right next to Ground Zero, in Wall Street….”

“As a professor of government at Harvard, Louise Richardson concentrated for many years on international security, with a special focus on terrorism …Richardsonís argument, baldly stated, is that September 11 did not change the world; what changed the world was America’s reaction. She also called for perspective. ‘The 3,000 casualties inflicted by al-Qaeda, while enormous, pale in comparison to the 30,000 suicides and 16,000 homicides in the US that same year, not to mention the 42,000 Americans who died in car crashes ñ 17,500 of them alcohol-related fatalities’.”
James Randerson in the Guardian, 12th February 2009: ” The Iraq war was just the first of this century’s ‘resource wars’, in which powerful countries use force to secure valuable commodities for themselves, according to the UK government’s former chief scientific adviser.Sir David King …
‘I’m going to suggest that future historians might look back on our particular recent past and see the Iraq war as the first of the conflicts of this kind – the first of the resource wars,’ he told an audience of 400 in London as he delivered the British Humanist Association’s Darwin Day lecture.

Implicitly rejecting the American and British governments’ argument that they went to war to remove Saddam Hussein and search for weapons of mass destruction, he said that the US was very concerned about energy security and supply because of its reliance on foreign oil from unstable states. ‘Casting its eye around the world – there was Iraq,’ he said.”