September 11, Terror War, and Blowback

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Social Discourses, the Media and the Crisis of Democracy

    On the day of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the networks brought out an array of national security state intellectuals, usually ranging from the right to the far right, to explain the horrific events of September 11. The Fox Network presented former UN Ambassador and Reagan Administration apologist Jeane Kirkpatrick, who quickly rolled out a simplified version of Huntington's clash of civilizations, arguing that we were at war with Islam. Of course, Kirkpatrick was the most discredited intellectual of her generation, legitimating Reagan administration alliances with unsavory fascists and terrorists as necessary to beat Soviet totalitarianism. Her discourse was premised on a distinction between fascism and communist totalitarianism that argued that alliances with authoritarian or rightwing terrorist organizations or states were defensible since they were open to reform efforts or historically undermined themselves and disappeared, while Soviet totalitarianism had never collapsed, was an intractable and dangerous foe, and must thus be fought to the death with any means necessary. Of course, the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, along with its Empire, and although Kirkpatrick was totally discredited she was awarded a Professorship at Georgetown and allowed to continue to circulate her crackpot views.

    On the afternoon of September 11, Ariel Sharon, leader of Israel, himself implicated in war crimes in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon in 1982, came on television to convey his regret, condolescences, and assurance of Israel's support in the war on terror. He called for a coalition against terrorism, which would contrast the free world with terrorism, representing the Good vs. the Bad, "humanity" vs. "the blood-thirsty," "the free world" against "the forces of darkness," who are trying to destroy "freedom" and our "way of life."

    Curiously, the Bush Administration would take up the same tropes with Bush attacking the "evil" of the terrorists, using the word five times in his first statement on the September 11 terror assaults, and repeatedly portraying the conflict as a war between good and evil in which the U.S. was going to "eradicate evil from the world," "to smoke out and pursue... evil doers, those barbaric people." The semantically insensitive and dyslexic Bush administration also used cowboy metaphors, calling for bin Laden "dead or alive," and described the campaign as a "crusade," until he was advised that this term carried heavier historical baggage of earlier wars of Christians and Moslems. And the Pentagon at first named the war against terror "Operation Infinite Justice," until they were advised that only God could dispense "infinite justice," and that Americans and others might be disturbed about a war expanding to infinity.

Disturbingly, in mentioning the goals of the war, Bush never mentioned "democracy," and the new name for the campaign became "Operation Enduring Freedom," while the Bush Administration mantra became that the war against terrorism is being fought for "freedom." But we know from the history of political theory and history itself that freedom must be paired with equality, or things like justice, rights, or democracy, to provide adequate political theory and legitimation for political action. As we shall see, it is precisely the contempt for democracy and self-autonomy that has characterized U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East for the past decades is a prime reason why groups and individuals in the area passionately hate the United States.

In his speech to Congress the following week, Bush described the conflict as a war between freedom and fear, between "those governed by fear" who "want to destroy our wealth and freedoms," and those on the side of freedom. Note that all of the dominant rightwing and Bush Administration discourses are fundamentally manichean, positing a binary opposition between Good and Evil, Us and Them, civilization and barbarism. Such dualism can hardly be sustained in empirical and theoretical analysis of the contemporary moment. In fact, there is much fear and poverty in "our" world and wealth, and freedom and security in the Arab and Islamic worlds - at least for privileged elites. No doubt, freedom, fear, and wealth are distributed in both worlds so to polarize these categories and to make them the principle of war is highly irresponsible. And associating oneself with "good," while making one's enemy "evil," is another exercize in binary reductionism and projection of all traits of aggression and wickedness onto the "other" while constituting oneself as good and pure.

It is, of course, terroristic and theocratic Islamic fundamentalists who themselves engage in similar simplistic binary discourse. For certain manichean Islamic fundamentalists, the U.S. is evil, the source of all the world's problems and deserves to be destroyed. Such one-dimensional thought does not distinguish between U.S. policies, people, or institutions, while advocating a Jihad, or holy war against the American evil. The terrorist crimes of September 11 appeared to be part of this Jihad and the monstrousness of the actions of killing innocent civilians shows the horrific consequences of totally dehumanizing an "enemy" deemed so evil that even innocent members of the group in question deserve to be exterminated.

Many commentators on U.S. television offered similarly one-sided and Manichean accounts of the cause of the September 11 events, blaming their favorite opponents in the current U.S. political spectrum as the source of the terror assaults. For fundamentalist Christian ideologue Jerry Falwell, and with the verbal agreement of Christian Broadcast Network President Pat Robertson, the culpability for this "horror beyond words" fell on liberals, feminists, gays and the ACLU. Jerry Falwell said and Pat Robertson agreed: "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way--all of them who have tried to secularize America--I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'" In fact, this argument is similar to a rightwing Islamic claim that the U.S. is fundamentally corrupt and evil and thus deserves God's wrath, an argument made by Falwell critics that forced the fundamentalist fanatic to apologize.

For other rightwingers, like Gary Aldrich the "President and Founder" of the Patrick Henry Center, it was the liberals who were at fault: "Excuse me if I absent myself from the national political group-hug that's going on. You see, I believe the Liberals are largely responsible for much of what happened Tuesday, and may God forgive them. These people exist in a world that lies beyond the normal standards of decency and civility." For other rightists, like Rush Limbaugh, it was all Bill Clinton's fault, and Election-thief manager James Baker (see Kellner 2001) blamed the catastrophe on the 1976 Church report that put limits on the CIA.2
On the issue of "what to do," rightwing columnist and poster girl Ann Coulter declaimed: "We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."3While Bush was declaring a "crusade" against terrorism and the Pentagon was organizing "Operation Infinite Justice," Bush Administration Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the administration's retaliation would be "sustained and broad and effective" and that the United States "will use all our resources. It's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism."

Such all-out war hysteria was the order of the day, and throughout September 11 and its aftermath ideological warhorses like William Bennett came out and urged that the U.S. declare war on Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and whoever else harbored terrorists. On the Canadian Broadcasting Network, former Reagan administration, Deputy Secretary of Defense and military commentator Frank Gaffney suggested that the U.S. needed to go after the sponsors of these states as well, such as China and Russia, to the astonishment and derision of the Canadian audience. And rightwing talk radio and the Internet buzzed with talk of dropping nuclear bombs on Afghanistan, exterminating all Moslems, and whatever other fantasy popped into their unhinged heads.

My point is that broadcast television allowed dangerous and arguably deranged zealots to vent and circulate the most aggressive, fanatic, and downright lunatic views, creating a consensus for the need for immediate military action and all-out war. The television networks themselves featured logos such as "War on America," "America's New War," and other inflammatory slogans that assumed that the U.S. was at war and that only a military response was appropriate. I saw no cooler heads on any of the major television networks that repeatedly beat the war drums day after day, without even the relief of commercials for three days straight, driving the country into hysteria and terrifying rational and sane citizens throughout the world.

This was one of the most disgusting and upsetting performances of U.S. broadcasting networks that I have ever seen. The unrelenting war hysteria and utter failure to produce anything near a coherent analysis to what happened and reasonable response to the terrorist attacks put on display the frightening consequences of allowing corporate media institutions to hire ideologically compliant news teams who have no competency to deal with complex political events and who allow the most irresponsible views to circulate. I saw few, if any, intelligent and complex presentations of the complexity of U.S. history in the Middle East, accounts of the origins of Bin Laden and his network that discussed the complicity of the U.S. in training, funding, arming, and supporting the groups that became Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. Nor did I see any accounts that went into the U.S. relations between the Taliban, the multifaceted U.S. role in Afghanistan, or the complications of Middle Eastern politics that would make immediate retaliatory military action extremely dangerous and potentially catastrophic. Such alternative information circulated through the media, including major newspapers, but rarely found its way into American television which emerges at this point in our current crisis as a thoroughly irresponsible source of information and understanding.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of informed analysis and interpretation on the Internet, as well as a respectable archive of books and articles on the complexity of U.S. foreign policy and Middle East history. Drawing on these sources, in the following section, I argue that the causes of the September 11 events and their aftermath are highly complex and involve, for starters, the failure of U.S. intelligence and interventionist foreign policy since the late 1970s, and the policies of the Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and both Bush Administrations.4In other words, there is no one cause or faction responsible for the catastrophe, but a wide range of blame to be ascribed. Taking account of the history and complexity of the issues involved, I argue that Chalmers Johnson's model of "blowback" (2000) provides the most convincing account of how U.S. policy and institutions contributed to producing the worst terrorist crime in U.S. history with destructive consequences still threatening.5
The Bush Administrations, the CIA, and Blowback

In this section, I will argue that the events of September 11 can be seen as a textbook example of blowback since bin Laden and the radical Islamic forces associated with the al Qaeda network were supported, funded, trained, and armed by several U.S. administrations and by the CIA. In this reading, the CIA's catastrophic failure was not only to have not detected the danger of the event and taken action to prevent it, but to have actively contributed to producing the groups who are implicated in the terrorist attacks on the U.S.

The term "Blowback" is developed in a book with this title by Chalmers Johnson who writes: "The term `blowback,' which officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented for their own internal use, is starting to circulate among students of international relations. It refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign acts of `terrorists' or `drug lords' or `rogue states' or `illegal arms merchants' often turn out to be blowback from earlier operations" (2000: 8).

Johnson provides a wealth of examples of "blowback" from problematic U.S. foreign policy manuevers and covert actions which had unintended consequences, as when the U.S. became associated with support of terrorist groups or authoritarian regimes in Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East, and its clients turn on their sponsors. In Johnson's sense, September 11 is a classic example of blowback, in which U.S. policies generated unintended consequences that had catastrophic effects on U.S. citizens, New York, and the American and indeed global economy. As I suggest in the following analysis, U.S. policy in Afghanistan at the end of the Cold War and to the present contributed to the heinous events of September 11. In the useful summary of Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair:

    In April of 1978 an indigenous populist coup overthrew the government of Mohammed Daoud, who had formed an alliance with the man the U.S. had installed in Iran, Reza Pahlevi, aka the Shah. The new Afghan government was led by Noor Mohammed Taraki, and the Taraki administration embarked, albeit with a good deal of urban intellectual arrogance on land reform, hence an attack on the opium-growing feudal estates. Taraki went to the UN where he managed to raise loans for crop substitution for the poppy fields.

    Taraki also tried to bear down on opium production in the border areas held by fundamentalists, since the latter were using opium revenues to finance attacks on Afghanistan's central government, which they regarded as an unwholesome incarnation of modernity that allowed women to go to school and outlawed arranged marriages and the bride price. Accounts began to appear in the western press along the lines of this from the Washington Post, to the effect that the mujahiddeen liked to "torture their victims by first cutting off their noses, ears and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another."

    At that time the mujahiddeen was not only getting money from the CIA but from Libya's Moammar Q'addaffi who sent them $250,000. In the summer of 1979 the U.S. State Department produced a memo making it clear how the U.S. government saw the stakes, no matter how modern minded Taraki might be or how feudal the Muj. It's another passage Nat might read to the grandkids: "The United States' larger interest would be served by the demise of the Taraki-Amin regime, despite whatever set backs this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan. The overthrow of the DRA [Democratic Republic of Afghanistan] would show the rest of the world, particularly the Third World, that the Soviets' view of the socialist course of history being inevitable is not accurate."6

Thus, a highly problematic U.S. intervention in the late 1970s in a civil war in Afghanistan, which in retrospect appears as the last great conflict of the Cold War, helped create the context for the current crisis. As a response to U.S. intervention, the Soviet Union in 1978 sent in troops to prop up the moderate socialist and modernizing Taraki regime that was opposed by Islamic fundamentalists in the country. When Taraki was killed by Afghan army officiers in September 1979, the Soviets invaded in force in December 1979 and set up a government to avoid a fundamentalist Islam and U.S.-backed takeover.

In the 1980s, the U.S. began more aggressively supporting Islamic fundamentalist Jihad groups and the Afghanistan project was a major covert foreign policy project of the Reagan-Bush administrations. During this period, the CIA trained, armed, and financed precisely those Islamic fundamentalist groups who later became part of the Al Qaeda terror network and those Islamic fundamentalist groups who are now the nemesis of the West, the new "evil empire."

In the battle to defeat Soviet Communism in the Cold War, both the Saudis and U.S. poured billions into Afghanistan to train "freedom fighters" who would overthrow the allegedly communist regime. This was a major project with some estimates as high as $40 billion that went into training and arming radical Islamic groups who would emerge with a desire to fight other great wars for Islam. These groups included Osama bin Laden and those who would later form his Al Qaeda network.

In 1989, Soviet troops left Afghanistan in defeat and a civil war continued for the next several years. The Bush administration, in one of its most cynical and fateful decisions, decided to completely pull out of Afghanistan, rather than working to build democracy and a viable government in that country. They had other fish to fry, in particular Iraq -- another Bush I administration interventions that had momentous consequences (see Kellner 1992). After arousing the Arab world in hatred against the U.S. military intervention in Iraq, at the end of the Gulf war in 1991, the Bush administration persuaded the Saudi government to allow the U.S. to continue to position their forces in the holy land of Islam -- another fateful event that has generated yet to be fully perceived in its blowback effects. For it was the permanent positioning of U.S. troops in what was perceived as the Islamic Holy Land, Saudi Arabia, that especially angered bin Laden and more radical Islamic groups. When Saudi Arabia continued to allow the presence of U.S. troops after the Gulf war, bin Laden broke with his country and was declared persona non grata by the Saudis for his provocative statements and behavior. It was also reported at this time that Saudis put out a contract on bid Laden's life, supposedly with the assent of the first Bush Administration (Weaver 1996), although assassination attempts seemed to have failed.

Meanwhile, as civil war raged in Afghanistan in the middle-1990s, Pakistani military and intelligence groups, with the support of the CIA, funded and organized one particularly fanatical Islamic group, the Taliban, which eventually took over control of much of the country in the mid-1990s, promising to stabilize the region and gaining recognition by the U.S. and Pakistan governments, but not the UN and much of the rest of the world, which recognized the National Alliance groups fighting the Taliban as the legitimate representative of Afghanistan.

Moreover, by the mid-late 1990s, Bin Laden established an organization of former Afghanistan holy war veterans, called al Qaeda. In February 1998, bin Laden issued a statement, endorsed by several extreme Islamic groups, declaring it the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens -- civilian or military -- and their allies everywhere. The bombing of U.S. embassies was ascribed to the bin Laden/al Qaeda network and the Clinton administration responded by shooting 70 Cruise missiles at a factory supposedly owned by bin Laden in Sudan that produced chemical weapons and at camps in Afghanistan that allegedly were populated by bid Laden and his group. The factory in Sudan turned out to be a pharmaceutical company and the camps in Afghanistan were largely deserted, producing another embarrassment for U.S. policy in the Middle East; Clinton later claimed that his administration also was plotting to assassinate bid Laden, but that a change of Pakistani government disrupted the plot, marking two U.S. administration plots to assassinate the Islamic leader, who was obviously hardened against the U.S. by such policies.

While this is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media, the Bush Administration became one of the largest financial supporters of the Taliban, providing over $100 million this year in what they deemed "humanitarian aid," as well as a supplemental grant of $43 million in May of 2001 for the Taliban's promise to declare opium production "unIslamic" and thus to cut back on a potent source of the world's drug trade. Given the fact that the Taliban has allegedly been a major exporter of opium, which is Afghanistan's major cash crop, it raises eyebrows in knowledgeable circles as to why the Bush Administration would have trusted the Taliban to cut back on opium production. Moreover, a story is circulating that the Bush Administration was acting in the interests of the Unocal oil consortium to build an oil-pipe line across Afghanistan, a project that had purportedly led the oil company to encourage the U.S. to support the Taliban in the first place since they were deemed the group most likely to stabilize Afghanistan and allow the pipeline to be built.7
The Taliban, of course, were a highly theocratic and repressive fundamentalist regime that some have described as "clerical fascism" (Chip Berlet), or "reactionary tribalism" (Robert Antonio). Their treatment of women is notorious, as is their cultural totalitarianism that led to banning of books, media, and destruction of Buddhist statues. Like the Saudis, the Taliban practice a form of "Wahabism", a derogatory term applied to a particularly virulent strain of Muslim fundamentalism, also followed by the Saudis. The Taliban have also been the host of Osima Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network since they were expelled from Sudan in 1996, at U.S. pressure and insistence. Although Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were deemed enemies of the U.S. since their alleged involvement in a series of terrorist crimes for some reason the Bush Administration continued to provide support to the Taliban group that hosted and protected them.

Consequently, the events of the September 11 terrorist attacks should be seen in the context of several U.S. administrations and CIA support for the perpetrators of the monstrous assaults on the United States from the late 1970s, through the Reagan-Bush years, to the present. This is not to simply blame U.S. policy in Afghanistan for the terrorist assault of September 11, but it is to provide some of the context in which the events can be interpreted. There are, of course, other flaws of U.S. foreign policy over the past decades which have helped generate enemies of the United States in the Middle East and elsewhere, such as excessive U.S. support for Israel and inadequate support for the Palestinians, U.S. support of authoritarian regimes, and innumerable misdeeds of the U.S. Empire over the past decades that have been documented by Chomsky, Herman, Johnson, and other critics of U.S. foreign policy.

Terrorism and Terror War: Operation Enduring Freedom and the Dangers of Infinite Blowback

While there were no doubt a multiplicity of contributing factors, the September 11 events can be read as a blowback of major policies of successive U.S. administrations and the CIA who trained, funded, supported, and armed the groups alleged to have carried out the terrorist attacks on the United States -- and certainly all circumstantial and other evidence points to these groups. The obvious lesson is that it is highly dangerous and potentially costly to align one's country with terrorist groups; that support of groups or individuals who promote terrorism is likely to come back to haunt you; and that it is dangerous to make Machiavellian pacts with obviously dangerous groups and individuals - as the Bush Administration is continuing to do.

After several weeks following the September 11 terror attacks in which the global community appeared to be building an effective strategy On Sunday, October 7, just short of one month after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. the Bush administration unleashed a full-scale military assault on Afghanistan, purportedly to annihiliate the bin Laden network and to destroy the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that had hosted them. The unilateralism of the U.S. response was striking. Indeed, leading American newspapers provided a rationale for U.S. rejection of a UN-led or NATO-led coalition against international terrorism:

    In the leadup to a possible military strike, senior administration and allied officials said Mr. Rumsfeld's approach this week made clear that the United States intends to make it as much as possible an all-American campaign.
    One reason, they said, is that the United States is determined to avoid the limitations on its targets that were imposed by NATO allies during the 1999 war in Kosovo, or the hesitance to topple a leader that members of the gulf war coalition felt in 1991.
    "Coalition is a bad word, because it makes people think of alliances," said Robert Oakley, former head of the State Department's counter-terrorism office and former ambassador to Pakistan.
    A senior administration official put it more bluntly: "The fewer people you have to rely on, the fewer permissions you have to get."

And so on October 7, the U.S. unleashed an assault on Afghanistan, with minimal British military support, assuring that the U.S. and Britain would eventually pay for the attack with the lives of their citizens in later Islamic terrorist retribution. Announcing the attack in a speech from the Oval Office, George W. Bush proclaimed that Afghanistan was being attacked because the Taliban had refused to hand over bin Laden, thus "the Taliban will pay a price. By destroying camps and disrupting communications we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans."

    Within the hour, in a startling interruption of the mainstream media's pro-U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, the networks released a video-feed of a speech from bin Laden and his chief partners-in-crime, obviously fed to the Quatar-based al Jazeera network in advance. Playing to an Arab audience, Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian doctor who many believed to be a major political/strategic force in the al Queda terrorist network, described the U.S. support of Israel, failure to help produce a Palestinian state, assault against Iraq in the Gulf war with a subsequent stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the Arab Holy Land, and other Arab grievances.

Then bin Laden himself came on in his now familiar turban and camouflage jacket, an assault rifle by his side, and Afghanistan landscape with a cave behind him. In ornate Arabic, translated erratically by the network translators who were trying to render his speech into English, bin Laden praised the attack on America that "destroyed its buildings" and created "fear from North to South," praising God for this attack. Calling for a Jihad to "destroy America," bin Laden attacked the "debauched," "oppressive" Americans who have "followed injustice," and exhorted every Muslim to join the Jihad. The world was now divided, bin Laden insisted, into two sides, "the side of believers and the side of infidels," and everyone who stands with America is a "coward" and an "infidel."

Remarkably, bin Laden's Manichean dualism mirrored the discourse of Sharon, Bush, and those in the West who proclaimed the war against terrorism as a Holy War between Good and Evil, Civilization and Barbarism. Both dichotomized their Other as dominated by fear, Bush claiming that his Holy War marked freedom versus fear, while bin Laden's Jihad poised fearful America against his brave warriors, characterizing his battle as that of justice versus injustice. Both appealed as well to God, revealing a similar fundamentalist absolutism and Manicheanism and both characterized the Other as "evil."

As the U.S. war machine campaign unfolded, the Bush administration backed away from personalizing the conflict as one between Bush and bin Laden, perhaps recalling how the first Bush's presidency collapsed in part because he was not able to remove the personification of evil in the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein, who continued to taunt the U.S. and who many believed supported the al Qaeda terrorist network.

Although I have used the term "bin Laden" throughout my analysis, I think that it is a mistake to personalize the September 11 events, or to contribute to the demonization of bin Laden, the flip side of which is deification, which no doubt is what he and some of his followers want. "Bin Laden" is better interpreted as what Sorel called a "revolutionary myth," a figurehead for a network and movement to which his opponents ascribe great power and evil, while his followers ascribe wonderous effectivity and good to the name. In fact, there appears to be a worldwide radical Islamic theocratic network that has taken up terrorism and "propaganda of the deed" to help produce a Holy War between the East and West, and it appears certain that the problems of terrorism will not be solved by the arrest or elimination of bin Laden and top members of his Al Qaeda network who Bush put on top of a "Most Wanted" list on October 10.

It should also be made clear that the interpretation of Islam by the al Qaeda network goes against a mainstream reading of the Koran that prohibits suicide, violence against children and innocents, and that in no way promises sainthood or eternal happiness to terrorists. Islam, like Christianity, is complex and contested with various schools, branches, and sects. To homogenize Islam is precisely to play the game of bin Laden and his associates who want to construct a Manichean dualism of Islam versus the West. In fact, just as the West is divided into highly complex blocs of competing ideologies, interests, states, regions, and group, so too is Islam and the Arab world highly divided and conflicted. Only by grasping the complexity of the contemporary world can one begin to solve intractable problems like international terrorism.

On Sunday, October 7, just short of one month after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. the Bush administration unleashed a full-scale military assault on Afghanistan, purportedly to annihiliate the bin Laden network and to destroy the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that had hosted them. The unilateralism of the U.S. response was striking. Indeed, leading American newspapers provided a rationale for U.S. rejection of a UN-led or NATO-led coalition against international terrorism:

    In the leadup to a possible military strike, senior administration and allied officials said Mr. Rumsfeld's approach this week made clear that the United States intends to make it as much as possible an all-American campaign.
    One reason, they said, is that the United States is determined to avoid the limitations on its targets that were imposed by NATO allies during the 1999 war in Kosovo, or the hesitance to topple a leader that members of the gulf war coalition felt in 1991.
    "Coalition is a bad word, because it makes people think of alliances," said Robert Oakley, former head of the State Department's counter-terrorism office and former ambassador to Pakistan.
    A senior administration official put it more bluntly: "The fewer people you have to rely on, the fewer permissions you have to get."

And so on October 7, the U.S. unleashed an assault on Afghanistan, with minimal British military support, assuring that the U.S. and Britain would eventually pay for the attack with the lives of their citizens in later Islamic terrorist retribution. Announcing the attack in a speech from the Oval Office, George W. Bush proclaimed that Afghanistan was being attacked because the Taliban had refused to hand over bin Laden, thus "the Taliban will pay a price. By destroying camps and disrupting communications we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans."

    Within the hour, in a startling interruption of the mainstream media's pro-U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, the networks released a video-feed of a speech from bin Laden and his chief partners-in-crime, obviously fed to the Quatar-based al Jazeera network in advance. Playing to an Arab audience, Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian doctor who many believed to be a major political/strategic force in the al Queda terrorist network, described the U.S. support of Israel, failure to help produce a Palestinian state, assault against Iraq in the Gulf war with a subsequent stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the Arab Holy Land, and other Arab grievances.

Then bin Laden himself came on in his now familiar turban and camouflage jacket, an assault rifle by his side, and Afghanistan landscape with a cave behind him. In ornate Arabic, translated erratically by the network translators who were trying to render his speech into English, bin Laden praised the attack on America that "destroyed its buildings" and created "fear from North to South," praising God for this attack. Calling for a Jihad to "destroy America," bin Laden attacked the "debauched," "oppressive" Americans who have "followed injustice," and exhorted every Muslim to join the Jihad. The world was now divided, bin Laden insisted, into two sides, "the side of believers and the side of infidels," and everyone who stands with America is a "coward" and an "infidel."

Remarkably, bin Laden's Manichean dualism mirrored the discourse of Sharon, Bush, and those in the West who proclaimed the war against terrorism as a Holy War between Good and Evil, Civilization and Barbarism. Both dichotomized their Other as dominated by fear, Bush claiming that his Holy War marked freedom versus fear, while bin Laden's Jihad poised fearful America against his brave warriors, characterizing his battle as that of justice versus injustice. Both appealed as well to God, revealing a similar fundamentalist absolutism and Manicheanism and both

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