War on terrorism is bogus:  9/11 attacks
gave the US an ideal pretext to use force
to secure its global domination


by Michael Meacher   (September 6, 2003, The Guardian)

[ Also see "Meacher sparks fury over claims on September 11 and Iraq
war": http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,11209,1036588,00.html ] ]


Massive attention has now been given - and rightly so - to the reasons
why Britain went to war against Iraq. But far too little attention has
focused on why the US went to war, and that throws light on British motives
too. The conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers were hit,
retaliation against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan was a natural first
step in launching a global war against terrorism. Then, because Saddam
Hussein was alleged by the US and UK governments to retain weapons of
mass destruction, the war could be extended to Iraq as well. However this
theory does not fit all the facts. The truth may be a great deal murkier.

We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was
drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence
secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's
younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document,
entitled Rebuilding America's Defences, was written in September 2000 by
the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century
(PNAC). The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of
the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says
"while the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification,
the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends
the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document attributed to Wolfowitz
and Libby which said the US must "discourage advanced industrial nations
from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or
global role". It refers to key allies such as the UK as "the most effective
and efficient means of exercising American global leadership". It describes
peacekeeping missions as "demanding American political leadership rather
than that of the UN". It says "even should Saddam pass from the scene",
US bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently... as "Iran
may well prove as large a threat to US interests as Iraq has". It spotlights
China for "regime change", saying "it is time to increase the presence
of American forces in SE Asia".

The document also calls for the creation of "US space forces" to dominate
space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent "enemies" using the
internet against the US. It also hints that the US may consider developing
biological weapons "that can target specific genotypes [and] may transform
biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool".

Finally - written a year before 9/11 - it pinpoints North Korea, Syria and Iran
as dangerous regimes, and says their existence justifies the creation of a
"worldwide command and control system". This is a blueprint for US world
domination. But before it is dismissed as an agenda for right wing fantasists,
it is clear it provides a much better explanation of what actually happened
before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis. This
can be seen in several ways.

First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events
of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to
the US of the 9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to
Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists
said to be preparing a big operation (Daily Telegraph, September 16 2001).
The list they provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none
of whom was arrested. It had been known as early as 1996 that there were
plans to hit Washington targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national
intelligence council report noted that "al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-
land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the head-
quarters of the CIA, or the White House".

Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas in Saudi Arabia. Michael
Springman, the former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, has
stated that since 1987 the CIA had been illicitly issuing visas to unqualified
applicants from the Middle East and bringing them to the US for training in
terrorism for the Afghan war in collaboration with Bin Laden (BBC, November
6 2001). It seems this operation continued after the Afghan war for other
purposes. It is also reported that five of the hijackers received training at
secure US military installations in the 1990s (Newsweek, September 15 2001).
Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up. French Moroccan flight
student Zacarias Moussaoui (now thought to be the 20th hijacker) was
arrested in August 2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious
interest in learning how to steer large airliners. When US agents learned
from French intelligence he had radical Islamist ties, they sought a warrant
to search his computer, which contained clues to the September 11 mission
(Times, November 3 2001). But they were turned down by the FBI.

One agent wrote, a month before 9/11, that Moussaoui might be planning to
crash into the Twin Towers (Newsweek, May 20 2002). All of this makes it all
the more astonishing - on the war on terrorism perspective - that there was
such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was suspected
at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania
at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the
US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the
third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not? There were standard
FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September
2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to
chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that
once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent
up to investigate.

Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant
of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood
down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal
crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: "The information provided by European
intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for
either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence."

Nor is the US response after 9/11 any better. No serious attempt has ever been
made to catch Bin Laden. In late September and early October 2001, leaders of
Pakistan's two Islamist parties negotiated Bin Laden's> extradition to Pakistan to
stand trial for 9/11. However, a US official said, significantly, that "casting our
objectives too narrowly" risked a premature collapse of the international effort if by
some lucky chance Mr Bin Laden was captured". The US chairman of the joint
chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that "the goal has never been
to get Bin Laden" (AP, April 5 2002). The whistleblowing FBI agent Robert Wright
told ABC News (December 19 2002) that FBI headquarters wanted no arrests.

And in November 2001 the US airforce complained it had had al-Qaida and
Taliban leaders in its sights as many as 10 times over the previous six weeks,
but had been unable to attack because they did not receive permission quickly
enough (Time Magazine, May 13 2002). None of this assembled evidence, all
of which comes from sources already in the public domain, is compatible with
the idea of a real, determined war on terrorism. The catalogue of evidence does,
however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint. From this it seems
that the so-called "war on terrorism" is being used largely as bogus cover for
achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself
hinted at this when he said to the Commons liaison committee: "To be truthful
about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly
launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11"
(Times, July 17 2002). Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a
rationale for an attack on Iraq that on 10 separate occasions he asked the
CIA to find evidence linking Iraq to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-
handed (Time Magazine, May 13 2002).

In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan
into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action
against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. A report prepared
for the US government from the Baker Institute of Public Policy stated in
April 2001 that "the US remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains
a destabilising influence to... the flow of oil to international markets from the
Middle East". Submitted to Vice-President Cheney's energy task group, the
report recommended that because this was an unacceptable risk to the US,
"military intervention" was necessary (Sunday Herald, October 6 2002).

Similar evidence exists in regard to Afghanistan. The BBC reported (Sept
18 2001) that Niaz Niak, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by
senior American officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that "military
action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October". Until
July 2001 the US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability
in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines
from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through
Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with the
Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives told them
"either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet
of bombs" (Inter Press Service, November 15 2001).

Given this background, it is not surprising that some have seen the US failure
to avert the 9/11 attacks as creating an invaluable pretext for attacking
Afghanistan in a war that had clearly already been well planned in advance.
There is a possible precedent for this. The US national archives reveal that
President Roosevelt used exactly this approach in relation to Pearl Harbor on
December 7 1941. Some advance warning of the attacks was received, but the
information never reached the US fleet.The ensuing national outrage persuaded
a reluctant US public to join the second world war. Similarly the PNAC blueprint
of September 2000 states that the process of transforming the US into
"tomorrow's dominant force" is likely to be a long one in the absence of "some
catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The 9/11 attacks
allowed the US to press the "go" button for a strategy in accordance with the
PNAC agenda which it would otherwise have been politically impossible to
implement. The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is that the
US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure hydrocarbon energy supplies.

By 2010 the Muslim world will control as much as 60% of the world's oil
production and, even more importantly, 95% of remaining global oil export
capacity. As demand is increasing, so supply is decreasing, continually
since the 1960s. This is leading to increasing dependence on foreign oil
supplies for both the US and the UK. The US, which in 1990 produced
domestically 57% of its total energy demand, is predicted to produce only
39% of its needs by 2010. A DTI minister has admitted that the UK could be
facing "severe" gas shortages by 2005. The UK government has confirmed
that 70% of our electricity will come from gas by 2020, and 90% of that will
be imported.

In that context it should be noted that Iraq has 110 trillion cubic feet of gas
reserves in addition to its oil. A report from the commission on America's
national interests in July 2000 noted that the most promising new source of
world supplies was the Caspian region, and this would relieve US dependence
on Saudi Arabia. To diversify supply routes from the Caspian, one pipeline
would run westward via Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
Another would extend eastwards through Afghanistan and Pakistan and
terminate near the Indian border. This would rescue Enron's beleaguered
power plant at Dabhol on India's west coast, in which Enron had sunk $3bn
investment and whose economic survival was dependent on access to cheap
gas.

Nor has the UK been disinterested in this scramble for the remaining world
supplies of hydrocarbons, and this may partly explain British participation
in US military actions. Lord Browne, chief executive of BP, warned
Washington not to carve up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath
of war (Guardian, October 30 2002). And when a British foreign minister met
Gadaffi in his desert tent in August 2002, it was said that "the UK does not
want to lose out to other European nations already jostling for advantage
when it comes to potentially lucrative oil contracts" with Libya (BBC Online,
August 10 2002).

The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the "global war on
terrorism" has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way
for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built around
securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole
project. Is collusion in this myth and junior participation in this project really
a proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there was ever need to justify
a more objective British stance, driven by our own independent goals, this
whole depressing saga surely provides all the evidence needed for a radical
change of course.

Michael Meacher MP was environment minister from May 1997 to June  2003

meacherm@parliament.uk

 

 

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