The Terrorism Issue that Wasn’t Discussed

by Gareth Porter

George W. Bush and President Barack Obama visit the 9/11 memorial (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In the commentary on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the news and infotainment media have predictably framed the discussion by the question of how successful the CIA and the military have been in destroying al Qaeda. Absent from the torrent of opinion and analysis was any mention of how the U.S. military occupation of Muslim lands and wars that continue to kill Muslim civilians fuel jihadist sentiment that will keep the threat of terrorism high for many years to come.

The failure to have that discussion is not an accident. In December 2007, at a conference in Washington, D.C. on al Qaeda, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin offered a laundry list of things the United States could do to reduce the threat from al Qaeda. But he said nothing about the most important thing to be done: pledging to the Islamic world that the United States would pull its military forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq and end its warfare against those in Islamic countries resisting U.S. military presence.

During the coffee break, I asked him whether that item should have been on his list. “You’re right,” he answered.  And then he added, “But we can’t do that.”

“Why not,” I asked.

“Because,” he said, “we would have to tell the families of the soldiers who have died in those wars that their loved ones died in vain.”

His explanation was obviously bogus. But in agreeing that America’s continuing wars actually increase the risk of terrorism against the United States, Benjamin was merely reflecting the conclusions that the intelligence and counter-terrorism communities had already reached.

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Why Kill Bin Laden Now?

Gareth Porter: Domestic politics dictated decision to assassinate bin Laden, not national security. Also, in the National Journal, Tim Fernholz and Jim Tankersley estimate that the pursuit of Bin Laden cost the US $3 trillion over the past 15 years.

Israel’s Gurkha Regiment and Iran

Israel’s fifth column in the United States has long used the American military as what Juan Cole memorably called Israel’s ‘Gurkha Regiment’. They used the September 11 attacks as an opportunity to push the United States into a disastrous war against Israel’s regional enemies. The war was planned and executed in Washington, but its inspiration came from Tel Aviv. David Ben Gurion’s periphery doctrine had by the early 1980s evolved into Likud’s elaborate plan for dominating the region. It was developed and articulated by veteran Israeli diplomat Oded Yinon in the World Zionist Organization’s inhouse publication Kivunim. Ariel Sharon’s abortive attempt to implement the plan backfired after its invasion of Lebanon turned into a political and military fiasco. Israel soon realized the limits of its power when fighting a popular resistance as opposed to the ill-equipped and poorly led Arab armies which it had handily defeated. Meanwhile Yinon’s ideas were picked up and adapted by David Wurmser, the principal author of the infamous ‘Clean Break‘ and its lesser known, but more important follow up, ‘Coping with Crumbling States‘. (In a clear breach of the 1798 Logan Act, Wurmser, Feith and Perle also advised Israeli leaders on ways to undercut US foreign policy.) They were given their fullest expression in Wurmser’s 1999 book Tyranny’s Ally published by AEI and endorsed by Richard Perle et al.

At a time when Israel and the Likudnik neoconservatives were divided as to which regional rival needed confronting first — Iran or Iraq — Wurmser came up with a conceptual breakthrough which would neutralize both with a single stroke. In the place of the US strategy of ‘dual containment’ (developed by Israel lobbyist Martin Indyk), Wurmser proposed a strategy of ‘dual rollback’. By invading Iraq, encouraging sectarian segregation, and empowering the Shia, the United States could eliminate Iraq as a major threat while at the same time exploiting the Iraq-Iranian doctrinal schism over Khomeini’s concept of wilayat-e-faqih to rollback the Iranian revolution. Iraq and its present Grand Ayatullah command higher authority among Shias, he noted, and unlike the Iranian clergy, they don’t subscribe to wilayat-e-faqih. An assertive Iraqi Shia populace would therefore displace Iran as a center of the Shia world, its example would also spur the Saudi Shia to agitate against the central government.

So it was that in 2002 the neoconservatives leveraged their privileged access to Cheney and Rumsfeld to defeat the sceptics in the foreign policy establishment, the military joint chiefs of staff, and the intelligence agencies. They waged a war that has destroyed over a million Iraqi lives, dispalced nearly 5 million, and impoverished the world by burning up nearly six trillion dollars (half of those costs will be born by the US alone).But if you thought these agents of a foreign power would be laying low lest they draw more attention to themselves, you’d be disappointed. Deja vu: the neoconservatives now want the United States to wage another war for Israel. The cast is familiar, so is the script. The only question is how long the audience will put up with the charade. The US military has repeatedly put its foot down: it doesn’t want to fight another war for Israel. US businesses are even more sceptical. Even Obama is not listening. But the danger, as Zbigniew Brzezinski had warned, is that Israel could stage an event to force American hand and embroil it in a war that it does not want. So, where are the antiwar voices, and when will they call the Israel lobby on its treacherous machinations?

The following article by investigative journalist Gareth Porter is a must read. (Also see my 2007 article on the campaign against Iran)

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Is Israel spreading misinformation about Iran?

It is worth noting that all the ‘scoops’ about Iran’s nuclear program, and the imminent threat of an Israeli attack have appeared in the Murdoch rag Times. The latest such claims about alleged Iranian experiments with a ‘neutron initiator’ have been revealed by investigative journalist Gareth Porter (who is one of our 20 top global media figures of 2009) to be based on CIA forgeries. Here he is on Russia Today speaking about the latest disinformation campaign which alleges that Iran is purchasing Uranium ore from Kazakhstan.

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