Jonathan Raban has written a stunningly succinct article, The Truth About Terrorism, for the January 13, 2005 New York Review of Books. When I use the word "succinct" in the context of describing this article, I'm not trying to impart that the article is short (it's not) or a great soundbite type of report (far from it). I'm trying to convey that even in its length, the article gets to the point so much faster than reading Against All Enemies, or Imperial Hubris, the 9/11 Commission Report, or a biography of Osama bin Laden.
The Truth About Terrorism is the Cliff Notes of the Bush/Cheney faux war on terror.
There are a couple of passages that simply slam home the concept of duplicity being exercised by the Bush Administration. The first example that Raban brings to the table is the case of Bush advisor Richard Pipes. Back in September, Pipes seized on the Beslan school massacre in Russia thusly in a NYTimes op-ed:
The attacks on New York and the Pentagon were unprovoked and had no specific objective. Rather, they were part of a general assault of Islamic extremists bent on destroying non-Islamic civilizations. As such, America's war with Al Qaeda is non-negotiable. But the Chechens do not seek to destroy Russia, thus there is always an opportunity for compromise.
This is the kind of bullshit that America's being fed. It's quite OK for another country (not of our own basic liking) to negotiate with terrorists. In fact, Pipes was almost going overboard in saying that the Chechen rebels who caused the massacre had legitimate grievances that the Russians should consider. As opposed, of course, to the U.S. and Osama bin-Laden. Pipes continues the lie that al Qaida and bin-Laden just hate freedom: they don't like us or our way of life. Raban then blows this theory all to hell with bin-Laden's exact demands and words:
There's no mention of American values in bin Laden's call for the removal of US bases from Saudi Arabia (a demand that has since been quietly met) and for an end to "the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post," or in his indictment of the American "endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel's survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula."
Michael Scheuer, the recently de-cloaked author of Imperial Hubris, receives a great deal of attention in the article. Chillingly, Raban recounts a warning from Scheuer that sounds amazing like what transpired in Fallujah - and consider that Scheuer's opinion was being committed to the written word some 18 months before the November blitzkrieg of Fallujah occurred:
Scheuer warns of huge body counts on both sides that "will include as many or more civilians as combatants," "a Sherman-like razing of infrastructure," land mines to seal borders and passes, "displaced populations, and refugee flows." "This sort of bloody-mindedness is neither admirable nor desirable, but it will remain America's only option so long as she stands by her failed policies toward the Muslim world."
Scheuer's al-Qaeda is more frightening than the versions offered by ideologues like Norman Podhoretz or by dot-connecting terrorist hunters like Richard Clarke because it is an entirely rational enemy, motivated by causes just as dear as those that drive Americans. It is bent, as we are here, on defending its own liberties in its homelands; it is amply armed, and is equipped with a better understanding of the strategies of fourth-generation warfare than Americans yet possess.
What Raban is saying is that you ain't seen nothin' yet. U.S. strategists haven't even started to assimilate the learning curve in 4th generation warfare. By the time they do, the body count is going to be higher, much, much higher. 4GW? Haw! The U.S. military is still married to many of the same tactics that George Patton used in order to get to Bastogne sixty years ago! Shock and awe, indeed.
Now, link the concepts conveyed above with the words expressed by Saddam Hussein in an alleged recent interview, which ran today in the Egyptian and Tunisian press (hat tip to regular ASZ reader "Uncle $Scam"). Whatever cold thoughts you previously harbored will become even more chilled. When I first read the "Saddam interview", my initial reaction was that it was great Islamic propaganda, probably played well on al-Jazeera, but was filled with a lot of boasting half-truths. Here's a snippet:
Doule�mi: In this context, there are remarks of Kofi Annan who said that this occupation is illegal.
Saddam: This is something important , it is necessary to keep it for the History. Kofi Annan cannot take any more of the American lies. If God wants it, Bush will be lonely after the whole world will know that he is a liar. He will leave Iraq by the small door because Iraqi Resistance is well prepared. It was prepared quite ahead of war. I had joined together the military and political commands and we had prepared this new page of the war against the Americans. What arrives today is not the fruit of chance.
But after reading Raban's article, the big picture starts to coalesce a little more, all of a sudden the light flickers on, and...
"Fuck! BushCo knows this shit. They've known this shit all along!"
Yes, gentle reader, they do. And yet the Bush cabal continues to play the "freedom is on the march" card. They're pretending to gamble with house money, while sneaking back to the credit window at the world casino again and again, hoping to pull to an inside straight to cover their debts. Trouble is, they've built enough plausible deniability into the whole scam to escape relatively unscathed when the markers are finally called in.
Submitted for your approval: the bottom line of Jonathan Raban's article is that 9/11 was not about American "values". 9/11 was fundamentalist Muslim response to U.S. government imperialism and meddling in the internal affairs of the middle east.
And now, the War on Terra™ doesn't (or can't) wind down until Mesopotamia becomes the fifty-first of these United States.
Postscript: I chose the title for this posting in honor of Dr. Oliver Sacks, whose seminal work with L-dopa in "awakening" catatonic patients was portrayed by Robin Williams in the movie, Awakenings.
Ed. note: For those of you who originally read this posting Tuesday night, I re-wrote the ending Wednesday morning because it just didn't flow right. Like all of my postings here, this one is a work in progress.