Grief Of 9/11
By Robert Fisk
The Independent, UK
12 September 2003
the attacks were launched against the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon
two years ago today, who had ever heard of Fallujah or Hillah? When
the Lebanese hijacker flew his plane into the ground in Pennsylvania,
who would ever have believed that President George Bush would be announcing
a "new front line in the war on terror" as his troops embarked
on a hopeless campaign against the guerrillas of Iraq?
Who could ever have
conceived of an American president calling the world to arms against
"terrorism" in "Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza"? Gaza?
What do the miserable, crushed, cruelly imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza
have to do with the international crimes against humanity in New York,
Washington and Pennsylvania?
Nothing, of course.
Neither does Iraq have anything to do with 11 September. Nor were there
any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, any al-Qa'ida links with Iraq,
any 45-minute timeline for the deployment of chemical weapons nor was
there any "liberation".
No, the attacks
on 11 September have nothing to do with Iraq. Neither did 11 September
change the world. President Bush cruelly manipulated the grief of the
American people - and the sympathy of the rest of the world - to introduce
a "world order" dreamed up by a clutch of fantasists advising
the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld.
The Iraqi "regime
change", as we now know, was planned as part of a Perle-Wolfowitz
campaign document to the would-be Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
years before Bush came to power. It beggars belief that Tony Blair should
have signed up to this nonsense without realising that it was no more
nor less than a project invented by a group of pro-Israeli American
neo-conservatives and right-wing Christian fundamentalists.
But even now, we
are fed more fantasy. Afghanistan - its American-paid warlords raping
and murdering their enemies, its women still shrouded for the most part
in their burqas, its opium production now back as the world's number
one export market, and its people being killed at up to a hundred a
week (five American troops were shot dead two weekends ago) is a "success",
something which Messrs Bush and Rumsfeld still boast about. Iraq - a
midden of guerrilla hatred and popular resentment - is also a "success".
Yes, Bush wants $87bn to keep Iraq running, he wants to go back to the
same United Nations he condemned as a "talking shop" last
year, he wants scores of foreign armies to go to Iraq to share the burdens
of occupation - though not, of course, the decision-making, which must
remain Washington's exclusive imperial preserve.
What's more, the
world is supposed to accept the insane notion that the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict - the planet's last colonial war, although all mention of the
illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank and Gaza have been erased from
the Middle East narrative in the American press - is part of the "war
on terror", the cosmic clash of religious will that President Bush
invented after 11 September. Could Israel's interests be better served
by so infantile a gesture from Bush?
The vicious Palestinian
suicide bombers and the grotesque implantation of Jews and Jews only
in the colonies has now been set into this colossal struggle of "good"
against "evil", in which even Ariel Sharon - named as "personally"
responsible for the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacre by Israel's own
commission of inquiry - is "a man of peace", according to
And new precedents
are set without discussion. Washington kills the leadership of its enemies
with impunity: it tries to kill Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar and
does kill Uday and Qusay Hussein and boasts of its prowess in "liquidating"
the al-Qa'ida leadership from rocket-firing "drones". It tries
to kill Saddam in Baghdad and slaughters 16 civilians and admits that
the operation was "not risk-free". In Afghanistan, three men
have now been murdered in the US interrogation centre at Bagram. We
still don't know what really goes on in Guantanamo.
What do these precedents
mean? I have a dark suspicion. From now on, our leaders, our politicians,
our statesmen will be fair game too. If we go for the jugular, why shouldn't
they? The killing of the UN's Sergio Vieira de Mello, was not, I think,
a chance murder. Hamas's most recent statements - and since they've
been added to the Bush circus of evil, we should take them seriously
- are now, more than ever, personally threatening Mr Sharon. Why should
we expect any other leader to be safe? If Yasser Arafat is driven into
exile yet again, will there be any restraints left?
Of course, America's
enemies were a grisly bunch. Saddam soiled his country with the mass
graves of the innocents, Mullah Omar allowed his misogynist legions
to terrify an entire society in Afghanistan. But in their absence, we
have created banditry, rape, kidnapping, guerrilla war and anarchy.
And all in the name of the dead of 11 September. The future of the Middle
East - which is what 11 September was partly about, though we are not
allowed to say so - has never looked bleaker or more bloody. The United
States and Britain are trapped in a war of their own making, responsible
for their own appalling predicament but responsible, too, for the lives
of thousands of innocent human beings - cut to pieces by American bombs
in Afghanistan and Iraq, shot down in the streets of Iraq by trigger-happy