In this week’s column, I off-handedly mentioned something that I thought had been pretty well-established by now: that Bush “attacked Afghanistan without cause.” Although the protests against invading Iraq were far bigger than those against bombing Afghanistan, in truth many thoughtful Americans have been horribly hoodwinked by the Administration. They don’t understand that, as with Iraq, Afghanistan had nothing to do with fighting terrorism and everything to do with the usual geopolitical grabs for influence over the oil and natural gas supplies which are the lynchpin of modern capitalist production. Here’s an e-mail I got today from John, one of my regular correspondents:
Camon, even for you, attacking Afghanistan without cause????
Where did you come up with that one from????? Do you realize that the only government in the world that recognized the taliban as the rightful government of Afghanistan at the time was Pakistan? Even the UN didnt. So, it is not like we invaded even North Korea or Iran. We gave an ultimatum to the parasite thugs that leached on to the Afghani people. But even if….WITHOUT CAUSE??????? How could you say that??? How could you HONESTLY say that???? Where are you? Is there a real person in there somewhere??
Yes, John, there is a real person in here. Somewhere. And he really needs a shower. Onward and downward:
Those who haven’t found it at Target for $7 like I did should pick up a copy of Bob Woodward’s book “Bush at War.” Written with the cooperation of Bush and his top officials, the book details the Administration’s first reactions to the 9/11 attacks. The so-called neocon wing of the Administration–Rumsfeld, Rice, Armitage–urged Bush within hours after the collapse of the World Trade Center to use the attacks as an excuse to attack Saddam Hussein. This isn’t some liberal conspiracy monger, but the Administration’s official story. Bush decided that the American people hadn’t been properly primed for an Iraq attack, so they decided to go after Afghanistan instead.
Now there’s little doubt that Afghanistan’s Taliban regime had something of an unholy alliance with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. In fact, bin Laden was in Afghanistan, not far from Kandahar, as of 9/9/01, under the protection of Mullah Omar. But Bush didn’t have any evidence that Osama had carried out 9/11 at the time. As far as we know, he still doesn’t. So attacking Afghanistan to get Osama didn’t necessarily make sense. Furthermore, the Taliban repeatedly offered to turn Osama over if presented with evidence against him–a reasonable request considering that The Taliban had no diplomatic relations with the United States, much less an extradition treaty.
Reliable sources within Afghanistan, however, informed me that bin Laden had fled Afghanistan on or before 9/11 in anticipation of U.S. missile attacks. Where did Osama go? Probably Pakistan’s “Northern Areas,” the Pakistani-held section of Kashmir. This area is extremely rugged and mountainous, and the locals are highly sympathetic to bin Laden’s brand of Islamic fundamentalism. Kashmir is a standard escape route from Afghanistan when the heat is on; that’s where the hijackers of an Indian jet went after the Taliban released them.
Why did Bin Laden leave? Because Bush spooked him, giving him so much advance warning of a U.S. invasion that he would have had to have been an utter moron not to flee. Had Bush really wanted Osama, he would have asked Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan–all U.S. allies–to seal their borders with Afghanistan. Then he would have inserted Special Forces commandos to trap bin Laden and his entourage. The fact that he never attempted to do this proves that capturing bin Laden was never a principal war aim of the U.S. invasion.
Bush’s interest in the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project, however, is well-documented in my book “Gas War.” Most experts agree that, had 9/11 not provided a pretext for a war, Bush would have invaded Afghanistan by the end of 2001 nonetheless. The details are in my book; sorry, but you’ll have to read them there since I don’t feel like typing the whole thing up again.
But I digress. I do that. Back to John’s letter:
Three nations: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates gave diplomatic recognition to the Taliban regime in 2001. They did, after all, control 95% of the country at the time, and were widely expected to finish off the Northern Alliance by the summer of ’02. The United States and United Nations continued to recognize the Northern Alliance as the legal government of Afghanistan, but in practice had many dealings with the Taliban, who were actually in charge. (The Northern Alliance, meanwhile, received little help from the United States, which had largely given up on it.) For instance, top Bush Administration officials met with Taliban officials in Texas during February 2001 in order to discuss the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project. I wonder what happened to the beautiful Afghan carpet the Taliban mullahs gave Bush as a present? It was supposedly a beauty.
Yes, Bush issued an ultimatum to turn over Osama. But when the Taliban agreed to do so, Bush refused their offer. Perhaps he wasn’t all that interested in Osama after all; me, I would have loved to hear Osama testifying in court about the interesting meetings he had with Bush’s father. But I can understand why Bush 43 might not have been so interested.
I’ll admit, I don’t understand the North Korea/Iran/Afghanistan comparison. So if the United States invades a nation that doesn’t happen to enjoy full diplomatic recognition from the US and/or UN, it doesn’t count? And what about Iraq? Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had a seat at the UN and was, in fact, recognized by most of the world’s nations. But that’s different–I guess. For some reason that I can’t quite figure out.
So yeah, it was without cause. We weren’t after Osama, we weren’t going after the guys who did 9/11, and we sure as fuck didn’t care about liberating the long-suffering people of Afghanistan. As I write this, NATO is still thinking about maybe possibly expanding peacekeeping outside of Kabul–you know, to 95% of the country. The part that always needed it most. If we had a cause, it wasn’t one we could say in public.
In all fairness, I understand why Afghanistan looked legitimate to some people. The Taliban were foul, they harbored terrorists, terrorists attacked us. But we didn’t act against the Taliban to liberate women, the Taliban offered to turn over the terrorists we demanded, and the terrorists we demanded had nothing to do with 9/11. It was a brilliant act of deception, as demonstrated by the fact that, even now that the Iraq war has become a debacle, most opponents of the Administration, people like Howard Dean, continue to support the Afghan invasion.
Oh, and they’re Afghan people, not Afghanis. Afghanis are the money, like dollars and rubles.