Recently I had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar given by Scott Horton for Thaddeus Russell’s Renegade University program. Horton’s topic was the history of the War on Terror. Now, I listen to every interview Horton does, and spend a good amount of time reading everything at Antiwar.com. So I thought I knew all I could know about the War on Terror. I was wrong.
Horton provided a Powerpoint along with a Q & A. I decided to take notes over the three hours and see if Horton provided anything I hadn’t heard before that I could research or read in my spare time. Thought I would share what I found here.
“Islamic Terror” Not Just About Islam
Horton provided a bunch of examples showing that just because a country or people are Muslim, or even have issues with American policy, doesn’t mean that they will take to blowing themselves up to kill Americans.
In Bin Laden’s 1998 “Declaration of War Against Jews and Crusaders”, he speaks to the reasons for declaring war on the West. While the language includes talk of religion, the main argument is the American support for violent dictators in the Arab world, support for Israel, and the decade long bombing campaign on Iraq.
It’s when innocent people are being killed that groups like Al Qeada begin to gain support and popularity. For example, Iran has been in the cross-hairs of the United States for half a century now. Within that time, the only events in which Iranian citizens took arms against Americans include Americans on Iranian soil. Even with the sanctions, threats of war, insults by Western leaders and dozens of bases (and a full naval fleet) surrounding the country, Iranians are not looking for ways to sneak into America and kill innocent people.
Horton points to the writing of Robert Pape, the author of Dying to Warand the idea of “Credible Belief” as a main cause of terrorism. Remember, there were zero suicide bombing in Iraq before the United States invasion in 2003. To take it as far as suicide vests, there has to be a feeling that there can be victory. Whatever that is defined as. Bin Laden’s goal was never to defeat the United States army on the battlefield, but to bankrupt America, financially and emotionally. Without being invested at the highest level, no amount of convincing can make a population resist the way the people of Middle East have. We sa this with the Shite Iraqi army turning tail and running when ISIS was riding into Mosul in 2014. The Sunni tribal areas of northern Iraq are not the home of these Shites. They feel no connection to them or have any sense of urgency to keep them under Baghdad control. Horton provided another such example. The Spanish during the Iraq War refused to send troops to help it’s American allies. Why? Not their fight. How was assisting the United States in occupying Iraq going to protect the Spanish homeland?
You only need to look at the major leaders inside Al Qeada and ISIS to understand that occupation and domination are the driving factors of terrorism. Before 2004, there were no Al Qeada in Iraq. The leaders of this group, Ayman al-Zawahri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were both radicalized by seeing family members tortured by the US or its puppet dictators (the Egyptian government for example), or by being tortured themselves. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself spent time in Abu Ghraib. Growing up in an environment of occupation lent itself to young men growing up ready to turn to terrorism and militancy. Must like growing up in a gang infected neighborhood leads to most young boys joining up at a young age.
In current events we see this also. The current “Knife Intifada” in the West Bank is a prime example given by Horton. Western, “millennial” Palestinians have taken to knifing Israeli settlers and checkpoint guards. Is this for the glory of Muhammad? Or is it more likely that it is because they have lived under occupation their whole lives? Resisting the only way they know how.
It is not like the talking heads and policy makers in Washington D.C. haven’t done everything but admitted in the past that terrorism is the “price of empire”. In the 1990s the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the threat of Terrorism is a “small price to pay for being a Superpower”. In their arrogance they blind themselves from the reactions and results of their stupid policies. Like Paul Wolfowitz said when discussing the reasons for 9/11, it’s not like the United States had troops in Afghanistan prior to that day. His hubris allows him to ignore the fact that there were troops in Saudi Arabia for a full decade before, one of the major reasons Bin Laden sites for declaring war.
Blowback is a Hell of A Term
The idea of “blowback” is one I’ve been aware of since Ron Paul dropped the mic on Rudy Guliani’s face back in 2008. Chalmers Johnson helped expand my understanding of it, and I thought I had all the points I’d ever need to get the theory across to people.
Horton gave a laundry list of examples of “we should have seen this coming” moments. He sites Eric Margolis in his book “War at the Top of the World”. Margolis was on the ground in Afghanistan during the fight against the USSR in the 1980s. He was around members of the Mujaheddin like Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Azzam told Margolis that once they were done kicking the invading Soviets out of Afghanistan, they would “come for the Americans”. The leaders in that movement understood the reasons they were being helped by the Americans, and it wasn’t out of the goodness of Reagan’s heart.
Horton even brings Rambo III into the discussion. Pointing to a scene in which an officer to told by a fellow solder that Afghans have been invaded throughout their history. Fighting occupation is what they do, and no amount of firepower will stop them from resisting.
It should not have taken until 2008 for Americans to be introduced to the idea of Blowback. But once the troops began coming back home, along with the stories and evidence of what was being done, a slow burn of war fatigue began to set in.
War for Empire and Nothing Else
Horton provided a number of examples when the regime in Washington showed their true colors and I have included those below for your viewing pleasure:
The clip below is pretty famous. Madeline Albright in 1997 all but admits on camera that the Gulf War and the Clinton policy of sanctions, no-fly zones and bombings throughout the 90s had no root in humanitarianism. The opposite is more accurate.
I will leave you with the most damning evidence of “Empire First, America Second”. But before the video, let me lay out some quick connections that Horton opened by eyes to.
The invasion of Afghanistan was sold to the American people as an action to get the people responsible for 9/11. But it should have quickly became clear that this invasion was just another chess move in the game of geopolitical hegemony. Afghanistan sits in the middle of the Eurasian continent, mineral rich and strategically important. It’s the reason the Soviets invaded in the 80s in the first place. It’s the reason the British and the Russians have been racing towards the country for centuries.
The Korengal Valley is a place we can point to for proof that the mission is not about the security of America. The valley is a place that is impossible to control, but it is an important transportation route for weapons in and out of Afghanistan towards Pakistan. The documentary “Restrapo” details the complete stupidity of the mission, providing you with two hours of opportunities to say “what the fuck are those troops there for?”. Whether its the pointless patrols of the US troops through the villages within the valley, or listening to the interviews with the Marines stuck there fighting for the brother next to them, the whole movie exposes the idiotic mission.
So again, I leave you with the most jaw-dropping example of clear disregard for the wants and needs of the American people in the name of Empire and Pentagon bank accounts, President Bush only 6 MONTHS after the towers fell admitting to reporters that he doesn’t consider Bin Fucking Laden a major point of interest in the newly declared War on Terror.