Bin Laden’s 1998 Atomic Message & the Necon Dream
“Nothing can stop you except retaliation in kind…Your religion does not forbid you from killing innocents.” Osama Bin Laden*
“U.S. policy should have as its explicit goal removing Saddam Hussein's regime from power and establishing a peaceful and democratic Iraq in its place... It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.” Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Robert Zoellick, Peter Rodman, Richard Armitage, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Kristol, et. al.*
In May 1998, Osama Bin Laden fielded questions from a group of reporters including ABC’s John Miller. Bin Laden made it clear that war had been declared on US international assets but held out the hope that the American people would remove then-President Bill Clinton from office and put into place an administration that would listen closely to Bin Laden’s story and, perhaps, talk with him about it.
“The American government is leading the country towards hell...We say to the Americans as people and to American mothers, if they cherish their lives and if they cherish their sons, they must elect an American patriotic government that caters to their interests…If the present injustice continues with the wave of national consciousness, it will inevitably move the battle to American soil, just as Ramzi Yousef and others have done. This is my message to the American people. I urge them to find a serious administration that acts in their interest and does not attack people and violate their honor and pilfer their wealth...”
During the course of the interview he stated his position and grievances articulately, intelligently and with a firm understanding of US history, particularly its global military and intelligence operations since the end of World War II. That history is one of documented military interventions, orchestrated coups and unflinching (and still ongoing) support for corrupt leadership in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordon and Israel. These are countries that the US need not support. As it is, the US has armed each of them with cutting edge US weaponry and provides billions of dollars a year in foreign aid that could best be spent on US domestic programs.
The US election of 2000 produced the US Supreme Court’s choice to lead “an American Patriotic government” and that was George W. Bush and a group of disgruntled American zealots (the neocons) who would continue the post-WWII policies that Bin Laden and his followers loathed. They would lay claim to the greatest strategic blunder made by a group of Americans holding the reigns of US power:: the invasion and failed occupation of Iraq, and the public lynching of Saddam Hussein.
Dumb and Dumber: Clinton & Bush Administrations
In January of 1998, the same year Bin Laden was announcing his game plan, a group of disgruntled Americans writing out of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC)—see names attached to quote above--sent a letter to then-President Bill Clinton (later to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott) begging for the US to attack Iraq, remove Saddam Hussein from power and establish a free, democratic Iraq. This would, in their view, pay big dividends to moderate Arab states (the ones propped up by US military and economic largess), Israel and US corporate oil interests. Like Bin Laden, they said exactly what they would do if their demands were not met. Unlike Bin Laden, they would fail to understand history.
Within two months of Bin Laden’s interview, the US Embassy in Kenya and Ethiopia were attacked. Not long after the election/placement of George W. Bush came September 11, 2001. Bin Laden kept his promise of 1998 staging a brilliant attack on “American soil”. The result was the complete destruction of the World Trade Center complex in New York City, and significant damage to the Pentagon based in Arlington, Virginia. It was perfect in every way. Two symbols of American economic and military supremacy destroyed/damaged.
Meanwhile, the disgruntled folks formerly holed-up at the PNAC were now in control of the US government and military. Thanks to September 11, 2001, their dream of a retooled Middle East in the image of the US, or at least Israel, could be made into reality quicker and easier. Anyone looking at their plan—no doubt Bin Laden--had to ask the What If and What About questions: Can Afghanistan be pacified? What about Pakistan and its loyalty to Bin Laden? Will Turkey tolerate a Kurdistan? What if the Iraq occupation fails? What if the Shia take control? What about displaced Iraqis? What effect will displaced persons have on Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait? What about Iran? What about Israel and the Palestinians? What about the Horn of Africa? What about the economic costs? What about our troops? What about history?
Bin Laden got it right again.
Two post-WWII US administrations ostensibly run by the best and brightest America had to offer could not muster the brain power to think it all through. They would be defeated by Osama Bin Laden--a master in Sun Tzu’s art of war. It’s 2007 and he even has air travelers taking off their shoes before boarding a flight. Irony? Shoes must come off before entering a Mosque.