“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.
There’s no questioning the intelligence, or cold calculation, of Bin Laden and his reading of history. And if his past provides any insight, it’s that he is a man who sticks to his word. And that’s very worrisome, particularly when each August 6th and 9th come around.
“After World War II, the Americans grew more unfair and more oppressive towards people in general and Muslims in particular... The Americans started it and retaliation and punishment should be carried out following the principle of reciprocity, especially when women and children are involved. Through history, America has not been known to differentiate between the military and the civilians or between men and women or adults and children. Those who threw atomic bombs and used the weapons of mass destruction against Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the Americans. Can the bombs differentiate between military and women and infants and children? America has no religion that can deter her from exterminating whole peoples. Your position against Muslims in Palestine is despicable and disgraceful. America has no shame. ... We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans.”
Duck and Cover
The time seems ripe for Bin Laden to act again on US soil, particularly since America has no leaders currently capable of reversing the US course to Hell. With the US expanding its military operations and presence in Iraq and the Persian Gulf; the PNAC crowd—and the US Congress--screaming bloody murder for either a US or Israeli invasion of Iran; the detiorating conditions in Pakistan and Turkey (with the latter’s threat of invasion into Kurdish Iraq); the ongoing destruction of the Palestinians; US military intervention in Somalia; an already grotesquely funded 2008 US election with principals pandering to all interests except those of the American people; a slowing economy and unstable dollar--plus the costs of ongoing global war on everything; Climate Change; the Russians balking at US/NATO plans to surround that country with ABM missiles designed exclusively to humiliate Moscow; world opinion of the US at an all time low; and Americans distrustful of their own government suggests that any type of attack on the US mainland would fracture the country perhaps beyond repair.
Bin Laden’s network/affiliates may have already engineered the deployment of nuclear weapons to US soil. US military and intelligence operatives surely know this. The matter has been discussed by the US security establishment since 1998 and actively monitored through intelligence operations. Nothing has happened yet but now the timing seems about right for an attack. There are far too many instabilities, like those mentioned above, playing havoc with the world’s governments and economies. A devastating blow to a couple of US cities would further weaken the US economy. Following a nuke attack, where would the US strike back? Millions of Americans would believe such an event was the handiwork of the US government like 911. Millions would call for an invasion of some country, any country—even if innocent.
Crippling two American cities with nukes just might be in Bin Laden’s playbook. That means going for two cities on the Gulf of Mexico that play a key role in US energy production and interstate commerce. Houston and New Orleans are two such cities. Both are in close proximity to US oil refineries. Houston has the 10th largest port in the world and houses companies who lead the energy industry in the development and production of oilfield equipment. New Orleans is home to a port that is the 5th busiest in the USA handling a sizeable share of US exports and imports. Lockheed Martin and Newport News Shipbuilding operate in close proximity to New Orleans. The stability of the US economy depends, in part, on the free flow of goods that traverse the Mississippi River to and from New Orleans.
“In today’s wars, there are no morals, and it is clear that mankind has descended to the lowest degrees of decadence and oppression. They rip us of our wealth and of our resources and of our oil. Our religion is under attack. They kill and murder our brothers. They compromise our honor and our dignity and dare we utter a single word of protest against the injustice, we are called terrorists. This is compounded injustice. And the United Nations insistence to convict the victims and support the aggressors constitutes a serious precedence which shows the extent of injustice that has been allowed to take root in this land. …Americans have committed unprecedented stupidity. They have attacked Islam and its most significant sacrosanct symbols … . We anticipate a black future for America. Instead of remaining United States, it shall end up separated states and shall have to carry the bodies of its sons back to America.”
It’s time for some serious conversation with those the US brands as terrorists and rogue nations. Absent that, both sides will continue a fight that may spiral out of control and lead to a global conflagration: just what zealots on both sides want.
But what the Hell, die in a war or die from the effects of Climate Change. Either way, we are all on a suicide mission.
*Interview with Bin Laden from pbs.org
*PNAC Letter from pnac.org
Virginia based writer specializing in national security and political matters.
Reach him at email@example.com.
His new book Talking Politics with God and the Devil in Washington, DC will be published later in 2007.