Long Division: 9/11 = 2021
The abrupt collapse of the American effort to create a democracy in its own image in Afghanistan can be seen as the inevitable outcome of an expensive mistake, costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives, and/or as a cynical strategic move. The Taliban, newly equipped with abandoned military bases and equipment, present a threat to neighbouring China. One wonders if the abrupt American exit from is partly retribution for the efforts of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, just as the abrupt American entry into Afghanistan in the first place was retribution for 9/11.
In both cases, we must scrutinise the simple narrative of vengeance. The Great Game has evolved (if that is the right word) to such a level that every move is planned x number of moves ahead, and is shelled in layers of subterfuge. It would take many hours of proper investigation, let alone hours more of internet investigation, to peel those shells away, and understand the intensely complex wars by proxy that have been waged in the shrouded arenas of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Even a cursory glance at 9/11 and its aftermath reveals the existence of those shells. From [A] George Bush receiving news of the attack on the Twin Towers while apparently reading a school book upside down to a class of elementary students, to the images of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton watching marines assassinate Osama Bin Laden, we enter an extremely treacherous hall of mirrors. These are mirrors that distort, lie, double- and triple-bluff.
In the case of [A], the 9/11 conspiracy case takes a hit when it is revealed that the infamous image of Bush holding a book (America, A Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney, wife of Dick Cheney) is a fake. Not only that, but the original photo was taken in the summer of 2002, almost a year after 9/11. Here is a case where a fake inserts itself, almost indelibly into history. I mention it now as I was talking to an intelligent person here in the Sacred Valley just the other day, and we were talking about 9/11 in relation to Covid-19.
The case of [B] is darker still. Just as the mainstream news narrative of finding on the morning of 11 September 2001 first a car at Boston Airport with an Arabic flight manual in the glove compartment, then another in the WTC carpark with a Quran and Muhammad Atta’s passport in the glove compartment beggars belief (recall the towering clouds of dust, the chaos and panic), so does the story of the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, and the neat disposal of the body into the ocean. Obama refused to release either footage of the raid, or photographs of the body on “national security” grounds.
Bin Laden “Died like a p***y” according to Navy Seal turned motivational speaker Rob O’Neill, breaking a “strict code of silence” to motivate patriots in the Irish Mirror. A survey of tabloid news headlines and magazine covers celebrating the death of Bin Laden reveals the bestial racism that underpins much of American imperialism.
Just as the destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001 marked the beginning of the post-truth era, the exit of America from Afghanistan twenty years later marks the end of imperialism. As ABC report:
Douglas Lute, who oversaw the war for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2007 to 2013, told SIGAR. “We didn’t know what we were doing."
Which, while true, is not entirely bonafide. Much is made of the unnavigability of Afghanistan’s rugged terrain, the Mujahideen, the medieval paradigm, the familial intricacies within the loya jirga or tribal gathering. Are we to believe the hand wringing of military leaders, that they were caught by surprise by all this? Even after closely watching the Russians during their 10 year occupation of Afghanistan?
We can also ask, where did the “billions of waster dollars” actually go? To military contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Halliburton, DynCorp and others, who were able to charge whatever figure came into their heads, thereby rocketing their share prices 10x.
UK veterans responding to British MP Zarah Sultana’s noble, if idealistic, public letter to British Home Secretary Priti Patel feel “insulted” by Sultana’s description of the British occupation of Afghanistan as war. (Britain, increasingly, is America Lite.) It’s understandable that the troops feel duped. Many of them engaged in bridge-building, literal and metaphorical, as best they could. All of them worked with private contractors earning twice as much or more than they were.
Troops and civilians both object to Zarah’s call to “open the doors.” Some raise the fearful prospect of the UK speaking Arabic within our lifetime, and being forced into the straitjacket of Sharia.
Osama Bin Laden, and by extension muslims, became the world’s scapegoat. If I was to take a punt on what really happened in 9/11 I would say it was part the outcome of warring Great Game-players within America and part accident. The best laid plans even of Great Game-players often go astray.
The greatest Great Game-players hedge their bets. Just as Henry Ford sold engines and parts to the Nazis, if you play it both ways, you can’t go wrong.
We have known all along that war is a highly profitable business. Now it is obvious that profit is the business of war. Cynics will say that thus it ever was.
The cynicism of those who profit is in fact a spiritual key. It is the flip side of compassion. Both cynicism and compassion transcend the sides in war. One doesn’t give a fuck. The other sees unity all the more clearly for its removal by division. In these times of division, there is our light in the dark. The profiteers are terrified we see it.