Wednesday, August 09, 2006

9/11 Commission Chairmen Admit to Whitewash

by Ivan Eland

August 8, 2006

As both the Bush administration and its client government in Israel, with their invasions of Arab states in Iraq and Lebanon respectively, make the United States ever more hated in the Islamic world, a new book by the chairmen of the 9/11 Commission admits that the commission whitewashed the root cause of the 9/11 attacks – that same interventionist U.S. foreign policy.

Former Governor Tom Kean and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, chairmen of the 9/11 Commission – the publicity hounds that they are – want to keep the long-retired, but much-celebrated, panel in the public mind. They have written a tell-all book about the trials and tribulations of the panel's work. Despite the commission's disastrous recommendations – which led to a reorganization of the U.S. intelligence community that worsened its original defect prior to 9/11 (a severe coordination problem caused by bureaucratic bloat) – and apparent whitewashing of the most important single issue that it examined, the chairmen are trying their best to write another bestseller. The book usefully details the administration's willful misrepresentation of its incompetent actions that day, but makes the shocking admission that some commission members deliberately wanted to distort an even more important issue. Apparently, unidentified commissioners wanted to cover up the fact that U.S. support for Israel was one of the motivating factors behind al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack. Although, to his credit, Hamilton argued for saying that al-Qaeda committed the heinous strike because of the U.S. military presence in the Middle East and American support for Israel, the panel watered down that frank conclusion to state that U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iraq are "dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world."

Some commissioners wanted to cover up the link between the 9/11 attack and U.S. support for Israel because this might imply that the United States should alter that policy and lessen its support for Israeli actions. How right they were. The question is simple: If the vast bulk of Americans would be safer if U.S. politicians moderated their slavish support of Israel, designed to win the support of key pressure groups at home, wouldn't it be a good idea to make this change in course? Average U.S. citizens might attenuate their support for Israel if the link between the 9/11 attacks and unquestioning U.S. favoritism for Israeli excesses were more widely known. Similarly, if American taxpayers knew that the expensive and unnecessary U.S. policy of intervening in the affairs of countries all over the world – including the U.S. military presence in the Middle East – made them less secure from terrorist attacks at home, pressure would likely build for an abrupt change to a more restrained U.S. foreign policy. But like the original 9/11 Commission report, President Bush regularly obscures this important reality by saying that America was attacked on 9/11 because of its freedoms, making no mention of U.S. interventionist foreign policy as the root cause.

Yet numerous public opinion polls in the Islamic world repeatedly prove the president wrong. The surveys show that people in Muslim countries admire American political and economic freedoms, culture, and technology. But the numbers go through the floor when Islamic people are asked about their approval of U.S. foreign policy. Much of this negative attitude derives from mindless U.S. backing of anything Israel does. In addition, Osama bin Laden has repeatedly written or stated that he attacks the United States because of its military presence in the Persian Gulf and its support for Israel and corrupt regimes in the Arab world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at 11:56:00 AM PDT  
Blogger M1 said...

o grasp the unfolding events in Lebanon, you have to begin with an uncomfortable fact. Hezbollah, widely known throughout much of the West as a "terrorist organization", is seen as anything but in Lebanon. This was obviously true of most Shi'ites, especially in south Lebanon, before this round of war began. Now, even many in the conservative Christian population in parts of northern Lebanon and west Beirut have come to hold its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in high regard. With seats in the Lebanese parliament, Hezbollah is seen as a legitimate political group.

Hezbollah first came into existence as a result of the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon, which began on June 6, 1982. The group draws most of its popular support from southern Beirut and southern Lebanon, where the majority of the country's Shi'ite population lives. Downtrodden, impoverished, and largely overlooked by a government in Beirut in which they had inadequate representation, the Shi'ites were primed for a leader who would promise them a better future.

After years of brutal guerrilla war against the Israeli military, which had occupied part of south Lebanon, Hezbollah succeeded in doing what neither the Lebanese government nor its impotent army could possibly have done. Its fighters wore down the Israeli military and finally forced it out of the country in 2000. This, not surprisingly, lent it even greater popularity.

While the coming years also brought it more significant political representation and respect, the Druze and Christian populations continued to distance themselves from or oppose the group.

Now, the staggeringly disproportionate Israeli response to the detention of two of its soldiers and the killing of others in mid-July has changed even this. In a sense, the Israelis are accomplishing the previously inconceivable - uniting the otherwise hostile power centers of the country behind Hezbollah.

The Israeli invasion of Lebanon stands in the same ­relationship to Iran as the invasion of Afghanistan stood to Iraq.

It is a preparatory phase through which the US and Britain must pass before moving on to the main goal - in this case an attack on Iran or Syria.

As the Economist put it this week, “This particular conflict is not primarily between Israel and Lebanon at all so much as it is between Israel and Iran, Hizbollah’s mentor, and between America and Iran.”

Israel has argued that the war against Hezbollah's rocket arsenal was a defensive response to the Shi'ite organization's threat to Israeli security, but the evidence points to a much more ambitious objective - the weakening of Iran's deterrent to an attack on its nuclear sites.

Luttwak, senior adviser to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says administration officials have privately dismissed the option of air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities in the past, citing estimates that a Hezbollah rocket attack in retaliation would kill thousands of people in northern Israel.

But Israeli officials saw a war in Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah's arsenal and prevent further resupply in the future as a way to eliminate that objection to the military option, says Luttwak.

They knew that a carefully prepared and coordinated rocket attack by Hezbollah would be much more catastrophic than one carried out under attack by Israel

Israel has been planning its campaign against Hezbollah's missile arsenal for many months. Matthew Kalman reported from Tel Aviv in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 21, "More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to US and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's main purpose in meeting with Bush on May 25 was clearly to push the United States to agree to use force, if necessary, to stop Iran's uranium-enrichment program. Four days before the meeting, Olmert told CNN that Iran's "technological threshold" was "very close". In response to a question about US and European diplomacy on the issue, Olmert replied, "I prefer to take the necessary measures to stop it, rather than find out later that my indifference was so dangerous."

At his meeting with Bush, according to Yitzhak Benhorin of Israel's ynetnews, Olmert pressed Bush on Israel's intelligence assessment that Iran would gain the technology necessary to build a bomb within a year and expressed fears that diplomatic efforts were not going to work.

It seems likely that Olmert discussed Israel's plans for degrading Hezbollah's missile capabilities as a way of dramatically reducing the risks involved in an air campaign against Iran's nuclear sites, and that Bush gave his approval. That would account for Olmert's comment to Israeli reporters after the meeting, reported by ynetnews but not by US news media: "I am very, very, very satisfied."

Bush's refusal to do anything to curb Israel's freedom to cause havoc on Lebanon further suggests that he encouraged the Israelis to take advantage of any pretext to launch the offensive. The Israeli plan may have given US Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld new ammunition for advocating a strike on Iran's nuclear sites.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at 12:27:00 PM PDT  
Blogger steve said...

good to hear from you again, Meatball

here's an interesting post in a similar vein:


Friday, August 11, 2006 at 10:18:00 AM PDT  

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