'THIS WAR ON TERRORISM IS BOGUS'
--- GUARDIAN UNLIMITED ---
The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext
to use force to secure its global domination.
Saturday September 6, 2003
Michael Meacher MP was Environment
Minister from May 1997 to June 2003.
Massive attention has now been given - and rightly so - to the reasons why
Britain went to war against Iraq. But far too little attention has focused on
why the US went to war, and that throws light on British motives too. The
conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers were hit, retaliation
against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan was a natural first step in launching a
global war against terrorism. Then, because Saddam Hussein was alleged by the
US and UK governments to retain weapons of mass destruction, the war could be
extended to Iraq as well. However this theory does not fit all the facts. The
truth may be a great deal murkier.
We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was
drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence
secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's
younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document,
entitled Rebuilding America's Defences, was written in September 2000 by the
neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf
region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says "while the
unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need
for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of
the regime of Saddam Hussein."
The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier document attributed to Wolfowitz and
Libby which said the US must "discourage advanced industrial nations from
challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global
role". It refers to key allies such as the UK as "the most effective and
efficient means of exercising American global leadership". It describes
peacekeeping missions as "demanding American political leadership rather than
that of the UN". It says "even should Saddam pass from the scene", US bases in
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently... as "Iran may well prove as
large a threat to US interests as Iraq has". It spotlights China for "regime
change", saying "it is time to increase the presence of American forces in SE
The document also calls for the creation of "US space forces" to dominate
space, and the total control of cyberspace to prevent "enemies" using the
internet against the US. It also hints that the US may consider developing
biological weapons "that can target specific genotypes [and] may transform
biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool".
Finally - written a year before 9/11 - it pinpoints North Korea, Syria and
Iran as dangerous regimes, and says their existence justifies the creation of
a "worldwide command and control system". This is a blueprint for US world
domination. But before it is dismissed as an agenda for rightwing fantasists,
it is clear it provides a much better explanation of what actually happened
before, during and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis. This
can be seen in several ways.
First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the
events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance
warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to
Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists
said to be preparing a big operation (Daily Telegraph, September 16 2001). The
list they provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of
whom was arrested.
It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington
targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council
report noted that "al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft
packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or
the White House".
Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas in Saudi Arabia. Michael
Springman, the former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, has stated
that since 1987 the CIA had been illicitly issuing visas to unqualified
applicants from the Middle East and bringing them to the US for training in
terrorism for the Afghan war in collaboration with Bin Laden (BBC, November 6
2001). It seems this operation continued after the Afghan war for other
purposes. It is also reported that five of the hijackers received training at
secure US military installations in the 1990s (Newsweek, September 15 2001).
Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up. French Moroccan flight
student Zacarias Moussaoui (now thought to be the 20th hijacker) was arrested
in August 2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious interest in
learning how to steer large airliners. When US agents learned from French
intelligence he had radical Islamist ties, they sought a warrant to search his
computer, which contained clues to the September 11 mission (Times, November 3
2001). But they were turned down by the FBI. One agent wrote, a month before
9/11, that Moussaoui might be planning to crash into the Twin Towers
(Newsweek, May 20 2002).
All of this makes it all the more astonishing - on the war on terrorism
perspective - that there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The
first hijacking was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked
aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was
scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from
Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am.
Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft
before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched
fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13
2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved
significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.
Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being
ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been
deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority?
The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: "The
information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so
extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a
defence of incompetence."
Nor is the US response after 9/11 any better. No serious attempt has ever been
made to catch Bin Laden. In late September and early October 2001, leaders of
Pakistan's two Islamist parties negotiated Bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan
to stand trial for 9/11. However, a US official said, significantly, that
"casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the
international effort if by some lucky chance Mr Bin Laden was captured". The
US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say
that "the goal has never been to get Bin Laden" (AP, April 5 2002). The
whistleblowing FBI agent Robert Wright told ABC News (December 19 2002) that
FBI headquarters wanted no arrests. And in November 2001 the US airforce
complained it had had al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in its sights as many as 10
times over the previous six weeks, but had been unable to attack because they
did not receive permission quickly enough (Time Magazine, May 13 2002). None
of this assembled evidence, all of which comes from sources already in the
public domain, is compatible with the idea of a real, determined war on
The catalogue of evidence does, however, fall into place when set against the
PNAC blueprint. From this it seems that the so-called "war on terrorism" is
being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic
geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself hinted at this when he said
to the Commons liaison committee: "To be truthful about it, there was no way
we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on
Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11" (Times, July 17 2002).
Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to obtain a rationale for an attack on
Iraq that on 10 separate occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking
Iraq to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-handed (Time Magazine, May 13
In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan
into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action
against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. A report prepared
for the US government from the Baker Institute of Public Policy stated in
April 2001 that "the US remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains
a destabilising influence to... the flow of oil to international markets from
the Middle East". Submitted to Vice-President Cheney's energy task group, the
report recommended that because this was an unacceptable risk to the US,
"military intervention" was necessary (Sunday Herald, October 6 2002).
Similar evidence exists in regard to Afghanistan. The BBC reported (September
18 2001) that Niaz Niak, a former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by
senior American officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that
"military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October".
Until July 2001 the US government saw the Taliban regime as a source of
stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon
pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,
through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with
the Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives told
them "either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a
carpet of bombs" (Inter Press Service, November 15 2001).
Given this background, it is not surprising that some have seen the US failure
to avert the 9/11 attacks as creating an invaluable pretext for attacking
Afghanistan in a war that had clearly already been well planned in advance.
There is a possible precedent for this. The US national archives reveal that
President Roosevelt used exactly this approach in relation to Pearl Harbor on
December 7 1941. Some advance warning of the attacks was received, but the
information never reached the US fleet. The ensuing national outrage persuaded
a reluctant US public to join the second world war. Similarly the PNAC
blueprint of September 2000 states that the process of transforming the US
into "tomorrow's dominant force" is likely to be a long one in the absence of
"some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The 9/11
attacks allowed the US to press the "go" button for a strategy in accordance
with the PNAC agenda which it would otherwise have been politically impossible
The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is that the US and
the UK are beginning to run out of secure hydrocarbon energy supplies. By 2010
the Muslim world will control as much as 60% of the world's oil production
and, even more importantly, 95% of remaining global oil export capacity. As
demand is increasing, so supply is decreasing, continually since the 1960s.
This is leading to increasing dependence on foreign oil supplies for both the
US and the UK. The US, which in 1990 produced domestically 57% of its total
energy demand, is predicted to produce only 39% of its needs by 2010. A DTI
minister has admitted that the UK could be facing "severe" gas shortages by
2005. The UK government has confirmed that 70% of our electricity will come
from gas by 2020, and 90% of that will be imported. In that context it should
be noted that Iraq has 110 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in addition to
A report from the commission on America's national interests in July 2000
noted that the most promising new source of world supplies was the Caspian
region, and this would relieve US dependence on Saudi Arabia. To diversify
supply routes from the Caspian, one pipeline would run westward via Azerbaijan
and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Another would extend eastwards
through Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate near the Indian border. This
would rescue Enron's beleaguered power plant at Dabhol on India's west coast,
in which Enron had sunk $3bn investment and whose economic survival was
dependent on access to cheap gas.
Nor has the UK been disinterested in this scramble for the remaining world
supplies of hydrocarbons, and this may partly explain British participation in
US military actions. Lord Browne, chief executive of BP, warned Washington not
to carve up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath of war (Guardian,
October 30 2002). And when a British foreign minister met Gadaffi in his
desert tent in August 2002, it was said that "the UK does not want to lose out
to other European nations already jostling for advantage when it comes to
potentially lucrative oil contracts" with Libya (BBC Online, August 10 2002).
The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the "global war on
terrorism" has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way
for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built around
securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole
project. Is collusion in this myth and junior participation in this project
really a proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there was ever need
to justify a more objective British stance, driven by our own independent
goals, this whole depressing saga surely provides all the evidence needed for
a radical change of course.
· Michael Meacher MP was environment minister
from May 1997 to June 2003
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