9/11 should have led to a criminal investigation, not a war | Al-Qaeda

9/11 should have led to a criminal investigation, not a war | Al-Qaeda

The politics of concern, with its basis in lies, is an efficient manner of manipulating any citizens. Perhaps it has by no means been so successfully utilized because it was by consecutive US presidents within the wake of 9/11, after they took al-Qaeda, with its slingshot, and portrayed Osama bin Laden’s motley crew as Goliath.

Later, when bin Laden was assassinated, the US discovered an annotated record of al-Qaeda members dated from 2002. There had been solely 170 names. He had recognized 20 who had been lifeless – solely seven had achieved the weird objective of being “martyred” – 11 had been detained by the authorities, and 19 had merely left – some to be part of a extra doctrinaire group, some to examine, however most simply to go house.

Bin Laden had been engaged on his terror mission for a number of years, and with the record of devoted adherents standing solely at 120, he elected to pad it out with 5 of his sons. Al-Qaeda members, due to this fact, included Omar bin Laden, who had left the organisation in 2000 and has lengthy lived peacefully in Normandy, married to Jane Felix-Browne, a former parish councillor from Cheshire within the UK.

Whether this was the sum whole of al-Qaeda or not, it was consultant of a paltry enemy confronted by the US on September 10, 2001.

On the following day, this group pulled off one of many nice crimes of historical past.

The notion that killing 3,000 civilians was God’s will was an insane one by any requirements.

The problem

However, the problem dealing with us on this anniversary is to perceive how and why the West elected to promote al-Qaeda because the counterweight to the US – a Twenty first-century equal of the Soviet Union within the Cold War.

First, we should ask: Was al-Qaeda really an existential menace to world order on September 12, 2001? Clearly, it was not. They had murdered many individuals in a spectacular, televised vogue – a horrible offence.

Yet, sadly, there are a lot of very actual threats to the human race.

For instance, I grew up with the looming menace of a nuclear holocaust. In 1983, I used to be considered one of greater than 100 million individuals who watched the unique broadcast of The Day After, a movie depicting the top of the world. Who did not tremble on the thought of the doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD) coming to move? In the movie’s closing scene, one of many few folks nonetheless alive was hopelessly turning the dial of his short-wave radio seeking one other survivor.

Today’s era faces one other Armageddon, as we destroy our personal planet by way of greed and local weather change. Annually, we face different perils, from the six million who have starved so far in 2021, to an estimated 4.5 million who have died within the present pandemic.

9/11 was massively accentuated each as a result of it happened within the US and since it was televised, and but when it comes to the mayhem we people deliberately wreak on one another it was actually little greater than a blip.

We Americans have a tendency not to empathise with the deaths of brown folks however, simply final yr alone, there have been 19,444 fatalities within the Afghan war and one other 19,056 in Yemen.

9/11 was not even distinctive once we assess how a small group can wreak nice hurt.

In 1995, Timothy McVeigh acted nearly alone when he set his Oklahoma City bomb, killing 168 folks, 19 of whom had been youngsters, and injuring greater than 680 others.

“Extremists” are not uniquely Muslim both: McVeigh was a member of the so-called “patriot movement”, an affiliation of greater than a thousand violent right-wing conspiracy teams who really are an inside menace to the steadiness of the US – they helped to give us Donald Trump, and contributed to the current try to overthrow the US authorities.

‘An existential threat’

A 2017 report by The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund revealed there have been 201 terrorist incidents on US soil between 2008 and 2016. The majority of those, 115, had been by far-right teams, of which 33 included fatalities, in contrast to 63 by “Islamic extremists”, eight of which resulted in deaths.

Meanwhile, evaluate this to the truth that the US experiences roughly 20,000 homicides a yr – or roughly 180,000 over the identical 9 years.

Thus, whereas the terrible nature of 9/11 should by no means be forgotten, it’s sheer folly to conclude, as do primarily all US politicians, that “Islamic extremism” was, and even is, an existential menace to our nation of 330 million.

Guns could also be a menace to the security of Americans, local weather change actually is, however solely a minute minority of Americans will ever encounter a “demented Muslim radical”.

Yet this solely tells half of the story. We should additionally contemplate how and why “Islamic extremism” has continued to be the central focus of US overseas coverage, as a substitute of being shuffled into the criminal courts together with Tim McVeigh.

It is actually true, at the least in my opinion, that the violent objectives of Osama bin Laden had been malevolent – mass homicide is not the way in which to result in a Utopian society.

At the identical time, in fact, we should ask whether or not the US generals mild the trail to a higher world.

The response to 9/11

I used to be speaking to the headteacher of my son’s major college after 9/11. He had served 20 years within the British Navy, and I used to be curious to know what he considered the “military solution” supplied for lots of the world’s issues. He mentioned World War II was the one battle he deemed worthy of British intervention within the earlier 100 years. True, we should assist those that problem tyranny, however that does not imply we should ship our personal little children to invade their nations.

The file of the previous 20 years would seem to bear him out.

The newest war in Afghanistan has been a mannequin of pointlessness – as of April 2021, some 241,000 folks had died, but we ended up proper the place we began, with the Taliban again in energy. The chaos wrought throughout the Middle East, from Iraq to Libya, is equally stark.

So, the place is the blossoming liberty the US promised?

It was not the mere reality of our varied invasions that has provoked hatred throughout the Muslim world. After all, our aggression is commonplace.

Since 1776, the US has had lower than 20 clear years when the nation did not become involved in a single war or one other. Here, a lot of the reply could also be discovered within the dreadful insurance policies we adopted. Every time the US takes up arms, we promote our objective because the promotion of democracy. In the wake of 9/11, nevertheless, the primary casualty was the rule of legislation.

We rushed into a war in Afghanistan. The response to 9/11 should have been a criminal investigation, not a war. Surely, the US might have capitalised on the incomparable sympathy expressed around the globe to spherical up bin Laden and al-Qaeda with out pretending the world was shut to apocalypse? Why would we attempt to “martyr” a group of radicals for whom martyrdom was the last word honour?

Then we gloated as we established Guantanamo Bay on January 11, 2002 – pretending that indefinite detention with out trial in a authorized black gap was the way in which to make America secure. We did not pause to contemplate whether or not it was smart to throw out authorized ideas going again to the Magna Carta in 1215. We mentioned the Muslims we rounded up did not advantage the protections of the Geneva Conventions as a result of they did not respect our “rules of war” – as if someway the crimes of bin Laden had been exponentially worse than these of Adolf Hitler, who exterminated a number of million in his loss of life camps.

Meanwhile, for a number of hundred years the world had steadily moved in the direction of the elimination of torture. This had culminated, in 1985, within the UN Convention Against Torture.

Overnight, after 9/11 we tossed that out, with Donald Rumsfeld asserting that waterboarding was nothing greater than an “enhanced interrogation technique”.

It was telling that he borrowed this time period from the Gestapo, who referred to as waterboarding verschärfte vernehmung (enhanced interrogation), reasonably than from the Medieval Inquisition which described it as tortura del agua (water torture). We despatched the overall who had overseen the abuses of Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, to convey the advantages of liberty there, too.

Indeed, by then we had already invaded Iraq, and once we had the prospect to assist fledgling democracies within the Arab Spring we both stabbed them within the again at a essential second, as once we withdrew air assist from the Kurds in northeast Syria and primarily invited Turkish President Erdogan to assault them, or we actively labored for a army coup, as in Egypt.

From waterboarding to drones

Then when constitutional legislation professor turned President Obama recoiled from torture, he substituted execution with out trial – as if being become a “bug splat” by a Predator drone was someway a step up from being left to rot in Guantanamo.

In the top, hypocrisy is the yeast that ferments hatred and there will be no hypocrisy extra manifest than promoting a mission to promote liberty whereas torturing folks into accepting it. All of those insurance policies, and extra, have alienated these we should have been courting – together with Muslims around the globe.

Yet, ultimately, we have failed in our biggest responsibility: that’s, to encourage folks to dream of a higher life.

President Joe Biden just lately mentioned that the US spent $2 trillion in Afghanistan alone or greater than $50,000 per Afghan citizen. The World Bank estimates the typical annual revenue on this impoverished nation at $500, so my US tax {dollars} represented 100 years of wealth for every Afghan man, girl and little one.

What did we do with our cash?

We funnelled most of it to weapons producers and venal members of the regime we arrange in Kabul. What did we give the Afghan folks for thus huge a sum?

It is claimed that the one lesson we be taught from historical past is that we by no means be taught from historical past. Let us hope we are able to look again over the past 20 years and be taught one thing helpful, for as soon as.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and do not essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial coverage.

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