Thursday, January 15, 2009

Israel, the US, and 9/11

Incidentally, some of you were sceptical about Israel, and US support of Israel, being a major - perhaps the - central cause of Islamic unrest and resulting terror attacks.

Sam, for example, said:

Also, do you really believe that Islamic bitterness is a consequence of Israel's existence?

Well, bitterness over US support for Israel is certainly what was behind 9/11 [POSTSCRIPT - I mean it was a major factor - indeed, the major factor, if the architect of the attack is to be believed (and why shouldn't he be?)], despite the fact that this was endlessly denied by many pundits. It was also denied by many politicians who preferred to blame Islamic hatred of our freedom-loving ways.

Kalid Shaikh Mohammed – the “principal architect” of the 9/11 attack – said his animosity towards the U.S. stemmed from “his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel”.National Commission on Terrorist attacks upon the United States. 9/11 Commission Report. Chapter 5. Available at:

Of course, some may say: "So what? the US and the West should support Israel in the way they do." We can discuss that. But I don't think one can reasonably deny it's a major factor re. Islamic terrorist attacks on Western targets.

Some think there's actually a conspiracy to hide the truth from the US public! See this youtube clip, which has awful dramatic music, a hectoring tone, and may be selective in its use of material, but at least the clips are genuine.

This passage from Chomsky's contribution to my book might also be of interest:

The specific policies that inflamed the potential “support base” for Islamic terrorism were Israel-Palestine and the murderous US-UK sanctions regime in Iraq. But long before, there were more fundamental issues. Again, it makes little sense to ignore these, at least for those who hope to reduce the likelihood of further terrorist crimes or to answer George W. Bush’s plaintive question, “Why do they hate us?”

The question is wrongly put: they do not hate us, but rather the policies of our government, something quite different. If the question is properly formulated, answers to it are not hard to find. In the critical year 1958, President Eisenhower and his staff discussed what he called the “campaign of hatred against us” in the Arab world, “not by the governments but by the people.” The basic reason, the National Security Council advised, was the perception that the US supports corrupt and brutal governments and is “opposing political or economic progress” in order “to protect its interest in Near East oil.”

The Wall Street Journal and others found much the same when they investigated attitudes of westernized “Moneyed Muslims” after 9-11: bankers, professionals, managers of multinationals, and so on. They strongly support US policies in general but are bitter about US support for corrupt and repressive regimes that undermine democracy and development, and the more specific and recent issues concerning Israel-Palestine and Iraq sanctions.

These are attitudes of people who like Americans and admire much about the United States, including its freedoms. What they hate are official policies that deny them the freedoms to which they too aspire. Attitudes in the slums and villages are probably similar, but harsher. Unlike the “moneyed Muslims,” the mass of the population have never agreed that the wealth of the region should be drained to the West and local collaborators, rather than serving domestic needs.

Many commentators prefer more comforting answers: anger in the Muslim world is rooted in resentment of our freedom and democracy; in their own cultural failings tracing back many centuries; in their alleged inability to take part in the form of “globalization” in which they, in fact, happily participate; and other such deficiencies. More comforting, perhaps, but not too wise.


James F. Elliott said...

Well, bitterness over US support for Israel is certainly what was behind 9/11...

This is far, far too simplistic. U.S. support for Israel provides rhetorical cover and some motivation for anti-U.S. attacks by takfiris, but then so does the presence of U.S. culture, soldiers, or foreign aid anywhere in the Muslim sphere. Let's not beat around the bush: these guys and gals are zealous radicals -- they can manufacture their own motivations out of whatever they want. The policies of our government provide fuel to stoke the flame, but, to pillage Billy Joel, they didn't start the fire.

It's more important to discuss the West's actions with respect to Israel on their own merits, whatever conclusions one draws. In that respect, the conclusions about the Israeli-Palestinian situation and its effect on the broader Arab and Muslim worlds are more germane. But working the takfiris into it isn't useful.

Here endeth the sermon. Let the flame wars begin.

Stephen Law said...

James - I really meant to say US support for Israel was clearly a major factor, rather than the only factor, which is what I might seem to be suggesting. Should have been more careful...

Kosh3 said...

If we turn to Bin Laden, who after all is the leader of Al Qaeda, then there are many other things they take issue with, other than US support for Israel.

* US support for Russia in Chechnya, Indian oppression in Kashmir, Jewish aggression in Lebanon
*They prevent the institution of Shariah law.
*US military bases in Muslim countries (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc)
*The economic sanctions on Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands of children

He also cites global warming, separation of church and state, usury, drugs and alcohol, gambling prostitution, the spread of aids, Clinton's blowjob in the White House, and the kitchen sink, as being wrong with the US ('the worst civilisation of all time').

wombat said...

"they do not hate us, but rather the policies of our government, something quite different"

That may be how it starts or how it is later rationalised but it does not seem to stack up with attacks against non-government targets. Arguably the only target that could be justified on 9/11 as a clear governmental target was the Pentagon. Even so was it OK to sacrifice a plane load of non-government lives to try to reach it?

If we look at the IRA actions against the British government, it is clearly possible to wage a campaign which at least attempts to preserve the lives of those who are not part of the struggle. OK there were horrible exceptions but in the main the IRA warned people that there was going to be a big bang and generally speaking went after MPs, senior civil servants, police and soldiers. Before anyone charges their flamethrower I do not in any way condone what they did but simply point out that the IRA methods were much more in keeping with opposition to the government rather than the people.

georgesdelatour said...

It's important to understand what 9/11 was designed to achieve. And then make sure it is seen to have achieved the opposite. The 9/11 Attacks must be seen - unambiguously - to have been futile. Otherwise, we'll see a lot more of them.

If Stephen's analysis of OBL's objectives is correct, then it's the best argument I've ever heard for INCREASING US aid to Israel. Which is weird, because I actually want US aid to be reduced substantially.

Wombat mentions Northern Ireland. What happened there? Local Protestants abused the civil rights of local Catholics. The British government sent in troops to help the Catholics, but messed up badly. Bloody Sunday and Internment only added to legitimate Catholic grievances. It was at this point that British governments made their worst mistake. They gave the impression, to both Protestants and Catholics, that they were looking for a way to get out of Northern Ireland altogether. Harold Wilson said there would be a United Ireland within 10 years, and Ted Heath and Willie Whitelaw had secret meetings with the IRA. Ulster was felt to be up for grabs, and that encouraged violent forces - both Catholic and Protestant - to use violent means to try and grab it. In fact, no British government ever felt it could eject the province from the UK against the wishes of its inhabitants. That never changed. But it now took 25 years of bombings and murders before the IRA (and the UDA) finally realized this was so. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 is basically the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, plus death and learning time.

marxist-socialist said...

Every crime has a motive. And 9-11's motive and goals were to advanced US Imperialist agenda in the Middle East. If we look at all the smoking guns like NORAD stand down, the hidiing of evidence by US government, and the motives, we can only determine that 9-11 was an inside job and not done by 19 poor muslim terrorists.

Besides there are too many inconsistencies with 9-11.


anticant said...

I agree with marxist-socialist. Although I am not a sucker for conspiracy theories, I have concluded that the official explanation of 9/11 is, like the official explanation of President Kennedy's assassination, so bizarre as to be unbelievable.

Anyone who has read the PNAC "statement of principles":

and noted the signatories, together with other pronouncements of leading PNACers such as Richard Perle, cannot fail to be aware that an event such as 9/11 would be manna from heaven to them and like-minded neo-Con/Zionist hawks.

And there are far too many unanswered questions about the events of that day to discount the possibility that this was an 'inside job'.

Kosh3 said...

What is bizarre about 9/11? I hear all the things about visible explosives in the footage of the collapses, and fire not being able to melt steel, but none of this is convincing.

anticant said...

why did the third tower collapse? Vibration?

Kosh3 said...


georgesdelatour said...

Hi Anticant

The third tower collapsed because so many New York firemen had died in the main collapse. It burned for seven hours.

georgesdelatour said...

Hi Stephen

The best article I've ever read explaining the motivations of the 9/11 attackers is this piece by Bruce Lincoln, analyzing the note found in Atta's luggage :

"Mr. Atta's Meditations, Sept. 10, 2001: A Close Reading of the Text"

These words from Atta's note embody exactly the kind of religious thinking you usually spend most of this blog attacking:

"Do not seem confused or show signs of nervous tension. Be happy, optimistic, calm, because you are heading for a deed that God loves and will accept"

anticant said...

The link Kosh3 refers to doesn't read like an open-and-shut case to me.

This isn't the place to go into lengthy discussion of 9/11 theory, but having read pretty widely on it my conclusion is that there are far too many unexplained factors in the official explanation to entirely rule out the possibility of an 'inside job'.

Whoever did perpetrate it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in escalating ongoing tension, horror, violence, and misery in the world - which makes it all the odder that if Bush and Obama both believe the culprit was Osama bin Laden they now say he is of no importance and bringing him to justice doesn't matter.

georgesdelatour said...

Hi Anticant

Atta's men were all Saudis and Egyptians. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are two allies of the US. If they were just innocent stooges, set up to take the blame for a US "inside job", why didn't Bush set up some Iraqis as stooges instead? That would be more logical, surely. If the 9/11 hit team had been Iraqi rather than Saudi, the whole UN Security Council would have - unanimously - rubber stamped a US invasion. In the Arab world too, it would have been far easier to "sell" an invasion of Iraq if it was perceived to be direct retaliation for an Iraqi attack on New York. Instead the PR campaign to justify the Iraq war, with dodgy dossiers downloaded from the internet, looks to have been hastily improvised. To me this seems like politicians trying to take sudden advantage of an unforeseen event.

I've tried to follow the "Loose Change" type conspiracy theories, with controlled demolitions and guided missiles etc. Even the simplest of these requires incredibly large numbers of conspirators - hundreds, maybe even thousands - all apparently willing to lay down their lives for Halliburton, all knowing for certain they'll face a firing squad and eternal enmity from the American people if the conspiracy fails or is discovered afterwards. Yet all the conspiracies that we definitely know really happened - such as Watergate and Iran/Contra - involved very small numbers of people. Even then, the conspiracies didn't stay secret for very long.

Also, complex planned secret operations tend to screw up. Think of Jimmy Carter's botched rescue attempt for the Teheran hostages, for instance.

Since Stephen's post began by quoting Chomsky, it might be worth seeing what Chomsky thinks of the 9/11 conspiracy theories:

anticant said...

Georges. as I've already said, this isn't the right place to argue the toss about 9/11. I repeat, L am sceptical of the official inquiry accounts of both 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination. I doubt whether they uncovered the whole truth. You are welcome to disagree.