Before I begin, I want to be clear: though I will say this now upfront, I know there will be people in the comments who say something to the effect of, “But those innocent people!” or “My [insert close personal relation] died on 9/11, you heartless piece of shit.” This article is primarily a challenge to myself, a rhetorical exercise, an attempt which I know will most likely be a futile failure, but which I see to be an effort worthy of my time and [limited] talents. I don’t like violence, and there is no excuse for it, ever.
On the other hand, while no violence is excusable, a great deal of it can be explained. No act of violence has been the victim of more misinformation and emotional blindness in America this past decade than the events of September 11th. As we are quickly approaching the 10 year mark, the tin or aluminum anniversary, I could think of no better time than now to bust open a can of truth.
Where to begin… while I could (and maybe should) start earlier, I think the late 70s and early 80s are sufficient, at least initially. While I will allude to events prior to this later when discussing the motivation for attacks on Western targets, the true seeds for 9/11 were planted in the 70s and 80s.
During the 70s, Afghanistan came under the rule of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, a pro-Soviet government, when pro-Communist supporters overthrew the ruling family in Afghanistan. This party attempted to instill state-sponsored atheism, and Islamic opponents cried out to the West for help.
Beginning with Jimmy Carter, with continuing support from Reagan, various “mujahideen” (Arabic for “those who struggle” or “those who commit to jihad”) groups were funded by the West to end such horrible practices as erasing debt for all farmers and poor laborers, outlawing bride prices, raising the age of consent, encouraging literacy, and providing education for women. That shit had to be put to an end… clearly.
But honestly, that has little to do with the issue at hand. I just can’t pass up an opportunity to point out that, yet again, America’s foreign meddling stifled what could have been a progressive improvement in another country, and that America’s sole reason for doing so was based on the fact that it had a slight connection to the great mid-twentieth century boogie man, Communism.
The US and USSR engaged in another of their long, drawn out proxy wars through the 80s, with liberal progressives on the left supported by the Soviet Union and right-wing fundamentalist Islamic jihadists funded by the US. Atrocities occurred on both sides. The Soviets even fought directly, much as the US had done in Vietnam, and like Vietnam, the Soviets found themselves bogged down in an unwinnable war.
When the smoke cleared and the Soviets had retreated in 1989, there was still no victory on either side. The Afghan communists held out for 3 more years in the capital of Kabul until 1992, when the capital was besieged by Islamists. With the communists defeated, civil war continued in the capital as three rival militias fought for supremacy, each backed by various foreign governments in the region hoping to gain favor with the eventual victor.
A fourth group began to emerge in 1994, and after suffering crippling defeats in 1995, regrouped in 1996 with the military support of Pakistan and the financial backing of Saudi Arabia. This group called themselves the Taliban, meaning “students.” They controlled most of the country, including the capital, by September of 1996, while still never being recognized as a true national government by anyone but those Arab nations who backed them (primarily Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but also the United Arab Emirates).
Mujahideen began looking outside of Afghanistan, seeking other Arab Muslims who may benefit from the successful tactics used to repel the powerful Soviet army. One of these groups, Al Qaeda (meaning “the base”), made the effort to expand outside Afghanistan into other areas of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Africa.
Hopefully that explains everything you need to know regarding the origins of the powers behind the 9/11 attacks.
As all of this is going on, hostility for Israel grew throughout the Arab world. Whether you support Israel or not, here are the facts pertinent to Israel/Palestine, for the purposes of understanding the motivation behind 9/11:
During World War I, the Ottoman empire allied itself with Germany (1914) and provided safe harbor for German war vessels. This drew the ire of the British, who were at war with Germany, and who began to actively engage this new enemy.
While the Caliphate experienced many early military victories, growing unrest within the empire spilled over, resulting in an Arab revolt which sought to capitalize on WWI as an opportunity for independence in 1916. The revolt succeeded, and the Ottoman Empire shrunk, losing substantial territory in the Arabian Peninsula in 1918.
By 1919, the British had won substantial victories. Britain was given rule over the rest of the Ottoman Empire, with the exception of Anatolia, what is essentially modern-day Turkey (where the capital of Constantinople was located, currently named Istanbul). These lands given to the British were handed over with the aim of being under British control until which time they could govern themselves independently (there are currently 40 countries formed from the former Ottoman Empire).
To understand the next events, one must be familiar with the Jewish diaspora. Without going all the way back to 70 CE, when the Temple of Jerusalem fell to the Romans, I’ll just summarize that Jews have had a rough history, especially when they refuse to assimilate. Though to be fair, often the Jews’ best efforts to fit in have not been enough to avoid violent opposition.
Jews had been living in Europe since well before 70 CE, but they were forced out of the region of Israel in droves after Roman conquest, and they dispersed or were taken as slaves to some of the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire. With the rise of Islam and the subsequent Muslim conquests of Northern Africa, the Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) and other places in Europe, like Sicily and Greece, Jews followed their Arab neighbors throughout the Western world. After Christian Europeans seized control of these regions again, after numerous Inquisitions, and after other forms of forced conversion and slaughter, Judaism remained a seemingly permanent fixture in Europe.
Many referred to this phenomenon as “The Jewish Problem,” the problem being, “How do we get rid of all these Jews?” Bear in mind that this is through the lens of a starkly Christian worldview, where non-Christians were seen as sub-human barbarians (unless they were jumping at the opportunity to convert), and Jews in particular carried the unflattering designation as being the ones who killed Jesus (never mind that Jesus was Jewish, or that he was killed by Roman order in a traditionally Roman fashion… facts never get in the way of a religious person).
Zionism was arguably the dream of many Jews since the 1st century, though it did not take on that name until the 1800s. The idea was that the removal of Jews from areas where they experienced hostility was in the best interests of all involved, and the ideal solution would be to create a Jewish state where Jews could be Jews without the fear of institutionalized persecution, and live in peace and harmony. If that was the goal, Israel has certainly failed in this regard.
It’s important to point out that I fundamentally disagree with these presuppositions. For one thing, I see a parallel between this view and the American idea that was also common around this time (mid to late 1800s), which was that if black people in America were no longer slaves, they should not be free to become Americans, and should be shipped back to Africa.
This idea is wrong at its core. Both Jews in Europe and black slaves in America have no true ties to their “homeland.” There were certainly vestiges of their former culture still present among those populations, but they had no true “home” to go to. Their home was where they lived then, in Europe or America (though there were some Jews living in the Middle East), and the problem was not that they needed to “return home,” but that their real, true homes in the West had to be rid of the prejudice that made the their existence so difficult.
When Britain initially gained control of Palestine, they issued “The British Mandate for Palestine” under the support of the League of Nations (a sort of pre-cursor to the UN). The mandate states that Britain would maintain control of Ottoman Syria (part of which includes the whole of what is now Israel) until the people of the region could govern themselves. An interesting clause in the mandate reads, “…it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
During this time, Jews immigrated to the area by the thousands, and immigration really picked up with the advent of World War II. As Jews faced heavy persecution in Europe, they fled to any country that would take them. Many nations limited Jewish immigration, or blocked it outright, and Israel was one of the few (and closest) countries that took in Jews fleeing Nazi oppression. At this time, Palestine was essentially a British territory, and Jews immigrated and settled like anyone else wishing to live in the region.
Then things get a little tragic.
Militant Jewish groups began pressing for independence from Britain almost immediately after the end of WWII. Haganah, the Irgun, and the terrorist organization of Lehi (which assassinated the British Mandate Resident in the Middle East, Lord Moyne, in 1944) organized to put pressure (often through threats and violence) on Britain to make Israel a sovereign, Jewish-controlled state.
The British, in response, began placing Jewish immigrants (mostly Holocaust survivors and refugees) in detention camps, in order to stem the violence. Arabs in the region refused to accept a solution that involved Jewish-only control of land that was already inhabited by non-Jewish people.
Britain decided they wanted to withdraw completely in 1947, seeing no possible solution between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The newly formed UN decided upon a partition plan that sought to appease both Jewish nationalists and Arab nationalists in the region. Jewish representatives agreed to the plan, Arab representatives rejected it, and Britain refused to enforce it, though publicly accepted it so that they could pull out.
Before any plan to transfer power, Britain announced the day they would withdraw from the region: May 14th, 1948. The passing of the partition resolution sparked violence, especially in mixed communities, where people on both sides lived near each other.
During this time period, it’s hard to determine which side has the moral high ground, though I find the Arabs to have a little more going for them. They were largely the victim of disconnected, uninformed bureaucrats from a foreign land drawing arbitrary lines on the map of a land which they knew little about. Despite Arab protest, the resolution was passed, without any counter-negotiation or even really any consideration given to Arab Muslim opinion.
On the other hand, it may be tough for some to fault the Jewish community with accepting an offer that was so generous, and it was generous. Perhaps in the interest of their own safety, it would have been wise to reject the deal and work towards a more balanced agreement in order to ensure a more peaceful existence in the region, but that isn’t what happened, and we’ll probably never know what events would have transpired had a partition agreement been made that was acceptable to both sides, or even if a single-state solution might have been the way to go (I prefer the latter).
On May 14th, 1948, Israel declared itself an independent nation and acquired its current name. Fighting had been happening among both Jews and Muslims in the streets for months, bordering on all-out civil warfare, with Britain occasionally stepping in to do something. With the British Mandate set to expire and the official announcement of the formation of Israel, war was declared against Israel by five Arab nations (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, the latter of which sent no troops; Saudi Arabia sent troops that were commanded by Egypt).
The 1948 Arab-Israeli war lasted about a year. This is arguably the defining moment for Israel, and the outcome is the very basis for my hatred of the nation. Israel engaged in war crime after war crime, and is unapologetic.
Israel guilted West Germany into paying the nation of Israel reparations for the Holocaust in order to fund the war. Israel shot down neutral British reconnaissance planes, which were running missions primarily to document the progress of the war and to keep an eye on their interests in the region, namely the Suez Canal. Israeli troops executed hundreds of prisoners of war. Over 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes, many of whom provided no resistance and posed no threat. Some, like those from the villages of Iqrit and Brim, surrendered peacefully and were explicitly told they could return to their homes after the conflict, but were denied this when the time came.
It was an ugly war. The Arabs in the region call it Nakba, which in Arabic means “the catastrophe.” The UN passed resolution 194, stating that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live peacefully should be allowed to do so, and that compensation should be paid for the victims of the Palestinian exodus. Israel refused to honor these measures.
Israel has a long history of ignoring UN resolutions and orders, with the sole exception to my knowledge being the resolution that declared them a nation. Very convenient…
At this point, I could stop. People try to pretend this is a complex political issue, when really it is quite simple. I have laid out all the specifics, with many irrelevant tangents which I merely found interesting, and it all fits into five and a half pages. I could write about one hundred times that much on the fall of Rome.
This is a decidedly simple issue, and it is not “complex” in the slightest bit, unless you consider the fact that there has been a concerted effort to keep Americans ignorant and in the dark regarding these events, because history for Americans ends after we beat Hitler. If I can explain it in a document that can be read in 10-15 minutes or less, it’s not that complex.
And really, the conflict in the region had only just begun in 1948 and 1949 (and I scoff at fools who buy the bullshit that the region has been in turmoil for thousands of years… things were fine until Israel showed up). There was also a Six-Day War of aggression that Israel waged in 1967, which began with surprise air-strikes on Arab targets and ended in the expansion of Israel’s borders. There is also the small matter of continued excessive use of deadly force by the Israeli army in response to comparatively small, isolated attacks against Israeli targets.
At no point in the history of “Israel” as a nation has it ever been justified in what it has done. Even if one argues that defense is a basic human right (though defense of something you steal is not), the manner in which Israel has “defended” itself is atrocious and downright criminal.
My opinion on this matter is not swayed in the least by my views on Judaism or Islam, both of which I see as being dangerous forms of contagious ignorance. And frankly, Israel has actually shocked me in that they are able to make me feel sympathy for a people who stone women to death for the most minor of infractions. That takes a lot of effort, but apparently Israel is not above rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands bloody.
As far as I can tell, there is no hope for peace in the region, so long as Israel remains.
At this point, I should remind you of what the title of my post was:
Why America Deserved – Nay, Begged For – 9/11
I’m not big on catering to terrorist demands, as people would like to phrase it. However, when a people are oppressed and they are given no peaceful means for seeking redress, they will not generally sit around and wait to be given justice; they will try to take it.
Terrorists don’t hate America. Most terrorists don’t know much of anything about America, besides the fact that we fund Israel and that we had/have a lot of military bases in the region. America has actually given in to one of those above demands. Many US bases that were operational before 9/11 have been closed across the Middle East, most notably in Saudi Arabia. Sure, we just opened new ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, but those were post-9/11.
The primary demands of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were the removal of US troops from the region and the destruction of Israel. Bush himself helped make part of the first demand a reality when we began closing bases, but the second one is something we have just gotten worse and worse with.
The US gives billions of dollars a year to Israel in the form of grants, weapons of war, cash, and possibly even nuclear arms (we are pretty much sure Israel has nuclear arms, and America is probably responsible for this, but Israel manages to avoid any sort of nuclear regulatory oversight because… well, they don’t give a damn about the UN ever since the UN gave them their country).
In fact, Israel would arguably not still exist had it not been for American intervention from the start (US soldiers fought on the side of Israel in many of the conflicts listed above). This is the source for Arab hostility against the US.
Arab Muslims don’t care about US women wearing short skirts and getting educations. Arab Muslims don’t care about our media or extravagant lifestyles. Arab Muslims don’t care what religion people in America subscribe to. Arab Muslims don’t “hate us for our freedom.” Those Arab Muslims who do hold a grudge against the US do so not because of what we do here in America, but because of what we do there, in their backyard.
I can’t fault bin Laden for going big with 9/11. They tried attacking a political target in 1998, when they bombed the US embassy in Kenya. They tried attacking a military target in 2000 when they blew a hole in the side of the USS Cole. America just yawned and never paid attention.
But on September 11th, 2001, Osama bin Laden got our attention. I have to hand it to him; it’s not easy to get all 300 million of us to look in your direction. That takes some serious effort, to draw the gaze of the most distracted nation to ever exist. Every one of us dropped our Diabetes Cola and stared in shock as we realized, “Holy shit… we’re not invincible.”
Bush did a rather artful job of deflecting attention back away from the issues at hand. “They hate us for our freedom” became the mantra. Never mind that we could have saved ourselves billions of dollars a year and absolved ourselves from the crimes that got us attacked in the first place by just cutting off Israel. It was more important to first attack Afghanistan (even though the nation itself was not in any way to blame) and then Iraq (because Saddam Hussein tried to kill Bush’s daddy, and you don’t mess with Texas… or I think that’s the logic).
Did the people in the planes, the towers, and the Pentagon deserve to die? Not especially. But they weren’t innocent. None of us were, and none of us are to this day. We are all still guilty of the crimes our nation commits, and the crimes that our nation aids other nations in committing. We invite violence when we dole it out ourselves with reckless abandon.
In short, we were (and still are) begging for our comeuppance, and I understand why many groups and nations lash out violently against US policies. Even within our own nation, there are those who see the criminality of the US, and the question becomes: are they guilty, too? Am I just as guilty as the idiot Fox News viewer who knows nothing of the events I described above, and sees America only as a noble, unerring, infallible beacon of perfect freedom?
I don’t know if I’m guilty (I’d like to think I’m not), but by continuing to reside in this blood-thirsty, thoughtless nation of war hawks and militants, I must come to acknowledge that I, too, may be seen to be a target, just as much as any other American.
This is a fact all Americans must live with, and it is the driving force for my desire to change mindsets and make this a more peace-loving nation. My efforts do not absolve me of the crimes of my country, but I hope that the combined work of all civilized, war-hating Americans may exact a change that alters our course, away from one that teeters on the brink of violence, and instead towards one that embraces diplomatic solutions and non-interventionist policies.
TL;DR: Americans are stupid and deserve to be treated with the same violence we dole out.