The piece I wrote for the Daily Caller was in response to a piece by Jamie Weinstein, the senior editor there, in which Weinstein denies aggressive US foreign policy had anything to do with the motivations behind 9/11. I relished in an evidence-based response, but to be honest I’m saddened that this discussion is still going on 10 years after the fact. That the obvious reality – agreed upon by the CIA, the State Department, the FBI, all of the relevant academic literature, reiterated by al Qaeda members ever since, etc. – is still a minority view should trouble us. After all, the evidence is there.
But I actually only chose to respond to a portion of Weinstein’s column (brevity pays these days). He also incorrectly argued that defense budgets aren’t part of our fiscal problems right now. I’ve written enough on defense budgets to lay that one to rest. But Weinstein argues entitlements are the problem. Yes, they’re a problem. But let’s consider discretionary spending as well and what that might do to the debt and deficits: military spending makes up 59% of discretionary spending in the 2012 federal budget. And we’re wasting it on an aging Empire.
The other point I didn’t address in my Daily Caller response was Weinstein’s claim that there is no evidence for the belief that al Qaeda’s aim was to drag the US into a costly war in Afghanistan to bleed us dry à la Soviet Union. Clearly, Weinstein hasn’t done his homework, since this conclusion is broadly agreed upon by experts too. The Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, murdered by the Pakistani secret service, was perhaps most knowledgable on this point. He delved into the gritty details in his book, published just before his death, in which he features interviews with some of al Qaeda’s and the Taliban’s top operatives and confirms that this was the strategy from the beginning. Investigative journalist Gareth Porter reviewed Shahzad’s book:
Al-Qaeda strategists have been assisting the Taliban fight against U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan because they believe that foreign occupation has been the biggest factor in generating Muslim support for uprisings against their governments, according to the just-published book by Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistani journalist whose body was found in a canal outside Islamabad last week with evidence of having been tortured.
Shahzad writes that al-Qaeda strategists believed its terrorist attacks on 9/11 would lead to a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan which would in turn cause a worldwide “Muslim backlash.” That “backlash” was particularly important to what emerges in Shahzad’s account as the primary al-Qaeda aim of stimulating revolts against regimes in Muslim countries.
Shahzad makes it clear that the U.S. occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq were the biggest break al-Qaeda had ever gotten.
And US strategy continues to exacerbate the hatreds against the US fostering for years in the Muslim world, which I spoke to in the piece. I’ll repost part of a previous blog to illustrate that:
…the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on Trends in Global Terrorism [sic] said that the Iraq war was “breeding deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” It was also admitted, writes Porter, by former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier who said the war “has convinced many Muslims that the United States is the enemy of Islam and is attacking Muslims, and they have become jihadists as a result of their experience in Iraq.” Night raids in Afghanistan, which have been ramped up by Obama to become one of the primary military approaches in the country, get the wrong person 50 percent of the time according to senior commanders in JSOC. Both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recognized that “hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan” because of the drone strikes, which kill exorbitant numbers of civilians.
So I guess however much it saddens me to be beating the same dead horse all these years past, apparently there is a demand for it.