In an article for National Review Online today, neocon writer Clifford May imagines that he can read the mind of Osama bin Laden’s so-called ‘successor’, Ayman Zawahiri. As if he is Zawahiri, May writes:
Now the duty is entrusted to me. Now I am the amir of al-Qaeda’t al-Jihad, better known — indeed, known everywhere on earth — as al-Qaeda.
‘Known everywhere on earth’?! Al Qaeda is, indeed, known everywhere on earth – and, to be sure, the Western media, led by neocon writers just like Clifford May, have made a huge effort to ensure that al Qaeda has become a household name throughout the entire planet.
Osama bin Laden became the quintessential anti-hero figure – the Emmanuel Goldstein in George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984 – for the West to hate. Al Qaeda became the enemy he led. Both gave the West, the US and Israel in particular, the justification needed to pursue their respective interests in the world.
For Israel, al Qaeda represented the Islamic forces that surround them in the Middle East, and Israel has worked hard, but with little success, to associate al Qaeda with Palestinian fighters in the Gaza and the West Bank, and Arab fighters in Lebanon. And for the US, bin Laden and al Qaeda were the ideal scapegoats to blame for 9/11, the Pearl Harbor needed for America and its allies to attack those nations that stood in the way of US hegemony in the resource-rich Central Asian and Middle East region, Afghanistan and Iraq. In doing so, the US and the West have killed several birds with one stone. In Iraq, not only have they got the Saddam Hussein monkey of the backs of the Israelis but they also now control one of the regions most resource-rich nations, one which also happens to be right next to another of Israel’s arch enemies, Iran. The US and their allies by blaming bin Laden and his al Qaeda group for 9/11, were also provided with a casus belli for attacking Afghanistan which, while having few resources of its own, is geographically located at the heart of a resource-rich region which also happens to be not only strategically placed close to Russia and China but also is a neighbour of Iran. Iran is now effectively surrounded by US-led Western dominated countries.
The problem for the neocon-dominated warhawks of the West was basically that their plans went awry from the very start.
9/11, of course, was the trigger that was to set everything in motion. By blaming bin Laden and al Qaeda, the US had an excuse to invade Afghanistan. They quickly overwhelmed the Taliban government and installed a puppet government in its place. The plan then was to completely destroy the Taliban and then build a pipeline across Afghanistan from the Caspian Basin to Karachi in Pakistan to pump gas to a global market controlled by the West. However, the US and their allies didn’t reckon on the tenacious spirit of the Taliban fighters and their resistance allies including those in Pakistan. Militarily overwhelmed, there was no way they could militarily defeat the US and their allies, but they could, using their intimate knowledge of the land and with just a few weapons, resist the US and their allies and wear them into the ground, a feat that is now, almost ten years after the invasion, almost accomplished.
But Afghanistan was not the only country that the neocons had in their sights. As soon as 9/11 happened, they began their propaganda war against Iraq accusing Saddam Hussein of being somehow complicit. Being told that bin Laden and his al Qaeda group who were responsible for 9/11 and were holed up in Afghanistan ensured that there would be no public opinion backlash against invading and occupying Afghanistan especially if it was done quickly while feelings were running hot. However, Iraq was a lot different. While the people of the West were aware of Saddam Hussein’s support of the Palestinians and their Intifada against the Israelis, and were aware that he was a particularly brutal dictator, there was absolutely no evidence at all that he actually had any part to play in the events of 9/11 or was in any way a threat to the US. And so began the propaganda campaign to gain public support for an all-out invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The George W. Bush administration led by the neocons found it difficult to convince the people in the West that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11 – though it wasn’t for the lack of trying; they did try hard and, indeed, persist to this day in trying to tell the world that Saddam was complicit – they pushed, instead, the notion that Saddam was building weapons of mass destruction and suggested that they were an “immediate threat” to the US and the world.
The neocons spent the nineteen months between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 trying to convince the West that Iraq was a threat to world while at the same time convincing themselves that an invasion, occupation and the establishment of a stable Israel-friendly puppet government could be achieved in just a few months and that the American forces and their allies would be welcomed by the Iraqi people as great liberators. Eight years and three months later, bombs were still killing civilians and police in Iraqi streets.
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the ‘war on terror’ still rages. ‘Al Qaeda’ has become a brand name that has been foisted on all those – regardless of their cause or allegiances – that have had the temerity to take up arms against the West and their allies. The ‘al Qaeda’ brand name has become well known ‘everywhere on earth’, not because of the efforts of Osama bin Laden or Ayman Zawahiri, but by the deeds and actions of the US, Israel and their supporters throughout the West.
Your average 20 to 25 year-old Muslim fighter doing battle against the US and their allies in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere today were only ten or fifteen when 9/11 happened. They are now fighting an army that invaded their respective nations. It’s not about ‘Osama bin Laden’ or ‘al Qaeda’; it never has been. For the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and anywhere else that the US, Israel and the West threaten, it’s about resisting invasion, occupation, persecution, tyranny, brutality and torture. It’s about freedom and the desire to determine their own destiny.
The US, Israel and their allies have created enemies as a result of their own actions. By creating the myth of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and ascribing to them a status that the West are supposed to see as enemies succeeds only in giving the West’s enemies a cause to fight for. Taliban fighters today are not the die-hard al Qaeda-like Islamic fundamentalists the propagandists told us were responsible for 9/11. Most fighters today merely want rid their country of the invader and those that support the invaders. Many have been driven to their cause as result of the invaders actions. Many innocent civilians, including women and children, have been killed at the hands of the West over the years and in doing so the West have assured themselves of an enemy to always be at war with while they occupy any country they have invaded.
In short, the West perpetuate its own enemies.