Why al-Qaeda and Bush’s neocons were useful to each other!

January 26, 2009
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On January 19 2009, the Huffington post carried an article on Bush pardoning Osama bin Laden…. Seriously now, the funny thing is that Osama bin Laden has done more for the Bush administration than any potential pardon candidate and would have “deserved” such a pardon from Bush!

Here are some reasons why al-Qaeda and the Bush’s neocons were indeed “useful” to each other:

Charles Edmund Coyote, January 26, 2009:

Before the September 11 attacks, Washington’s neocons waited for a ‘Pearl Harbor’ type event that would give them the opportunity to rouse public support for a war against Iraq and Six other [Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran] “rogue states” they were sure American military power could easily dispatch. The neocon’s Project for the New American Century proposed to remake the oil-rich-Middle-East in America’s image. Vice President Dick Cheney dreamed of restoring the imperial presidency that had been lost in the debacle of Richard Nixon’s Watergate. And George W. Bush had an agenda that was anything but the ‘humble’ foreign policy on which he had run in the 2000 Presidential race.

In 1999, when Texas Governor George Bush was preparing to campaign for the nation’s highest office, he contracted with Houston Sportswriter and Author Mickey Herskowitz to ghost-write his autobiography. It would be called ‘A Charge to Keep’. After 2 months of interviews and work, however, Bush’s team of advisors decided they better get rid of Herskowitz. The gregarious Governor Bush was telling Mickey too much. What’s most interesting about the Mickey Herskowitz saga is that Bush explained to him that if a President attacks a small country and wins an easy war, it is an effective way to increase his popularity with the American people and gain the ‘political capital’ needed to advance his political agenda. Bush and his team had seen Bush’s father, H.W., rise to 90 percent approval ratings over the First Iraq War in 1991, but felt he failed to take advantage of the popularity gained.

As a well-known RAND Corporation study advocated, the most effective way to fight terrorist organizations is through a combination of intelligence operations and police work, using flexible military power when necessary. That, in essence is what the U.S. had done with such success during the opening weeks of its Afghan War. The Bush Administration, however, switched the focus to Iraq, before the job was done in Afghanistan, and, for reasons that remain unclear, badly fumbled the opportunity to eliminate bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri at the Battle of Tora Bora. Disingenuously, the Bush neocons and Cheney imperialists then militarized the ‘War on Terror, formatting it as a perpetual state of “war”, which made it easier to delimit government, expand presidential power, and use American power to attempt to remake the world.

In South Asia, al-Qaeda was also making its plans. During the 1990′s, the people and the governments of Muslim nations from Algeria and Egypt, to Saudi Arabia and the Sudan, had grown tired of the Islamists and were running them out of their countries. In Algeria, Islamic radicals had even taken to eliminating each other over perceptions that many of their own members were “”not Muslim enough”. Bin Laden had been expelled from Saudi Arabia to the Sudan and then back to the caves of Afghanistan. Even in Afghanistan, his friend Mullah Omar, concerned for the well-being of his Taliban government, had ordered bin Laden to stop giving interviews to the western press talking about jihad against Israel and the U.S.A.

Rudyard Kipling once described Afghanistan as the “place where empires go to die”. Bin Laden understood the advantages of taking on superpowers in that region and had done it with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Believing that Israel and its supporter, the United States, were instruments of oppression for the muslin people, he planned for an opportunity to drag the United States into a long and costly war similar to what had helped drag the Soviet Union down twenty years before. One effective, low-cost, guerilla fighter can keep a hundred expensive military personnel busy for a long time. Al Qaeda’s goal, in the September 11 attacks, was to provoke a heavy military response from the Americans, the inevitable cost and clumsiness of which would offend the Muslin world and destabilize the Middle East, thereby increasing oil prices (which had been cheap for decades), damage the American economy, and bring prosperity to the Muslim people.

Bin Laden took the chance that America would strike back at al-Qaeda in a way that would alienate the U.S. from the larger Muslim world. But that did not happen in Afghanistan where the U.S. used only 400 CIA agents and Special Forces (along with a very effective Air Force and suitcases of cash for the Northern Alliance) to tear the Taliban government apart. The Bush administration, however, was not focused on bin-Laden, and used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to attack Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Instead of using available U.S. troops to trap bin Laden, Washington hired Afghan mercenaries who were also taking money from al-Qaeda! During the battle of Tora Bora these local “allies” let many of al Qaeda’s fighters escape, while the nearby U.S. Marines and Special Forces, foreseeing al-Qaeda’s strategic withdrawal to safety, were under orders to do nothing to stop it. Most experts and witnesses claim Osama bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora around December 14, 2001.

“I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” said George W. Bush on March 13, 2002, six months after September 11.

Bin Laden repaid the favor to George Bush during the 2004 presidential election. Although Bush adviser Karl Rove successfully painted George W’s image as “resolute” and Democrat John Kerry’s as “a weak flip-flopper”, the race for the presidency was still neck-to-neck even a few days before the election. Then, with four days to go, Osama bin Laden released a tape telling the American people “Your security is in your hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked”. According to a CIA analysis, reported in the book, W Got His War, Bin Laden knew that by demanding US withdrawal from the Middle East, Americans would instead fight all the harder and consequently vote for the “resolute” appearing Bush instead of the more nuanced Kerry. Bin Laden wanted Bush to win and continue his clumsy war in Iraq in order to deplete the American economy and continue to harm American relations with the Muslim nations.

The distracting war in Iraq turned out not to be easy ‘cake walk Bush had expected. Sad to say, it became instead a walk into bin Laden’s trap, helping al Qaeda achieve many of its goals. Years ago, bin Laden demanded that the price of oil should be $144 a barrel. By 2008 this had come true, in large part because of the Hubris of President Bush’s clumsy Middle East policies.

Charles Edmund Coyote

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