Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush and other U.S. officials declared that the attackers were motivated by hatred for America’s freedom and values. It was a lie, one of the biggest ever told by U.S. officials. The truth was that the attackers were motivated by anger and rage over pre-9/11 U.S. government interventionism in the Middle East, especially the large number of people, including children, that the U.S. military and the CIA had been knowingly and intentionally killing in Iraq prior to 9/11.
After the national-security branch of the federal government unexpectedly and suddenly lost its official Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union and communism, in 1989, Americans were increasingly discussing the prospect of a “peace dividend,” which would have meant a large reduction in the size of the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA. Since the federal government had been converted into a national-security state to wage the Cold War, people were naturally asking: Why do we need a big Cold War apparatus when no Cold War exists anymore?
For the Pentagon and the CIA, that meant the necessity to find a new official enemy, one that would last as long as communism, if not longer. Terrorism would fit that bill perfectly.
The process began with U.S. interventionism into the Persian Gulf War, during which U.S. troops killed untold numbers of Iraqis with bombs, bullets, and missiles. At the same time, the Pentagon ordered U.S. warplanes to bomb Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants with the knowledge that such action would help spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi populace.
(Needless to say, that war, like all the other wars that the U.S. national-security establishment has waged in the post-WWII era, was waged without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, making the killings of all those Iraqis illegal under our form of government.)
At the same time, the U.S. government imposed a brutal system of economic sanctions on Iraq, with the goal of achieving regime change — that is, the ouster of Iraq’s ruler, Saddam Hussein, and his replacement with a U.S.-approved ruler. The U.S. aim was to inflict as much suffering as possible on the Iraqi people in the hopes that they would rise up and revolt against their own government, or that the Iraqi military would initiate a coup, or that Saddam Hussein would simply resign.
While the sanctions failed to achieve regime change, they did succeed in causing untold economic misery for the Iraqi people. By the end of the 11 years of sanctions, the once-prospering Iraqi middle class had been reduced to penury.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst was the year-after-year death toll of Iraqi children. Keep in mind, after all, that the sanctions prevented Iraqi officials from repairing those water and sewage treatment plants that the Pentagon had ordered bombed with the knowledge that such action would spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people. Those illnesses, along with malnutrition brought on by the sanctions, was exacting an enormous death toll on the children of Iraq.
In 1996, the official spokesman for the United States to the world, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, was asked whether the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were worth it. She responded that while the matter was a difficult one, the deaths were, in fact, worth it. By “it” she meant the U.S. efforts to achieve regime change in Iraq.
The sanctions continued wreaking death and destruction for another five years after Albright issued that statement. If you’d like to get a good idea of the banality of evil among U.S. bureaucrats who were enforcing the sanctions, read “Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction” by Joy Gordon or her book Invisible War: The U.S. and Iraq Sanctions.
It’s also important to note that not one single U.S. official, from President Clinton on down, condemned or even mildly criticized Albright’s statement. There can be only one reason for that: They all agreed with what she had said.
It is impossible to overstate the ever-increasing anger and rage that was boiling over in the Middle East as people saw those children dying week after week, month after month, year after year. Two high UN officials, Hans von Sponek and Denis Haliday, even resigned their humanitarian positions at the UN in protest against what they considered was genocide against the children of Iraq.
When Ramzi Yousef, one of the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, appeared before a New York federal judge for sentencing, he angrily cited the deaths of the Iraqi children for his retaliatory act of terrorism, telling the judge that U.S. officials were butchers.
That’s not to suggest, of course, that there weren’t other causes for the Yousef’s rage and, for that matter, the anger that motivated other pre-9/11 terrorist attacks (e.g., the attacks on the USS Cole and U.S. embassies in East Africa), but none of them had anything to do with hatred for America’s “freedom and values.” They all had to do with U.S. interventionism, such as the U.S. government’s unconditional support of the Israeli government, the stationing of U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands, and the constant bombing campaigns over Iraq while enforcing the so-called no-fly zones, campaigns that were killing people, including children, on a constant basis.
Was all that interventionism worth it? It certainly was worth it to the national-security establishment, which not only wasn’t reduced in size in the post-Cold Era but instead grew and prospered in the post-9/11 era.
For those for whom liberty, peace, and prosperity, however, clearly the interventionism wasn’t worth it, given that the brought to America the pre-9/11 terrorist attacks, the 9/11 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, a never-ending war on terrorism, a formalized federal program of international assassination, indefinite detention and torture of Americans and others, the prison camp and torture center at Guantanamo Bay, massive secret surveillance schemes, partnerships with brutal dictatorships, and of course, out of control federal spending, taxation, and debt that is threatening America with national bankruptcy.
On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, U.S. public officials and mainstream media commentators said that 9/11 will forever stand as one of history’s greatest acts of evil. What they all failed to point out, however, was that killing those hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, which motivated the terrorists to commit their acts of evil on 9/11, was evil too.
The Future of Freedom Foundation.
This article was published by The Future of Freedom Foundation.