Sometimes there is Change
“We make war that we may live in peace.”
“You will hear this over and over in the future. 9/11 has changed everything”, Jay Clarke said.
Jay was our new WRKO program director at the time of 9/11.
“You have a big responsibility tonight. Report only what you know is true and accurate. Double and triple check everything. It wouldn’t take much to create a panic.”
Jay was right. Less than a year later he was off to an executive position in a satellite radio operation.
Shortly afterward I met another new program director, Mike Elder, in from Chicago. The first time I met him he said, “Moe, 9/11 changed everything. Keep that in mind in your topic selection for your program.”
No, Mike was not reading a script left for program directors. The statement is true beyond anything I could have ever thought possible.
We may have begun to relax a little as a nation because we have not been hit again. We have not been hit again for a combination of good luck and good security.
The further down the road we go, however, the less impact 9/11 has on us.
During the State of the Union 2002, President George Bush told congress and the nation we were at war with a new type of enemy. This enemy didn’t fight under a national flag. Rather the terrorists were bound by an extreme interpretation of the Koran.
Christians hid behind the Holy Bible during the Inquisition and the “Islamo Fascists” are doing the same with the Koran.
They are entrenched in a view of the world which finds its origins in the Seventh Century.
The most obvious of their old world views is the manner in which they treat women. To the Islamo-Fascists they are chattel. For example, in Afghanistan women could only appear in public wearing a Burqa, the gown which covers all parts of their body, even their ankles. Also, they had to be accompanied by their husband. Failure to comply could lead to a severe lashing with whips, heavy straps, stiff wires such as auto radio antennas. Sometimes, they were taken to the soccer stadium and stoned.
Education of women was almost completely abolished and women could not work outside the home.
Anything Western, any thoughts of liberty, were a serious violation of religious law in their minds.
Further, any non-believer should be converted. Beyond that they were not to be trusted and even killed.
The actions of these people is fully beyond anything any reasonable person would interpret.
Most of the nations of the middle east do what governments did many centuries ago, use religion as a means of control over the masses.
They have existed in parts of Arabia for a long time. What makes them so different today and why do they wield the power they have?
When we say oil, we are talking about enormous sums of money. And money has changed the face of terrorism.
The Soviet Union financed revolutions in the Americas to force U.S. attention to be trained on our own back yard. Most of the regimes they supported could not have risen to power without Soviet rubles. Cuba and Fidel Castro, through him, Che Guevara and his exploits throughout Latin America, Fidel’s channeled money to the Sandanistas in Nicaragua, Maurice Bishop and the New Jewell Movement in Granada as well as many left wing factions in virtually all of the Americas.
When the Soviet Union collapsed and the money for Castro began to dry up, the levels of left wing insurgency nearly died. That is until the oil of Venezuela made its way into the control and power of previously dormant left wing groups.
The point here is, money drives insurgencies.
Even the American Revolution against Britain could not have succeeded without the financing of many rich Americans and the French. They operated on a shoe string but at least they were able to buy their own shoe strings.
The Islamo-Fascist revolution of today is no different.
Usama Bin Laden is from an enormously wealthy family whose money came from being the official contractors for the monarchy which controls Saudi Arabia.
When 9/11 occurred we all were dazed and confused. Why? Who?
My Grandfather had a limited formal education. Still, he had a way to reduce things of a complex nature to its lowest common denominator. He said when affairs seemed complicated it was because someone wanted them to seem that way. His approach was to apply certain basic measures to see what made sense.
The purpose for acquiring great wealth is power. The dustbin of history is filled to capacity with great leaders and empires which ran out of money. The most recent example of that is the Soviet Union and its communist rulers. How did we win? We built more missiles and bombers and then we were heavily invested in a defense system the Soviets feared would work. They could no longer afford to stay in the game. They were broke. As they say in poker, they folded.
No nation has ever started a war when its treasure chest was empty. No one ever attacks a neighboring country if it does not believe itself to have a chance to succeed.
What does this all mean? Simple, though terrorism is less expensive than direct warfare, it is still an expensive proposition.
“Suivre l’argent” was Granddad’s favorite expression whether we were discussing a pot hole problem in the roads or weighty international matters.
Just “follow the money”.
Government at all levels had access to lots of money. The availability of someone else’s money was at the core of much of the activities of people motivated by power and money.
If Grandfather Lauzier had been here 9/11 he would have suggested we “follow the money”.
When I was in high school and studying World War II he pointed out two things the textbooks did not make very clear.
Germany had been crushed by the after effects of World War I. The German anger seethed just below the surface. The first major supporters of Adolph Hitler were the “schlot barons” of Germany. Their fortunes were in factories and technology. With a poor economy and an aversion to accept German made goods by its neighbors Germany was forced to pay reparations for the was imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. Through Hitler the barons had their man who would know how to utilize their wares.
The Japanese were isolated by us and Britain from its trading partners and squeezed out of the petroleum it needed from Asia. That became the guise to build its war machine.
Once the German and Japanese wallets were squeezed they were able to make a case at home to be nationalistic and rebuild its military for an assault on its neighbors. Both Japan and Germany exercised hegemony over its neighbors one step at a time. Germany added the Nazi creed to the mix.
In both countries it became an us versus them philosophy.
What has all this to do with 9/11?
How are the dictators who have made billions from the oil under the land they rule able to get away with such a rip-off?
They unite the people by creating a common enemy, corrupt their religious leaders, and pretend to stand up for them.
A good example of this type of chicanery was Yassir Arafat. He always appeared to be the poor revolutionary leading his people from the wilderness and away from their enemies.
We now know he was worth billions of dollars he bilked from his starving masses. He made Israel into the enemy of the average Palestinian. He was able to present one face to the world that he was a man of peace trying to quell the insurgents at home and make peace with Israel. When he was at home he whipped up the peasants into hating Israel as their enemy and the cause for their abject poverty.
Arafat was nothing but a scoundrel. Yet he was able to corrupt enough so-called leaders and clerics to manipulate the Palestinians to hate Israel and to commit unspeakable atrocities there. How else can you explain a mother taking pride in her fourteen year old son strapping a bomb around his waist and walking into a pizza parlor or boarding a bus and killing himself and everyone around him?
The combination of religious intolerance and belief everyone not with them is against them and an agent of Satan who needs to be eradicated, then unthinkable action, such as 9/11, becomes possible.
As Golda Meier once replied to the question of when there would be peace between Israel and her neighbors she said: “When our enemies learn to love their children more than they hate us.”
It is not my intention to revisit Middle-East history here. To do so would require volumes rather than a few paragraphs. However, we must, as Golda Meier suggested, recognize and then understand our enemy if we are to neutralize and/or defeat him.
George Bush identified Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the Axis of Evil.
Why them? Are they our enemy?
After his he was tossed out of Saudi Arabia, Usama Bin Laden was granted citizenship in Bosnia and Herzegovina and given a passport early in the 1990s.
Bin Laden’s Saudi citizenship was revoked because he publicly denounced the royal family after it had rejected his offer to defend Saudi Arabia after the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. He became enraged when his offer of 12,000 fighters was rejected and the Saudi government chose to have the United States defend it from Iraq.
At that point he moved to the Sudan at the request of the Sudanese government in exchange for money and building a pharmaceutical factory. He was given a large villa in Khartoum and allowed to develop a training camp for el Qaida in the desert.
Pressure from the United States, Egypt and Saudi Arabia caused Bin Laden to be expelled from Sudan to Afghanistan in May of 1996. Initially he took up residence in the mountains, near the Pakistan border. Later he moved to the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. There he made friends with the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
The Taliban was in the process of consolidating its power in the country and Bin Laden supplied armed troops in support of the insurgency. Most, if not all, of Bin Laden’s troops were Arab. Many had fought for Afghanistan independence against the Russians. Afghan fighters from other regions who made up the Mujahideen did not accept the Arab fighters. They were looked upon as outsiders.
One of the many myths surrounding the United States involvement in the war to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets is that we armed Bin Laden and the Taliban. To this day that is denied the United States government and that whatever help was given was to Afghanistan forces, not to Arab fighters.
On August 7, 1998, El Qaida conducted terrorist operations on United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. More than 200 were killed and over 4,000 were injured in the blasts.
President Clinton responded at the time by missile attacks on El Qaida training camps in Afghanistan and the pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (in the belief the factory was a chemical plant making deadly agents for Bin Laden. It was later learned the factory no longer belonged to Bin Laden and the factory made aspirins. The missiles in Afghanistan missed him by an hour or two.
Over time Bin Laden would wind up on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list and Ten Most Wanted Terrorists list.
Al-Qaida is alleged to have been involved in several unsuccessful conspiracies, including the 2000 millennium plots to bomb Los Angeles International Airport and the Space Needle in Seattle on New Year’s Eve. A number of tourist sites in Jordan were targeted as well as the Paris Embassy. El Qaida was responsible for the successful attack on the USS Cole in the Port of Aden in Yemen in October, 2000.
After the Cole attack President Clinton ordered a freeze of bin Laden’s assets.
Clinton had also signed an earlier executive order authorizing bin Laden's arrest or assassination. In August 1998, the U.S. military launched an assassination attempt using cruise missiles. The missed bin Laden but killed 19 other people. In 1999 the U.S. offered a US$25 million reward for information leading to bin Laden's arrest. Also in 1999, we convinced the United Nations to impose sanctions against Afghanistan in an attempt to force the Taliban to extradite him.
Another plan was in place to kill bin Laden in 1999 when one of our spy satellites spotted an aircraft belonging to the United Arab Emirates parked on a runway adjacent to an El Qaida training camp which bordered on a hunting area used by UAE officials along with bin Laden. We did not go through with the attack out of fear collateral damage could occur to high ranking UAE officials.
After 9/11 the climate changed. Under President Clinton bin Laden was, for all practical purposes, treated like a criminal. After the attack on our soil that fateful day in September, bin Laden, his troops in el Qaida and the Taliban which was shielding him, were treated as enemies of the United States and hunted and pursued as such.
Bin Laden initially issued a lengthy statement denying any involvement with 9/11. However a video tape was discovered in a house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where it is seen, bin Laden accepts credit for what occurred on 9/11. Here‘s a portion of what was on the tape:
“We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (...Inaudible...) Due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for”.
We now know we had Special Operations (Spec Op) forces were operating in Afghanistan within days of 9/11. Some may even have been there before.
The fall of Afghanistan was not nearly as bloody and required less effort than anyone could have predicted. When we entered we were supported by a coalition of dozens of nations. The Northern Alliance did most of the fighting and in no time, it seemed, the Taliban and el Qaida scattered and ran for the hills.
At first it seemed they disbanded but as we later learned they mixed in with the peasants and to an even larger extent, escaped to Pakistan, where the Taliban had first been formed and trained. They would later regroup and be an ongoing thorn to settling the government of freely elected President Hamid Karzai.
Elections came and some level of stability followed. However, the thought of democracy in what had been a Soviet puppet state for nearly ten years and then under the control of the Taliban for some years was determined to move ahead.
Women are no longer required to wear head to toe coverings called burqas, nor is it necessary for them to be in the company of a father or husband in public. The days of torturing women are over in Afghanistan. Little girls are back in school, women professionals have emerged from their submissive roles and others have returned from exile to staff hospitals and schools, as well as many different professions.
A major problem is still the failure to have captured or killed Usama Bin Laden. Mullah Omar is also still on the lose as well.
Another ongoing problem is one third of Afghanistan’s economy is directly related to the poppy business, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the world’s supply of opium.
Efforts are being made to dissuade farmers from growing poppies and to convert to other crops. We are using all sorts of means to assist the farmers to convert to other crops such as subsidies for not growing the poppies to substituting the poppies with edible food stuffs, some of it for export.
Meanwhile, President Bush delivered his State of the Union speech where he outlined the Unites States efforts in the War on Terror.
His January 29, 2002 speech contained language which, in the second sentence the president said, “As we gather tonight, our nation is at war….”
Later in the speech the president outlined a course of action which is still on the front burner:
“Our nation will continue to be steadfast and patient and persistent in the pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And, second, we must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world.”
The course in the eyes of President Bush was clear. But which regimes did he have in mind when he said we must prevent from building….“chemical, biological or nuclear weapons…..”
He began to answer that question when he said “camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld -- including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammad -- operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities.”
These three paragraphs defined for all the future course the United States would take for years to come:
“Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.
“Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.
Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror.
“The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.”
Thus the questions about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) became a central theme.
While a nuclear threat existed in North Korea and Iran, our focus shifted to the country we had kicked out of Kuwait a dozen years earlier. Iraq.
On October 11, 2002 the Congress of the United States gave President Bush what amounted to permission to declare war against Iraq if certain conditions were not met by the Hussein government. A bill entitled “Authorization for use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.”
The resolution gave the president permission to conduct war if Iraq didn’t meet certain demands concerning WMDs. It amounted to a declaration of war.
Most members of congress voted for the measure because a no vote could be considered politically as a vote for Saddam Hussein.
Future Democrat nominee for president, John Kerry, and a few others tried to have it both ways. He voted for the resolution in committee and later voted against the final passage. Hence his ridiculous pronouncement, “I voted for it before I voted against it” flap. It became part of the basis of labeling him as uncertain and a flip flopper on the issues.
Relations between the United States and Iraq were poor from the moment Iraqi troops entered Kuwait more than a decade earlier. Relations did not improve when Iraq attempted to assassinate President George W. Bush’s father, the former president.
What happened was in April of 1993, former President George H.W. Bush visited Kuwait to commemorate the victory over Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. During former President Bush's visit, Kuwaiti authorities arrested 17 people allegedly involved in a plot to kill him using a car bomb.
An FBI investigation tied the group directly to Hussein.
Other provocations included the repeated firing of surface to air missiles at American and British planed patrolling the “No Fly Zones” over Iraq.
Until the invasion of Iraq, the policies of President Bush in dealing with the War on Terror were pretty much universally accepted. The lightening speed in which our Afghanistan efforts were conducted encouraged the nation. The only naysayers were those from either the old communist front groups or pacifist groups.
The Iraq War was quite another matter. Add to that it was a pre-emptive war, something new in United States’ history.
Most intelligence agencies in most of the major nations in the world spoke in unison that Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction or, in some cases the means to rapidly assemble such weapons. The biggest question surrounded the nuclear capability of Saddam Hussein’s scientist and whether they were close to building “the bomb”.
We asked for tightened sanctions against Iraq but ran into intransigence from France, Germany, Belgium, and Russia. We later learned the reason for their dragging their feet in wanting to disarm Saddam Hussein had more to do with the “Oil for Food” program administered by the United Nations. Hundreds of millions of dollars were used for other than food and prices were inflated many time on food stuffs and medical and other humanitarian supplies. The Iraqi people suffered from the lack of medicines and food for all the years the program was in existence. The rip offs continued until the first bombs fell on Baghdad March 20, 2003.
All over the media we were cautioned about the Iraqi tenacity and their willingness to die for their country. The United States would be viewed as an invader and our troops would have to conquer each city and hamlet street by street and house by house.
Though there were isolated battles, broad spread resistance did not occur. Our troops were well received in areas treated brutally by Saddam Hussein and his minions in the past, such as Shiite and Kurdish regions.
In the Kurdish areas our soldiers were treated like conquering heroes and the Kurds cooperated in many ways.
We invaded Afghanistan to put Usama bin Laden and Al Qaida out of existence and Iraq to get Saddam Hussein and his WMDs.
In Afghanistan we did not get bin Laden and el Qaida is still in operation, albeit in a reduced capacity. In Iraq, we initially had difficulty locating Saddam Hussein (though we killed his two treacherous sons, Uday and Qusay) and his WMDs.
Though President Bush on declared the end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003, thus terminating the Ba’ath Party’s rule and removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from office, he was still on the loose.
Coalition forces ultimately captured Saddam Hussein on December 13, 2003 in a spider hole.
The question on talk radio was asked why Hussein was not shot when he was found? In light of all that transpired after his capture including his making a travesty of his trial, it’s a good question. It would have been easy to explain a grenade was dropped in the hole because he threatened to shoot his way out or some such thing. One of our listeners had an excellent answer for that. There was a reporter embedded with the unit which found Hussein. There would have been many who wrung their hands in righteous indignation at such a summary execution.
Good answer. One more argument for not having reporters embedded.
What happened to the WMDs? We are just now learning from documents and video of Saddam’s meetings with his top aids just what happened with large amounts of WMDs. They were shipped to Syria.
Between the videos and the comments by a former top ranking Iraq Air Force officer and others, the weapons were flown out of Iraq just prior to the start of hostilities. A couple of converted airliners, a 727 and a 767, made fifty-six flights to Damascus, Syria, where the weapons were off loaded and taken to the desert. Others have since corroborated the testimony of the Iraqi general.
The Bush administration is well aware of the movement of these materials but has said little if anything about it. Their silence regarding the discovery of many tons of nuclear material is a genuine mystery.
Saddam Hussein allowed a fuselage from a Boeing 707 at a training facility in Salman Pac, a few miles south of Baghdad, to be used for training in taking over a flight crew and hijacking a plane in flight using nothing but pocket knives. Or maybe, box cutters?
Add to all this evidence Iraq harbored training facilities for terrorists and that there were more than two thousand men per year trained there over a six year period. Where have that twelve thousand trained terrorists gone.
Silence on these matters from George Bush.
To many of our listeners, the silence on the part of George Bush on Salman Pac, the nuclear materials found in Iraq, the plane loads of weapons transferred to Syria, the scientists who reported hiding research material in their gardens, the thousands of terrorists trained there, etc. makes many of us curious. What is on the mind of many in the White House, especially the president?
The War in Iraq continues with Iraq being a magnet for terrorists elements around the world.
Just think what it must be like to fear free elections and the self determination of millions of people?
One final question?
Is it possible to have peace without being willing to wage war?