Ian Welsh has a good post up too.
" Terrorism is a tactic. Honestly, it’s usually an ineffective tactic (you can ask the Red Brigades about that), 9/11 was an exception.Frankly, I have no idea whether OBL wanted a war in afghanistan or iraq or anywhere - but there you go.
Let me unpack that. I don’t say 9/11 was an exception because of the number of people it killed. It was an exception because it actually provoked the response that bin Laden wanted. The US invaded Afghanistan. Which is what bin Laden had wanted. He thought he could win a war there. He wanted to draw US troops into Afghanistan and both prove that they could be defeated and bleed them white the way Afghanistan bled the USSR white and eventually contributed to its fall.
It didn’t quite work out how he wanted...
...because the US failed to actually engage Afghanistan as whole, rather bribing proxy troops to fight the Taliban and al-Q’aeda with both money and implicit promises of the ability to grow opium in the future. The result was unsatisfactory for both sides – the US failed to capture bin Laden or drive a stake through the Taliban – but Afghanistan as a whole didn’t rise up against a large US invasion force either.
And then George Bush invaded Iraq and bin Laden got the war he wanted, just somewhere else than he had expected. Truly Allah works in mysterious ways, and truly in making the US both insane and incompetent, he must be on bin Laden’s side.
So 9/11 was a success for bin Laden. But it wasn’t a success because of the amount of damage it did, it was a success because it provoked the right response.
The US, in other words, rewarded a terrorist with the actions he desired."
Here’s the deal. Here’s why Bin Laden has at times had approval ratings near 50% despite his despicable actions.That sounds pretty reasonable - just get the hell outta the way - not because it's isolationist, but because the alternatives are all horrible.
The US supports Egypt’s government. It’s a government that is notorious for raping and torturing dissidents. It receives billions of dollars from the US in exchange for not being too hostile to Israel.
The US supports Saudi Arabia, which exports virulent Wahabism throughout the Islamic world.
The US currently supports Pakistan, the number one country behind the spread of nuclear technology, and the state sponsor of the Taliban.
The US supports a number of despotic oil states throughout the world with money and arms. Those states torture and oppress their own people.
If the US is serious about spreading freedom, the first step is to simply step back, remove the subsidies, arms sales and intelligence support, and let these despotic states either sink or swim on their own. Many will fall, and they will fall to religious right wingers, it is true.
But up until very recently, what state in the Middle East had the population with highest favourable ratings towards the US?FTR, here's Juan Cole on the weekend:
What State in the Middle East offered in 2002 to acknowledge Israel, pressure Hamas for peace and give up all military applications of nukes, and support the US in Afghanistan? (An offer which was refused without any negotiations at all.)
Can you blame Iran, having offered the US everything it could want, and being refused, then seeing Iraq invaded for not having nukes, for deciding it needs nukes? Obviously if it offered the US everything the US says it wants and the US refused, the US must intend to invade it no matter what. The only rational thing to do is to get a deterrent. This is not insane – the insane people, from Iran’s point of view, are clearly in Washington. And I have to tell you, after what has happened over the last few years, the majority of the world, while still not liking Iran, agrees that the problem is more in Washington than Tehran.
"Iran is perhaps the only unambiguous winner in the new situation in Iraq, and its foreign minister was basking in the glow on Saturday. On Friday, Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari defended Iran's right to have a civilian nuclear energy program. That can't be what Washington was going for in backing the new Iraqi government."and I'll bore you by quoting this again:
Raw Story: And now we see that Iraq and Iran have just signed a military treaty. Is that what we wanted?
Joe Wilson: Iran is the big winner in this.
Raw Story: Is the goal a fundamentalist military conglomerate? Is that what we wanted?
Wilson: Sitting right on the border of the Kuwait and eastern Saudi oil fields...
Raw Story: Right, if that is what we wanted…
Wilson: Then we have achieved it.
So Iran is a winner, OBL apparently got what he apparently wanted, and the Bushistas got themselves a War Of Terror brand name, and lots more terrorists, and terrorism. Odd.
Back to Ian Welsh:
"Terrorism is used to fuel insurgency campaigns by promoting overreaction on the part of the enemy. Faced with an atrocity, the enemy will commit its own atrocities, and the people the terrorist are trying to rally come to hate the enemy more, and rally around the terrorist or his cause.
And yes, bombing people is an atrocity. The fact that it is done by men in uniforms who regret the civilians they are killing does not make watching your family die any more pleasant. For nothing you ever did, your loved ones are killed, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
It’s for this reason that those with sense know that there is no definition of terrorism which can cover what “terrorists” do without also covering what States do. (Unless by fiat you just say “States are never terrorists.”)"