Archive for 9/11 attacks

Now We All Agree the Afghan War Was Not Worth Fighting

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by loonwatch

Afghan Graves

“Speak good words to an enemy very softly; gradually destroy him root and branch.” ~ Pashtun Proverb

For many, it seemed as if the 9/11 terrorist attacks instantly indicted the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, and transformed many Muslim-majority countries into potential bomb targets.

No Afghans were identified among the hijackers involved in the attacks, but US-ally-turned-Prime Suspect, Osama Bin Laden, had taken refuge in Afghanistan’s forbidding lands. After then-President George Bush rejected repeated offers by Taliban leaders to turn over the Saudi-born suspect, the US  invaded the already war-torn and impoverished country in October, 2001.

No Iraqis were identified among the hijackers involved in the attacks, and though the public was initially led to believe otherwise, Bush later acknowledged that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Soon a new excuse was proffered: US-ally-turned-Scary Global Menace, Saddam Hussein, supposedly had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Fear peddling administration officials repeatedly warned that we must not let the “smoking gun be a mushroom cloud,” but the Downing Street Memo proved to be the real smoking gun, later revealing they knew all along the WMDs threat was a blatant lie.  The final pretext was “spreading freedom and democracy” at gunpoint, and the US-led invasion of the already war-torn and beleaguered nation of Iraq began March, 2003.

America was dragged into war under false pretenses, yet it seems no one has been held accountable. While President Obama at least acknowledged the war in Iraq was “the wrong one,” he also claimed the war in Afghanistan was “the right one.” But was it?

Shock, anger, and the thirst for vengeance certainly played a role in the decision to go to war with Afghanistan in 2001, and the Afghan people have paid a heavy price. Yet in 2010, nearly a decade after the invasion, a report revealed that 92% of Afghans were unaware of the 9/11 attacks. The finding was confirmed last fall when Afghans were asked what they thought of the war and they simply said: “Why are you here?”

A growing number of Americans seem to be asking themselves the same question–even as the usual suspects gin up yet another senseless war, this time with Iran.

Now We All Agree the Afghan War Was Not Worth Fighting

by Hamilton Nolan, Gawker

For the first time since we invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, a majority of Republicans say that the war was not worth fighting. Even the superpatriots, the military do-or-die-ers, the America Firsters, the my-country-right-or-wrong crowd, have come to the conclusion that this war should never have happened. They’re right.

At this point, more than a decade on from the events that inspired us to invade Afghanistan in the first place, the burning sense of rage and desire for retribution and need to just do something have all faded away. We are more clear-eyed now. For almost every American that died in the Twin Towers, another American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan. Fifteen thousand more have been wounded. And tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded in the fighting as well.

And was it worth it? No. It was not worth it. It was clearly not worth it. No rational person could say it was worth it. September 11 was a horrible tragedy. Our response to it, starting with a decade-long war in a nation that Americans neither know nor care about, was a tragedy as well. We have poured our blood and treasure into a desolate, poverty-stricken and already war-torn country halfway across the world—not to improve it, but to further destroy it. For this, we have gained nothing that we could not have gained with a much more limited and rational response.

You don’t send in the U.S. Army to invade an entire nation to find one man. You don’t send in the U.S. Army to invade an entire nation to deal with one numerically small terrorist group, for the same reason that you don’t use an M1 Abrams tank to tackle your household mouse infestation. You don’t cause tens of thousands of violent deaths to poor civilians to prove some vague notion of national toughness on a world stage. It is insane. The urge to lash out in a muscular fashion after 9/11 is perfectly understandable. But it is not rational, or ethical, or even, it is now clear, to our own national benefit. Such impulses are the reason that we need strong leaders. To prevent us from doing things like invading Afghanistan.

In the end, it turns out, America’s entire post-9/11 response was exactly wrong. The much-derided idea of treating the terrorist attacks as a crime would have been the rational thing to do. Doing our best to launch a world war was not to our benefit. It was not to the benefit of geopolitical stability. It was not to the benefit of the kids who entered the military, full of patriotism and love for their country, and ended up dead halfway around the world. It was not to the benefit of Afghan civilians, people who had nothing to do with any of this, who ended up bombed, shot, maimed, driven from their homes, victims of circumstance. We can fight, if we like, another decade in Afghanistan. When we leave, Afghanistan will still belong to the people who live there, and they, not us, will determine its future. Our stated goal took far too long to accomplish. Now that it’s been accomplished, we’re still in Afghanistan. And we’ll be there for years more.

A small group of bad men attacked targets in America. For this, we invaded an entire nation. Where they weren’t. Let’s not do that again.


Rethink AfghanistanThe war in Afghanistan is increasing the likelihood that American civilians will be killed in a future terrorist attack.

The Forgotten Anniversary: 10/7 and America’s Longest War

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on October 17, 2011 by loonwatch

(image by Carlos Latuff)

The “anniversary” of 9/11 was celebrated with great pomp and Super Bowl style fanfare, while 10/7–the day the United States launched the Orwellian-named Operation Enduring Freedom–passed without notice.

The Forgotten Anniversary: 10/7 and America’s Longest War

By Faiz Ahmed

On 7 October 2001, at approximately 12:30pm EST, US and British forces launched Operation Enduring Freedom, an aerial bombing campaign with the declared objectives of overthrowing the Taliban regime, destroying or capturing Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, and bringing an end to terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

In one of the fiercest displays of military might in modern history, early combat operationsincluded air strikes from land-based B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit, and B-52 Stratofortress bombers; carrier-based F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet fighters; and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from US ships and submarines in the Arabian Sea. In spite of this overwhelming display of “shock and awe” force, it was not until April of this year that US forces found and killed the alleged culprit behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, through a US covert operation in Pakistan.

Less commonly remembered is that in the weeks following 11 September 2001, the Bush Administration held high-level secret negotiations with Taliban officials. As reported by the BBC, CNN and the Washington Post, among other news outlets, US-Taliban talks included the possibility of turning over Bin Laden to an international criminal tribunal. Although most Americans are unaware and policymakers are loathe to admit, negotiations proceeded so far that the Taliban offered to hand Bin Laden over to a neutral third country for trial if they were shown evidence of his culpability in the 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration turned down the offer. Meanwhile, with the exception of one brave dissenting voice from California’s ninth congressional district, Congress had already authorized the use of military force by 14 September 2001.

As the tenth anniversary of our war in Afghanistan looms, Americans have the right to ask: Would not the capture and trial of Bin Laden through negotiation and engagement—with a resultant disruption of al-Qaeda networks, and without the deaths of over 1,700 US soldiers, thousands of Afghan and Pakistani civilians, and trillions of dollars in taxpayer income—have been a preferable path?

True, history is notoriously malleable in hindsight. But as any good historian would also admit, history is not an agreed upon set of dates and facts of the past. It is rather what a nation chooses to remember—and forget. It is about collective memory. The Bush Administration’s secret negotiations with the Taliban are not the only inconvenient truth left out of the dominant narrative of 9/11 and our war in Afghanistan ever since. While some hailed the killing of Bin Laden in Pakistan to a tune of “Mission Accomplished,” meanwhile in Afghanistan, civilian casualties, inexorable corruption, and mind-boggling waste have filled up the margins of the official story. According to a recent report by a bipartisan commission on wartime spending, the US government wasted thirty billion dollars in contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade. This includes three hundred million dollars on a Kabul power plant the government will not run, and 11.4 billion dollars on facilities for the Afghan military that have been deemed unsustainable.

Behind precious American lives lost, families shattered, and the unquantifiable disservice to taxpayers and a public sector already under enormous financial strain, an even more disconcerting fact emerges from our Afghan war. From the beginning, the US-led military campaign prompted concerns over the number of Afghan civilians it was killing. Although no government has cared to count, the Los Angeles Times found that in the first five-month period from 7 October 2001 to 28 February 2002 alone, there were between 1,067 and 1,201 reported civilian deaths from the bombing campaign. An independent report by Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire states that in the twenty-month period between 7 October 2001 and 3 June 2003, US-led military operations killed at least 3,100 civilians. Shockingly, a February 2002 analysis by The Guardian estimated that as many as 20,000 Afghans died as an indirect result of the initial US airstrikes and ground invasion, due to starvation, exposure, or wounds sustained while fleeing from zones hit by air strikes.

The horrifying trend has continued. In 2011, US and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan killed scores of civilians. According to a 2009 Brookings report, US drone strikes may be killing “ten or so civilians” for every militant killed in both countries. Apologists for the war will retort: The lack of deliberateness excuses this “collateral damage” in an overall “just war” against ruthless terrorists who have killed even more. But last June, outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates described how the costs of US military intervention have taught him to be cautious of launching “wars of choice” in the first place. Most interpreted his words as referring to Iraq, but they are also applicable to Afghanistan. After all, the biggest victims of the Afghan war have not been the Taliban or al-Qaeda organizations, but the very civilians we were claiming to liberate and protect.

My views are not abstract theories enunciated from an ivory tower. On 27 June 2011, I arrived in Kabul to complete research for my doctoral dissertation at the National Archives of Afghanistan. The following night, the Kabul InterContinental Hotel I was staying in was attacked by Taliban-affiliated insurgents armed with machine guns, grenade-launchers, and vests strapped with explosives. By the end of the night, at least twenty people were killed, the majority of whom were Afghan hotel workers and guests. Trapped in my room for hours as the battle raged in stairwells and hallways above, below, and on my own floor, I thought of God, my family, and what I would say to the world if I survived. It has taken me three months to say it.

That night, as grenades detonated, helicopter missiles exploded, and machine gunfire sprayed a hotel with seventy guests in the middle, it became painfully obvious that innocent civilians are bearing the brunt of this war. Blame who we will for “starting it,” our Afghan war now bears all the signs of a top-heavy invasion that toppled a government, spawned and inflamed a deadly insurgency, and never achieved peace. A decade later, as we prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban’s top leadership is still at large. Its fighters are seemingly more motivated than ever, and while US negotiations with the Taliban have already commenced, we must ask: What was the point of this war? Can anyone say it was worth it? Moreover, could this ten-year quagmire with unfathomable costs for Americans have been exactly what the 9/11 perpetrators intended? These are not questions for U.S military personnel to answer, but rather our statesmen, who put them in harm’s way in the first place.

It is time we realize September 11 is tied to another somber anniversary in US history: when our country’s leadership plunged the nation into its longest war within twenty-six days, while viable diplomatic alternatives, which we can only speculate about today, were cast aside and abandoned. Although details are still to emerge, I am convinced that the Bush-Taliban negotiations are a question that American historians, including myself, will explore for generations to come. Furthermore, as we remember and pay honor every autumn to the victims of the horrific September 11 attacks, we must also remember the victims of our current war in Afghanistan. Like the victims of 9/11, they are innocent men, women, and children, who did nothing wrong but go to work in the morning, shop at a local market in the afternoon, or attend a wedding party in the evening. They, too, deserve our remembrance and mourning. After all, if we cannot acknowledge that our suffering and the suffering of others share an everlasting bond, and that foreign policies based on vengeance, or cruel indifference, only unleash cycles of violence and retaliation that can inevitably reach our own shores, then we will have missed the greatest lesson that 9/11 and its ten-year anniversary can possibly offer.

Faiz Ahmed is currently a Doctoral Candidate in History at the University of California, Berkeley. 

This article orginally appeared on

Al Arabiya Poll: Some Arabs Justify 9/11 And Deny Al-Qaeda’s Culpability; I Say: Yeah, So What? (II)

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by loonwatch

In part I, I discussed the new Al Arabiya poll, of questionable validity, that is making the rounds in the anti-Muslim cyber-world.  Another finding of the poll, per MEMRI:

Out of the 220,000 Arabs who participated, 23% believed Al-Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and 26% did not.

Anti-Muslim websites are absolutely beside themselves at how unbelievably gullible Moozlums are, how they are miserably steeped in conspiracy theories, and how they can’t just admit the fact that Moozlums did 9/11.  Yet, as the Al Arabiya article, which the Islamophobes themselves linked to (but can’t read), says: these findings are not much different than those of other places in the world, including the West.

Indeed, we find that outside of the United States there is “no consensus who was behind Sept 11″ as noted in this Reuters article:

No consensus on who was behind Sept 11: global poll

Seven years after the September 11 attacks, there is no consensus outside the United States that Islamist militants from al Qaeda were responsible, according to an international poll published on Wednesday.

The survey of 16,063 people in 17 nations found majorities in only nine countries believe al Qaeda was behind the attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people in 2001.

On average, 46 percent of those surveyed said al Qaeda was responsible, 15 percent said the U.S. government, 7 percent said Israel and 7 percent said some other perpetrator. One in four people said they did not know who was behind the attacks.

The poll was conducted by, a collaborative project of research centers in various countries managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland in the United States.

In Europe, al Qaeda was cited by 56 percent of Britons and Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans. The U.S. government was to blame, according to 23 percent of Germans and 15 percent of Italians…

Therefore, the fact that 26% of Arabs don’t believe Al-Qaeda is to blame, according to the Al Arabiya poll, is not completely out of line with world opinion.

That only in the United States is there a consensus that Al-Qaeda did it is not something very surprising, considering that the U.S. government quickly, repeatedly, and emphatically pointed the finger at Al-Qaeda.

But, you know who else the government blamed?  Iraq.

These anti-Muslim bigots are snickering at how these Moozlums are just so absolutely stupid for thinking Israel or America could be involved in the 9/11 attack, when in fact the entire country–led by neoconservatives, Zionists, and anti-Muslim bigots like them–invaded a country on the false belief (the conspiracy theory) that Iraq was linked to Al-Qaeda and had something to do with 9/11.

Indeed, a January 2004 poll by Newsweek found that a majority of Americans (49% vs. 39%) believed that “Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.”  Amazingly, long after even the Bush administration admitted they were wrong, 41% of Americans still believed that Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was responsible for 9/11 (as seen in a June 2007 Newsweek poll).  This is a belief that Americans continue to cling on to even today!  Oh, but how utterly deluded those Moozlums are for thinking Israel was involved!  

Israel National News says:

Only 23 percent believe that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks, while a large number – 26 percent – think that the terrorist organization did not plan and carry out the hijack-bombings….

In Iran, the percentage of those denying  Al Qaeda’s involvement is even higher. The government controlled press continues to claim that the official version of 9/11 is false and that unaccounted for explosions brought down the Twin Towers in New York City.

How absolutely primitive of a government to issue statements blaming someone other than Al-Qaeda for 9/11!  That is totally unlike completely similar to the U.S. government linking Iraq to Al Qaeda and 9/11.  As Prof. Stephen Walt pointed out, this was all done with Israeli encouragement.  And now, the Israelis are blaming Iraq Iran.

All of this was perfectly depicted in a Family Guy clip:

Interestingly, even in the United States, “more than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll.”  So really, what’s the big deal if 26% of Arabs don’t believe 9/11 was done by Al-Qaeda?

Of note also is the fact that it is almost conventional wisdom, often heard even by liberals (implied, for instance, by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 911 and even the dog in the Family Guy in clip above), that Saudi Arabia has responsibility for 9/11 (“it was the Saudis that were involved, not Iraq”).  This utterly ignorant idea is seriously discussed in somber terms.  Whether it’s Israel, Iraq, Iran, or Saudi Arabia, the fact is that Muslims do not have a monopoly on 9/11 conspiracy theory.  There is plenty to go around.

In any case, the fact that the United States weaponized 9/11, by using it as an excuse to bomb, invade, and occupy multiple Muslim countries makes more Muslims gravitate towards 9/11 conspiracy theories, for reasons that should be patently obvious.

*  *  *  *  *

MEMRI also notes, commenting on the Al Arabiya poll:

16% considered the assassination of Osama bin Laden a criminal act, 48% did not, and 36% were undecided.

The assassination was definitely illegal under international law, for multiple reasons: Firstly, it involved the flagrant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty; would there be any question about legality if Pakistani commandos landed on Ellis Island?  The illegality of this act is not limited to the capture of Osama bin Laden, but can be seen in the continued violation of Paksitan’s sovereignty on a day-to-day basis with U.S. drone attacks that maim scores of civilians.

Secondly, Osama bin Laden was unarmed and yet was shot dead.  If we were truly a civilized people, someone wouldn’t really need to explain why it is illegal to shoot unarmed men.  Bin Laden was killed so that he wouldn’t face trial, which is a bedrock of our legal system.  This too is not limited to Osama bin Laden, as the U.S. has a hit-list out for other American citizens too.  Furthermore, the government continues to deny countless number of Muslims the right to a trial.

Thirdly, there is the larger issue, which is all the illegal actions that took place between the time the Taliban agreed to hand over Osama bin Laden, an offer which the U.S. refused, to the time the U.S. assassinated him.  If all of these actions (i.e. the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) were part of America’s strategy to capture Bin Laden, then certainly this entire process is illegal.  This fact underscores the biggest problem with the so-called War on Terror: terrorism should be dealt with using a combination of policing and negotiation, not war and destruction.

Therefore, my question is: if 16% of Arabs thought that the Osama bin Laden assassination was a criminal act, so what?

Deny Al-Qaeda’s Culpability; I Say: Yeah, So What? (I)

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2011 by loonwatch

I recently published two articles: Gallup Poll: Jews and Christians Way More Likely than Muslims to Justify Killing Civilians and Surveys Show in Every Country Muslims Less Likely to Justify Killing Civilians Than Americans and Israelis.

One anti-Muslim critic posted the following comment in response:

Interesting poll carried out by al-Arabiya…..

More than one-third of Arabs justify the 9/11 attacks, and only 23 percent believe Al Qaeda was behind the aerial suicide bombings.

The survey included 220,000 Arabs and was carried out by the Al-Arabia television channel in Dubai and a British research institute.

Thirty-six percent of the respondents justified the attacks, but only 38 percent took the opposite view, leaving another 16 percent undecided or with no opinion.

(You can google for the link)

I did google for the link and could not find it.  Instead, I found link after link of Islamophobic websites all linking to each other.  Finally, it seems I located what seems to be the original anti-Muslim site to make the claim, the Israel National News:

Dubai Poll: More than Third of Arabs Justify 9/11

More than one-third of Arabs justify the 9/11 attacks, and only 23 percent believe Al Qaeda was behind the aerial suicide bombings.

The survey included 220,000 Arabs and was carried out by the Al-Arabia television channel in Dubai and a British research institute.

Thirty-six percent of the respondents justified the attacks, but only 38 percent took the opposite view, leaving another 16 percent undecided or with no opinion.

Only 23 percent believe that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks, while a large number – 26 percent – think that the terrorist organization did not plan and carry out the hijack-bombings.

Slightly less than half of those participating in the survey – 48 percent – do not think that the assassination of Osama Bin Laden was a criminal act…

Forgive me if I take Israel National News with a grain of salt.  The hyperlinks to “the survey” in that article lead nowhere.

On the other hand, it could also be good old MEMRI:

36% of Arabs in Al-Arabiya TV Survey Justify 9/11

Al-Arabiya TV, in collaboration with a British research institute, conducted an online survey on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Out of the 220,000 Arabs who participated, 23% believed Al-Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and 26% did not. 36% said that the attacks were justified and 38% that they were not. 16% considered the assassination of Osama bin Laden a criminal act, 48% did not, and 36% were undecided.

Source: Facebook site of Al-Arabiya TV

No hyperlink is provided to the “Facebook site of Al-Arabiya TV.”  I visited the Facebook site myself and did not find any such information.

Forgive me once again for not taking MEMRI as the Gospel truth.  MEMRI’s founder and president is Yigal Carmon, who served as a Colonel in the Military Intelligence Directorate of Israel.  He also had a direct governmental role in the administration of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.  One can hardly be faulted for doubting MEMRI’s reliability.

Indeed, Middle East expert Dr. Norman Finkelstein calls MEMRI “a main arm of Israeli propaganda,” noting that the organization “use[s] the same sort of propaganda techniques as the Nazis.”  Says Finkelstein further:

They take things out of context in order to do personal and political harm to people they don’t like.

And he concludes by saying:

I think it’s a reliable assumption that anything MEMRI translates from the Middle East is going to be unreliable

One should note, however, that MEMRI says that it was “an online survey.”  What is interesting is that when I finally did find some mention of this poll in an article on the Al Arabiya website (helpfully linked to by an anti-Muslim, pro-Israeli website), the article itself–the same Arabic article on Al-Arabiya that the Islamophobes cite, no less–concludes by questioning the scientific validity of the survey.  The concluding paragraph notes that a “survey expert” contacted by Al Arabiya “does not view the results as [accurately] reflecting the trends in the Arab world,” and that “we must look into the study more and study its [research] methodology” to confirm its validity.

Why would anyone rely on a possibly unscientific internet poll instead of the far more reliable Gallup poll which found that only 7% of the Muslim and Arab world thought the 9/11 attacks were justified?  Robert Spencer of JihadWatch cited an article by Robert Satloff of The Weekly Standard, which pointed out that this “7%” figure includes only those who thought the 9/11 attack was “completely justified” and that the data shows “another 23.1 percent of respondents” who thought the attacks were “in some way justified.”  In other words, a total of 30.1% of the Muslim and Arab world thought the 9/11 attacks were either “completely justified” (7%) or “in some way justified” (23.1%).

Coincidentally enough, the number 30.1% is close to the number found by the Al Arabiya poll.  Therefore, although there still exist unanswered questions about the scientific validity of the study, the number seems to corroborate the data found by Gallup.  However, the Gallup poll reveals what is missing from what we have from Al Arabiya (since we don’t have the actual study): the difference between thinking the 9/11 attacks were “completely justified” and “in some way justified.”

It is well-known that respondents to surveys often have complex answers to questions asked by the polls but are forced to choose between answer choices that do not adequately reflect this complexity.  For example, a question asking “do you support Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, or neither/no answer” would be difficult to answer for many progressive voters who do not like Barack Obama due to his failed campaign promises and the fact that he has not followed progressive policies.  Yet, many of them will still select Barack Obama in this poll, because they like him more than Sarah Palin, thinking of it as a “what team are you on” sort of question (i.e. liberal vs. conservative).

In other words, the complex answer of “I supported Barack Obama in the 2008 election and still do support him over Sarah Palin, yet I am totally disappointed by him” is not one of the options to choose from.  Therefore, such a progressive would choose what he thinks is the best approximation, and this may well be tick-marking Barack Obama’s name.

Similarly, when a Muslim or Arab is asked “Do you think that the 9/11 attacks were justified?” and the answer choices are between completely justified, somewhat justified, and not justified at all, many of them will select “somewhat justified” to convey the thought that one Arab acquaintance of mine told me (which of course I strongly disagree with):

I don’t think the 9/11 attacks were justified in the sense of killing civilians.  That is against Islam and what I believe in.  However, I feel that it is justified in the sense that America had it coming to them for what they did to us and continue to do.

This point is conveyed in the Al-Arabiya article itself, which states that many Arabs “considered the U.S. deserving of this [the 9/11 attack] and that what happened was justified as vengeance against its atrocities and positions against the Arabs” even while at the same time holding the view that the “operation [was] abhorrent enough not to want to attribute it to [themselves].”

These Arabs thought 9/11 was a case of the chickens coming home to roost, and were hopeful that Americans would know how it feels.  This is certainly different than thinking that the 9/11 attacks were completely justified.  Indeed, most Arabs feel deeply uncomfortable with killing civilians.  In the minds of these Arabs and Muslims, tick-marking “somewhat justified” is a way of refusing to give “victim status” or “hands clean status” to the United States.

*  *  *  *  *

In any case, even if we interpret the poll results as saying that 36% of Arabs (or the Muslim world) think that the 9/11 attacks were “somewhat justified” in the sense of the targeting and killing of civilians, in that case so what?  It is still far less than the percentage of Americans, specifically Jewish and Christian Americans, who think that that “it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians.”

The percentage of Christian Americans who think “it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians” is a whopping 58%, with an almost equal percentage of Jewish-Americans thinking the same (54%).  Indeed, Mormon-Americans came in first place, with 64% saying so, which is more than double the percentage of Arabs or Muslims in the Muslim world who thought 9/11 was “somewhat justified” (30.1%).

As for Israeli Jews, 51% of them believe “it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians,” so these Israeli propagandists doth protest too much, methinks.  Indeed, even more worrisome is the fact that according to a survey conducted by Haifa University’s Center for the Study of National Security a majority of Israeli Jews support a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, with a quarter saying they would consider voting for the Kahanist party Kach, known for its vocal support of ethnic cleansing as a resolution to the conflict.

Meanwhile, nearly half of Israeli Jews (46%) support “price tag” terrorism against Palestinians, with the percentage being far higher in traditional, national-religious (Religious Zionists), and ultra-Orthodox Jews (55%, 70%, and 71% respectively).  Price tag terrorism refers to “acts carried out against Palestinians in revenge of government actions harming the settler enterprise.”  These are characterized as “pogroms meted out by fanatical settlers against defenseless Palestinians.”  Price tag terror is conducted by “Israeli soldiers and settlers” who”rampag[e] through” Palestinian villages, meting out “retributive violence.”

The vast majority of Israeli Jews (see here, here, and here) supported Operation Cast Lead in which more than a thousand Palestinian civilians were slaughtered.  Operation Cast Lead was described by the United Nations as an operation “designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”  This is the level of morality and humanity among Israelis.

One does not expect such polls to be included on MEMRI’s website, no doubt I’m sure due to no other reason than their “limited resources.”  Meanwhile, anti-Muslim and Zionist websites will continue to peddle statistics without any context.  Thirty-point-one percent percent seems unusually high, until one looks at the far higher percentages among Jews and Christians.

Interestingly, one of the main anti-Muslim websites featuring the Al Arabiya poll, the Infidel Blogger’s Alliance, concludes with the genocidal call to “Nuke Mecca already. Nuke e’m.”  This perfectly encapsulates the irony of throwing hissy-fits when Moozlums justify violence while at the same enjoining far more violent acts.

In part II, we’ll take a look at the other two findings of the Al Arabiya poll, namely the issue of Al-Qaeda’s culpability and whether or not it was a crime to kill Osama bin Laden.

Ten Years After 9/11 Attacks, Exploitation of “Patriot Day” Continues

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by loonwatch

(Update I below)

Disclaimer:  I would like to point out that the views expressed below are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Salon’s indefatigable Glenn Greenwald recently wrote (emphasis added):

Worship of the American military and all that it does — and a corresponding taboo on speaking ill of it except for tactical critiques (it would be better if they purchased this other weapon system or fought this war a bit differently) is the closest thing America has to a national religion.

If worship of the military is America’s national religion, then the U.S. soldier is this religion’s holy warrior.  Greenwald noted that the Navy Seals are “a member of the most sacred and revered religious order.”  Those who die in “the line of duty” are martyrs who must be remembered for all “they have done for this country.”  Any criticism against the rank-and-file holy warrior is considered blasphemous.

There can be no possible profession that is more highly praiseworthy to the American than soldier in the military.  Many U.S. airlines will let soldiers board the plane even before women with children and the disabled.  Being part of the war machine is more respectable than being a doctor, a social worker, a teacher for the disabled, or a volunteer at the local orphanage.  Saving people (what a physician does) can in no way, shape, or form be considered better than killing people (what a soldier does).

A person foolish enough to say that “a soldier kills people” will be beaten into submission and subservience by jingoist mantras such as “you should be thankful that you are able to express such views, because it is only due to the sacrifices of those in uniform–who protect your freedoms–that you are free to say what you want.”  This, even though no rational mind could possibly believe this: how does bombing, invading, and occupying Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, or Yemen “protect my freedoms?”  That is, unless one is naive enough to think that any of these Evil, Foreign Brown People were about to conquer the United States, topple its government, and take away my freedoms.

In any case, I have my own government to do that for me.  Far from “fighting for my freedoms,” the military-industrial complex and those in authority who wage these wars are responsible for clamping down on my civil liberties.  With the rise of the Orwellian-named Patriot Act and its like, there has been a sustained war waged not just against Al-Qaeda but against civil liberties, with dedicated assaults on the First and Fourth Amendments.

Worship of the military and the holy warrior runs so deep that even the most ardent critic of the war must never utter a single word against those who wage it.  Such a common sense thing to do is completely off-limits and beyond the scope of decency and propriety.  To do so would be to open oneself up to the criticisms of being “unpatriotic” and “disloyal.”  Criticism of the war must be couched in “patriotic language:” war critics must ceremoniously acknowledge their support for U.S. troops, arguing that I support the troops which is why I want to bring them home.  It is simply unacceptable to just clearly say: I don’t support the troops because they are shooting at, bombing, and killing people.  To do such a thing would be to commit the highest of sins in the American national religion.

The fact that even war critics would hush you up for saying something against America’s cherished holy warriors says something of how deeply ingrained militarism is in our society.  How can it be that opponents of America’s wars will criticize the war as unjust on the one hand but not be anything but absolutely reverent towards those who wage it?  The United States, after all, uses an all-volunteer military; by joining the military is not one making an active choice to take part in these unjust wars?  And certainly, one can choose not to fight, as many brave soldiers and ex-soldiers have done.

Noting with what absolute reverence Americans speak of their soldiers of war, one wonders how it is that they are simultaneously amazed at how unbelievably warlike those Foreign, Other People are for revering their own men of war.  We are taken aback by how “primitive” the North Koreans are when they mindlessly revere their soldiers, yet somehow mystified when we do the same with our troops.  The North Korean soldiers have certainly killed far fewer and waged far fewer wars than our own military.  But alas, those North Koreans are so primitive, whereas we are so advanced, civilized, and peaceful.

I don’t malign or vilify soldiers in the military (as I partially do accept the idea that “they are just doing their job”), but must we continue to speak of our holy warriors with such absolute reverence, awe, and worship?  Our mindless idolization of the military profession is what is to blame for so many of our impressionable youth choosing to join the military to kill people abroad instead of spending those years going to college to expand their minds.  Placing the military and its soldiers on a pedestal is the only way a society can convince its young boys to risk their lives to go to war for the country–something so illogical, so contrary to the biological drive to save oneself from harm or death, that absent the most compelling of reasons one can hardly find it worthwhile to do so.

Interestingly, even that religious and ethnic minority that is the target of America’s wars is itself affected by this national religion.  Muslim-Americans will often bend over backwards to point out that they too “proudly serve this country” by being a part of the military.  (Even the phrase “serve this country” can only mean one thing: soldiering.)  In order to be accepted as Full Citizens, Muslim-Americans must prove their dedication to America’s war machine.

And so, Muslim-Americans–many of them immigrants or children of immigrants–beg to be included in the same institution that wages endless wars in their ancestral homelands.  It is that same institution that is rife with racism and bigotry against Arabs and Muslims, yet so desperately do Muslim-Americans want to be included in it.

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In this national religion, 9/11 is America’s Karbala.  The Battle of Karbala involved the slaughter of the Prophet Muhammad’s descendants by a tyrannical government–an event that is religiously commemorated each year by Shia Muslims, who will often make a religious pilgrimage (ziyarat) to the site of the battle or to the graves of the victims.  With vigor just short of this, Americans commemorate Patriot Day, the holy day of the American national religion.

Ground Zero, meanwhile, is the “hallowed ground”–a trip here is the ziyarat (religious pilgrimage) of the American religion.  The American flag becomes a symbol not to be disrespected, our nation’s holy book, waved high by people chanting “USA! USA! USA!”, which can only mean one thing: war!  The flag has become a raised symbol of war.

The military is our national religion, its soldiers are our holy warriors, the Navy Seals are our highest religious order, those soldiers who died in war are our martyrs, 9/11 was our Karbala, Patriot Day is our annual holy day, the flag is our holy book and symbol, Osama bin Laden is Lucifer, Terrorism is the greatest Evil, supporting the troops is our greatest religious obligation, and failure to do so is the greatest blasphemy and the highest of sins.

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The problem I have with the cult-like remembrance of 9/11 is that it was the devotion to this day that was used to launch wars of vengeance that killed ten times as many people.  This date, 9/11, has been militarized.  It is a memory we are told that we must never forget lest we slacken in our resolve to wage war against the Forces of Evil, the Satan of our religion: radical Islam and Terrorism.  It is a memory that is invoked to remind the American people why they need to spend more of their taxpayer money to sustain their country’s illegal occupations and immoral wars.

Furthermore, the singling out of this day above all others (including days on which worse acts of violence were perpetrated by the United States), exudes the tribalistic mentality that infects people with strong feelings of national or religious identity–wherein only blood shed against one’s own national or religious group is remembered (and in fact, it is obsessed over), whereas that shed by one’s own national or religious group against others is ignored, denied, or justified.

Lastly, one cannot help but feel that 9/11 would hardly have been considered as important to the national religion had it not been Muslims who were implicated in the attack.  They attacked us.  The deaths of the victims of 9/11 are less relevant than the fact that they–those Foreign, Dark-Complexioned Moozlums–are the ones who caused these deaths.  The horrendous attacks of 9/11 have special significance due to the fact that the perpetrators were radical Muslims, an Existential Threat to our Safety and Freedoms.

The victims of 9/11 certainly ought to be remembered, as should all the victims of war and terrorism (whether the culprit be our enemies or our own country and whether the victims be American or not), but should their memory really be exploited to feed the national religion of warmongering?  Is it not deeply disturbing that an act of violence and the deaths of three-thousand innocents are being used to justify even greater acts of violence and even more civilian deaths?

Disclaimer: I would like to point out that the views expressed above are mine alone and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official views of LoonWatch or any of its writers aside from myself (Danios).

Update I: An interesting Facebook status that is making the rounds:

On 9/11, I’ll mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost, over 6,000 injuries, the infrastructural carnage and devastation in NYC, and the humiliation of my country, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my religion

On 9/12, I’ll mourn the nearly 1,000,000 lives, the 10′s of millions of injuries, the infrastructural decimation in 3 countries, and the humiliation of my religion, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my country.

Update II:  Many readers and fellow LoonWatch writers have pointed out that many young people join the military due to financial reasons.  Additionally, many of them are “trying to serve their country” and “are just following orders.”  I do not completely disagree with these statements.  As I said, I do not malign or vilify soldiers, nor encourage that.  What I am opposed to is the glorification of what they do.