Sunday, September 11, 2016

Looking Back at 9/11 After 15 Years of Wars
By Gregory Shupak

U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery, fire a howitzer artillery piece at Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in Panjwai district, Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 12, 2011. | Photo: Reuters

10 September 2016

The U.S. government responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by killing thousands more.

The fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 should occasion reflection on how the U.S. government has interacted with the rest of the world in the years following the attacks. The atrocities made clear the consequences of the U.S. ruling class’ pursuit of global hegemony since the American state laid the groundwork for 9/11 in its Cold War proxy war with the USSR. But, because U.S. foreign policy is set by people with a vested interest in war profiteering and global supremacy, there was no chance the U.S. would change course. Instead the U.S. has carried out countless 9/11s of its own—in fact, it has done far worse and played a major role in the almost total destruction of several countries—and in so doing has created conditions for further 9/11s in America and states with which it is allied.

Immediately after the attacks, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, where it is still at war. The Bush administration said the war was necessary because Afghanistan’s Taliban government was harbouring 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden but, when the Taliban offered to turn over bin Laden in exchange for an end to US-bombing, the U.S. rejected the offer and opted for war instead. During the fifteen year occupation, Western bombings in Herat, Farah, and Kunduz have caused mass civilian casualties as have nighttime house raids in Ghazi Khan and Khatabeh. In Oct. 2015, an MSF Trauma centre in Kunduz was hit several times during sustained bombing by US-led coalition forces, leaving the hospital very badly damaged and killing at least 42, including 24 patients; MSF repeatedly provided the coalition with the coordinates of the hospital and had done so as recently as four days before the attack.

Such violence cannot be seen as a high price for the ultimately worthwhile cause of bringing peace, freedom, and prosperity to Afghanistan. While the Bush administration as well as many Democrats and liberals in the media said that the war was necessary to liberate Afghans, they continue to live in dire conditions. The UN reports that for the last decade one third of Afghans have been continuously food insecure and that the war is one of the underlying reasons. The country has the worst infant mortality rate in the world. Twelve million Afghans are internally displaced, a figure that has doubled since 2013. Meanwhile, the Taliban hold more ground in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001 and the condition of the country is such that ISIS has been able to find a home there.

The 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq ripped the country apart. Estimates of the numbers of Iraqis killed by the invasion vary but all are massive: The World Health Organization put the number at 151,000 by June 2006; the Lancet estimated 426,369–793,663 by July 2006, Britain’s Opinion Business Research counted over a million civilians. U.S. elites made a killing off the killing and one result was the birth of ISIS.

In Syria, U.S. policy has been to carry out a proxy war against Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. This cannot be understood as an effort to help Syrians replace the highly repressive government they currently have with one that respects human rights. America and its allies have backed vicious sectarian forces in Syria, including Jaish al-Fatah, a coalition led by al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. Al-Nusra’s leader, Rania Khalek shows, has openly praised the 9/11 attacks. As Asa Winstanley writes, “15 years on from 9/11, who would have imagined that we would be having to make the case that Western and Israeli support for Al-Qaeda is a bad idea and should stop?”

At the same time that the U.S. supports jihadists in Syria, it bombs Syria in what it says is an effort to defeat the jihadist group ISIS and one recent strike that appears to have been carried out by the US-led coalition killed at least 56 civilians and perhaps many more. Thus far coalition airstrikes in the anti-ISIS campaign have killed an estimated minimum of 1,592 Iraqi and Syrian civilians.

In the 2011 Libyan war, the U.S. refused to explore possible diplomatic solutions and caused civilian deaths: its motives included a desire to establish American military bases throughout Africa, resource competition with China, and Wall Street’s interests. Since the US-led coalition overthrew the Libyan government, the country has been in a state of chaos that enabled the spread of weapons to other conflict zones such as Syria, sent Libyan refugees to die at sea, and allowed ISIS to gain a foothold in Libya. Now, citing the presence of ISIS, the U.S. is again bombing Libya. This campaign will surely kill more civilians and send more refugees fleeing but it’s virtually impossible to imagine that it will help resolve Libya’s political crisis and bring its people peace.

Since 2015 the U.S. has also played a central role in a Saudi-led war on Yemen that aims to secure regional hegemony for the U.S. and its proxies. US-Saudi aggression has inflicted a humanitarian disaster on Yemen and, like Afghanistan, has involved attacks on MSF hospitals. The war has been so devastating that Yemeni hospitals cannot cope with the volume of dead bodies. Furthermore, the war has strengthened Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni franchise as well as the ISIS outfit there.

Furthermore, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Somalia in the name of fighting terrorism have caused untold civilian death in those countries. Physicians for Responsibility finds that the first ten years of the Bush-Obama “war on terror” killed 1.3 million people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

All of these policies are virtually certain to result in more 9/11s in the U.S. and the countries with which it is allied. Elites in the U.S. and its partner countries know what they are doing—they have access to everything cited in this article and much more. They simply care more about enriching themselves than protecting civilians in their own countries or around the world.

All is not dire, however. Configurations like The Movement for Black Lives and the Palestine solidarity movement aim to weaken the hegemony and militarism of the U.S. and its clients and have considerable momentum, particularly among young people. To stop or curb the U.S. from causing more 9/11s abroad and at home, mass movements like these will need to dramatically re-shape the balance of power inside America and its ancillary states.

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