Latest | Recent Articles | Multimedia Page | TV | Search | Blog

Email this article | Print this article | Link to this Article

IS THE US WALKING RIGHT INTO BIN LADEN'S TRAP?

September 22, 2001

"No wonder we have to refer to the terrorists as 'mindless''. For if we did not, we would have to explain what went on in those minds. But this attempt to censor the realities of the war that has already begun must not be permitted to continue."

"In an Arab world sunk in corruption and dictatorships - most of them supported by the West - the only act that might bring Muslims to strike at their own leaders would be a brutal, indiscriminate assault by the United States."

MID-EAST REALITIES - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 9/21 History will tell of course; but today's situation is far too pregnant with massive destruction to simply watch while the militarists and the terrorists of all sides take charge of the future. The western reporter who has been in the Middle East region the longest, covering the history of the region for nearly 25 years, is the brilliant and courageous Robert Fisk, correspondent for The Independent in the United Kingdom. This article that predates George W. Bush's "ultimatum" speech is very much worth pondering by us all. [To watch Robert Fisk exclusively interviewed on MERTV a few years ago go to http://www.MERTV.org]

BUSH IS WALKING INTO A TRAP

[The Independent - UK - 16 September 2001]: Retaliation is a trap. In a world that was supposed to have learnt that the rule of law comes above revenge, President Bush appears to be heading for the very disaster that Osama bin Laden has laid down for him. Let us have no doubts about what happened in New York and Washington last week. It was a crime against humanity. We cannot understand America's need to retaliate unless we accept this bleak, awesome fact. But this crime was perpetrated - it becomes ever clearer - to provoke the United States into just the blind, arrogant punch that the US military is preparing.

Mr bin Laden - every day his culpability becomes more apparent - has described to me how he wishes to overthrow the pro-American regime of the Middle East, starting with Saudi Arabia and moving on to Egypt, Jordan and the other Gulf states. In an Arab world sunk in corruption and dictatorships - most of them supported by the West - the only act that might bring Muslims to strike at their own leaders would be a brutal, indiscriminate assault by the United States. Mr bin Laden is unsophisticated in foreign affairs, but a close student of the art and horror of war. He knew how to fight the Russians who stayed on in Afghanistan, a Russian monster that revenged itself upon its ill-educated, courageous antagonists until, faced with war without end, the entire Soviet Union began to fall apart.

The Chechens learnt this lesson. And the man responsible for so much of the bloodbath in Chechnya - the career KGB man whose army is raping and murdering the insurgent Sunni Muslim population of Chechnya - is now being signed up by Mr Bush for his "war against people''. Vladimir Putin must surely have a sense of humour to appreciate the cruel ironies that have now come to pass, though I doubt if he will let Mr Bush know what happens when you start a war of retaliation; your army - like the Russian forces in Chechnya - becomes locked into battle with an enemy that appears ever more ruthless, ever more evil.

But the Americans need look no further than Ariel Sharon's futile war with the Palestinians to understand the folly of retaliation. In Lebanon, it was always the same. A Hizbollah guerrilla would kill an Israeli occupation soldier, and the Israelis would fire back in retaliation at a village in which a civilian would die. The Hizbollah would retaliate with a Katyusha missile attack over the Israeli border, and the Israelis would retaliate again with a bombardment of southern Lebanon. In the end, the Hizbollah - the "centre of world terror'' according to Mr Sharon - drove the Israelis out of Lebanon.

In Israel/Palestine, it is the same story. An Israeli soldier shoots a Palestinian stone-thrower. The Palestinians retaliate by killing a settler. The Israelis then retaliate by sending a murder squad to kill a Palestinian gunman. The Palestinians retaliate by sending a suicide bomber into a pizzeria. The Israelis then retaliate by sending F-16s to bomb a Palestinian police station. Retaliation leads to retaliation and more retaliation. War without end.

And while Mr Bush - and perhaps Mr Blair - prepare their forces, they explain so meretriciously that this is a war for "democracy and liberty'', that it is about men who are "attacking civilisation''. "America was targeted for attack,'' Mr Bush informed us on Friday, "because we are the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.'' But this is not why America was attacked. If this was an Arab-Muslim apocalypse, then it is intimately associated with events in the Middle East and with America's stewardship of the area. Arabs, it might be added, would rather like some of that democracy and liberty and freedom that Mr Bush has been telling them about. Instead, they get a president who wins 98 per cent in the elections (Washington's friend, Mr Mubarak) or a Palestinian police force, trained by the CIA, that tortures and sometimes kills its people in prison. The Syrians would also like a little of that democracy. So would the Saudis. But their effete princes are all friends of America - in many cases, educated at US universities.

I will always remember how President Clinton announced that Saddam Hussein - another of our grotesque inventions - must be overthrown so that the people of Iraq could choose their own leaders. But if that happened, it would be the first time in Middle Eastern history that Arabs have been permitted to do so. No, it is "our'' democracy and "our'' liberty and freedom that Mr Bush and Mr Blair are talking about, our Western sanctuary that is under attack, not the vast place of terror and injustice that the Middle East has become.

Let me illustrate what I mean. Nineteen years ago today, the greatest act of terrorism - using Israel's own definition of that much misused word - in modern Middle Eastern history began. Does anyone remember the anniversary in the West? How many readers of this article will remember it? I will take a tiny risk and say that no other British newspaper - certainly no American newspaper - will today recall the fact that on 16 September 1982, Israel's Phalangist militia allies started their three-day orgy of rape and knifing and murder in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila that cost 1,800 lives. It followed an Israeli invasion of Lebanon - designed to drive the PLO out of the country and given the green light by the then US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig - which cost the lives of 17,500 Lebanese and Palestinians, almost all of them civilians. That's probably three times the death toll in the World Trade Centre. Yet I do not remember any vigils or memorial services or candle-lighting in America or the West for the innocent dead of Lebanon; I don't recall any stirring speeches about democracy or liberty. In fact, my memory is that the United States spent most of the bloody months of July and August 1982 calling for "restraint".

No, Israel is not to blame for what happened last week. The culprits were Arabs, not Israelis. But America's failure to act with honour in the Middle East, its promiscuous sale of missiles to those who use them against civilians, its blithe disregard for the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi children under sanctions of which Washington is the principal supporter - all these are intimately related to the society that produced the Arabs who plunged America into an apocalypse of fire last week.

America's name is literally stamped on to the missiles fired by Israel into Palestinian buildings in Gaza and the West Bank. Only four weeks ago, I identified one of them as an AGM 114-D air-to-ground rocket made by Boeing and Lockheed-Martin at their factory in - of all places - Florida, the state where some of the suiciders trained to fly.

It was fired from an Apache helicopter (made in America, of course) during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when hundreds of cluster bombs were dropped in civilian areas of Beruit by the Israelis in contravention of undertakings given to the United States. Most of the bombs had US Naval markings and America then suspended a shipment of fighter bombers to Israel - for less than two months.

The same type of missile - this time an AGM 114-C made inGeorgia - was fired by the Israelis into the back of an ambulance near the Lebanese village of Mansori, killing two women and four children. I collected the pieces of the missile, including its computer coding plate, flew to Georgia and presented them to the manufacturers at the Boeing factory. And what did the developer of the missile say to me when I showed him photographs of the children his missile had killed? "Whatever you do," he told me, "don't quote me as saying anything critical of the policies of Israel."

I'm sure the father of those children, who was driving the ambulance, will have been appalled by last week's events, but I don't suppose, given the fate of his own wife - one of the women killed - that he was in a mood to send condolences to anyone. All these facts, of course, must be forgotten now.

Every effort will be made in the coming days to switch off the "why'' question and concentrate on the who, what and how. CNN and most of the world's media have already obeyed this essential new war rule. I've already seen what happens when this rule is broken. When The Independent published my article on the connection between Middle Eastern injustice and the New York holocaust, the BBC's 24-hour news channel produced an American commentator who remarked that "Robert Fisk has won the prize for bad taste''. When I raised the same point on an Irish radio talk show, the other guest, a Harvard lawyer, denounced me as a bigot, a liar, a "dangerous man'' and - of course - potentially anti-Semitic. The Irish pulled the plug on him.

No wonder we have to refer to the terrorists as "mindless''. For if we did not, we would have to explain what went on in those minds. But this attempt to censor the realities of the war that has already begun must not be permitted to continue. Look at the logic. Secretary of State Colin Powell was insisting on Friday that his message to the Taliban is simple: they have to take responsibility for sheltering Mr bin Laden. "You cannot separate your activities from the activities of the perpetrators,'' he warned. But the Americans absolutely refuse to associate their own response to their predicament with their activities in the Middle East. We are supposed to hold our tongues, even when Ariel Sharon - a man whose name will always be associated with the massacre at Sabra and Shatila - announces that Israel also wishes to join the battle against "world terror''.

No wonder the Palestinians are fearful. In the past four days, 23 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza, an astonishing figure that would have been front-page news had America not been blitzed. If Israel signs up for the new conflict, then the Palestinians - by fighting the Israelis - will, by extension, become part of the "world terror'' against which Mr Bush is supposedly going to war. Not for nothing did Mr Sharon claim that Yasser Arafat had connections with Osama bin Laden.

I repeat: what happened in New York was a crime against humanity. And that means policemen, arrests, justice, a whole new international court at The Hague if necessary. Not cruise missiles and "precision'' bombs and Muslim lives lost in revenge for Western lives. But the trap has been sprung. Mr Bush - perhaps we, too - are now walking into it.


September 2001


Magazine






FBI accuses people who are alive of hijacking 911 planes
(September 13, 2001)


ORWELLIAN DANCE OF DEATH
(September 30, 2001)
What goes around comes around, the Americans say. They and their allies, including feisty little Australia, are marching into battle, to be confronted by weapons they sold to the Taliban when the Muslim maddos were on our side against the damned Russkies.

LUNCH WITH THE FINANCIAL TIMES
(September 30, 2001)
It is not often onegets to meet a childhood hero. But Imran Khan, Pakistan'sfinest-ever cricketer, and still the heart-throb of a million adolescent girls, is not in the mood for nostalgia. There is a strong atmosphere of foreboding in Islamabad, Pakistan's gleaming modern capital, following the country's decision to back the US in its war on terrorism.

THE U.S. IS NOW PAYING DEARLY FOR ISRAELI AS WELL AS U.S. POLICIES
(September 29, 2001416)
Americans are preparing for the long, arduous and necessary task of bringing the perpetrators of Tuesday's unspeakable horror to justice. But as we do so, we must also ask ourselves why this happened -- and why it might happen again.

INTIFADA II - YEAR 2
(September 28, 2001)
Last summer, the summer of 2000, it was Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, and Yasser Arafat gesturing to each other at the Camp David doorway over whom symbolically would enter before whom.

SAUDIS CAVE
(September 28, 2001)
It was to be expected. Looks like the Saudi Royals have recovered from their "crusade" induced political/historical heart attacks along with a somewhat repentant President Bush. They are caving in, as they always do when Washington really comes calling, aware that in the end the legitimacy of their rule of "the kingdom" is no more (and never really was) and that only the direct protection of the Americans can keep the despicably profligate Royals on their petro-thrones.

ROME JOINS MODERN-DAY "CRUSADES II"
(September 27, 2001)
How fitting that the descendants of the first crusades have now signed-on to the modern-day new Crusades II through their flambouantly right-wing business-tycoon Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

AMERICA'S GLOBAL CRUSADE
(September 27, 2001)
Written by a thoughtful young American academic, recently graduated with Ph.D. from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., "George Bush's Global Crusade" is an important contribution to thinking through what is unfolding as a result of 11 September 2001.

ARAFAT STIFFS DAMASCUS, BUMBLES WITH PERES
(September 26, 2001)
At the last moment, quite literally, Yasser Arafat called off his visit to Damascus, probably under severe threats from both the Israelis and Americans that if he dared defy them now his days truly would be numbered and he would be put on the to-be-vanquished "terrorist" list and suffer the consequences.

BOMBING AFGANSITAN- A NATION BETRAYED AND DESTROYED
(September 25, 2001)
"The problem is that America wants its own version of justice, a concept rooted, it seems, in the Wild West and Hollywood's version of the Second World War. President Bush speaks of smoking them out, of the old posters that once graced Dodge City: 'Wanted, Dead or Alive'."

CIVIL WAR FEARED IN PAKISTAN
(September 25, 2001)
Pakistan's most powerful triballeader, Ajmal Khattak, yesterday pleaded with the country's leading fundamentalist agitator, Sami ul-Haq, "to keep Pakistan calm during the present crisis."

WARNINGS OF BACKLASH AND BLOWBACK GROWING..
(September 25, 2001)
The American government has a long long history of militarism and deception; but under the new circumstances post-11 Sept many who normally have grown skeptical and partially independent over the years are doing what they are told, "complying" so to speak.

OSAMA BIN LADEN SPEAKS
(September 24, 2001)
Osama bin Laden called on Muslims to join a holy war against "the American crusade," and the United Nations said Monday that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia have virtually shut down its humanitarian operations by threatening to kill its remaining staff.

THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT IN HISTORY SINCE ....
(September 24, 2001)
"The attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center are the most important event in world history since the collapse of the Soviet Union."

FOUAD, JAMES, AND CLOVIS "TV ARABS" - MER FLASHBACK
(September 24, 2001)
When the American mass media needs to flash "Arab" on the screen pretending to some kind of semblance of "balance", they know whom to call on. These are the faces, names and "Arab" identifications one sees on the screen politely commenting these days about "terrorism" and "peace process".

SERIOUS AND CONFUSING DEVELOPMENTS IN ISREAL, EGYPT, SAUDI - KEY US ALLIES
(September 23, 2001)
There is a strange and growing tension coming from the Middle East this weekend; and we don't mean from Afghanistan and Pakistan this time, rather we mean from America's closest allies, Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We're in no position to know for sure just what is happening. But in each of these countries very unusual and potentially historic developments are unfolding.

BIN LADEN LOCATED!?
(September 22, 2001)
It's impossible to know what to believe at the moment. It's possible the U.S. and Britain have no real idea where bin Laden is but are leaking reports of this kind in papers tomorrow in Britain hoping to "smoke him out" from what could be a secretly secure location. It's also possible that someone somewhere is trying to collect a reward of $25 million, the highest in history.

IS THE US WALKING RIGHT INTO BIN LADEN'S TRAP?
(September 22, 2001)
History will tell of course; but today's situation is far too pregnant with massive destruction to simply watch while the militarists and the terrorists of all sides take charge of the future.

US PLAYS WITH POLITICAL AND HISTORICAL FIRE
(September 22, 2001)
No question about it now, the U.S. is playing with fire, even with the possibility of things spiraling out of control and leading to a real World War whose destruction and devastation could be far greater than 11 September 2001.

SECRET PLAN TO OVERTHROW TALIBAN AND INSTALL NEW REGIME
(September 21, 2001)
The UNITED NATIONS has shamefully bowed out, right when it is needed more than ever. Urged to do so by Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- who had been urged to do so by Washington, which he has quite a habit of taking orders from -- for the first time in history the General Assembly has put off its important international gathering and not even set an alternative date.

USE NUKES SAYS PENTAGON!?
(September 21, 2001)
Especially under current circumstances, whether the excuse be that it is being talked about for "deterrence" against further terrorist attack, or God forbid whether it be the actual recommendation and desire of the American military, the advocacy of nuclear weapons at this time shows how dangerous the American militarists who have control of the United States really are.

INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT FISK
(September 21, 2001)
KIM HILL [Radio New Zealand on 19 Sept]: Can I talk to you about Osama Bin Laden? I don't know whether you are in favour of him becoming public enemy number one at the moment but I do know that you have met him and I wonder if you could give me some kind of insight into, first of all, is he capable of this.

SECRET PLANS FOR 10-YEAR WAR
(September 20, 2001)
Ten years in our modern world is forever. Whatever President George W Bush proclaims this evening before what will surely be overwhelming applause and repeated ovations from the Congress, American military and imperial goals are now much bigger than ever.

PRESIDENT RUNS TO MOSQUE TO OVERWRITE "CRUSADE" COMMENTS
(September 19, 2001)
Though the naive American public didn't get it, Europeans, Middle East experts, and especially American allies in the Middle East did! Warning calls came quickly over the weekend after President George Bush used the word "crusade" a number of times; apparently knowing so little about the Arab and Muslim history that he wasn't aware of the origins and associations of that single word; apparently so badly served by his advisers that he hadn't been warned never ever to use it.

PAKISTAN COULD SPLIT IN REVOLT, images of 'crusader' america
(September 19, 2001)
General Pervez Musharaff has now spoken to his own country, invoking stories of Mohamed and the Koran. Clearly he is shaken...and shaking. All former bets about the "new world order" now need to recalculated and recast. A multitude of historic forces have now been set in motion. Not only did the world of the United States change because of what happened on 11 September 2001. A political, even an existential earthquake is potentially underway now in various locations on the globe with events threatening to spiral possibly out of control.

US DEMANDS OF ARAFAT, WORKS EVER MORE CLOSELY AND COVERTLY WITH ISREAL
(September 19, 2001)
The Americans are making "demands" on everyone right now. "You're either with us or against us" is the constant refrain. Risking revolution in nuclear Pakistan, bio terrorism at home, and even a real world war, what is going on in Palestine is not at the top of Washington's concerns for now -- but even so it must be all be manipulated, coordinated, and presented in public very carefully in view of the larger worldwide goals.

CHOMSKY ON 11 SEPT 2001
(September 18, 2001)
Asked "Do you expect U.S. to profoundly change their policy to the rest of the world?" Professor Noam Chomsky replied today: "The initial response was to call for intensifying the policies that led to the fury and resentment that provides the background of support for the terrorist attack, and to pursue more intensively the agenda of the most hard line elements of the leadership: increased militarization, domestic regimentation, attack on social programs... Terror attacks, and the escalating cycle of violence they often engender, tend to reinforce the authority and prestige of the most harsh and repressive elements of a society."

FROM ISLAMAMBAD
(September 18, 2001)
"If the campaign against terrorism is to be successful, there has to be an introspective American review and reappraisal of its policy in the Middle East. For the last one year, the only image that is etched in the popular Muslim mind is that of innocent and unarmed children, women and men being attacked by armed Israeli soldiers backed by tanks, missiles and planes.

IF AMERICA ATTACKS....
(September 16, 2001)
Like the term "Star Wars" before it "New World Order" had too many negative associations, too much imperial baggage. George W. has however evoked the refrain "This will not stand", just as his father did before him a decade ago. What is in essence a continuation of the building of the "New World Order" designed by the Americans to replace the "Cold War" paradigm is now being heavily masked under tons of rhetoric about "the war against international terrorism".

CHOMSKY- THE BOMBINGS, THE WAR, THE PALESTINIANS
(September 15, 2001)
The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton's bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at the UN and no one cares to pursue it). Not to speak of much worse cases, which easily come to mind. But that this was a horrendous crime is not in doubt.

FLASHBACK 3 YEARS AGO
(September 14, 2001)
The Arab "client regimes" daddle as usual, unable to even convene an Arab League meeting, not to mention assert major influence in the world, even in their region.

ARAFAT - ONE FAILURE, ONE DISASTER, AFTER ANOTHER
(September 10, 2001)
Arafat readies to meet once again with Peres, even as his senior allies are gunned down, his top lieutenants ridiculously proclaim victory in Durban, the Arab League can't even manage to hold a summit meeting, the battle of Orient House was quickly given up, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers starts building facilities for the Israeli army, and 100+ more American F-16s (plus large numbers of the Arrow anti-missile missile) are now on order for shipment to Israel!

THE RACISTS' CONFERENCE - SELL OUT IN DURBAN
(September 9, 2001)
Once again the weak Arab regimes and the incompetent organizations they support have stumbled and bumbled to nowhere.

durban, the rascists' confrence
(September 8, 2001)
Muslim countries claimed they were threatened and intimidated to accept the compromise statement on Palestine which was proposed by the President of the Conference earlier this week.

THE REAL JESSE JACKSON
(September 8, 2001)
The American sub-agents in Durban did all they could, which was quite a lot, to undermine the will of the vast majority of the world's nations and peoples.

MANY MORE F16s FOR ISRAEL!
(September 7, 2001)
THE SOOTHING WORDS that come from the Americans destined to be headlined in the media of the Arab "client regimes" to cool off if not totally pacify the Arab masses have no credibility, even though far too many continue to repeat them ad infinitum.

PALESTINIAN ELITE AND PA OFFICIALS FLEEING
(September 7, 2001)
Israel is paying a price -- and this is not a reference to economics. But even so the price being paid by the Palestinians is immensely greater.

MER FLASHBACK- EIGHT YEARS AGO IN WASHINGTON, DC
(September 7, 2001)
The power and political elite were gathering on the White House lawn four years ago today practically giddy with excitement. The popular media was filled with expressions of how startling was the breakthrough, how wonderful and irreversible was the 'peace process', how the "New World Order" and the "New Middle East" were finally dawning.

AMERICANS NOW BUILDING BASES FOR ISRAELI MILITARY , PALESTINIAN MUSLIM INSTITUTIONS RAIDED IN THE US
(September 6, 2001)
Some eighty Federal Agents descended on Richardson, Texas, yesterday striking a blow against Muslim organizations raising funds for Palestinians groups not approved by the USA and thus accused, largely by those associated with the Israeli/Jewish lobby, of "terrorism".

SIGNIFICANT MORAL PROTESTS - ISRAELI TEENS, A BRITISH REPORTER
(September 6, 2001)
The former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Denis Haliday, quit the U.N. a few years ago in moral protest over the U.N.'s complicity in genocide against the people of Iraq.

LIKE IT REALLY IS - MER FLASHBACK
(September 6, 2001)
The worst massacres in the recent history of the Middle East have not been perpetrated by Arabs, but rather by Israelis. This simple fact is often overlooked in the Western media. In 1982 thousands of Palestinian refugees were slaughtered in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla -- this on top of the estimated 20,000+ Lebanese and Palestinian civilians killed during Israel's barbarous war on Lebanon.

CHAOS REINS - WAR PREPARATIONS ESCALATE
(September 5, 2001)
Ariel Sharon in Moscow had to call off his visit to the Duma as well as with Patriarch Alexei II today, reasons not spelled out but not that hard to contemplate.

APARTHEID-LIKE POLICIES CONDEMNED EVEN AS THEY EXPAND
(September 5, 2001)
Even as the Americans and Israelis continue desperate moves to try to prevent the Final Conference Statement at Durban from being as harsh as it could and should be, the Israelis are working furiously to begin to unilaterally implement their post-Oslo, post-Camp David "separation" program -- which in its actual implications on the ground is in fact the neo-apartheid approach everyone is screaming about in Durban.

DURBAN TO NEW YORK - ON TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
(September 4, 2001)
The Americans and the Israelis have tried everything regarding the Durban Conference to prevent Israel from being specifically mentioned as a racist state in the final conference document. They have repeatedly used all kinds of threat and bribes to get their way.

CNN AND THE REAL TILTS OF THE U.S. CORPORATE MEDIA
(September 3, 2001)
Thirty years ago most of the area now known as Gilo was part of the Palestinian town of Beit Jala, next to Bethlehem. Gilo has been built from scratch across the "Green Line" in areas Israel occupied at the time of the 1967 war. In the past three decades Israel has followed a basic and sustained policy of Arab dispossession and Jewish building.

"RACIST APARTHIED STATE" SAYS NGO GATHERING
(September 2, 2001)
When plans were being made for the World Conference on Racism...etc...now taking place in Durban, SA, it was the heyday of the "Peace Process" and the very term "apartheid" was nowhere to be heard in much of the establishment media, certainly not in the USA.

ANTI-APARTHEID II MOVEMENT BORN
(September 1, 2001)
Even while Israel continues to assassinate senior Palestinians the developments in Durban are telling. As usual the Arafat regime is selling out everyone else for its own gain -- continuing to earn its money so to speak even under the unprecedented circumstances of 2001.




© 2004 Mid-East Realities, All rights reserved