I would guess that most of us can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when we first heard about the horrific attacks on the Twin Towers and the subsequent attack on the Pentagon. There aren’t many moments in your life, no matter how long you live, that you will recall as vividly as the moment you learned about it. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was also like that for me. I don’t think anyone really feels that they have heard a satisfactory explanation of why Lee Harvey Oswald killed him. That was over forty years ago, and there are still many people who don’t believe the results of the official U.S. government investigation.
The U.S. government’s 9/11 Commission Report has also failed to gain unanimous support. The report is primarily an analysis of how we failed to prevent the attacks and how we failed to be aware that they might even occur. However, the greatest failure of the report is that no attempt is made to understand what motivated the attacks. We are left to believe that the motive of Al Qaeda is some sort of radical Islamic hatred of the Christian and Jewish west. However, just a simple observation of the attacks themselves show quite clearly that the attacks were not at all an attempt to begin a religious war or even to wage a terrorist campaign against people who were not of the Islamic faith. Look at their targets:
The World Trade Center could be described as the financial capital of the multinational businesses of the United States. The twin towers were not only functional centers of finance, they were iconic symbols of America’s mighty economic impact throughout the world. The second target, the Pentagon, is another icon as well as the functional center of the vast military might of the United States. Long after the attacks occured, and after much investigation, it has been learned that the U.S. Capitol building was the intended target of United flight 93. The aircraft that crashed in Shanksville, PA after heroic intervention by its passengers. The U.S. Capitol building is also an icon and the functional center of our government. The 9/11 attacks were an attack on a U.S. financial – military – government triad. While it would have been easy, there were no attacks on any Christian churchs, Jewish synagogues, Mormon, Buddhist, or Hindu temples or any other religious organizations or icons. The attackers may well have all been Islamic, but the attacks were not about Islam.
If we are to understand what 9/11 was all about we need to consider one very important point: every single attacker was on a suicide mission. Why is that important? Consider Japan at the close of World War II. Defeat was seen to be inevitable. Many Japanese feared severe retribution from American forces. Their backs were against the wall and they expected no mercy. Thus was born the Kamikaze pilots, the “Divine Wind”. The Kamikaze pilots flew their bomb-laden aircraft directly into American warships in a last ditch attempt to stop the advance of the U.S. Navy and a subsequent invasion. There is little doubt that the courage of these Japanese pilots was sustained, in part, by their trust in God. However, no one has ever suggested that the Kamikaze attacks were some sort of group of religious fanatics.
Toward the end of World War II the Nazis in Germany also planned to develop a suicide bomber squadron called the Leonidas Squadron. The pilots would fly Messerschmitt Me328 aircraft, equipped with a single 2,000 bomb, into selected Allied targets. There were problems with development of the aircraft, however, and the squadron never saw action.
The common thread among the Nazis, the Japanese Kamikaze, and the Al Qaeda attackers is that they were all desperate attacks. Suicide attacks are always an indicator that the attacker feels severely oppressed and near defeat, but out of a sense of patriotism, rage, and injustice decides to make one final attempt to destroy a hated enemy even if it means his own death. It’s not about converting someone to his religion, nor is it because he is unhappy that people on the other side of the world don’t worship the same God he does. The 9/11 attacks were desperate moves by men who felt their backs were to the wall. But why did they feel that way? And why us? What did we do?
We didn’t do anything. Neither you nor I, nor any of the people who died in the attacks were a threat to Al Qaeda. The people who were killed are what our military would call “collateral damage”. Sort of like the innocent civilians who were killed in the “Shock and Awe” campaign in Iraq. The real targets were the iconic, and also functional, buildings of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Capitol. But why? Why strike at the heart of our multinational business system, our military, and our government? It’s because these Al Qaeda terrorists, and their leaders, view these three icons as one sort of an unholy Trinity, and it was this Trinity that was threatening their very existence. Al Qaeda was, and is, made up of desperate men, but they are not crazed religious fanatics.
OK, so how can these people feel so threatened? What could we be doing to them that would make them feel that they are on the brink of destruction? The answer is the same answer that can be given as the cause of all wars: they perceive us as stealing their wealth. It is our wealth that allows us to live. Our homes, our jobs, our land, our money, our industries – all these things, and more, could be considered our collective wealth. For the people of this part of the world, their principle source of all their wealth lies in a single word: “oil”.
The U.S. has a long and checkered history of being in the oil business in the Middle East. When Iran nationalized their oil operations in 1951, the U.S. began efforts, led by the CIA, to depose their leader. This succeeded in 1953 when the Shah of Iran was reinstated and Iran began to sell cheap oil to American oil companies again. The Shah was deposed in the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and they haven’t been very friendly to us ever since. Similarly, Saddam Hussein nationalized the Iraqi oil industry in 1972 and tossed the American oil companies out of Iraq. The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and captured Saddam. He was executed on Dec 30, 2006. The Iraqi Oil Ministry is now negotiating oil deals with Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell, Total, and Chevron so that U.S. companies can pump oil from Iraq again.
It is interesting to note that almost all of the 9/11 Al Qaeda terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. So is Osama bin Laden. None of the terrorists were from Iraq. Yet, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, Al Qaeda was quick to enter Iraq and join the fight against the U.S. In the past Osama bin Ladin has stated that some Al Qaeda attacks were due to the U.S. support of Israel and its perceived unfair treatment of Palestinians. It is pretty clear that Al Qaeda sees itself as a sort of defender of last resort of the entire Middle East, defending it from domination, and the subsequent loss of its wealth, by the U.S. Unholy Trinity of our multinational businesses, military, and government. The thing is, this is not exactly an irrational fear.
In 1997 the Project for the New American Century was founded. It’s stated proposition was that, “American leadership is good for both America and for the world.” It has been a strong advocate for American leadership, or domination, of the world. It has been very influential in the Bush administration. In 1998, members of the organization, including Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz warned President Clinton that Saddam was a threat and should be removed because of his weapons of mass destruction. In a report written in 2000 the group warned that “Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has.” Paul Wolfowitz became President Bush’s Deputy Secretary of Defense in 2001 and, immediately after the 9/11 attacks, pressed for the invasion of Iraq, an idea also strongly pushed by John McCain at the same time. Donald Rumsfeld was President Bush’s Secretary of Defense at the time.
The fact that these three people immediately advocated an attack on Iraq as a response to 9/11 indicates that their view of the conflict is not too different from that of Osama bin Laden. This is a conflict between America and its policy of financial, military and political dominance throughout the Middle East and a small group of guerrilla fighters who view this as nothing less than the theft of the entire region’s wealth.Basically they feel they are getting a really, really bad deal.
There is no doubt that these guerrillas are fanatical fighters. There is no doubt they feel their backs are to the wall. There is no doubt they will employ suicide tactics again if they feel it will help achieve their objective. And there is also no doubt that this war is not about religion. It is not about Islam or Christianity. Nor is it about American freedom. It’s not about any of the great emotional issues that the leaders of all countries always try to stoke in order to get their young men to go out and die for their country.
The cause of the 9/11 attack is not radical Islam; it is the same as the cause for every war that has ever taken place. It’s about wealth. It’s about money. It’s about some people believing they are being exploited so badly that they and their way of life can’t survive, and the people on the other side not even aware of this and, come to think of it, not even caring whether they survive or not anyway.
The tragedy is that it is the innocent who always suffer the most.