Saturday, September 10, 2011

Post 911 Blunders

The majority of Americans understood this to some extent before the Iraq invasion and it was understood by W's daddy. Why couldn't Rummy and Cheney get it? I have heard the argument we had to send a statement to Al Queda and their supporter - the Saudi's and Iran, but that we couldn't tackle them so Iraq was the bow shot.

A Decade Later
Guest Editor
Haviland Smith
We are now getting close to the 10th anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks of 9/11. Although a decade is an insufficient period for most historians to comfortably draw firm conclusions about anything, it is possible to look at our world today and see how it appears to have been affected by that disastrous event and the ensuing decade.

It is critical to remember that terrorism is not designed to overwhelm. It is designed to undermine. In that context, whatever it does to cause or initiate anxiety in targeted populations and governments, it relies on the reaction of those populations and governments equally as much to achieve its final goals. And America has reacted in ways that have haunted us and will continue to haunt us for decades. Al-Qaida could not have wished for more.

Domestically, we have seen major changes in our lives. Think of our color-coded terrorist warning system, our current airport controls, our paranoia over anyone who “looks like a Muslim” (whatever that is), or “acts differently.” What is that paper bag doing in the subway? Airport? Train station? Movie?

In the aftermath of 9/11, Americans were clearly prepared to and ultimately did surrender their civil liberties and individual rights in the hope that doing so would add to their own physical security. We forgot Benjamin Franklin’s injunction that “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The Patriot Act, where it was designed ostensibly to increase our security here at home, did many other things that have negatively affected the way we lead our lives. It increased the government’s ability to spy on us, to monitor our activities in a very broad and general way. It introduced warrantless wiretapping and the monitoring of fund transfers and Internet communications. It also initiated the national security letter process that required any person or organization to turn over records and data pertaining to individuals without warrant, and all this without probable cause or judicial oversight.

The other major domestic impact of the decade has been financial. During that period, we have gone from what was verging on a national surplus to a deficit that is now approaching $15 trillion and increasing at the rate of $3.95 billion every day. We got there through a combination of factors, including tax cuts, the “War on Terror,” and unfunded military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Libya. Brown University’s comprehensive June 2011 “Costs of War” project, factoring in all the costs associated with the decade, arrives at close to $4 trillion. Tax cuts add $2.8 trillion. There seems virtually no doubt that in the absence of our reaction to 9/11, we would be fiscally relatively healthy.

In addition to the foregoing difficult domestic situation, which we largely created for ourselves in the aftermath of 9/11, the changes we have seen in our foreign policy will haunt us for years to come. In that arena, our move to military-based, unilateral policy was a radical change. Yet our invasion and defeat of Iraq and the ascendance to power of the Iranian-allied Iraqi Shiites will likely prove to be our most egregious blunder.

It’s not that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in any sense enlightened; it is very simply that Saddam’s Iraq was the only effective impediment to Iranian control over the Persian Gulf. From 1980-88, Iran and Iraq fought a war for supremacy in the gulf. In the absence of a clear resolution of that conflict, the fact that Iraq survived served as a critical deterrent to Iranian dreams for hegemony there.

Our invasion and defeat of Saddam’s Iraq was something the Iranians could never have accomplished on their own. With Shiites now assuming power under our new order in Iraq and Iran threatening the old Sunni positions in the Gulf States, Iran has come even closer. We have destroyed the last real impediment to Iranian dreams for the gulf.

We have had our chances to deal with 9/11 in ways that would have better favored our own national interests. Instead, we panicked, invoked questionable practices at home and became involved in military adventures abroad that will almost certainly ultimately be viewed as disasters.

Without the active, witless involvement and acquiescence of our government and Congress over the past decade, al-Qaida terrorism would have caused us far less pain than it ultimately has and we would be a great deal safer, richer, wiser and internationally more powerful and respected than is now the case.


Haviland Smith,
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Haviland Smith is a retired CIA station chief who served in Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle East and as chief of the counterterrorism staff. He lives in Williston.


Mike said...

There could have been a better plan devised for securing our safety, but we could not get assistance from many of the countries that are in inevitable peril from ever increasing populations of Muslims. I am not saying that all Muslims are a threat, but there are terrorist cells in these countries, many of which are in Europe.
I believe that we should have confronted all countries that have potential threats from Al-Qaida. Obviously, Afganistan was one of them and apparently, Iraq had a substantial number of supporters. There is no doubt that many other Middle Eastern countries harbor or turn a blind eye to terrorist cells as well. My God, look at Pakistan. bin Laden was right under their noses. The world as a whole needs to get involved in this effort to free ourselves from the wrath of these crazy, fucked up people. There a number of cenerios out there for what we could have or should have done. I don't blame Bush whatsoever for the results or the outcome of what we have gone through over the past ten years. People point fingers and make comments from a political point of view, but they forget that something could have been done sooner, ie. Bill Clinton on his watch failed to follow up on attacts against US interests such as The World Trade Center, The USS Cole and US Embassies. We really should have known since the episode that we endured during the Carter Administration in Iran. We are dealing with a volitle region called The Middle East. More efforts should have been and should be made to unite the countries of this planet in an effort to make our world a safe place for all. It sounds like a huge task, and it is. There are too many politically correct butt holes out there that need to pull their heads out of their asses or out of the asses of others and wake up and smell the coffee (or the shit we're in) and do something positive for the people of this earth who want a peaceful existence. If not, we should give up our endevors of policing the world and think about our own economy which going down the drain.
And that's all I've got to say about that!!!!!!!!!!

Jeff said...

The color coding terrorist warning system was, without a doubt, the lamest thing I ever saw in my life. They had to explain it every time they used it. C'mon. The coding system could have been way easier and self explanatory. How about this for levels of severity: jesus christ, god dammit, fuck me. In that order.

Sojka's Call said...

It has been debated to death seemingly without conclusion, but, my analysis says Clinton did respond though he did not get them - remember the cruise missile attacks that he was then chastised for by the Pubs for being political?

All that aside, attacking Iraq, who had NO Connections (that was Dick Cheney repeating a lie 1 million times) to Al Queda was a huge mistake by W and his administration and ultimately as the article says we are going to pay a huge price in money and our country's status in the world of foreign policy - we will never be trusted the same and will be lumped in the same category as the Russians and Chinese by the Third World and even half of Europe.

On the fiscal side, this was the section that caught my attention: Brown University’s comprehensive June 2011 “Costs of War” project, factoring in all the costs associated with the decade, arrives at close to $4 trillion. Tax cuts add $2.8 trillion. There seems virtually no doubt that in the absence of our reaction to 9/11, we would be fiscally relatively healthy.

So, to seem macho we indebted and maybe bankrupted our country and economy to fight a phantom enemy that just holds portions of other countries land e.g. Pakistan Western Territories, parts of Afghanistan, and now, maybe parts of Iraq along with influence inside Saudi Arabia and Iran. Plus, we actually increased Al Queda's visibility to the rest of the Muslim world - they were not that well know before we started parading them before the camera everyday.

It really makes me wonder. Why does the US take out Iran's biggest enemy? Iran is the real destabilizer in the Middle East. Did Rummy and Cheney still owe them a favor from Reagan's Iran-Contra days?