Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Questions For a President Left Behind

In the late 1930s, Robert E. Sherwood, a prominent playwright and also speech writer for Franklin Roosevelt wrote an anti-war play titled "Idiot's Delight." Although the play was set in Europe, I thought of it, particularly the title, when I read GW Bush's speech at an Air Force base today trumpeting the dangers of Al Qaeda in Iraq, its relationship to the central Al Qaeda leadership, and the disaster that would occur if the U..S. withdrew from Iraq. Let us ask the, to put it charitably, "left behind" president a few long unanswered questions.

1. Why did his administration fail to hold bin Laden relatives after the September 11 attacks to interrogate them about the Al Qaeda leader?

2. Why hasn't his administration concentrated on Saudi Arabia, where the Al Qaeda recruits and money have always been centered if it is serious about fighting Al Qaeda?

3. Why has the administration continued to support the Musharraf dictatorship in Pakistan to the tune of billions, providing no aid whatsoever to democratic and progressive forces in that country where pro Al Qaeda elements are part of the machinery of government and bin Laden and his top lieutenants operate, as the whole world and even U.S. intelligence knows, from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region (in a country by the way which does have nuclear weapons aka weapons of mass destruction)?

4. Why have the administration and the Congress for that matter not seriously examined the relationship between bin Laden and the Al Qaeda group he created in Afghanistan in 1988 and the Central Intelligence
Agency, which worked with and supported him directly and indirectly through its subordinate, the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI) through at least the 1980s? What about possible ongoing relationships leading up to the September 11 attacks, between Al Qaeda and bribed or rogue agents of the CIA and its subordinates, and the relationship of the bin Laden family, perhaps the greatest capitalist family in the region (its wealth was estimated at four billion at the time of the attacks and has grown substantially since) and its Texas oil industry and other big business U.S. friends in both the development of Al Qaeda and its post September 11 protection?

Before knee jerk readers of establishment publications start calling me a conspiracy theorist, I am not saying that I know the answers to these questions. I am saying that it is a comment on the discussions concerning "terrorism" in the U.S. that they were and are not even asked and weren't asked seriously by the "blue ribbon" commission investigating the attacks, which shied away from the larger context of events.

We have simply been told over and over again that there are no relationships, that the CIA's involvement with bin Laden, evidence to the contrary, wasn't much and doesn't matter, that his relationship with the rest of his family and the feudal-clerical Saudi ruling class simply ceased to exist when he challenged the monarchy and sought to create in Saudi Arabia the kind of regime that the Taliban did create in Afghanistan in the 1990s. That one might seriously look at the nature of capitalist class power, the privileges enjoyed by very rich who stand above the law, their undermining in the U.S. with the help of conservative political forces of public investigations into the hiding places for their wealth , their institutional and personal connections with each other, even in the past with a rogue figure like bin Laden, in order to understand the development of the Al Qaeda group and the threat that it poses to the U.S. and other peoples in the world, is out of the question for this administration and, unfortunately, for many of its establishment critics.

The Al Qaeda networks may be interconnected and may indeed be planning new and potentially terrible attacks against against American institutions and the American people (we shouldn't dismiss that completely because many fear that the Bush administration and the Republican Right need that to happen if they are prevent their defeat in 2008) . But who believes based on its record that the Bush administration can do anything to prevent that. The administration's policies have, to be very charitable, helped Al Qaeda regroup, use Iraq as a base, continue to raise large amounts of funds, and recruit foot soldiers and cannon fodder from both the same sanctuaries that it used in the past and new ones that the Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq have provided it with.

Not only does the Bush administration have no social economic strategy to even pretend to address the underlying social economic problems of the Middle East (or anywhere else for that matter). It has no political-military strategy to accomplish anything in the region except strengthening Al Qaeda, the clerical regime in Iran, its avowed enemies and those whom it labels its enemies. Bush can fight stem cell
researchers, trade unionists defending their right to strike and American jobs, senior citizens seeking to protect social security, environmentalists, and many others, whom his administration has really fought an undeclared war against. But he can't fight the Al Qaeda group or his declared "war against terrorism" based on his record of the last six years.

Also, there is no evidence that his administration really has any interest in fighting them, as against his progressive opponents, since they provide an excuse for his worst policies. Bush's (or his handlers")
real assumption, in my opinion has been that the stronger and more dangerous Al Qaeda and its allies become, the more his administration's power and the power of the Republican Right remain secure.

--Norman Markowitz

No comments: