Belaboring the Obvious

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Politically-Motivated Self-Fulfilling Prophecy...

... is in full swing these days. Let's review a bit, and see how this mechanism works. In 1990, when Saddam Hussein was contemplating the invasion of Kuwait, April Glaspie, on instructions from no less than James Baker himself, informed the former dictator that the US really didn't want to interfere in "Arab-Arab affairs." Hussein (along with continuing shipments of dual-use commodities from the US) saw this as a green light and invaded in early August of that year. With a conflict in full flourish, Bush the Elder could say, almost gaily, that the international community (meaning, principally, the US) had to do something about this rape of a nation's sovereignty.

In order to effect the ouster of Hussein's forces from Kuwait, US troops would have to mass at some geographic point near Kuwait. Even given this realization, the Saudi royals were hesitant. The mullahs of the fundamentalist society they had created would find the presence of US troops on holy soil a malignancy, from a religious perspective. Bush then supplied King Fahd and Saudi intelligence with manufactured satellite photos, and after a lengthy meeting between Fahd and then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, the King agreed to bring in US troops.

As Robert Fisk reported in his latest book, The Great War for Civilisation, within three months of the intial appearance of those troops in September, clerics he knew were asking when the US troops were leaving.

There was, of course, no intention of removing the troops after Hussein's forces had retreated from Kuwait. The excuse given was that troops would be needed to protect Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from further aggression (this despite the fact that between the Gulf War and the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqi military was in virtual tatters). When the Saudi royals objected, Bush exhorted the Shia community in the south of Iraq, and the Kurds in the north, to rise up and overthrow Hussein. These groups did precisely that, thinking that Bush would support them militarily. When those rebellions were crushed, Bush had another reason to force the Saudis to keep US troops in Saudi Arabia--patrol of the no-fly zones.

Now, at this time, the Soviet Union is rapidly coming apart, its economic problems readily apparent. The right wing is crowing in exultation that the US had "won" the Cold War. The Cold Warriors are looking around for another enemy.

Step by step, the first Bush administration had created the circumstances which would lead to long-term basing of US troops in the Middle East, something the US had been unable to do for decades. By 1991 or 1992, Osama bin Laden had returned from Afghanistan and was lecturing in Arabian mosques on the evil implicit in housing infidel troops in the faithful's midst.

The US, having been relatively free of terrorism (certainly, as compared with western Europe), suddenly became a target of fundamentalist terrorism. After an attempt to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993, the targets were either military or close to Saudi Arabia--the Khobar Towers (housing US Air Force personnel) in 1995, American embassies in east Africa (just across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia) in 1998, the USS Cole in 2000, and then the Pentagon and the WTC in 2001.

Did terrorism against the US suddenly begin in earnest once the fundamentalists realized that the US had no intention of pulling troops out of Saudi Arabia? Given the increase in terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia itself on Saudi interests, it seems likely that there was a two-pronged attack on both the US and the Saudi princes who had acquiesced to US demands.

We may not know for many decades, if ever, the details of the thinking in the US government at that time, but several things seem certain--the elder Bush and James Baker III knew the Saudi royalty extremely well, and the State Dept. had sufficient expertise in the area to know the social and religious effects of permanently stationing US troops in Muslim holy land. As well, the CIA knew, or knew of, the fundamentalist character of bin Laden, the similar character of critical elements in Pakistan's ISI and the ultimate purposes of the Saudis in supplying partial funding through the ISI for the US proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. All those things would have indicated strongly that there would be consequences for US actions, and the US could reasonably expect that those consequences would be terrorist in nature.

Did the US create, intentionally, a set of circumstances that they could reasonably expect would become self-fulfilling, that would result in an upsurge of fundamentalist terrorist violence against the US, even if they could not predict the precise ways in which that violence might be expressed? Throughout the Clinton years, those acts of terrorism were treated as criminal acts, but the original irritation inciting the fundamentalists had never been corrected--US troops in close proximity to Mecca and Medina. Once the Bush administration was in power, and 9/11 occurred, a widespread military response to terrorism was initiated, which furthered the interests of the neo-cons in spreading military power across central Asia.

Now, that projected power is being directed at Iran, and a new set of conditions prompting a self-fulfilling prophecy are in play. With US troops in both Iraq and the Gulf, Bush and Co. are now manufacturing the circumstances to move US troops (and the corporate interests they ultimately serve) further east, more deeply into central Asia. Those circumstances, if they result in a massive air attack on Iran, will create a result that can also be considered self-fulfilling, given the interests of the neo-cons--retaliation by Iran with the resources it has at hand, principally terrorism and oil boycott.

Who benefits from this long-term strategy to stimulate terrorism against the United States? More importantly, who does not?


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