They call it "The fog of war" for a reason. A lot of things get lost in the fire and the smoke that should not be forgotten, and yet they are, spent and cast aside like depleted uranium shell casings left to roast on a dusty desert roadside. In this relatively quiet space between war in Iraq and whatever battle zone the Bush administration will next come to conjure, it serves us to remember a few home facts that should never, ever be lost.
I have been giving a lot of talks lately at colleges and for organizations about the Iraq war. Always in my remarks I ask the same question. "It has been almost 20 months since the attacks of September 11. It has been over 570 days since the Towers fell. The 9/11 attacks are the principle reason, according to the Bush administration, which justifies the war. Can anyone tell me why those attacks happened? Has anyone in the Bush administration or the media come forth with a reasonable explanation besides 'Evildoers who hate our freedom?'"
Every time I get blank stares, and always a few sets of widened eyes, as if my question caused them to suddenly realize that no such explanation has ever been put forward.
The fact is that the Bush administration has labored mightily and long to make sure no such answers are coming. They fought the creation of an independent investigative body because they wanted to be able to choose the chairman. Once they were gifted this privilege, they abused it with the appalling nomination of Henry Kissinger. If you want a fair and open examination of facts, regardless of shadowy loyalties and compromising corporate connections, you do not choose Kissinger. If you want the master of the black bag and the black op, the undisputed heavyweight champion of Washington insiderdom, the gold standard for cover-up and cover-your-ass, you cannot do better than Henry. This choice told us everything we need to know about the Bush administration's desire to get to the bottom of 9/11.
When I ask my question at these talks, someone in the audience always demands an answer. More often than not, I tell them about Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Afghan Trap. In 1979, Brzezinski was serving as Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, and he decided the time had come to challenge the Soviet Union in their own back yard. At this time, Afghanistan was ruled by a communist puppet regime of the Soviets called the People's Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, or PDPA. Brzezinski instituted a plan to train fundamentalist Islamic mujeheddin fighters in Pakistan, and sent those fighters to attack the PDPA. The idea was not to destroy the PDPA, but to make the Soviets so nervous about the stability of their puppet regime that they would invade Afghanistan to protect it. Brzezinski wanted, at bottom, to hand the Soviet Union their own debilitating Vietnam.
The plan worked. The Soviets invaded in 1979, and over the next ten years spent its blood and treasure trying to defeat the Afghan warriors who banded together to defend their country. By 1989 millions of Afghan civilians had been killed, millions more had been internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops had been killed. In the process, the nation of Afghanistan was torn to pieces. Worst of all, the United States – which energetically worked to start the war, and which armed and funded the Afghan mujeheddin once the war was underway – did absolutely nothing to aid ravaged Afghanistan once the Soviets withdrew.