Asghar Ali Engineer
(Secular Perspective September 16-30, 2011)
It is ten years since 9/11 took place i.e. terrorist attack planned and executed by Osama bin Laden and Osama was also killed since by American forces. Why was it planned and what have been its consequences? First of all I would like to say it was not first and last of its kind in the world but since most powerful nation in the world had suffered such humiliation its retaliation also had to be equally powerful.
First of all American propaganda machinery came into full fledged operation and tried to prove that it was result of Islamic fanaticism and America was victim of Islamic jihad and Islamic fundamentalism. America was totally innocent and these Muslims were jealous of American freedom and democracy. Few years before American professor Huntington had tried to prove that there is fundamental clash between Islam and western ways of life and the two can never coexist.
And this attack, as if, proved Huntington right. An average American also believed not only Huntington but also American propaganda machinery. The American media, especially T.V. channels were full of venom for Islam and Muslims. Many Muslim Americans wrote to me that we are living in constant fear and we have to bend backward to prove our loyalty to America and also that Islam is a peaceful religion.
One did not expect American democracy to behave this way. Bush went to the extent in saying that those who are not with us are against us. If American media had been against al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden it would have been understandable and justified. But the way it condemned Islam and Muslims was really not expected of American democracy which always boasts of its commitment to freedom and objectivity.
By blaming Islam and Muslims America tried to achieve two objectives: one, to shift entire blame on Islam and wash its hands off any responsibility in the matter and two intensify animosity against Islam so that it could find justification for its tighter control over Arab oil. But America ultimately failed in both of its objectives. It is true the people of America believed official propaganda in the heat of the moment but it did not have lasting impact on the minds of Americans.
A recent survey in America showed that 46 per cent Americans felt that 9/11 was not result of Islamic jihad but result of American foreign policy. In fact what American government was to hide from its own people came out openly and they understood it was American foreign policy i.e. favouring Israel blindly and trying to control Arab oil that angered Osama bin Laden who, once, had served American cause so faithfully that he turned against America.
Muslims were neither against America nor jealous of its freedom and democracy that motivated this attack. In fact many Muslims, especially those living under dictatorships (unfortunately most of these dictators were also supported by America) admired
American freedom and democracy and wished their own countries had such freedom. And some countries like Egypt have thrown away dictatorial regimes and trying to usher in democracy.
In fact these dictators in Middle east were suppressing ruthlessly all democratic movements and America never criticized them instead looked away when Hasni Mubarak was ruthlessly torturing opponents of the regime. In fact Bush regime earlier also tortured innocent people in most inhuman ways and developed new techniques like water boarding for torture which was extremely painful. And when all this came out these prisoners were secretly transferred to East European prisons where such tortures could be carried out. So much for Bush’s commitment to democracy of which Muslims were supposedly jealous.
To avenge the attack Bush regime attacked Afghanistan under the pretext of capturing Osama although the Taliban regime had clearly told America, as Prof. Noam Chomsky wrote, that give us credible proof and we will hand over Osama to you but instead America chose to attack Afghanistan but failed to capture Osama though it succeeded in toppling Taliban regime which probably was the real objective of America attack.
Many critics of America maintain that initially America was almost about to recognize Taliban regime but it did not agree to allow America to lay pipe line to bring gas from Central Asia to sea port at Gwador of Baluchistan. Whatever the truth, Taliban regime was toppled and Afghanistan could at least get democracy.
It also attacked Iraq to topple Saddam regime which was constantly defying America and also had dared to persuade European nations to pay petrol prices in Euro instead of dollar. Thus may have been an additional cause but real reason was to punish Saddam for its defiance of America and establish tighter hold over Iraq oil which has great reserves after Saudi and Kuwait. Also, Iraq had been consistently anti-Israel and Israel was also goading America to attack Iraq and topple Saddam regime. So much for American democracy and freedom.
The Bush regime lied to the world that there were weapons of mass destruction but after Saddam was toppled no such weapons were found and world discovered that it was a blatant lie perpetrated by Bush regime. Thus many illusions about American democracy were shattered thanks to 9/11 attack. Osama had also claimed that he would weaken American power and we had all laughed it off.
However, his claim is coming to be true. By waging these wars American economy has certainly weakened. Billions of dollars were spent on these two wars and with very little achievement to show. Today American budget deficit has risen to about 14 trillion dollars. It had never happened in American history. Though officially it will never be admitted that it was result of these futile wars to show might of America in which thousands of innocent people died. But it is one of the important reasons for such huge deficit in American debt, though not the only cause.
But these wars, supposedly waged to combat terrorism, terrorism is far from subsided in the Islamic world. However, it is true that America, as it always does, successfully deflected terrorism from its doors to Islamic countries themselves. Terroristic attacks have multiplied in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Before 9/11 such attacks were never witnessed in these regions.
Today Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq see terror attacks almost on daily basis. Even holy month of Ramadan was no exception. And in Iraq even day of Eid witnessed horrific attack in which several innocent people died. Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan is going strong and Drone attacks by America has not succeeded in weakening it. In Afghanistan America has officially acknowledged that it is not possible to win Afghan war and now America wants to negotiate peace with what it calls ‘good’ Taliban. The American weakness has been very well exposed. It was exposed earlier in Vietnam too. It has to withdraw from a poor and small country like Vietnam without breaking or crushing its spirit. Thus might of a nation is no match to spirit of people.
India is also suffering consequences of 9/11 in a way. Since America exported terror attacks to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, many anti-India groups intensified their efforts to carry out terror attacks in India and 26 /11 was one such major attack. India, one can say, has been indirect victim of 9/11 terror attack. Of course there are internal causes too for these attacks but no doubt 9/11 and subsequent wars launched by America are also responsible as terror industry in Pakistan has emerged stronger.
One good thing that resulted from these terror attacks, especially 9/11 and repeated taunts that Islam is a religion of terror is that Muslims in some countries of Middle East decided to prove that we also love democracy and freedom and did it in totally non-violent ways. The Arab spring, as it came to be called proved the lie that Islam is violent and Muslims are jihadis.
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism