Only a madman would speak such words. Only frightened people would believe them.
And believe they did. Scared to death, Americans were dumbstruck with terror.
Addressing the nation on the evening of 9/11, the newly elected president, George W. Bush, said: “America was targeted for attack … because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.”
Nine days later, in his address to a joint session of Congress and the nation, President Bush, playing the role of Commander in Chief, set the stage for US action by identifying masterminds behind the strikes as “a radical network of terrorists” who, as “enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our county. The live audience thunderously applauded every two-bit line.
“Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: ‘Who attacked our country?’ The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda that ‘practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism.”’
Saying that “Al Qaeda is to terror what the Mafia is to crime,” Mr. Bush fingered “a person named Osama bin Laden” as Al Qaeda’s crime boss.
But unlike the Mafia, who is “making money” (or the Goldman Sachs Gang, the Barclay Bandits, or other members of the Wall Street/financial mob), Al Qaeda’s goal “is not making money, its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.”
And, the President warned, “There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries.”
Do the math, look behind the language. The idea of “thousands” spread across “60 countries” with nothing else on their minds but imposing “radical beliefs” on 6.2 billion people was not only ludicrous, the president and the masterminds who composed his speech planted it with religious hate-bait by associating the attackers with Muslims and Islam. Thus, the “evil doers” as Mr. Bush would call them, had a name, purpose, and religion for Americans to readily fear and easily hate.
“Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there,” Bush continued. “It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
And with that line, the audience rose to its feet in thunderous applause.
That was it. Just a few brief few sentences about the “person named Osama bin Laden” and his band of terrorists who were responsible for attacking the “beacon for freedom” and George Bush launched the Crusades 2000, a battle that I had predicted — in both the Trends Journal (See “Crusades 2000,” Trends Journal, 1993) and Trends 2000 (Warner Books, 1997) — would be fought at the start of the new millennium.Without one shred of evidence, the people and the press swallowed the lines of rhetoric as though they were incontrovertible facts.
After setting up the audience with “who” hated America, President Bush answered the question of “why” the “enemies of freedom” launched their attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (the latter of which is rarely mentioned as having been attacked).
“Americans are asking ‘Why do they hate us?’ ”
“They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
That was it. Those were the simple reasons given to the American public and the world for “why” the 9/11 terror attacks were launched. Vicious terrorists from a half a world away wanted to slaughter as many Americans as they could get their hands on.
And what was the trigger point that inspired the hatching of their 9/11 plan?
Was it because “They hate what they see right here in this chamber?”
It may well have been. Terrorist or not, a close look at Washington reveals a hateful site of self-serving, arrogant, corrupt, power-hungry career politicians.
As for America’s “democratically elected government,” for over a century just two gangs (a.k.a. political parties), Republicans and Democrats, have run the nation.
Was it their anger at having a “self appointed” leader rule them and not being allowed to vote for a “lesser of two” evils as Americans get to choose between that was the trigger for 9/11?
As for President Bush’s assertion that the “terrorists” hated “our freedom of religion,” did anyone really believe that a bunch of guys several thousand miles away could really care about which of the 300-plus religions and denominations Americans practiced? Was it those pesky Protestants? Maybe the Scientologists? Or was it those undefined Unitarians who set them off?
What was it that the “enemies of freedom” hated about our “right to assemble?” Was it the right to assemble exactly where the “officials” and “authorities” tell you to and for how long? Break the rules or step out of line and the police break your bones, Taser you or burn your eyes with pepper spray should they decide thou doth protest too much. Was it that freedom?
In that brief speech, President Bush, providing a few paragraphs of empty rhetoric and not a scintilla of evidence, convinced the American people to wage war against Afghanistan. Bush’s casus belli, his set-up for war, went like this:
“The leadership of Al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan we see Al Qaeda’s vision for the world. Afghanistan’s people have been brutalized, many are starving and many have fled.
“Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.
“The United States respects the people of Afghanistan — after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid — but we condemn the Taliban regime.
“It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists.
“By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder. And tonight the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban.
“Deliver to United States authorities all of the leaders of Al Quaeda who hide in your land.
“Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. And hand over every terrorist and every person and their support structure to appropriate authorities.
“Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating.
“These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion.
“The Taliban must act and act immediately.
“They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.”
That was it! A mere 263 words, four rousing rounds of applause and not a shred of proof provided.
What was it that rallied Americans around the president’s call for what would be the longest war in American history? In fact, it is an ongoi
ng war that has accomplished nothing but lost lives, destroyed a nation, incurred trillions of dollars in direct and incurred future costs (veterans health care, equipment replacement, etc.), and a climate of hate and revenge among the Afghans whose loved ones have been killed and whose lives have been run and ruined by the occupiers. Would they be tomorrow’s “terrorists” with a cause — revenge?
Was it that “women are not allowed to attend school” that convinced the American public to follow their leader? After all, women can’t drive cars and are strenuously oppressed in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that are among Americas’ staunchest allies. What made Afghan suppression of women’s rights a cause for war?
Did the American public heed the call to war because Afghans were “jailed for owning a television” and were being deprived of watching American Idol and Coke commercials?
As for “Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate,” that was as doubtful a justification for Americans wanting to invade and occupy Afghanistan as it was for “terrorists” to launch 9/11 because they “hate our religious freedom.”
But, it may have been understandable that Americans were willing to sacrifice the lives of loved ones and squander dwindling economic resources because, after all, “A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.”
While it is said you can’t fool all the people all of the time, Bush and company did a spectacular job of fooling most of them. Some 90 percent of Americans swallowed the scripted lines of propaganda he stuttered. Seventeen days later, with no national debate, no evidence provided and with war hawks screeching “Operation Enduring Freedom,” the first volley of the never-ending War on Terror was launched.
As for the terms laid down by Bush for the Taliban to follow, the president stuck to his word: “These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion.” The Taliban requested that bin Laden leave the country, but refused to extradite him to the US without evidence of his role in the 9/11 attacks. (See “The Great War,” Spring 2010 Trends Journal, page 5, Flashpoint Afghanistan.)
It was that easy for a simple-minded president to launch the longest war in American history, a war that still endures. Should America suffer a 9/11 magnitude terror strike again — dumbstruck, terrorized and scared to death — Americans will again follow their leader and support their troops in the next chapter of the War on Terror.