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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/3/21

9/11 Had Nothing to Do with Afghanistan

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Better late than never: most Americans now believe that invading Afghanistan was a mistake. But what good does it do to recognize a screw-up unless you learn from it?

Failure to understand what went wrong, and why, sets you up for doing the same thing later. That's what happened after Vietnam; rather than face up to the truth that we went there to prop up a corrupt puppet regime and exploit natural gas, we wallowed in ridiculous "Rambo" mythology about politicians stabbing our valiant warriors in the back by not allowing them to win, and libels of vicious hippies who supposedly spat on veterans returning to their hometown airports. (Never happened.)

It's tempting to kick the dust of Afghanistan off our metaphorical boots and, as Americans prefer, look forward rather than backward. But an advanced civil society requires an after-action report. That's what the military and other organizations do after an engagement in an intelligent effort to repeat what worked and avoid what didn't.

Unless we conduct a sober reassessment of Afghanistan, ideally in the form of a congressional investigation, there is nothing to indicate that we wouldn't start a similarly stupid war again in the future. That's because the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was based on a big lie and that lie is still circulating as widely as it was when the first bombs started raining down on Kabul in October 2001. If we want to avoid another $2 trillion war that claims thousands of American lives, we have to drive a stake through that BS narrative.

Big Lie: Afghanistan and the war against it was revenge for 9/11.

American voters like wars that are framed as righteous retribution against unprovoked acts of naked aggression, like the Spanish-American War ("remember the Maine!") and World War II in the Pacific ("remember Pearl Harbor!"). Never mind that we invaded Cuba over an accidental explosion that Spain almost certainly had nothing to do with and that a U.S.-led oil embargo drove Japan to the desperate act of bombing Hawaii. A war that seems to come out of thin air, like the Bush Administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq, on the other hand, prompts big protests and widespread opposition.

So it's easy to see why the White House and its press allies marketed the Afghan war as revenge against Al Qaeda. We were attacked. It was unprovoked (not really, but that's what Americans thought). We had to strike back.

Al Qaeda was based in Pakistan. 9/11 was planned in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden, the man held most responsible, lived in Pakistan. Much of the money came from Saudi Arabia, by far the largest international funding source of radical Islamic fundamentalism. The hijackers were Saudi and Egyptian. Not a single hijacker was Afghan. The hijackers had attended training camps in Afghanistan for jihad generally, not 9/11 specifically. If we were interested in getting even for 9/11, we would have attacked Pakistan or Saudi Arabia instead.

This information is well-known and widely available. Yet President Joe Biden, who deserves accolades for sticking to his guns and pulling out U.S. troops, chose September 11, 2021 as the final deadline for the withdrawal and the official end date of the war. "Setting the 9/11 date "underscores the reason that American troops were in Afghanistan to begin with to prevent extremist groups from establishing a foothold in the country again that could be used to launch attacks against the U.S.," the Associated Press reported on April 14th.


There it is, 20 years later, the big lie again. 9/11 wasn't planned by terrorists from a "foothold" established in Afghanistan. It was planned by terrorists from a foothold established in Pakistan, specifically in the city of Karachi, precisely at the home of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In total opposition to the facts, Biden keeps repeating the big lie. "As I said in April, the United States did what we went to do in Afghanistan: to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and to deliver justice to Osama Bin Laden, and to degrade the terrorist threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from which attacks could be continued against the United States. We achieved those objectives. That's why we went."

Afghanistan never was a "base" of attacks against the United States; said attacks couldn't possibly "continue" because there never were any originating from Afghanistan. Bin Laden, of course, was assassinated in Pakistan. Which is an entirely different country from Afghanistan. And no, we didn't follow any trail from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Biden piles on the lies. People remember symbolism.

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Ted Rall, a political cartoonist, is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto." He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1963, raised in Kettering, Ohio and graduated from Fairmont West High School in 1981. His first cartoons were published (more...)

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