Anniversary of September 11, Afghanistan and values
“What goes around comes around” is perhaps an apt and often-used cliché, but referring to 9/11 and Afghanistan it only makes you sour. US President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from “Eternal Wars” was supported by 54% of American adults, according to a Sept. 4 Pew poll. They weren’t happy, by a 71% margin, with how Biden came out, and 69% acknowledged the 20-year failure of “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Despite the deployment of a NATO-based coalition (of more than 40 countries), two in three coalition deaths were not wearing any other uniform than that of the United States. That’s why, when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair calls Biden’s withdrawal a “fool,” more boxes of worms can be opened than not.
Endowed with the most “baby”, if not mischievous, appearance of the British chief executive (the youngest since Robert Jenkinson in 1812), Blair stormed into 10 Downing Street with promises of reform of the “third way. “. Only Margaret Thatcher rivals her three consecutive electoral victories. He won nearly half of the votes in 1997, almost three-quarters in 2001, but his 35 percent drop in popularity in 2005 spoke volumes. No electoral defeat expelled him. His disgrace was mitigated by a Granita Pact in 1994 with Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown. Both led rival Labor factions, but if Labor won, they agreed that Blair would hold the reins for two terms, then Brown.
Another “eternal war”, in Iraq, condemns Blair from 2003. Alone among the European “powers”, he supports the American president George W Bush (Bush Junior), now his “blood brother”, to invade a country already defeated and dismantled in the Desert Storm War of January 1991. Bush Jr. wanted to link September 11 to Saddam Hussein, even though Britain and the United States supported him in the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s Bush Junior innocently confessed to the press: Saddam “tried to kill my father”. The Vulcain Group made sure he never spoke so freely again.
This Vulcain Group would meet in Montgomery, Alabama (so named after a statue built in 1903 of the Roman god of fire in the city). It housed Condoleezza Rice, George HW Bush’s (Bush Senior) National Security Advisor for the Soviet Union / Eastern Europe. She has parleyed with Senior Bush Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, President Gerald Ford’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell (a colonel under Rumsfeld in the late 1970s), an academic, Paul Wolfowitz (deputy Bush Sr. Defense Secretary) and Bush Sr. Presidential Special Negotiator Richard Armitage. James Mann vividly explains how they planned for the Cold War from the 1970s onwards. After winning the Cold War, they probed the nature of a “new world order”.
Islam has become the new villain, encouraged by Israel. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s successful revolution in 1979 became a strategic loss for the United States. When Israel’s 1982 Lebanon War ousted the Palestine Liberation Organization from the city, Iranian-backed Hezbollah resumed the anti-Israel mantle. Back in Washington, the American Israel Public Action Committee (AIPAC), founded in 1953, which began successfully funding Congressional candidates, suddenly burst into political decision-making circles with enormous weight. His heyday would be to help Jared Kushner, assistant, senior adviser (2016-20) and son-in-law of President Donald J Trump, seize Palestinian land for Israeli settlers. This was all happening when Samuel P Huntington’s book in the early 1990s, The clash of civilizations and the overhaul of the world order, soured Western mentalities against immigrants. Hispanics and Muslims have faced the brunt of public anger. Bush Sr. lost the 1992 election, postponing Vulcan projects, but when his son won in 2000, the framework changed. Bush Jr. was, like Blair, the most “baby-faced” general manager, but under him the Vulcan window too wide open for the world not to change.
Cold war spirit Vulcans defeated the baby boomers at the turn of the century. Arguably the most respectable Republican President of the 20th century, Dwight David Eisenhower, also seeking to end “Eternal Wars”, made a sagacious prediction in the 1961 farewell address: “… we must beware of … the unwarranted influence … of the military-industrial complex …[M]The placed power exists and will persist. A decorated soldier whose WWII leaders saved an entire continent slapped the army where it hurt the most: right in the face.
Triumphant military-industrial partnerships have left serious traces of 9/11 and potentially more serious missing whites. The reduction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to ruins illustrates the first example: five arms companies made $ 2.2 trillion from spending in Afghanistan alone (Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon). Question marks accompany the latter: why proportionally fewer executives were killed during the attacks from 8.45 a.m. to 9.00 a.m. in a workaholic country inside a building intended mainly for executives (2,606 dead in the Twin Towers were largely service employees from 77 countries); or how could Dulles International Airport have gone eerily silent on the night of 9/10 when it is usually teeming with traffic? and the throwing of Osama bin Laden’s body in the Arabian Sea, just like the opening of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, did he follow the essence of common law, as it is practiced in the United States?
The knight in British armor, Blair, whose ‘third way’ honestly and successfully moved the Labor Party’s outdated socialist platform to the suddenly materialist center (as Bill Clinton did with his Democrats in the 1990s) , was Bush Junior’s guest of honor. first speech to Congress after September 11. It has elevated ephemeral invisible “Western values” above tangible economic successes, thereby stoking European anti-Islam and anti-immigrant moods. The long-term damage caused by the empowerment of rudderless populists in the 1990s only strengthens their resolve today, irrevocably reconfiguring European political calculations.
French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder denounced the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Rumsfeld dismissed both as remnants of “old” Europe. Britain, one of the most historically vaulted countries in Europe, ruled its “new” Europe, with ostensibly “democratic” new arrivals from Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland). Blair’s public approval fell to 27% when he left 10 Downing Street, but his “values” focus skyrocketed. It fueled the Brexit psyche, European isolationism, and denigration of Muslims (precisely when Muslims are demographically taller and more inevitably European today).
A British public inquiry into the causes of the 2003 Iraq war (the 2009 Chilcot Report) concluded that Britain was not threatened by Iraq. Even the International Court of Justice called this war a crime (of aggression, since it was not in self-defense or sanctioned by the United Nations). Future historians objectively evaluating today’s emerging populism could shed light on what is worse: being “foolish” or practicing a value-infused policy of overthrow.
European anger against the United States for leaving Afghanistan is caught off guard. The Europeans had a hundred days after Biden’s announcement until August 2021 to do something. They didn’t do anything. As European and American citizens vie for populism, regionalism and the Atlantic partnership, bells may ring for the Anglo-American “special relationship”. Winston Churchill romanticized it during World War II, based on ground-level dynamics on free trade preferences and democracy / welfare gestures from a century earlier. The creation of Germany in 1871 further warmed Anglo-American relations (nearly a century after Britain recognized the United States in 1785), but today’s fading glow portends uncertainty.
Interethnic fights inside Afghanistan hamper intra-cultural struggles, but the “eternal wars” paralyzing Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya leave cokes unabated. Other fires can only ignite. Other countries can only stir them up. We have learned how: (a) subsidiary or value-laden easements rock the boat of international relations more than an arms race; and (b) without stronger guarantees, we will never know whether mature democratic countries are also wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Dr Imtiaz A Hussain is Head of the Global Studies and Governance Program at the Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB).