9/11 was a defining moment in history, the heartland of world finance and the command centre of the American military being successfully attacked in the most cinematic of all terrorist atrocities. On 9/11 all watched footage of the planes crashing into the twin towers and read the scrolling bulletins, trying to make sense of the unfolding horror. Al-Qaeda were quickly denounced as the organisers of this coordinated assault upon iconic American landmarks. The political response was swiftly prepared and enacted. The ‘war on terror’ (PNAC 2001) had begun. This war was to be pre-emptive (The New York Times 2002) and no respecter of sovereignty.
However, dissenting voices question the veracity of the official explanation of 9/11 and with these voices in mind a brief look at covert operations may lead one to ask ‘who are the terrorists?’
Operation Gladio was the name given to NATO’s ‘stay behind army’ of anti communists and neo fascists, funded and influenced by the CIA. Gladio was armed to maintain a ‘strategy of tension’ by enabling acts of terror to discredit and halt a leftist ascendency in Western Europe. From the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing to the Bologna massacre of 1980, evidence for NATO and the CIA’s involvement is clear. The European Parliament passed resolution of 1990 condemned ‘the existence for 40 years of a clandestine parallel intelligence’ also an ‘armed operations organization in several Member States of the Community’ that ‘were involved in serious cases of terrorism and crime’ (EP Resolution 1990).
There are numerous instances of intelligence agencies working to manipulate international relations (Examples: Operations Ajax (De Luce 2003) and Northwoods (Lemnitzer 1962)), either for political hegemony, perceived security or on behalf of multinationals. These agencies have committed acts of terror to achieve state objectives.
Be it 19 Islamic terrorists or a cabal within the US administration that carried out the attacks on 9/11, the US and its allies, specifically the UK, have embarked on a dangerous journey and one which the destination is far from clear. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq lacked United Nations Security Council authorisation and the invasion of Iraq has been declared Illegal (Annan 2004). These invasions are in line with the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war, a doctrine that was given popular authority by the events of 9/11.
On the 20th September 2001 President Bush stated ‘they (the Taliban) will hand over the terrorists or they will share their fate’ (Bush 2001) then on the 14th October 2001 and reminiscent for its audacity of Adlai Stevenson’s ‘Don’t wait for the translation! Yes or No’ (Stevenson 1962) Bush said ‘there is no need to discuss innocence or guilt, we know he’s (Osama bin Laden) guilty’ (Anon 2001)
For Western leaders Tony Blair’s speech of 2nd October 2001 was a call to action, not covert as evidenced by Operation Gladio, but overt pre-emptive action that would define Western interests into the next century. ‘This is a moment to seize. The Kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us’ (Blair 2001)
REFERENCESAnnan, K. (2004) Iraq war illegal, says Annan (BBC News) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3661134.stm (Accessed 20/10/08)
Anon (2001) Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over (The Guardian) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/14/afghanistan.terrorism5 (Accessed 20/10/08)
Blair, A. (2001) Blair: In his own words (BBC News) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3750847.stm (Accessed 20/10/08)
Bush, G (2001) Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People (The White House) http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html (Accessed 20/10/08)De Luce, Dan. (2003) The Spectre of Operation Ajax (The Guardian)
Lemnitzer, L L. (1962) Northwoods (The National Security Archive)http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20010430/northwoods.pdf (Accessed 20/10/08)
The New York Times (2002) The Bush Doctrine (The New York Times) http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E02E1D71F30F931A1575AC0A9649C8B63&scp=9&sq=bush%20doctrine&st=cse (Accessed 20/10/08)
Project for the New American Century (2001) Bush Letterhttp://www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter.htm (Accessed 20/10/08)
Statewatch GLADIO – Resolution of the European Parliament (1990) http://database.statewatch.org/protected/article.asp?aid=7106(Accessed 20/10/08)
Stevenson, A. (1962) Cuban Missile Crisis Speech (Wikisource) http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Adlai_Stevenson’s_Cuban_Missile_Crisis_speech_to_the_United_Nations_Security_Council (Accessed 20/10/08)