There is a mix of deception and truth in what Vice-President Dick Cheney has to say about the prospect of future terrorist attacks.
“Another attack is a matter not of if, but when.”
“The President and I believe that one of our most important responsibilities is to do all that we can to ensure that an attack like 9/11 never happens again.”
If anything, Cheney and his boss have gone out of their way to ensure that “another attack is a matter not of if, but when.”
George W. Bush wonders why anyone would harbor a grievance against the United States, but Osama bin Laden’s beefs are not difficult to uncover, for anyone who wants to.
Admitting that there may be concrete — though unjustifiable — reasons al-Qaeda has struck American targets, is not something Bush, whose understanding of the world seems based on comic books, is going to do. But bin Laden’s terrorism didn’t spring fully formed from a void. There were triggers.
For one, the al-Qaeda kingpin isn’t too pleased by Washington overstaying its welcome in Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon has announced it will quit the oil rich kingdom when it’s good and ready. In other words, not in the foreseeable future, if ever.
Nor is the United States likely to vacate its newly established military bases in Central Asia, home to a large Muslim population, anytime soon, if ever.
Secondly, al-Qaeda is justifiably upset over the way Washington has treated the people of Iraq. The UN estimates over a million Iraqis have died as a result of a decade-long sanctions regime the US insists on enforcing. And that’s on top of the thousands who died in the Gulf War.
And Washington’s complicity in allowing Israel to occupy the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in defiance of international law, has hardly enamoured Islamic terrorists, or much of the rest of the world, to the United States.
So what has the Bush administration — which claims to be doing all it can to protect Americans from future terrorist attacks — done since Sept. 11?
It has attacked Afghanistan, killing thousands of innocent civilians, and setting countless more against the United States.
It has cast about for a casus belli to launch a full scale war against Iraq.
It has stood by while Israel launched a new offensive against Palestinians, running interference at the UN, and refusing to cut off arm shipments to Tel Aviv.
It’s as if Bush has singled out every grievance al-Qaeda ever had against the United States, and has done his best to inflame the terrorist organization further. And in the process, he has ensured that tens of thousands more people have a reason to hate the United States and Americans.
No wonder Dick Cheney says future terrorist attacks are inevitable.
Bush and Cheney should learn from Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s failures.
Sharon promised Israelis he would stop Palestinian terrorist attacks. But rather than trying to resolve Palestinian grievances, the former general chose a military crackdown. His policy has been an abject failure. If anything, the terrorist attacks have become more frequent. And who’s paying the price? Palestinians are. And so too are ordinary Israelis, with their lives, and sense of security.
Were Sharon a doctor, he would surely be sued for malpractice.
People don’t become terrorists unless pushed. Refusing to deal with the root causes of terrorism — worse, exacerbating the irritants — is guaranteed to produce more terrorism. Sharon knows that. And so does Cheney.
So why do they persist in pursuing courses of action guaranteed to put their own citizens at risk?
Because the prizes are too tempting.
For Sharon, there’s another step taken on the road to the completion of the Zionist project — all of historical Palestine for the Jews.
For Washington, there’s the vast natural resources of the Caspian basin, control of the Middle East and its strategically vital reserves of oil, and the biggest prize of all — American primacy in the world.
What’s a few thousand lives, and Americans’ loss of their sense of security, against control of the world? To Cheney, the man who says he’s doing everything to prevent future terrorist attacks, the cost must seem picayune.
To the rest of us, who will bear the cost in growing insecurity, abridgement of our rights, and lost lives, what’s Washington’s pursuit of suzerainty over the world, but a recipe for more terrorism.
Mr. Steve Gowans is a writer and political activist who lives in Ottawa, Canada.