Juan Cole offers some very simple explanations regarding the current bogus "war on terror."
Why is the Bush administration so attached to torturing people that it would pressure a supine Congress into raping the US constitution by explicitly permitting some torture techniques and abolishing habeas corpus for certain categories of prisoners?On why we're in the Middle East:
Boys and girls, it is because torture is what provides evidence for large important networks of terrorists where there aren't really any, or aren't very many, or aren't enough to justify 800 military bases and a $500 billion military budget.
[Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray] explained what is really behind the new "lily pad" doctrine of US bases, whereby the US is seeking to encompass the "Greater Middle East" with small bases, each with 1,000 to 3,000 personnel. In emergencies, these bases could quickly swell to 40,000. Like a lily pad, they can "open up" and accommodate a landing frog. Murray said that the US documents are quite open as to why they are seeking the network of lily pad bases around the Middle East. It is because that is where the oil and gas are. If you include the Caspian region, Tengiz, and the gas reserves in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan along with what is in the Persian Gulf, the vast majority of proven oil and gas reserves are in this circle of crisis.On the presence of al-Qaeda in Iraq:
With the economic rise of China and India, such that both giants (over a billion in population each) are now using more and more gas and oil, there is going to be increasing pressure on fuel supplies and prices in the next decades. Europe also lacks much energy of its own and is a major importer. The US fields are rapidly declining. Washington wants access to that fuel, and wants to be able to protect its access militarily.
In essence, I understand Murray to argue that the Bush administration hyped the al-Qaeda threat in order to have a pretext for the lily pad strategy of oil security. Murray did not say so, but this strategy would then logically underlie the conquest and military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well.
I kept thinking about the thousands of Iraqis that the US military rounded up and imprisoned for months without charge. Some proportion of them were tortured. And then the US military in Iraq and the Bush administration in Washington kept coming out and saying that the guerrilla war there from 2003 forward was being fought by al-Qaeda in Iraq.On the global threat of terrorism:
That clearly was not true for the most part. The US military recently killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the supposed leader of "al-Qaeda" in Iraq, but that has made no difference to the war. But why did they think it was true? Were they just lying? Or was that what their torture victims were telling them because it was what they thought they wanted to hear? Was the torture at Abu Ghraib about "finding" an "al-Qaeda" at the center of the Iraqi insurgency, when there was actually no such thing?
The Bush administration needs the Terror/al-Qaeda bogeyman to justify the military occupation of strategic countries that have or are near to major oil and gas reserves. It needs al-Qaeda to justify the lily pad bases in Kyrgyzstan etc.Folks, we've been sold a lie, and we bought it because we're a proud people. We have a hard time admitting when we're wrong, and doing so now would mean that thousands of U.S. troops and tens of thousands of innocent civilians have died as a result of our own selfishness and greed.
But the problem is that we now know that serious al-Qaeda is probably only a few hundred men now, and at most a few thousand. Look at who exactly did the London subway bombing. A few guys in a gym in Leeds. That magnitude of threat just would not keep a "War on Terror" in business. The embassy bombings, the Cole, and September 11 itself were done by tiny poorly funded cells that functioned as terror boutiques to accomplish a specific spectacular operation. They don't prove a worldwide, large organization. They prove tiny effective cells. Most of what the Pentagon does and can do is irrelevant to that kind of threat. You'd be better off with some good FBI agents.
So how do you prove to yourself and others a big terror threat that requires a National Security State and turn toward a praetorian society? You torture people into alleging it.
It requires no stretch of the imagination to think that our involvement in the Middle East is simply about economic gain. Leading government apologist Rush Limbaugh has said repeatedly over the years that our 1991 war against Iraq was about nothing more than maintaining "the free flow of oil at market prices." In other words, the cost of oil is more important than the cost of American and foreign lives.
Sometimes the best explanations are the most simple and obvious. Only our own stubbornness and stupidity keep us from admitting the truth.