Lies and Consequences in Our Past 15 Wars
by David Swanson
May 27, 2012
“Pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was their object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.”–Abraham Lincoln
Prior to 2001, the Taliban was willing to turn Osama bin Laden over to a third country if he was promised a fair trial and no death penalty, and if some evidence of his guilt of crimes were offered. In 2001, the Taliban warned the United States that bin Laden was planning an attack on American soil. In July 2001 the United States was known to have plans to take military action against the Taliban by mid-October.
When the United States attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the Taliban again offered to negotiate for the handing over of bin Laden. When President George W. Bush refused, the Taliban dropped its demand for evidence of guilt and offered simply to turn bin Laden over to a third country. Bush rejected this offer and continued bombing. At a March 13, 2002, press conference, Bush said of bin Laden “I truly am not that concerned about him.”[i] When President Barack Obama announced, in May 2011, that he had killed bin Laden, the war didn’t even slow down.
Bin Laden, as a justification for the longest war in U.S. history, had always had weaknesses. As with Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gadaffi or Manuel Noriega, past U.S. support for bin Laden had to be kept out of the discussion. And a crime had to be transformed into an act of war. A crime by a non-state group was used to implicate the nation of Afghanistan, even though 92% of Afghans not only didn’t support the crime of 9-11, but they have to this day never heard about it.[ii]
If bin Laden was not the reason for over a decade of war in Afghanistan, perhaps al Qaeda more generally was the cause. When President Obama continued the war in 2009 and tripled the number of U.S. troops in it, he and his subordinates argued that if the Taliban had power it would work with al Qaeda, and that would allow al Qaeda to endanger the United States. Some of the same officials who made this claim, including Richard Holbrooke, at other times admitted that al Qaeda had virtually no presence in Afghanistan, that the Taliban was not likely to work with al Qaeda, and that al Qaeda could easily plan attacks on the United States in a dozen nations other than Afghanistan, just as the 911 attack had been planned, in part, in Europe and the United States.[iii]