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Stopping terrorists before they start


In Brazil I met a man who described the attacks of September 11 as an "auto-attentat", an assassin's attack committed by the US on itself. I don't think this is true in a literal sense; I don't believe that the US government directly planned or instigated those attacks. But in a larger sense it laid the foundation for them, through two decades of support for armed religious fanatics in Pakistan and Afghanistan, up to and including the Taliban.

The Colder War , an article published in the London Mirror, lays out the parallels between today's "War on Terrorism" and the Red Scare of the Cold War. It also shows how the US began in 1979, before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to fund militant religious schools in Pakistan, the same schools that later produced the Taliban. ("Taliban" means "religious students".)

The purpose of these schools was to lay a trap for the Soviet Union--a successful trap that contributed directly to its overthrow. Ending that murderous tyranny was a great achievement, but we could have achieved the same result by supporting people not quite so fanatic, if we had paid attention. In any case, that goal could hardly explain the US support for the Taliban in the 90s, after the Soviet Union had disappeared.

Fighting the Taliban in 2001 was a just cause, given how they treated the women (and men) of Afghanistan, and secondarily their connection to September 11. But it would have been so much better not to have created them in the first place. Making sure that the CIA does not create new enemies to attack us tomorrow surely deserves high priority in any sincere "War on Terrorism".

[Since writing that article I've been persuaded that Cheney was involved in the arrangements for the Sep 11 attacks.]

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