As discussed the US government’s main concern in the Iran-Iraq war was protecting its oil interests, so both warring states were supported in an attempt to secure their oil concessions. The USG only used its military directly in the war when its oil interests were seriously at stake. For example, in 1987 the US Navy launched, “Operation Earnest Will,” the biggest naval convoy operation since WWII. The objective of the operation was to escort and protect Kuwaiti oil tankers from Iranian attacks as per Kuwait’s request. After one of the tankers hit an Iranian mine, “Operation Prime Chance” was launched to step up these efforts in more clandestine ways. As part of the operation, search-and-destroy helicopters from the US Army flew only at night to guard the tankers, along with SEAL platoons, patrol boats, air support from the Air Force, and rescue helicopters.
On October 19th of 1987, the US Navy launched “Operation Nimble Archer” and attacked two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf in retaliation for Iran’s earlier attack on the Sea Isle City, a re-flagged Kuwaiti oil tanker. In April of 1988, the US Navy then attacked Iran again in “Operation Praying Mantis” in retaliation for the damage inflicted on the USS Samuel B. Roberts, one of the guided missile frigates in Operation Earnest Will, which struck an Iranian mine. One major Iranian warship and a smaller gunboat were destroyed in the attack. These attacks helped persuade the Iranian government to agree to a ceasefire with Iraq, ending the 8-year-old war.
About two years later, Saddam used the weapons he received from the US to invade Kuwait on August 2nd 1990. The UN demanded via Security Council Resolution 678 (passed with threats from the US of sanctions to states that voted no1) that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991, which the state refused, leading to Gulf War. After pardoning all of the officials involved in the Iran-Contra Affair, George Bush Sr. led a collation force authorized by the UN into Iraq. As mentioned, Kuwait was a major oil supplier to the U.S., and this is likely the reason Bush wanted Saddam out of Kuwait. Iraq did have some legitimate grievances against Kuwait. For example, the state had been slant drilling across the border into Iraq’s Rumaila oil field and they were producing more oil than allowed by the OPEC quotas, which drove the price of oil down and hurt the Iraqi economy. But in fairness Iraq had borrowed $14 billion from Kuwait to fund its war against Iran, after which the state had no means to repay the debt, so Kuwait’s slant drilling was considered a way to collect the money owed.
The plutocrats who waged war against Iraq valued the oil at risk in Kuwait far more than the welfare of the Kuwaiti or Iraqi people. Bush Senior also believed that Iraq was a great threat because they had biological weapons, but it was Bush’s predecessor, Reagan, who sold Iraq these weapons and the CIA helped to put Saddam in power in the first place. Years later Bush’s son attempted to use the same justification as President to go to war with Iraq and Saddam again. Public support for the war in 2001 was high, however, because of the attacks on the World Trade Center and most people had forgotten that Saddam’s most dangerous weapons came from the US.
One week after the attacks of September 11, 2001, letters containing the Ames strain of anthrax were mailed to several news offices and two democratic senators, killing 5 and infecting 17 others. Conservative news pundits and the Bush Administration were quick to blame Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, and White House officials pressured FBI Director, Robert Mueller, to say Al Qaeda was the source. However, the FBI knew the source was local and according to a former aide, Mueller was beaten up for refusing to blame Al Qaeda or Bin Laden.2
Richard O. Spertzel, former deputy commander of the United States Army Medical Research Institute for infectious diseases told the Washington Post in 2002 “In my opinion, there are maybe four or five people in the whole country who might be able to make this stuff, and I’m one of them. And even with a good lab and staff to help run it, it might take me a year to come up with a product as good.” It is impossible that anthrax as pure as the strain in the envelopes (which contained two trillion spores each, 200 million times the average lethal dose) could have been produced in some make-shift lab by the Taliban. It is also highly unlikely that someone with enough knowledge of chemistry to make such pure anthrax could not correctly spell penicillin. (The letters in the envelopes spelled the word: “penacilin.”) The only possible source of the anthrax was a secret operation called Clear Vision conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute in West Jefferson Ohio and US army scientists at the Dugway Proving Ground in Dugway, Utah under contract with the CIA.3 The purpose of the project was to research the characteristics of biological weapons dissemination by recreating Soviet bomblets (years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.)4 The project produced several biological weapons, including the Ames strain of anthrax, of which it was the only known, documented source. Whistleblower, Matt Dehart tried to expose this but was incarcerated for doing so.
Without a shred of evidence, the US government blamed one single scientist working for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Bruce Ivins, a Red Cross volunteer. After harassing Ivins relentlessly, he killed himself before a trial could ever take place. Most likely the US government developed and released anthrax on the American public simply to play up people’s fears and garner support for the war by accusing the “enemy” of being the source.
Empires like America’s often conduct false-flags, such as the anthrax attacks, arm less developed countries, put dictators in charge and then destroy them if they cannot be controlled. They do this because war is so profitable for them and foreign countries almost never preemptively attack America because it is essentially suicide, (Japan was decimated in the retaliation for Pearl Harbor, despite the state’s military capabilities) so the government has to start wars, create enemies, and even occasionally put them in power to feed the racket of war. By arming countries rich in resources empire seek, they can more easily claim they are threats and attempt to justify invasions.
Nearly all of the leaders the CIA has overthrown were democratically elected and replaced by authoritarian dictators to act as puppets for the American government. But as soon as the USG loses control over a dictator, they will eventually replace him through execution or arrest. (In the case of Saddam, he was indicted, imprisoned, and executed.)
Following the attacks on September 11th 2001, Bush first waged war on Afghanistan. George Bush Junior owned and ran several oil companies before becoming President, and this gave him an additional incentive to invade. Afghanistan is very rich in oil and lithium reserves, (but very poor in terms of capital) and the terrorist attacks on September 11th were used quite easily as an excuse to take them. The Bush cabinet likely knew the attacks were coming as they ignored a Presidential Daily Brief prepared by the CIA dated August 6, 2001, 36 days before the attack, entitled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US”.5 The report even mentions intel that Bin Laden sought to “hijack a US aircraft” and that the FBI reported suspicious activity “consistent with preparation for hijackings, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” The Bush cabinet made no attempts to thwart the attacks likely so that they could use them as an excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush and his administration increased and exploited the fear, jingoism, and Islamophobia created by these acts throughout Bush’s term to garner support for his expensive and devastating wars and broader, hegemonic agenda.
The Bush cabinet initially demanded the Taliban turn over Osama Bin Laden to the US, but they wanted evidence he was involved first. If such evidence was procured, they said they would be ready to “hand him over to a third [neutral] country” if the bombing of Afghanistan stopped. But Bush refused this offer outright,6 despite the fact that Bin Laden was the very rationale for invading Afghanistan. Regardless, it was not Afghanistan’s army or common Afghan people who attacked the World Trade Center. It was 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were from Saudi Arabia. (The four others were from the UAE, Egypt, and Lebanon.) Not one was from Afghanistan or Iraq. But the USG certainly wasn’t going to investigate Saudi Arabia due to the oil and money they provide the USG. In fact, members of the Saudi Royal family were even escorted to airports by the FBI and allowed to fly out of the US while some other flights were still grounded immediately after the attacks without being questioned, including Prince Ahmed bin Salman and Prince Sultan bin Fahd. One of Osama bin Ladin’s top aides, Abu Zubaydah, claimed that Al-Qaeda had been talking with Prince Ahmed just before the attacks and Prince Sultan was linked to Esam Ghazzawi whose home was visited by the Mohamad Atta, leader of the hijackers.7
Further, according to Zacarias Moussaoui, a convicted 9/11 co-conspirator, the attacks were financed by Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor, and several of the country’s prominent clerics.8 Omar Abdi Mohamed, “propagator” for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs paid $1,750 a month from the government also may have helped finance the 9/11 attacks. His charity, Western Somali Relief Agency received $370,000 (the estimated cost of the 9/11 plot) in less than three years, most of which came from Global Relief, which was designated as a sponsor of terrorism due to its connections with Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.9 In the previously classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report, a Somali nonprofit was mentioned that “may allow the Saudi government to provide Al Qaeda with funding through covert or indirect means” according to the FBI. This was the same charity. According to Jim Kreindler, the lawyer representing victims of the 9/11 attacks in their lawsuit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Omar wired all of the money he received to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Karachi, Pakistan who sent the money to his nephew in Dubai who then directly financed the 19 hijackers.10 Omar al-Bayoumi of San Diego who was paid $7,000 a month by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs and was suspected by the FBI of being a Saudi spy also helped two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, obtain driver’s licenses, contact a flight school, and pay for their rent.
Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi then moved in with an informant of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office, Abdussattar Shaikh. The FBI lied about Shaikh, claiming he was a professor for the San Diego State University and Vice President for International Projects at American Commonwealth University, (ACU) but the University claimed to never have employed him and it was discovered the ACU was a diploma mill founded by retired Air Force General, William Lyon .The FBI attempted to keep Shaikh’s FBI handler from testifying and prevented Shaikh from being interviewed or deposed during the 9/11 investigation. Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi then moved in with an informant of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office, Abdussattar Shaikh. The FBI lied about Shaikh, claiming he was a professor for the San Diego State University and Vice President for International Projects at American Commonwealth University, (ACU) but the University claimed to never have employed him and it was discovered the ACU was a diploma mill founded by retired Air Force General, William Lyon .The FBI attempted to keep Shaikh’s FBI handler from testifying and prevented Shaikh from being interviewed or deposed during the 9/11 investigation.
Despite these clear yet intricate connections, Obama vetoed a bill called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) that allows relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue the Saudi government but Congress overwhelmingly overturned the veto. The Act allows US nationals to sue states even if they are not deemed “sponsors of terrorism” by the USG and Saudi Arabia never would be because of the oil money it provides the USG, despite its countless acts of terrorism both within its borders and outside of them, especially in Yemen. In effect the Act reduces the power of sovereign immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, one of the most archaic, nonsensical, and authoritarian laws to ever be written. (Essentially, sovereign immunity prohibits everyone from suing anyone in power.) The 9/11 lawsuit was initially dismissed in 2005 because of Saudi diplomatic immunity but a federal appeals court reversed this decision in 2013. In Obama’s attempt to justify the veto of JASTA he mentioned that the US would be the number one target of lawsuits under JASTA as the USG’s military presence in the world is larger than any other country and though he didn’t mention this he was surely worried about being sued for terrorism himself.
Five Israelis were also arrested on 9/11, celebrating and taking pictures of the burning towers, next to a van marked “Urban Moving,” which the FBI believed might have been a front for an Israeli intelligence operation. If the Israeli state was involved, its motives would not be hard to discern. When arrested one of the detained claimed, “We are Israelis. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are your problem.” When Netanyahu was asked what he thought the attacks meant for US-Israeli relations, he said “Its’ very good. Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy for Israel,” which it did and it also drummed up significant Islamophobia, another goal of the Israeli state that makes it easier for them to attempt to justify the wholesale slaughter of Palestinians and strong-arming the rest of the Middle East.
The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan violate the United Nations Charter, which states that no UN members and the countries they represent are allowed to use military force on each other except in self-defense. This violation makes these wars criminal wars of aggression. The US did not need to invade and decimate Afghanistan or Iraq to kill one man who was a non-state actor. Although Bin Laden was a monster of a human being, the USG’s demonization of him was ironic given the fact that the it financially supported Bin Laden in the 1970s. Both Saudi Arabia and the USG gave the Mujaheddin $3.5 billion to bankroll Bin Laden’s war against Soviet Union.11 This is conveniently left out of the state’s narrative, along with the CIA’s efforts to bring Saddam to power decades ago.
The state’s focus shifted to Saddam Hussein in 2003 and initial airstrikes on Iraq began on March 19 2003 when F-117s bombed a palace compound where Saddam was thought to be hiding. This was dubbed “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Neither Saddam nor any other Iraqi officials were present in the compound. However, the bombs did kill one civilian, injure nine women, four men, and one child. Hundreds of thousands more innocent people have been killed (men, women and children) in the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq from further internal and external attacks, and thousands more have died from starvation, dehydration, sickness, lack of medical treatment, radiation poisoning from depleted uranium deposits,12 and their decimated economies. The violence only increases with increased US military presence, and the attempted justification for all of this senseless, unimaginable suffering and death was the threat of one man who Bush never even found. This violence and suffering also served as a catalyst for the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group.
It is incontrovertibly senseless to bomb an entire country in order to capture one man. The American government wouldn’t declare war with the United Kingdom if there was a terrorist hiding there, so it does not make sense to turn Afghanistan into a war-zone to get one terrorist. Terrorists, including Bin Laden, and the Taliban could have been apprehended by ground operations and small arms (and Bin Laden ultimately was apprehended in 2011 by Seal Team Six in “Operation Neptune Spear.” However, he never saw a trial and was killed on scene in violation of due process.)
Causalities and indiscriminate killing are never justified but the US government treats these atrocities as inevitabilities. Many random and some targeted killings of innocent civilians have been committed in these wars as shown in documents leaked by Wikileaks, such as the Afghan War Diary and Iraq War Logs, and other formerly classified reports. There are many states with terrorists, but far fewer with large oil reserves and vast poppy fields, and this is why these states were targeted by the US.
The war in Afghanistan was called “Operation Enduring Freedom,” (this operation ended in 2014 but the war rages on and is now dubbed “Operation Freedom’s Sentinel”) which is ironic and disturbing considering it has nothing to do with freedom. When the Taliban was taken out of power, the Afghan people became free from their dominance, but the US domination of the region has been a worse replacement. There has been more turmoil and violence than there was under the Taliban. Current Afghan police and military forces are mostly highly corrupt and dogmatic, so unless real changes are made to bring human rights and autonomy to the Afghan people, conditions will not likely improve.
“Operation Enduring Freedom” is a typical kind of euphemism used to brand and sell wars. Our freedoms were not threatened by the Taliban and the USG couldn’t care less about the freedoms of Afghan people. The Taliban in 2001 couldn’t have controlled Chicago, much less the entire United States. On the contrary, the US invasion and occupation cost common Afghans what little freedom they had left.
Bush saw his approval ratings soar after making his speech about justice and retaliation following the attacks. Convincing Congress that Saddam was a major threat with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was not too difficult. US residents were constantly made to fear the possibility of “another 9-11,” and many popular, Islamophobic pundits and politicians were using language that connected the entire Middle East and innocent Islamic people to these attacks.
Despite the Bush cabinet’s endless allegations that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, WMDs were never found and the allegations were rather ironic considering that in the 1950s Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program, which was supposed to provide states with nuclear energy, provided Iraq with uranium, which was converted into their first nuclear weapons. By the time Bush Junior declared war against Iraq, however, Saddam no longer had biological or nuclear weapons or the ability to make them because most of Iraq’s large weaponry was destroyed by the American led coalition forces in the Gulf War. (Bush made a satirical slideshow featuring himself looking for WMDs in the Oval Office, demonstrating his apparent, total ignorance or indifference to the brutal costs of his war driven by that lie.) It is likely Bush Junior knew there were no WMDs in Iraq and his incentives to connect Saddam to 9-11 were simply oil, profit, and revenge for Saddam’s attempted murder of Bush’s father.
In 2000 and again in 2002, Iraq sought to sell its oil for Euros, to which the UN agreed, dubbing the deal the “oil for food” program. After re-invading Iraq and capturing Saddam, the US put Iraqi oil back on the world market for US dollars only. By prohibiting the exchange of all other currencies for their oil, the USG increased the demand for the US dollar, thereby inflating its value. The Bush administration certainly wasn’t the first with this idea. This policy actually dates back to the Nixon era in 73′ when the dollar lost its gold backing and the petrodollar agreement was concluded by President Nixon in 1973. The provenance of the agreement was the October war of 1973 between Egypt, Syria, and Israel when Saudi Arabia announced a 70% increase in the price of oil to punish the USG for its aid to Israel’s military. On October 19th Nixon asked Congress for an additional $2.2 billion in military aid to Israel and the following day Saudi Arabia responded by imposing a total embargo of oil to the US. As a result, from 1970 to 1974 the price of oil skyrocketed from $1.39 a barrel to $8.32 per barrel. The embargo ended on March 18, 1974 after the USG and the Saudis struck the aforementioned petrodollar agreement, which stipulated that the USG would provide Saudi Arabia technical support, military equipment, and training in exchange for selling oil exclusively for US dollars and for assurances that there would be no future oil embargoes. The deal created JECOR, the US-Saudi Arabian Joint Economic Commission, and the marriage between the USG and the Saudi Arabia was born.
According to a report by Neta C. Crawford of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan killed 210,000 civilians as of 2015 13 The indirect civilian death toll is likely higher. These deaths include those from malnutrition and loss of infrastructure and medical personnel caused by US bombing. 2.6 million Afghans were also made refugees by the war.
These wars have not only been devastating to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan but economically devastating for American taxpayers as well. A 2008 study by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes estimated the cost of the Iraq war alone, including veteran care, will be $3 trillion and as the war is ongoing the costs continue to rise.14 Neta Crawford estimated $4.79 trillion was spent on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria from 2001 to 2016, “more than the combined total outlays from 2001 to 2016 for the federal departments of education, energy, labor, interior, and transportation, and the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency.”15 Including future spending on veterans and cumulative interest through 2053 on past appropriations for these wars the figure rises to a staggering $7.9 trillion.16
In one of the most egregious violations of human rights in the war, Admiral William Mcraven’s Joint Special Operations Command unit killed two pregnant women and five other civilians in February of 2010 in a village near Gardez in Paktia province, and he blamed it on the Taliban calling it an “honor killing.” After it was discovered Mcraven’s unit was guilty, he had the gall to bring two sheep to victim’s house and apologize. This was after his unit attempted to dig the bullets out of one of the pregnant women to cover their tracks. Mcraven and his unit faced no charges as Defense Department investigators concluded that “the amount of force utilized was necessary, proportional and applied at appropriate time.”
One million victims of the war in Afghanistan have recently submitted statements to the International Criminal Court alleging the US is guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the state. The problem, however, is even if the ICC does find the USG guilty, it lacks the resources to impose a punishment. The USG is the largest perpetrator of terrorism on the planet, and at the very least it’s about time Americans realized that. The state operates on the principle of “might is right” as all states do and no amount of state propaganda, legal rituals, and sanctimonious back patting can change that.
1 When Yemen voted no on the resolution, aid from the IMF, World Bank, and the US was cut off.
2 JAMES GORDON MEEK: Blame it on Al Qaeda, FBI was told. DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU Saturday, August 2, 2008. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/fbi-told-blame-anthrax-scare-al-qaeda-white-house-officials-article-1.312733
3 Barry Kissin: The Truth About The Anthrax Attacks. Information Clearing House. November 15, 2009.. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23969.htm
6 Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over. October 14, 2001. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/14/afghanistan.terrorism5
7 Why were Saudi royals with ‘links to 9/11’ allowed to leave the U.S. without being quizzed by the FBI? Daily Mail. March 14 2012. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2115127/Why-Saudi-royals-links-9-11-allowed-leave-U-S-quizzed-FBI.html
8 Scott Shane: Moussaoui Calls Saudi Princes Patrons of Al Qaeda. The New York Times. February 3, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/us/zacarias-moussaoui-calls-saudi-princes-patrons-of-al-qaeda.html
9 Caleb Hannan: One Man’s Quest to Prove Saudi Arabia Bankrolled 9/11. April 7th, 2017. Politico. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/saudi-arabia-911-lawyer-214996
10 See footnote above
11 “The Saudi Connection” by David Kaplan. U.S. News & World Report 2003.
12A significant side-note is that uranium deposits are often left by thermobaric, ballistic missiles used by the US military, which suck out oxygen in the vicinity where they detonate and then create a long heat blast. Those within the blast radius are usually incapacitated by lung collapse and then burned alive by the blast or killed by noxious gases. They are incredibly nasty weapons and their effects are felt for generations because of the nuclear radiation they leave behind. They have caused significant, debilitating, neurodevelopmental disorders in new born children in Iraq. Depleted uranium was also used in the Gulf War and 11,000 US soldiers who fought in the Gulf have died from exposure to its radiation. Over half of the 526,000 soldiers deployed in that war are on permanent medical disability. (See: http://www.globalresearch.ca/depleted-uranium-death-toll-among-us-war-veterans-tops-11-000/3620.) Tons of depleted uranium has also been carelessly dumped into the oceans over several decades by the navy during its military exercises. The use of depleted uranium was supposed to be phased out in 2008 but the military continues using it.
13 Crawford, Neta: “CIVILIANS KILLED & WOUNDED”. Brown University. May 22 2015. http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/civilians
14 Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz: The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More. March 9, 2008. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/07/AR2008030702846.html
15 JEFFREY D. SACHS: The Fatal Expense of American Imperialism. October 30th 2016. Boston Globe. http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/10/30/the-fatal-expense-american-imperialism/teXS2xwA1UJbYd10WJBHHM/story.html
16 US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security. September 2016. Brown University.. watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf