NEW DAWN Magazine - Real total war has become information war, it is being fought now...
 

  A Journal of Alternative News & Information   •   For a New Consciousness, a New Humanity, a New Era!
 


 
 

WHY THE MEDIA LIE

America in Terror: The War on Islam

 
 

Part 2 

© By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

In the first part of this article, we reviewed in detail the principal structural and institutional characteristics of the mass media, and concluded that these characteristics entail that the mass media is intrinsically subservient to elite interests. This is basically due to the fact that the mass media is ultimately an ideological institution framed by, and rooted in, the wider matrix of corporate elite power in society. As a consequence, the mass media largely propagates news and information in a manner that is distorted – and sometimes fabricated – in accordance with corporate elite interests and the ideological requirements legitimising those interests.

In this part, we intend to briefly examine how the mass media pandered to elite interests in reporting the September 11th terrorist attacks, thus leading to the propagation of highly distorted, and sometimes fabricated, news and information. This will thus provide a clear example of how the mass media usually operates, not as an impartial provider of untainted facts, but rather as a highly partial provider of ideological legitimacy to elite interests and policies.

America as Victim

Many opinion-makers deride the idea that the September 11th terrorist attacks could have been somehow linked to American foreign policy. To seek such connections may be seen as adding insult to injury, or unpatriotic. At the same time, it is clear that such an outrage could not appear simply out of the blue. We have the explanation of George W. Bush, that it was an attack on freedom by terrorists who hate freedom. While this makes an excellent formula for a speech to elementary schoolers, little evidence can be found to support such a simple theory.

In reality, the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon constituted an atrocious, and indeed predictable, backlash rooted in decades if not centuries of oppression. To avert future acts of terrorism such as this, it is essential to understand the causes of this backlash in the West’s ongoing terrorisation and repression of the majority of the world’s population.

But this is exactly what the mass media has refused to do. On the contrary, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, many mainstream commentators labelled Black Tuesday as the worst act of terrorism in history.1 For example, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, head of the US National Commission on Terrorism, declared that “this is a different order of magnitude... This is not only the worst terrorist attack in American history, it is the worst terrorist attack in history, period.”2 

There is no doubt that what occurred on September 11th 2001 was certainly the worst act of terrorism to be committed against the United States. But this sort of irresponsible commentary has served well to present a distorted ahistorical portrayal of the attacks, the result of which is that the United States is presented as an innocent victim of terrorism. Few mainstream commentators have paused to remind the public that, in reality, the United States itself has carried out and supported some of the worst acts of terrorism. The 11th September attacks, horrendous as they were, can barely be compared to the scale of atrocities carried out, for instance, by US-backed terrorists in South America to secure US interests, resulting in the mass murder of hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians. The internationally acclaimed American political analyst Dr. Michael Parenti provides a particularly acute overview:

Since World War II, the US government has given more than $200 billion in military aid to train, equip, and subsidize more than 2.3 million troops and internal security forces in more than eighty countries, the purpose being not to defend them from outside invasions but to protect ruling oligarchs and multinational corporate investors from the dangers of domestic anti-capitalist insurgency. Among the recipients have been some of the most notorious military autocracies in history, countries that have tortured, killed or otherwise maltreated large numbers of their citizens because of their dissenting political views… US leaders profess a dedication to democracy. Yet over the past five decades, democratically elected reformist governments… were overthrown by pro-capitalist militaries that were funded and aided by the US national security state.3

The ahistorical portrayal of the United States as a victim of terrorism has served well to justify a permanent posture of aggression as the defining characteristic of US foreign policy. Absolving the US government of any responsibility for its rich record of terrorist atrocities against civilians and governments of the Third World, the US elite is empowered to launch a new crusade in order, supposedly, to wipe out international terrorism.

Gaping Holes in the Official 9-11 Narrative

Despite a total lack of evidence that would stand up in a court of law, media and academic commentators prompted by Western government hints immediately speculated about the involvement of “Islamic fanatics”. It was not long before, Osama Bin Laden was labelled the chief culprit. The inconsistencies and vacuous nature of the evidence presented by the Bush administration and its allies to support its claims has, however, been largely ignored by the mass media. But in a rare and insightful piece published by the London Guardian, British journalist George Monbiot highlights the ridiculous nature of the proof of Bin Laden’s guilt:

Like almost everyone on earth, I want to believe that the attack on New York was the work of a single despot and his obedient commando. But the more evidence US intelligence presents to this effect, the less credible the story becomes.

First there was the car. A man had informed the police, we were told, that he’d had a furious argument with some suspicious-looking Muslims in the parking lot at Boston airport. He led investigators to the car, in which they found a copy of the Qur’an and a flight manual in Arabic, showing that these were the fundamentalists who had hijacked one of the planes. Now flying an airliner is not one of those things you learn in the back of a car on the way to the airport. Either you know how to do it or you don’t. Leaving the Qu’ran unattended, a Muslim friend tells me, is considered sinful. And if you were about to perpetrate one of the biggest terrorist outrages the world has ever seen, would you draw attention to yourself by arguing over a parking place?

Then there was the passport. The security services claim that a passport belonging to one of the hijackers was extracted from the rubble of the World Trade Centre. This definitive identification might help them to track the rest of the network. We are being asked to believe that a paper document from the cockpit of the first plane – the epicentre of an inferno which vapourised steel – survived the fireball and fell to the ground almost intact.

When presented with material like this, I can’t help suspecting that intelligence agents have assembled the theory first, then sought the facts required to fit it… The West, in the name of civilisation, was insisting that Bin Laden was guilty, and it would find the evidence later.

For these reasons and many others (such as the initial false certainties about the Oklahoma bombing and the Sudanese medicine factory, and the identification of live innocents as dead terrorists), I think we have some cause to regard the new evidence against Bin Laden with a measure of scepticism… [I]f the West starts chasing the wrong man across the Hindu Kush while the real terrorists are planning their next atrocity, this hardly guarantees our security.4 

It is worth noting that although one of the hijacker’s passports, as Monbiot reports, allegedly survived the WTC inferno – consisting of fire and heat over a 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit – according to FBI officials, all the Black Boxes were in contrast totally destroyed and rendered unusable. The Black Boxes, constituting a Flight Data Recorder and a Cockpit Voice Recorder in each plane, are specifically designed to withstand massive explosions. According to ABC News:

Although investigators look for an entire black box, sometimes the only parts of the device that survive are the recorder’s crash-survivable memory units (CSMU). The CSMU is almost indestructible. It is housed within a stainless-steel shell that contains titanium or aluminium and a high-temperature insulation of dry silica material.

It is designed to withstand heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, salt water for at least 30 days, immersion in a variety of liquids such as jet fuel and lubricants, and an impact of 3,400 G’s. By comparison, astronauts are typically exposed to up to six Gs during a shuttle takeoff.5

Each plane has two separate Black Boxes designed to be indestructible in the event of crashes, which in total means that there were eight Black Boxes – since there were four planes in total used in the attacks on US targets. Yet the FBI is asking us to believe that while all eight Black Boxes were completely and utterly destroyed in the crashes, a mere paper passport survived to be discovered a few blocks away.6 CNN reported that: “The searchers found several clues, he said, but would not elaborate. Last week, a passport belonging to one of the hijackers was found in the vicinity of Vesey Street, near the World Trade Centre. ‘It was a significant piece of evidence for us,’ Mawn said.”7 “In New York, several blocks from the ruins of the World Trade Centre, a passport authorities said belonged to one of the hijackers was discovered a few days ago, according to city Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.”8 Not only then did a passport survive a plane crash that was allegedly so intense it obliterated the virtually indestructible Black Box, the same passport is also supposed to have flown down a few blocks from the WTC. It is true that due to the sudden shattering of the windows in the WTC, all paper materials in the building were immediately ejected out before incineration. Yet a passport in the pocket of a hijacker sitting within a plane that explodes will naturally undergo the same process as the hijacker and the plane he is sitting in, along with the other passengers: absolute cremation.9

This is only one anomaly out of many that have been ignored, leaving the official story accepted uncritically as unquestionable fact, by the vast majority of mainstream media outlets.10 The timely release of tapes depicting Bin Laden apparently admitting involvement in 9-11, served as a convenient propaganda exercise in buttressing the official narrative, while pushing its inherent incoherence down the memory hole. As usual with government claims in war-time, the mass media simply assumed that the tapes released by the Defense Department were genuine. But there is certainly reasonable room for doubt.

Sean Broughton, director of the London-based production company Smoke and Mirrors and one of Britain’s leading experts on visual effects, has stated that it would be relatively easy for a skilled professional to fake a video of Bin Laden. He admitted that to fool top experts would, however, be difficult, although he added that: “There are perhaps 20 people in America who would be good enough to fool everybody.” Another expert, Bob Crabtree, editor of the magazine Computer Video, has gone further, stating that it was impossible to judge whether or not the video was a fake without more details of its source: “The US seems simply to have asked the world to trust them that it is genuine.”11 Dr. Peter French, a forensic expert specialising in audio, speech, and language, similarly confirms that using digital technology, “it’s possible to edit or fabricate in ways that completely defy forensic detection.”12 Canadian foreign correspondent Eric Margolis, who believes that Al-Qaeda was responsible for the 9-11 attacks, nevertheless expresses scepticism with respect to the of authenticity the Bin Laden tape, commenting in the Toronto Sun: “… two other Arabic experts say the tape’s audio quality is so poor that almost nothing bin Laden says on it can be verified…

To my ears, well accustomed to Arabic, half of bin Laden’s words were inaudible. The translation was sometimes out of sync with the action on screen. Bin Laden’s statements looked cut up and edited. Cynics suggest the tape was a forgery made by Russian intelligence or the US government, with incriminating statements spliced into an otherwise boring exchange of pleasantries between bin Laden and a visiting admirer. This is possible. In 1990, the US used retouched satellite photos to convince the Saudis that Iraq was about to invade – which it was not.13

Indeed, even if one assumes that the tape is genuine, whether it really does provide “smoking gun” proof of Bin Laden’s culpability in the 9-11 attacks is extremely unclear. Richard Thomas, Director of Public Policy at the British law firm Clifford Chance argues that: “The tape which we have so far seen doesn’t actually contain hard evidence that Mr. bin Laden was the person who organized the attacks. He simply talks about his reaction to the attacks as they took place. And again, that wouldn’t be hard evidence that he was the organizing mind behind these dreadful attacks.”14

The Function of Terrorism in US Policy

The vacuous nature of much of the evidence presented by Bush & Co. for Bin Laden’s guilt – which then justified the US invasion of Afghanistan – indicates that finding the terrorists responsible for the 9-11 attacks was not an integral US objective. Indeed, the absence of decisive proof of Bin Laden’s involvement suggests that fighting against terrorism has never been the real concern behind the subsequent militarisation of US foreign policy. It seems that there is, rather, another more dubious agenda. Whether or not Bin Laden is actually guilty or not, in this respect, is besides the point – obviously, the Bush administration was not interested in the facts, but instead was more keen to hastily find a suitable scapegoat which would provide an ample pretext for a permanently aggressive US military posture.

In this respect, the scattered continued existence of Al-Qaeda plays a functional role within world order, at least for the next few years. The London Guardian noted this functional role played by Osama bin Laden within the matrix of US foreign policy objectives in an 18th September report: 

If Osama bin Laden did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. For the past four years, his name has been invoked whenever a US president has sought to increase the defence budget or wriggle out of arms control treaties. He has been used to justify even President Bush’s missile defence programme, though neither he nor his associates are known to possess anything approaching ballistic missile technology. Now he has become the personification of evil required to launch a crusade for good: the face behind the faceless terror... [H]is usefulness to western governments lies in his power to terrify. When billions of pounds of military spending are at stake, rogue states and terrorist warlords become assets precisely because they are liabilities.15

To consolidate and expand US hegemony, and to fully counter its Russian, Chinese and European rivals, a massive threat is required to establish domestic consensus on the unrelentingly interventionist character of US foreign policy in the new and unlimited “war on terror.” The bogeyman of Osama Bin Laden’s international terrorist network thus plays, in the view of the Bush administration, a functional role within the matrix of US plans to increasingly subject the world order to its military, political, strategic, and economic influence.

US officials have spoken of the need to indiscriminately target states where terrorists are suspected to reside or with a record of being implicated in terrorist acts, rather than merely focus specifically on the perpetrators of this particular crime. Speculation by innumerable esteemed personalities including US officials, academics and journalists about the role of Osama Bin Laden and his legendary terror network has also been exploited to fuel a more general anti-Muslim suspicion and hostility. The hysteria harks back to the 1998 bombing of Sudan when the US destroyed a pharmaceutical factory, killing an unknown number of civilians, on the pretext that it was actually one of Bin Laden’s chemical weapons factories. Not long after this event it was revealed that the factory produced essential medicines for the Sudanese people – not to mention much of Africa – and had nothing to do with Bin Laden. The US also blocked an inquiry by the UN into the bombing which would have disclosed the exact number of civilian casualties.16

The reaction of the United States speaks volumes about the real nature of the new programme targeting the entire Muslim world. Former spokesman for the US State Department James Rubin outlined the future vision on BBC 2’s Newsnight: “We lead. We go around the world and we make people be counted whether they’re on our side, or on the side of the terrorists.”17 The US solution it seems is to categorise “people” around the world into two types: those who support US and Western terrorism around the world whether they know it or not and who are thus “on our side”; and those who do not, who will inevitably be labelled those “on the side of the terrorists”. And accordingly those who are not “on our side” will be targeted indiscriminately. This simplistic division of the world into “us” and “them” – firstly, the crusaders against terrorism and secondly, the terrorists themselves – collectively demonises all those who do not support American foreign policy in the post-9-11 period and reduces them to an alien “otherness” who must be indiscriminately destroyed. This US government attempt at legitimisation of a policy with unnervingly fascist – if not genocidal – overtones, has been widely parroted by the mass media.

For example, on the same day as the WTC and Pentagon terrorist attacks, a former US Secretary of State was paraded on CNN, advocating that the US adopt the very same policy of terrorism utilised by the 9-11 terrorists: “There is only one way to begin to deal with people like this, and that is you have to kill some of them even if they are not immediately directly involved in this thing.”18 

The next day, the New York Post echoed CNN’s sentiments: “The response to this unimaginable 21st-century Pearl Harbor should be as simple as it is swift – kill the bastards. A gunshot between the eyes, blow them to smithereens, poison them if you have to. As for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball courts.”19 The Post was in agreement with the New York Daily News, which was even more detailed in advocating the same fanatical terrorist strategy pursued by Al-Qaeda: “This is no time to be precious about locating the exact individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist attack.... We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”20

New Threats for an Endless War

But the policy of worldwide mass murder and pillage must be dressed up as a global humanitarian crusade against terrorism in order to ensure public support for the policy. And this means manufacturing a suitable pretext for the policy. This procedure is deeply entrenched in the structures of the foreign policy making establishment. For instance, a mid-1941 memo from the War and Peace Studies Project of the Council on Foreign Relations during the Second World War – whose participants included top government planners and members of the foreign policy establishment – recognised that a formulation of a statement of war aims for propaganda purposes is very different from a formulation of one defining the true national interest…

If war aims are stated, which seem to be concerned solely with Anglo-American imperialism, they will offer little to people in the rest of the world... Such aims would also strengthen the most reactionary elements in the United States and the British Empire. The interests of other peoples should be stressed, not only those of Europe, but also of Asia, Africa and Latin America. This would have a better propaganda effect.21

Today, this effect is achieved through dressing up military operations either as humanitarian interventions or as a war for self-defence. The maintenance of insanely high levels of military spending, in order to support the unlimited militarisation of US foreign policy, has thus entailed the manufacturing of new threats by which to justify such spending. In the current world order, the Soviet/Communist “threat” has become defunct. One of the major new ideological constructions being highlighted as an alleged threat to national security, and thus being utilised as a pretext on which to maintain massive investment in the military, is ‘Islamic fundamentalism’. This phenomenon can be found within the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe.22 The current crisis has permitted the US to exaggerate the alleged threat of “Islamic terrorism” beyond all proportion to suit its drive towards military escalation to secure strategic and economic interests. Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois College of Law, Francis Boyle, comments:

According to the facts in the public record so far, this was not an act of war and NATO Article 5 does not apply. President Bush has automatically escalated this national tragedy into something it is not in order to justify a massive military attack abroad and an apparent crackdown on civil liberties at home. We see shades of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which the Johnson administration used to provide dubious legal cover for massive escalation of the Vietnam War.23

On this basis, it is evident that in the near future, on the pretext of targeting scattered terrorist cells connected to Al-Qaeda, various countries around the world that are of strategic value to the United States will fall victim to Bush’s ‘new war’ for US hegemony. The escalating and contrived ‘clash of civilisations’ that may result from this cynical US policy, and the corresponding chaos and destruction, bear ominous implications for the future of humanity.

Indeed, the new pretexts are already being conjured up. President Bush Jr. virtually declared war on any country deemed by the US to be a threat, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, 29th January 2002. Bush warned of “thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes,” and openly threatened an attack on Iran, Iraq and North Korea in particular. Both the US government and media have made concerted efforts to allege some sort of connection between Al-Qaeda and the countries of Iran and Iraq. “By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.” Bush added that: “The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

It is no coincidence that the Middle East and Central Asia together hold over two-thirds of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas. After Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are respectively the second and third largest oil-producers in the region. Both Iran and Iraq, in accordance with their local interests, are fundamentally opposed to the US drive to secure unimpeded access to regional resources. The former, for instance, has been attempting to secure its own interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia, thus coming into direct conflict with regional US interests, whereas the latter has for a decade now been tolerated only because the US has been unable to replace Saddam Hussein’s regime with a viable alternative.24 In light of the results of the apparently successful ‘test case’ provided by the war on Afghanistan – which has opened up Central Asian resources to US corporate clutches – the US seems intent on attempting a replay in Iraq by eliminating Saddam, and enlisting the opposition to establish a compliant new regime. Similar plans may be in the pipeline for Iran. As for North Korea, this country borders China, and is thus strategically located in terms of longstanding US policy planning. China has long been viewed by US policy planners as its principal rival in north and east Asia. The military network being installed by the United States in the wake of 11th September systematically encircles China – Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, and now Korea.

The Guardian has also commented on these developments and their military-strategic context: “Every twist in the war on terrorism seems to leave a new Pentagon outpost in the Asia-Pacific region, from the former USSR to the Philippines. One of the lasting consequences of the war could be what amounts to a military encirclement of China.” In explanation, the London daily cites the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review warning of the danger that “a military competitor with a formidable resource base will emerge in the region.” The journal recommended a US policy that “places a premium on securing additional access and infrastructure agreements.”25 The expansion of the misnamed ‘war on terror’ is thus specifically tailored to target regions of strategic and economic interest to the United States, and thus to consolidate unrivalled US hegemony in these regions – many of which are predominantly Muslim.

The Manufacture of Enemies

There is an important context to the sudden discovery of such grave enemies to the United States. US arms trade expert and Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute William Hartung points out that the massive injections of public funds into military spending are not a result of genuine threats to US security, but rather because “the arms industry has launched a concerted lobbying campaign aimed at increasing military spending and arms exports… These initiatives are driven by profit and pork barrel politics, not by the objective assessment of how to best defend the United States in a post-cold war period.”26

It should be noted that during this period, while US military spending rocketed steadily on the pretext of the necessity of defending the nation against international terrorism, acts of terrorism against the US were in fact on the decrease since the beginning of the 1990s. In particular, the number of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims against the US has also decreased – and are minute compared to the number of terrorist attacks committed by other national, ethnic and religious groups.27 

The new threat of ‘Islamic terror’ exemplified in the September 11th attacks thus plays a particularly important role within world order, permitting the United States to justify strategies by which to enforce US hegemony within the Middle East, as well as in Africa and Asia. The major reason that Western institutions have taken it upon themselves to subtly demonise Islam in this respect, is inseparable from the structure of the global politico-economic order – in fact it is a logical consequence of that order and its relations to the Muslim people throughout the world.28

Thanks to the efforts of media and academic commentators, it is commonly believed that there exists a vast, and in many ways unbridgeable, Islam-West divide, in which Islam at some significant level constitutes a fundamental danger to Western civilisation. Harvard political scientist Professor Samuel Huntington is well-known for articulating this belief in the form of an academically acceptable theory of international relations. His ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis is a particularly stark example of how Western academia attempt to justify the concept of an unfathomable Islam-West divide and a new inevitable Cold War with Islam.29 Tim Hames, a leading politician in the Republican Party who is very close to the Bush administration, claimed only one day after the attacks that Huntington’s thesis was dominating the US political scene.30 Huntington has most recently presented a crass summary of his already rather crass opinions in an article titled ‘The Age of Muslim Wars’ for Newsweek magazine. The article’s introductory synopsis asserts that:

Contemporary global politics is the age of Muslim wars. Muslims fight each other and fight non-Muslims far more often than do peoples of other civilizations. Muslim wars have replaced the cold war as the principal form of international conflict. These wars include wars of terrorism, guerrilla wars, civil wars and interstate conflicts. These instances of Muslim violence could congeal into one major clash of civilizations between Islam and the West or between Islam and the Rest.31

This is not the place to discuss in detail the myriad of logical leaps, shoddy presumptions, and lack of supportive data that hounds Huntington’s thesis, but we should point out some essential facts that in themselves point to the holes in the thinking behind the whole ‘clash of civilisations’ project as such. We may note, for instance, Professor Huntington’s extraordinary ignorance of the “civilizations” he purports to discuss – he seems quite unaware of the abundant scholarly literature disproving the redundant thesis of the inherently aggressive nature of Muslims. On page 256 of his study, The Clash of Civilizations, for example, he asserts that: “Muslims have problems living with their neighbours… The evidence is overwhelming.” The “overwhelming evidence” he reviews, however, appears to manifest only poor and prejudiced scholarship. Huntington performs an exceedingly shallow analysis of several cases of conflicts involving Muslims – many of which were in fact deliberately engineered by the United States – presents them in a historical and political vacuum, and then generalises the conclusions without warrant. The 20th century conflicts relating to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Chechnya, Indonesia, Sudan, Palestine, and so on, are in fact directly related to US foreign policy, which has in all these cases escalated and supported various actors in the respective conflicts to secure economic and strategic interests. In the interests of extending and consolidating global US hegemony, US policy has systematically manipulated communities, played them off against one another, generated wars and capitalised on the results.32 Huntington’s examples, in other words, in reality demonstrate the extent to which US foreign policy has contributed to conflict and war – and has often manipulated Muslim groups and hijacked Islamic symbols to the same end.

The fact that history is full of wars does not indicate that they were the result of differences in religions or cultures between civilizations. Rather, a scientific historical analysis demonstrates that the causes were power politics and aspirations for hegemony, a fact deliberately played down by Huntington. Wars have always been ultimately instigated by a handful of people in positions of power, who pit one nation against another in order to secure their own geostrategic and hegemonic objectives.

Indeed, directly contradicting Huntington’s emphasis of the alleged potential rivalry from Islamic civilization is an authoritative study by the US Commission on National Security/21st Century, which records how the unique adaptability of Islamic to modernity is the very factor ensuring that such a confrontation will not occur as a simple result of civilizational dichotomies.33 Other Middle East specialists concur that “like their secular counterparts, on most issues many [Islamic-oriented political actors] would operate on the basis of national interests and demonstrate a flexibility that reflects acceptance of the realities of a globally interdependent world.”34 

It is certainly a shame that the esteemed Harvard scholar has to resort to regurgitating chauvinistic myths to support his untenable position. There is, however, a deeper context and pattern to this act of regurgitation by anti-Muslim academics such as Huntington. The background has been noted by political scientist Nadia Weiss in the monthly Zurich-based journal Current Concerns: “As soon as one delves into Huntington’s background, the first thing one notices is that one of his chief political allies is none other than Zbigniew Brzezinski, America’s chief geostrategist and author of ‘The Grand Chessboard’…

Zbigniew Brzezinski is well known as the creator of the American strategy to achieve hegemony, which lies at the heart of American foreign policy. That battle for global hegemony is going to be fought in Eurasia. Therefore America needs access to geopolitically important countries like Ukraine, Turkey, Iran and the countries in the Caucasus. Both the expansion of the EU to the East and the expansion of NATO in the same direction are part of this strategy.

In reading Huntington, one often has the impression of reading Brzezinski. Huntington, for example, writes that the maintenance of American hegemony is just as important for the entire world as it is for the United States. The world needs a superpower, and America is the only one left that can assume this role, and that is also necessary for American interests. In this context the American dominance in the world economy is crucial: ‘America is now being challenged by Japan, and in the future she will probably be challenged by Europe as well.’

Brzezinski and Huntington are pursuing the same political plan: They want the world to be ruled by one power and they want to be part of that power ruling the world. It is no coincidence that Brzezinski sings the praise of Huntington’s book calling it ‘a monumental work which will revolutionize our view of foreign affairs.’ At another point he characterizes Huntington as the ‘democratic Machiavelli’.35

All of this is merely the latest stage in a historic pattern, according to J. A. Progler – Assistant Professor of Social Studies at the School of Education in the City University of New York, Brooklyn College – who notes that the demonisation of Islam and Muslims is rooted in a long record of self-serving Western encounters with Islam and Muslims:

The long history of encounters between Western civilization and Islam has produced a tradition of portraying, in largely negative and self-serving ways, the Islamic religion and Muslim cultures. There is a lot of literature cataloguing (and sometimes correcting) these stereotypes… Images of the Other are prevalent in Western civilization, and have become firmly ensconced in the discourse of colonization and conquest, whoever the victims may be. Some images are rooted in Greek notions of barbarians, others born of the Middle Ages. They have been carried through the Reconquista and Inquisition, picked up during the age of colonial expansion, developed by Orientalists in the 19th and early 20th century, and continue on into the age of mass media and globalized political economy. But images don’t exist in a vacuum. They have uses…

Western image-makers, including religious authorities, political establishments, and corporate-media conglomerates, conceptualize for their consumers images of Muslims and/or Arabs in sometimes amusing and other times cruel or tragic ways. Upon closer examination, these images seem to serve essential purposes throughout the history of Western civilization. At times these purposes are benign, at others quite sinister. Often, there are tragic consequences for Muslims resulting from the socio-political climate fostered by images…

If Arabs and Muslims are extremists in anything, I believe that it is in the patience and tolerance they have shown toward persistent Western interventions until very recently. Islamic movements have much more important characteristics than intolerance and violence. A central concept is social justice.36 

Beyond Images: Challenge Media Lies

The victims of the system of global apartheid – in which the Western powers control the world’s resources while the majority of the population toils under regimes of extreme oppression and deprivation propped up by the international community – are becoming increasingly intolerant of the inhumane conditions in which they are forced to attempt to survive. If we are to genuinely stop such acts of terror from being repeated, then we must dismantle the unjust system that creates such inhumane conditions from which individuals arise with so little hope that they feel compelled to use violence. A US response calculated to label and target everyone not “on our side” indiscriminately – parroted and trumpeted by a corporate-dominated media which is institutionally dependent upon the elite agenda and based on the same elite strategic principles and economic interests – will only exacerbate the systematic injustices of world order and create conditions conducive to a spiral of violence and war, from which no one will benefit. It is our responsibility to challenge media lies, and thereby challenge the ideological base of legitimacy that the media grants the unaccountable activities of the self-interested corporate elite. In doing so, we are challenging the very foundations of US/Western imperial policy throughout the world.

Footnotes:

1. See for instance Wattie, Chris, ‘U.S. vows revenge’, National Post, 12 September 2001; Luxton, Peter, ‘Amid the Chaos, What’s Next for the Market’, Business Week, 11 September 2001; Gee, Marcus, The Globe and Mail, cited in ‘What the world’s press says’, The Guardian, 14 December 2001, http://media.guardian.co.uk/attack/story/0,1301,618880,00.html; National Geographic, www.nationalgeographic.com/traveler/related.html.

2. Editor’s Note, ‘A Different Order of Magnitude’, Security Management, October 2001, www.securitymanagement.com/library/001128.html.

3. Parenti, Michael, Against Empire, City Light Books, 1995. See Chapter 3 ‘Intervention: Whose gain? Whose pain?’.

4. Monbiot, George, ‘Collateral Repair: How to Win the War with Peace’, The Guardian, 25 September 2001.

5. ABC News report, http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/TechTV/techtv_blackboxes010917.html.

6. It is worth noting that United Airlines flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, without any explosion or impact into a building, thus escaping the same inferno that engulfed the WTC. Amazingly, both its Black Boxes are supposed to have been destroyed or unusable.

7. CNN report, http://asia.cnn.com/2001/US/09/17/inv.investigation.terrorism/index.html.

8. CNN, http://asia.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/gen.america.under.attack/index.html.

9. See Zaman, Shibli, ‘FBI’s Investigation of the WTC Tragedy Exposed’, Houston Tx, 18 September 2001, Shibli@Zaman.Net.

10. U.S. investigative journalist William Thomas has analysed a whole host of inconsistencies in the official story of 9-11 in his recently released book, All Fall Down: The Politics of Mass Persuasion, www3.bc.sympatico.ca/Willthomas/AFD/AFD.htm.

11. Morris, Stephen, ‘U.S. urged to detail origin of tape’, The Guardian, 15 December 2001, www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,11209,619188,00.html.

12. BBC News, ‘Could the Bin Laden video be a fake?’, 14 December 2001, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/newsid_1711000/1711288.stm.

13. Margolis, Eric, ‘Is the Gun Smoking? “Experts” Disagree on bin Laden Home Video’, Toronto Sun, 17 December 2001.

14. Knox, Kathleen, ‘Afghanistan: Would Bin Laden Videotape Be Admissible In Court?’, Radio Free Europe/Liberty, 19 December 2001, www.rferl.org/nca/features/2001/12/19122001091511.asp.

15. Monbiot, George, ‘The need for dissent,’ The Guardian, 18 Sept. 2001.

16. For extensive discussion of the US bombing of Al-Shifa in the context of US relations with Sudan, see Ahmed, Nafeez M., ‘United States Terrorism in the Sudan: The Bombing of Al-Shifa and its Strategic Role in US-Sudan Relations,’ Media Monitors Network, 22 October 2001, www.mediamonitors.net/mosaddeq16.html.

17. BBC 2, Newsnight, London, 11 September 2001.

18. Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, CNN, 11 September 2001.

19. Dunleavy, Steve, New York Post, 12 September 2001.

20. Coulter, Ann, New York Daily News, 12 September 2001.

21. Shoup, Laurence H., ‘Shaping the Postwar World’, Insurgent Sociologist, Vol. 5, No. 3, Spring 1975.

22. For discussion see Said, Edward, Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World, Vintage, London, 1997.

23. IPA News Release, ‘Another Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? Because We Embrace Freedom?’, Institute for Public Accuracy,  Washington DC, 13 September 2001, www.accuracy.org.

24. See Ahmed, Nafeez M., ‘The 1991 Gulf Massacre: The Historical and Strategic Context of Western Terrorism in the Gulf,’ Media Monitors Network, Los Angeles, CA, 2 October 2001, www.mediamonitors.net/mosaddeq14.html.

25. The Guardian, 29th January 2002.

26. Hartung, William, Milwaukee Sentinel & Journal, 11 January 1999.

27. A skillful online dissection of the myth of Islamic terrorism supported by the media and academia, see the cutting edge web-site of the University of Colorado’s Religious Studies Deparment established by Kevin Choi, True Lies: The Construction of “Islamic” Terrorism in Politics and Academia, www.colorado.edu/ReligiousStudies/TheStrip/features/truelies/title.htm. Also see Masud, Enver, ‘Islamic Fundamentalism $500 Billion Bogey: Welfare `reform` expected to save $55 billion in six years’, The Wisdom Fund (TWF), 2 August 1996; Enver, ‘Facts Belie Hype About `Islamic Terrorism`’, TWF, 31 December 1999.

28. For some insight into what is meant by this, see especially Said, Edward, Orientalism, Random House, New York, 1979; also see Said, Covering Islam, Pantheon, New York.

29. Huntington, Samuel, Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1996.

30. The Times, 12 September 2001.

31. Huntington, Samuel P., ‘The Age of Muslim Wars’, Newsweek, January 2002, www.msnbc.com/news/672440.asp.

32. These policies and the countries in which they have operated have been discussed extensively by this author in thousands of pages worth of documentation, contained in successive research papers. These are available online at the author’s homepage, hosted by the Los Angeles-based Media Monitors Network, http://nafeez.mediamonitors.net.

33. U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, New World Coming: Supporting Research and Analysis, No. 88. A National Security Strategy for a New Century, December 1999 version.

34. See for example Esposito, John L., ‘The Islamic Factor’, in Marr, Phebe ed., Egypt at the Crossroads: Domestic Stability and Regional Role, National Defense University Press, Washington, DC 1999, p. 61-62.

35. Weiss, Nadia, ‘The Islamic World Targeted by the West? Clash of, or Dialogue Between, Civilizations?’, Current Concerns, No. 11/12, November 2001-January 2002, www.currentconcerns.ch/archive/20011103.php.

36. Progler, J. A., ‘The Utility of Islamic Imagery in the West: An American Case Study’, Winter 1997, Al-Tawhid: A Journal of Islamic Thought & Culture, Vol. XIV, No. 4.

_________________________________________________________________________________
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is a political analyst and human rights activist, specialising in Western foreign policy and its impact on human rights. He is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development (IPRD), an independent, interdisciplinary, non-profit think tank based in Brighton, UK. The IPRD conducts research and analysis of local and global society for the promotion of human rights, justice and peace. For further information, visit www.globalresearch.org. Also see www.thewaronfreedom.com for Nafeez’s new book on September 11.

The above article appeared in
New Dawn No. 72
(July-August 2002)