Americans threatened to attack Afghanistan two months ago.
September 21, 2001 9:39 PM   Subscribe

Americans threatened to attack Afghanistan two months ago. Was the terrorist attack a pre-emptive strike?
posted by liam (24 comments total)
As a liberal who is outwardly critical of my government, I have to say that I am thoroughly fed up with the Guardian. This rag is absurdly left wing and the validity of any of their articles is seriously questioned by me based on the fact that every article seems to find a new excuse for the attack. In the past, I have expressed doubts on Metafilter as to what degree of responsibility my government has for these attacks. However, I personally would appreciate if nobody else ever mentions this inciteful excuse for a newspaper again on this website.
posted by wsfinkel at 9:52 PM on September 21, 2001

Given Cheney and the Defence department's avowed belief in middle-eastern and central asian intervention (not to mention the oil industry's interest in building a pipeline there) this doesn't seem so far fetched.
posted by liam at 9:53 PM on September 21, 2001

The Guardian is considered a very respectable, serious newspaper in the UK, albeit with a liberal bias. I can't judge whether a front page article written by four of their reporters is true, but given that the American Right, and especially USA*Engage, had expressed a desire to intervene in these territories for several years, it seems fair to bring it up.
posted by liam at 10:07 PM on September 21, 2001

see also
posted by Dean King at 10:16 PM on September 21, 2001

I'm sorry, the fact that the possibility of attacking Afghanistan was possibly raised by people who have no connection to the US government during a brainstorming session does not warrant the headline "Threat of US strikes passed to Taliban weeks before NY attack". That's sensationalism, though I have thought the Guardian fair on most other occasions.
posted by Spork65 at 10:26 PM on September 21, 2001

Irregardless of which newspaper wrote what, there is no doubt in any intelligence agency today that knowledge was known one way or another of a future terroristic threat against U.S. soil; Gary Hart's commission predicted in January it would occur within 25 years.
posted by ari at 10:30 PM on September 21, 2001

A "pre-emptive strike" against the greatest military power on earth??? If that really was Bin Laden's motive, that only proves he's totally insane.
That has got to be the silliest piece of--oh, never mind.
posted by StOne at 10:36 PM on September 21, 2001

Dean's citation is exactly what I was thinking of, this former Pakistani official is the only person to have been quoted at all on this issue. Although my language was a bit strong in my previous post, I am really fed up with the crap that I've read from the Guardian. Having spent time in London, I know that they are an esteemed news source, but so is FoxNews in the US. The first few articles by the Guardian about the attacks that I have read, I considered informative. However, after seeing about five postings from the paper I want to make sure that everybody else takes their ramblings with a grain of salt. Thanks for the caveat Skallas, you really are the protector of all that is Metafilter.
posted by wsfinkel at 10:38 PM on September 21, 2001

If, just if, you, as a fundamentalist terrorist leader, thought that the greatest military power on earth was going to invade the country you live in and get rid of the most sympathetic regime to your cause (and kill you), wouldn't you try some giant act to rally your fundamentalist sympathisers around the world.
posted by liam at 10:44 PM on September 21, 2001

Given Cheney and the Defence department's avowed belief in middle-eastern and central asian intervention (not to mention the oil industry's interest in building a pipeline there) this doesn't seem so far fetched.

Tell me more! Good links on this? Anything at all.

Could this truly be associated with oil industry? Keeping corporate interests safe? WTF???

My panties aren't wadded yet. But this might be the next big thing people!?!?! Right?
posted by crasspastor at 10:46 PM on September 21, 2001

What is USA*Engage?
posted by Dean King at 11:01 PM on September 21, 2001

I'm going to need help on how to post links inside threads.
But for starters:
The article is mainly about a Defence department official called Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghani-American who used to work for Unocal, the oil company that wanted to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan, but shelved the plans in 1998 because the country was too volatile. Khalilzad and Unocal have many connections to Cheney and Halliburton, the two firms having built (sanctions-busting) pipelines together in Myanmar. USA*Engage is a lobbying group, founded by Halliburton and Unocal among others in 1997, that pushes to drop sanctions against dicatorships, like Myanmar and Iraq, where Halliburton also had illegal business.

I know this can sound like crazy conspiracy shit, and I really have no idea whether it's relevant to the current situation, but I guess we're in part officially fighting for the freedom to offer different scenarios to the official government one.

Oh, and for the real conspiracy theorists, Khalilzad also had a senior post at the RAND corporation, the folks who published the book advocating an office of Homeland Security several months ago.
posted by liam at 11:20 PM on September 21, 2001

So, let me get this straight...the threat of the attacks is passed to Bin Laden/the Taliban...who somehow manages to find, in the space of two months, at least four people in living in the U.S. who just happen to be pilots who have been training for over a year and just happen more than willing to give up their lives to fly a few planes in to really important American buildings...

posted by Cyrano at 12:57 AM on September 22, 2001

Yeah, Cyrano. Seems like the idea behind a pre-emptive strike would be to take out some military targets (and not just one side of the Pentagon), not shock and anger your enemy into making your death Priority No. 1.
posted by diddlegnome at 1:13 AM on September 22, 2001

First, it's clear the 9-11 attacks were in planning and preparation for very much longer than two months -- more like a minimum of two years, dating back to the 1998 missile attacks.

liam, thus, overstated things by calling it a pre-emptive strike. With a terrorist organization, all strikes are in some sense pre-emptive, especially since they are ideally not anticipated, at least not in specifics.

I believe this is an important story because it does indicate a shift in the view of the new administration toward the bin Laden problem, without them taking the risk of overt communication which would put them into the unacceptable position of horse-trading with an unsavory régime. I don't think it quite constitutes a threat in the sense that many in this thread took it. There was a whole cycle of noose-tightening including a UN resolution against the Taliban for harboring bin Laden.

liam: ctrl-shift-a works in IE to give you an URL pop-up, but you can always just type in the A HREF tags yourself.
posted by dhartung at 2:02 AM on September 22, 2001

Oh, as far as the oil connection, there's nothing extraordinarily shocking there: the Central Asian former Soviet Republics (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan) have oil. Western companies want it. Duh. Big problem, though, in that there's this big terrorist-harboring lawless rogue state right nearby. The FSRs are keen to get the investment, since they're not exactly on the industrial export map, and these three more than others are still very beholden to Moscow. They individually face Islamist rebellion within their own borders, and thus have common cause with Russia. So there's a whole geopolitical tilt here to rid the region of the Islamists making it safe for oil pumping -- and guess who just waltzed into the White House? Naturally, US support and interest along these lines was ramping up, and that included palling up with the Russians to support the Taliban's own civil war foes, the Northern Alliance. (Putin had publicly lamented that despite his warm meeting with Bush he hadn't made progress in developing a common cause against Islamism in the region.) It was absolutely no coincidence that the Northern Alliance's leader was assassinated in a classic bin Laden take-out just days before 9-11.
posted by dhartung at 2:10 AM on September 22, 2001

dhartung. Could you please include sources? I understand the likes of you are a source unto yourself. :-)

But what and where might provide more information on this? I presume, if substantiated, it will break in days en masse.

Breaking (at least in some political circles):

Patriotism Schmatriozism?

Curious in Seattle. . .
posted by crasspastor at 3:29 AM on September 22, 2001

I wouldn't suggest that the terrorists didn't have these plans in place for years, any more than that the US had never drawn up an invasion scenario. The point was that given the current administration's ties to vested interests in the area, and the attitude over the years of Cheney and Khalilzad to the region, I can imagine that even if the opportunity existed to take out just Osama Bin Laden and, say, 100 key accomplices, the temptation to rearrange a couple of regimes while we're about it would be pretty strong, and now that most of the country is wrapped up in the flag all the more so.
posted by liam at 6:51 AM on September 22, 2001

It's not hard to understand why Khalilzad's attitude to the region is what it is. At a basic level, he's an Afghan-American and the Taliban has his homeland under an oppressive lockdown. And yes, he pretty much advocates "rearranging a couple of regimes" in this article in the Washington Quarterly. See also this article, which references that article. Or plug "Zalmay Khalilzad" taliban into Google and take your pick of the 170 hits returned.

Dhartung's right about the oil angle. That's always a factor in that region, and in this case a pipeline through Afghanistan is just an added benefit of a rearranged regime. It's not at all difficult for me to believe that plans for a military move against the Taliban were being put into place. I don't think it was primarily based on oil, though, or had anything to do with WTC.

As for USA*Engage, ick. I understand opposing sanctions on humanitarian grounds, but not in order to add another billion to a multi-billion corporation.
posted by Dean King at 9:40 AM on September 22, 2001

A "pre-emptive strike" against the greatest military power on earth??? If that really was Bin Laden's motive, that only proves he's totally insane.

How do you figure? So far, he's gotten exactly the response and situation that he presumably would have desired (whether he personally directed the attacks or not). Seems to me that he's right on his schedule, which, while desperate and offensive, is hardly crazy.
posted by rushmc at 9:57 AM on September 22, 2001

If they wan't our wrath, we'll give it to them!
posted by USA at 9:55 PM on September 22, 2001

"the Taliban has had (Khalilzad's) homeland under an oppressive lockdown."
The guy was the Taliban's biggest supporter in this country, until they became anti-US. He was in the Reagan administration, building the Taliban infrastructure. Then he worked for Unocal, a Californian corporation. He's not only American, but a shameless shill for US corporate interests.

Dean: I don't think war with Afghanistan (or Iraq) was specifically designed to support US oil interests. I do believe that the Defence Department guys and Cheney have US oil interests as an overly important influence on their foreign affairs policy, because it's been their focus, and living, for so long.

“You’ve got to go where the oil is. I don’t think about it [political volatility] very much,” Cheney told the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association annual meeting in 1998.

That's a mere two years before he became deputy leader of the "Free World", and six after he was US Sectretary of Defence. I know these guys are thinking about other stuff too, but this is what they know best, and it's easy to convince themselves that it's in America's best interests. (And Cheney still owns a large share in Halliburton).

USA: You rock.
posted by liam at 11:11 PM on September 22, 2001

Hm. Guess I need to do more reading! Can you suggest further sources?

Absolutely agree with you about the oil interests in this administration, influencing domestic as well as foreign policy. It was one of my main concerns before last Tuesday. Still wondering if we'll ever see a list of who drafted the Bush/Cheney energy policy. So many things are now taking a back seat, though -- I have a feeling that once "Infinite Justice" is "over" we'll be told, "Oh yeah, while you guys were paying attention to all that, we passed this legislation, started that drilling project, rescinded these strictures, enacted these corporate tax breaks. Tough on you if you got distracted."
posted by Dean King at 11:28 AM on September 23, 2001

For the benefit of the person who slated the Guardian for publishing this story, a variation actually appeared on the BBC's website a day or two earlier, though it never made it into the broadcast news bulletins.
posted by snowgum at 1:46 AM on September 24, 2001

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