February 9th, 2007

reading, activism, writing

Book 8: The Looming Tower

Lately I've been subjecting myself to several books that recount the period leading up to the attacks on September 11th and the aftermath. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright is yet another in the series that includes such titles as:
Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back, by Moazzam Begg
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, by Richard A. Clarke
Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, by Anthony Arnove
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11, by Ron Suskind
Chain of Command: The road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, by Seymour M. Hersh
The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina, by Frank Rich
The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward -- A New Approach

At this point it's clear that major bungling occurred between so-called "intelligence agencies" and that the Bush administration, in particular, had blinders on when it came to items outside of their opportunist agenda. What's also clear is that the war in Iraq is not an extension of the "global war on terror," but part of a long-standing agenda held by elements in the Bush administration.

Conspiracies like Al-Qaeda will always exist. That fact has been proved repeatedly over history. But the real question that these books haven't addressed is not what motivated the conspirators, but what conditions exist to make the conspiracy popular and have widespread support?

Let's face it, the US acts like a large vacuum cleaner, sucking up resources, money, people, and raw materials from one end of the earth to the other. Value is extracted from regions and little money flows into the hands of the population. Some elements in the impoverished countries will become fabulously wealthy, but for the most part, poverty has been the result.

So while Lawrence Wright has written an interesting book about the motivations of the leaders of Al-Qaeda and some of the people who carried out the attack on September 11, he leaves out the other part of the equation. That is that the economic system of capitalism, and with it imperialism, cannot survive without exploitation. It's not a policy. It won't go away with a few laws. It is fundamental.

So if you want to know the motivations of Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri, read The Looming Tower, but don't expect that knowing will bring you any closer to changing the baseline problems that keeps their type of philosophy supported and fat with recruits.

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