A Case of Just Looking Stupid? The Not-So-Bright Bulbs at the White House and Pentagon
Let me see if I’ve got this right.
Back on September 11, 2001, according to the official government story, a bunch of Muslim fanatics working for a terrorist outfit called Al Qaeda attacked the US. They had been trained to take over and fly several fully loaded and fueled wide-bodied jets into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center towers and, allegedly, the White House, and managed to hit three out of their four targets with devastating impact.
Because their maximum leader Osama Bin Laden was holed up in Afghanistan, a guest of the Taliban government there, and had some bases there where he was reportedly training his terrorist army and preparing for more mayhem, Congress, at the request of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, declared war not just on Afghanistan, but on Al Qaeda and on “terror” in general, unleashing the whole US military on anyone who so as much as wrote an email to someone else suggesting that it might be fun to blow out the windows in a storefront post office.
Flash forward a decade or so. As the Arab Spring, a wave of popular uprisings against sclerotic dictatorships and anachronistic, ossified sultanates in the Middle East, swept across the Arabian peninsula and North Africa, eventually the cartoonish tyrant Col. Muammar Gaddafi came under threat. Libyans of many political persuasions poured into the streets in the capital of Tripoli, the second city of Benghazi and elsewhere, and a civil war erupted. The US, which in many of the Arab Spring uprisings chose to side, at least until the cause was seen as doomed, on the side of the dictators (Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain) or the royals (Tunisia), in Libya’s case quickly moved to back the rebels. Oddly though, many of those rebels the US was backing turn out to have been fundamentalist Muslims, sometimes linked directly to Al Qaeda. The blowback came quickly too, with a deadly attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, in which the visiting US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed.
That disaster hasn’t deterred the US from a policy of backing Al Qaeda, though. In Syria, where another popular uprising against a brutal tyrant, this time Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the son of long-time Syrian dictator Hafiz al-Assad, finds the US enthusiastically if surreptitiously helping to arm and organize the rebels, despite knowing that much of the rebellion’s leadership and many of its fighters are fundamentalist Muslims who self-identify with Al Qaeda. These people are being supplied with not just rifles, machine guns, mortars and anti-aircraft weapons, but with deadly Stinger wire-guided, shoulder-fired missiles -- the kind that are easily smuggled and that are easily capable of taking down a 747 or A330 jumbo jet on takeoff or landing from as much as a mile away.