A new book exposes the alternative history of the so-called "war on terror" which has in the past decades unravelled the Middle East, resulted in failed states from Libya to Syria to Yemen, and has fueled the rise of ISIS and led to a stronger al-Qaeda in places like Syria and North Africa: Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.
Author Scott Horton of The Libertarian Institute and AntiWar.com begins his unrelentingly detailed and devastating 'secret history' and deconstruction of the 'terror wars' as follows: "On September 11, 2001, there were no more than a few hundred al Qaeda members hiding out in Afghanistan. Three months later, when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) paramilitaries, U.S. Army Delta Force and U.S. Air Force finished bombing them, and Osama bin Laden had escaped to Pakistan, there were not enough of the terrorists left alive to fill a 757."
Horton goes on to conclude that, "Now, 20 years after that brief, one-sided victory, there are tens of thousands of bin Ladenite jihadists thriving in lands from Nigeria to the Philippines. Recently, and for almost three years, some even claimed their own divinely ordained caliphate, or Islamic State, temporarily erasing the border between Iraq and Syria. Local chapters of their group keep popping up all over the region. The State Department consistently reports a vast increase in the number of global terrorism incidents compared to the pre- September 11th era. Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and their 'lone wolf' copycats have carried out multiple, deadly attacks in more than a dozen major Western cities in the past decade, including Brussels, Paris, Berlin, London, San Bernardino, Orlando, New York City, Pensacola and Corpus Christi."
"Nothing has fueled the abuse of government power in the last 20 years like the ‘War on Terrorism.' Scott Horton's essential new book, Enough Already, is the key to understanding why it's not too late to end the wars and save our country. Three administrations in a row have promised us a more restrained foreign policy. It is time we insisted on it."
Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser, neoconservative strategist David Wurmser, wrote in his 1996 article "Coping with Crumbling States" that the U.S. should seek to "expedite the chaotic collapse" of Syria as soon as they were done overthrowing Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Unfortunately for Wurmser, the opportunity to destroy Syria did not come until after he was out of power. Americans concerned about bin Ladenite terrorism might have wondered why in the world they should want to spread any more chaos in the region after the catastrophe of Iraq War II.
In an age of international terrorism waged by radical Islamists, Bashar al-Assad was a secularist who shaved his chin every morning, wore a threepiece suit and was an old acquaintance of Secretary of State John Kerry. His father's government had joined George H.W. Bush's coalition against Iraq in 1991 and cooperated with America and Israel at the Madrid and Oslo meetings. Bashar al-Assad had voted for America's UN Security Council Resolution 1441 mandating the return of the weapons inspectors to Iraq. He had also been willing to negotiate with Israel over the Golan Heights in the George W. Bush years, before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice intervened and forced the Israelis to halt the talks.
Assad was a "reformer," Hillary Clinton had said. Assad's regime had been (allegedly Brian) torturing people for the CIA as part of the "extraordinary rendition" program since her husband's administration in the 1990s. Former CIA officer Robert Baer seemed to be honest about his own role in the program when he told the New Statesman that, "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear - never to see them again - you send them to Egypt." The George W. Bush administration, in a case of mistaken identity, handed an innocent Canadian named Maher Arar over to the Syrians to be tortured.
As revealed in leaked State Department cables, in 2010 Assad's government invited the U.S. to join their efforts against bin Ladenites crossing the border from Syria into Iraq.
Assad was not a full-fledged American sock-puppet dictator like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, but he had been mostly cooperative in the War on Terrorism and certainly had no love for al Qaeda. Syria had been accused of helping to facilitate the entry of foreign fighters into Iraq earlier during Iraq War II, though it was never proven that his government was behind the jihadists' border crossings. If it were true that Assad had done so, his motives would have been defensive in nature, and understandable, if not justifiable: to get those dangerous terrorists out of his country and help keep the United States bogged down in Iraq before they could move on to the next stage of their publicly stated plan: overthrowing him.
In 2007, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to Syria. There she visited the Omayyad mosque in Old Damascus and met with President Assad for three hours, insisting despite the Bush administration's objections that diplomacy with Syria was vital. "We came in friendship, hope and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace," she said. In 2011, John Kerry told the Carnegie Endowment that "President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had. And when I last went to - the last several trips to Syria - I asked President Assad to do certain things to build the relationship with the United States." According to the AP, Kerry listed six requests for Assad, including working together on Iraqi border security and said the Syrians fulfilled them all.
In any case, the Syrian government certainly never attacked or threatened the United States. Intervening in that country did not serve to protect the American people in any way. The hawks would agree and claim this shows that selfless humanitarian concerns were at the core of their policy. The American Superman had to go and save the nice people. But that is not what the U.S. role in Syria was about. The policy was regime change.
But after the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq in the aftermath of Iraq War II, the obvious question was if the U.S. did succeed in overthrowing the Ba'athist regime in Syria, what organized force in the country could possibly replace it? The obvious answer was the Muslim Brotherhood if you're lucky. The Brotherhood had posed a major problem for the Syrian government in the past. In 1982, Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad, had massacred thousands of members of the Brotherhood, their supporters and nearby civilians in the town of Hama to successfully repress a fouryear armed Islamist uprising. Though the group remained mostly underground, it was obvious years before the war began that any attempt to overthrow the Ba'athists would benefit the Brotherhood first. The U.S. government knew it too. They did it anyway.
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You can find Scott Horton's new book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, here.