The saddest aspect to the whole sorry saga is that the success of the “Bush lie” remains. And, for the comfort of those who might be thinking I am about to deny the Holocaust I explain.
The “Bush lie” is not that 9/11 never happened, nor any of the far fanciful conspiracy theories that have sprung up around and since those tragic events. The “Bush lie” swings far more on the conflation of statism, realpolitik, and religious zealotry on the part of the few.
“Statism”, at least the context in which I prefer the term –
“… the ideology of statism that holds that Sovereignty is vested not in the people but in the national state, and that all individuals and associations exist only to enhance the power, the prestige, and the well-being of the state. The concept of statism, which is seen as synonymous with the concept of nation, and corporatism repudiates individualism and exalts the nation as an organic body headed by the Supreme Leader and nurtured by unity, force, and discipline.
This first part of the conflation stems from, and clearly explains; the actions of al Qaeda; the actions taken by the US against Afghanistan and Iraq specifically (and militarily). The justifications, outcomes and consequences of all are not at issue but are now matters of history. What is critical is the confusion (of and by) the individual – such as Saddam, bin Laden, Bush and Cheney – with Nation.
“A usually expansionist national policy having as its sole principle advancement of the national interest.”
“Governmental policies based on hard, practical considerations rather than on moral or idealistic concerns. Realpolitik is German for “the politics of reality” and is often applied to the policies of nations that consider only their own interests in dealing with other countries.”
The combination and confusion of statism and realpolitik is understandable, especially on the part of the US as these are the foundation stones of their modern Republic. Yeah, I know that will get into the noses of quite a few from the US right but please remember, as your blood pressure rises, that that statism is exactly what you are trying to fight against.
Realpolitik comes from, rather than leads to, the opportunities presented by events. There is no question that 9/11 was seen as a prime opportunity to gain considerable advantage in the national interests of the US, quite apart from the social and national impact of the attack. Those opportunities were seen as providing potential solutions to a number of perceived and quite intractable problems looming in the not too distant future. Similarly, the political motives of binLaden and al Qaeda were aimed at consolidation and confirmation of their statism by the creation of their realpolitik.
If you detect a subtle nuance here you are not wrong. The difference between the two comes from the motives of those involved. On the US side the actions and motives of individuals were undoubtably intended as for the national good. For alQaeda’s part, the motives and actions of individuals were as equally intended for personal reasons as for the good of their “State”.
It is that point which raises the third colour in the blend. I can remember very clearly the very first, short, statement made by GWB after 9/11. I can remember the very visible wince from Cheyney as Bush stated the US’s intention to proceed with a “crusade against terrorism”, corrected part way through the phrase to “war on terrorism”. The Freudian slip of “crusade” for “war” has to be accepted as unintentional. That it slipped into the line indicates that its use had likely been discussed prior and discarded as being the wrong word to use. The religious connotation did not fit.
The implied “US-Judeo-Christianity versus Islam” would immediately become a religious war. The consequence would be to exclude many, if not all, Middle Eastern states as potential allies. On the other side, the Bush slip was exactly what alQaeda wanted. It was their intention from the beginning to make 9/11 the beginning of “the greatest ever jihad against Islam’s greatest ever enemy”. The accidental and momentary slip of the tongue was more than they could have hoped for. That the intended enemy was Israel rather than the US became forgotten from the instant the first aircraft hit.
I can not be certain, and I doubt that Bush’s memoir will cover the point, whether the intensity of the religious reaction in the US to 9/11 was intended. It best remains as an “unintended consequence”; one which had only beneficial impact for those in power in the US; one which focussed public attention on “the enemy” of Islam; and a consequence which again was entirely what alQaeda had hoped for. It is this part of the “Bush lie” that remains. It is evidenced – mostly on the right to far right – as an intense and enduring fear and hatred of ALL Islam. In saying that, I realise that it is an over-simplification because it is also strongly evident to the left as well in that part of US which strongly supports Israel. That section is not Jewish, nor Israeli. There is a strong nationalist religious element to the support of Israel in realpolitik and the American electorate.
I started with the statement that the success of the “Bush lie” still remains. It is not a lie that was spoken, nor perhaps even intended by GWB himself. I have consistently put the “Bush lie” in quotes because it is not a conscious untruth, an intended misleading. It is a consequence of a whole society (intentionally? I do not think so) taking the fact, the statism, the realpolitik, and the religious zealotry as one.
On the other side, bin Laden (if he is still alive) and alQaeda have succeeded probably beyond their wildest dreams in provoking the US people into that conflation. Their success in that regard has not reached, nor suaded, more than a very few of the people of Islam. To that extent they have failed.
They have however created a “State” which carries their power. It has no boundaries. It has no recognition as a formal “State” for that reason. It needs neither of those. They have also created a realpolitik which will have a large influence on the actions of other nations into the future. The reason for alQaeda is enough to ensure its continuance into the immediate future. The very great danger in the longer term will be realised if the realpolitik of the alQaeda jihad becomes the norm of Islam. It will become so if the mirror image of the west’s conflation (statism/realpolitik/religion) can be created from the actions of western states against Islam through alQaeda.
Allah willing it shall not.