Atanu Dey On India's Development

September 11th, 2006

“Where were you on Sept 11th?” is always going to be an easy question to answer for me, and I guess for a few hundred million others. Not only the day but the exact set of events that led up to the shock of learning that something extraordinary was happening would be forever remembered and often recalled.

I was living in Berkeley then, sharing an apartment on the south side of the campus with Wayne, a fellow graduate student. I woke up grumbling because I heard Wayne’s phone ring in his bedroom. Did not know the time but it was too early for me. It was not even 6 AM.

Then Wayne knocked on my bedroom door and told me to see what was on the TV in the living room. The first image I saw was a close up of a burning building. Then the camera pulled back and there were the Twin Towers of the WTC. Later I saw the towers collapse one by one. I can still recall the shock and disbelief. I stood there in my pajamas glued to the TV till about 1 PM when I had to get ready for teaching at 2 PM.

What made it personal, I have often wondered. I had seen NYC from the observation deck of one of those towers nearly 20 years before. I recall the ride up in the high speed elevator and then the thrill of being in the tallest building in the world. Been in that building, been in those planes. But the most important thing was this: I had been ranting about the dangers of Islamic terrorism for years to Americans. Now it was a stunning confirmation of what I had been convinced about.

The following week I spoke at a panel discussion on campus on terrorism. Normally restrained, I was not at that event. A few days later, I wrote The Looking Glass War.

Five years and a few thousand more big and small acts of Islamic terrorism later, the world is still asleep at the wheel. Slowly we are getting accustomed to living with terror if we are lucky, and dying horribly if we are unlucky enough to be going about our mundane lives when the Islamic terrorists strike.

That day was so traumatic to the Americans that they simply refer to it as 9/11. Short, crisp, unique. Of course, in their parochial ignorance, they thought that Islamic terrorism was invented that day. Nope. The world has been the victim for centuries; it was the first time that it was caught live on TV.

The world likes aping the Americans. So every major event of Islamic terrorism is referred to with the American date naming convention of month/day. The Mumbai blasts of 11th July is now 7/11. Be that as it may, this whole naming convention of MM/DD is silly because soon enough the entire calendar will get populated with such dates, starting with 1/1 and ending with 12/31.

The breast beating that Americans indulge in on Sept 11 every year is somewhat nauseating. Sure about 3,000 died on that day. To someone whose country has seen much worse and for centuries, American reaction seems as being both hypocritical and silly. The US created those monsters which attacked it on that day. The chickens were coming home to roost.

The US is the world’s sole superpower. It can, if it really wanted, end Islamic terrorism. But its interests lie not in world peace but in selling weapons. To give military aid to the terrorist nation of Pakistan would seem to be an act of supreme stupidity. It is an entirely rational strategy if the goal its goal is to maintain its hegemony. How?

Here are the key concepts which tell the story: Middle East oil, despotic Islamic oil-rich kingdoms, weapons trade, winking at Chinese and Pakistani nuclear proliferation, gifting weapons to Pakistan, funding jihad around the world, borrowing trillions from the poor, arming third world countries, fueling conflicts, preaching “democracy” and practising colonialism.

We do live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse goes.

  • M
  • http://www.MykesWeblog.com Myke

    War and weapons are big business. Big business funds politics. Trade laws support big business.

  • http://www.hoax-buster.org BG

    Correct. I have no difficulty remembering 9-11-2001. I was watching CNBC when the switched to the scene before the second plane hit.

    I also remember what the president said, his first words, a little late I thought and then, “go to your churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and pray.” I had a knee jerk reaction to that and mumbled to myself, “the chief must sacrifice his favorite daughter to appease the angry god or the volcano will never stop errupting.”

    Evidently Mr Bush was dazed, had lost touch. He didn’t recognize that the country had been attacked by a religion. I can appreciate his frustration. FDR could point to Japan over Pearl Harbor. Religions cross international boundaries like the wind. Who does one shoot back at?

    http://www.hoax-buster.org will give one a hint or two about how to deal with religions that mount devistating attacks. Mr Bush got his post as president from religion and therefore what we observe is righ in line with that. So the question is not will religion decide the fate of man but which religion will do it?

  • http://valluvar.blogspot.com shiv

    “The US created those monsters which attacked it on that day. The chickens were coming home to roost.”

    Case in point. It was a different story when the same people were going after the Russians isnt it ?

  • http://www.onemoreidea.org Brij

    Plugged as you are I am sure you must have ran across this essay –

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/story/0,,1868839,00.html

    Plenty of high altitude reflections.

  • http://flawedskull.spaces.msn.com Tushar Saxena

    Atanu, I think resorting to terms like ‘colonialism’ is utterly uninformed for a person like you. Its the language of the Verbal Terrorist. US simply does wht every nation should do – pursue its own interests. And its leaders do that obviously. We can be sure that the majority in America would be utterly appalled if they all were to see the full faces of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who are ‘friends and vital allies’ of the Bush administration. You also completely fail to consider the power of oil money. Most of the time, the Oil companies are vilified as the Big Oil conglomerate which feeds on wars and preys on Americans’ need for oil when infact its the hugely influential Saudi lobby (which has the trusted support of Bush and James Baker). Its not just economics which has kept the Bush admin. supporting Pak but short sightedness and muddleheadedness. Their big Iraq the Model project is not going well but they insist it will. This is most certainly not malevolence but ignorance and incompetence. This same short sightedness led them to support the afghani jihadis against the Soviets. Pakistan, of course has been the clever cat snatching opportunity after opportunity to squeeze money and arms out of Uncle Sam by selling the lie that its supposed support is indispensable to the War on Terror ™. US gives aid not just to Pak, but to all Arab states, even those it has absolutely no business relationship with. This is not malevolence, just plain stupidity. I think you should read some more on the internal dynamics of US politics over the last half century vis-a-vis international relations to get the full picture. ‘Colonialism’ is just umm..a tired old slogan used by leftists to keep old hags in ranks.

    Atanu’s response: Tushar, colonialism is a historical fact that goes with empires. I did not imagine the word nor the world in which it was a fact. It is an impulse as deeply felt by empires as the acquisitive impulse is felt by the average human. Like individuals, nation states also puruse their own self-interest. The US is not exempt. My condemnation of the hegemony that the US has is not exceptional. I condemn it all. The weak will be preyed upon by the strong. That is the law.

    I don’t know whether what I am doing echoes what the communists have said or not. Perhaps they have. But merely because communists have said it does not automatically make it false. If the communists had the power, they too would be pretty happy to oppress the weak. Thankfully they came out as the losers in the just concluded conflict with the non-communists.

    My admiration for the US is not diminished by my contempt for the neocons who hold power in the US. It is possible to be fully aware of the interests of a nation and at the same time face the fact that that self-interest is also causing immense harm. Six billion dollars a month spent on the War on Iraq speaks volumes.

    [Also see my previous post on What the World Owes the US.]

  • http://flawedskull.spaces.msn.com Tushar Saxena

    Also, Atanu, its very fashionable to say that the US ‘created those monsters’ but simply providing them enuf arms to carry out a jihad against their communist foes does not in anyway create them. Laden was counselled by Ayman al-Zawahiri who was one of those imprisoned by the Egyptian government as the arm that broke away from Al-Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood). The Brotherhood was not created by the US, neither was jamaat-e-islami or any other Islamic jihadi organisation. To claim so is to be ignorant of the facts.
    The Ikhwan was started by Hassan al Banna whose grandson Tariq Ramadan is now lecturing the Europeans about ‘tolerance’ and ‘understanding.’ You think that the West was very well off before Islamic terrorism, but you might not be aware of the radical struggle going on for its soul between leftists and post-Westerners and common people.
    I only wonder why the United States is such a fascination with the world to demonise and love. All superpowers that have ever existed have played political games in the world, did some harm (some more than others) and did some good (some none, some lots). China has probably done more brutal things than US ever has but the Chinese dragon breathes quietly while the Americans are loudmouthed public-square suits. Well that was just an idle wandering thought.
    Regards

    Atanu’s response: Tushar, I try to understand what is going on. The seed of Islamic terrrorism could not have been planted by the neocons that run the US. The seeds are centuries old and the neocons have not been around that long. The roots of Islamic terrorism go deep into the ground. The US only relatively recently started using the fruits of that tree to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. They cultivated the tree a bit, gave it some more nourishment so that it bears more fruits. Then they collected the harvest–a bitter harvest.

    The narrative of the current global Islamic terrorism is long and interesting. For the interested, I came across this rather long piece in the New Yorker: The Master Plan . Everything you wanted to know about al-Qaida and its family but were afraid to ask sort of a piece.

    So, yes, the US did not literally create them ab initio. But neither did Dr Frankenstein create the monster from nothing. The parts were there. He put them together. And then the monster turned against its creator. Same old story.

  • http://flawedskull.spaces.live.com Tushar Saxena

    Atanu, you are right about the colonialism part. However, your statements about US ‘creating the monster that turned against it’ are only formed by half the truth. To see why this is so, let us examine how the system of Jihad was revived in the 20th century.

    1) Oil money — According to an estimate, the 10 trillion USD that the GCC has earned in the last 3 decades has been the most massive transfer of wealth in human history. After building roads, madrassas and importing cars and other luxurious items, the massive residual wealth was turned to funding Jihad. This is not exclusively about terrorism. Jihad is simply using all means used to expand Islam and its power in the world. The Saudis have bought an army of apologists in the US and Europe. THese consist of ex-diplomats, ex-CIA officers — hundreds of them now masquerading as ‘Middle East Business Consultants’ have been ill-informing the American public and government for decades. The quintessential example of this is the ARAMCO coffee table books that describe Saudi as a gentle absolutist land with striking deserts and a humane populace. GCC states have been using this same money to install chairs in universities like the King Abdul Aziz bin Saud chair of Middle Eastern studies in Columbia University (I could be wrong bout the exact name, forgive me). They have been giving money to scholars to ‘improve’ Islam’s image to deceive and deceive and deceive. They have been also funding and creating supposedly ‘moderate’ organisations like CAIR to spout out the occassionaly ambiguous denunciation of Jihad terror attacks coupled with warnings about ‘American foreign policy’s effects on radicalisation.’ These gentlemen and women have been active on university campuses and mosque ‘outreach programs’ deceiving Americans whenever the need arises and trumping up supposed ‘Anti-Muslim hate crimes.’ The report released last year by CAIR on those supposed crimes have been shown to be trumped up several notches with outright invented crimes which never occurred.

    2) The EU Project — Classic case of leftist anti-Americanism. In the early 70′s (according to established scholar of Dhimmitude – Ba’at Ye’or) the European Commission committed itself to Le Dialogue Euro-Arabe, according to which, Europe would receive millions of immigrants from Dar-al-islam for cheap labor and in return invest in the middle east also earning cheaper oil guarantees from the Oil Sheikhs. THe diabolical Jihad from behind the lines of Bilad-al-Kufr (Lands of the Infidels) was started thus. This Gulf States have funded construction of thousands of mosques, sent preachers and distributed anti-semitic and anti-Western propaganda in Europe, the fruit of which you can now see on the evening news. France, the chief progenitor of this Euro-Arab Dialogue harbored a sense of Napoleonic Superiority — a wish to enlarge itself after the collapse of Algerie Francais. Unfortunately, it will end up breaking into many pieces.

    3) The Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Persia — The first overthrow of a seemingly-secular despot by a band of islamic mullahs and their cohorts signalled to The Ikhwan that violent struggle to overthrow Arab despots and replace them with more Islamic governments should be abandoned and Khomeini’s path should be followed. This is why you now see Muslim Brotherhood activists advocating peace everywhere, albeit their final aim is overthrow of all non-islamic governments and replacement with Shariah. THe Islamic revolution also gave a huge adrenaline shot to all Jihad-wannabes and veterans to aspire to bigger goals and think them achievable (like defeating the US).

    I could go on, but I have to run for class now. Looking forward to your response.

    Regards
    Tushar