>I have been thinking about this a little lately and was wondering what
>anyone else thought of maybe the US intelligence community allowing these
>hijackers to commit this heinous deed in order for us to engage these people
>with the huge backing of the US populous ala Pearl Harbor ( the US govt.
>knew they were coming but allowed it to happen so that we would have to be
>engaged in WW2 )
(I am cross-posting this to the newly created newsgroup
Yes you could well be right, a sort of Lockerbie scenario.
Here are articles by Andrew Sullivan in the Sunday Times, one from 26
Aug and one from 16 September.
My problem with a *mere* 'burning of the Reichstag' view is that the
bringing down of the Israeli 'plane carrying nerve gas components in
1993 seems to indicate that the capitalist enemies of Israel do have a
significant capability for mounting 'spectaculars' and the required
So perhaps there was a Lockerbie-style scenario where another party was
involved *and* US and Israeli intelligence 'allowed' it to go ahead.
Which may in fact have been what happened with the Reichstag in 1933 -
Marinus van der Lubbe (whom the Stalinists called on the Nazis to
execute) was an anti-Bolshevik communist.
Another thing is that a huge British taskforce was on its way to the
Gulf, ostensibly for an 'exercise', before the attacks in the US took
place. This taskforce includes nearly a quarter of the British army.
Note too what Sullivan says about the prospect of a lot more US
casualties. He seems to be talking about losses far in excess of the
figures incurred by the forces of the most recent 'superpower' to invade
Afghanistan, which lost about 15000 people. How big a war is planned?
America loses faith in the Israeli peace
26 August 2001
Every now and again, amid the pieties and platitudes of diplomacy, some
obvious truths briefly emerge. When IRA suspects were found, in the
middle of a "peace process", apparently training anti-American
guerrillas in Colombia, it briefly occurred to the usual handwringers in
the American press that the IRA doesn't really want peace.
The believers in the "peace process" have subsequently gone into their
usual denial, continuing in their well-meaning fashion to perpetuate war
while they negotiate for "peace". But in Washington, at least, many
people noticed the IRA's intransigence.
It was in some respects a turning point. The notion that the IRA can be
trusted is now all but dead in the American capital. Tony Blair, take
note. Very few people in DC believe in your peace process any more.
But the real shift in American analysis in recent weeks has come over
Israel. Of course, the notion of a negotiable peace with the murdering
hoodlums who run the PLO was always a fantasy. The Oslo agreement has
turned out to be a pretext for Yasser Arafat's continued war against the
very existence of a Jewish state in Zion.
But Arafat's summary rejection of the best offer the Palestinians have
ever had at Camp David dramatically undermined his American apologists.
And the succession of brutal suicide bombings against Israelis that
followed has woken up a few dreamers to what the PLO has been up to all
Perhaps these dreamers were listening to Arafat's television station
recently when it broadcast the following piece of positive thinking:
"All weapons must be aimed at the Jews . . . whom the Koran describes as
monkeys and pigs . . . We will enter Jerusalem as conquerors . . .
Blessings to he who shot a bullet into the head of a Jew."
Or maybe these optimists simply read the report of the recent suicide
bombing printed in USA Today and noted by conservative commentator
George Will: "The blast . . . sent flesh flying onto second-storey
balconies a block away. Three men were blown 30ft; their heads,
separated from their bodies by the blast, rolled down the glass-strewn
street . . . One woman had at least six nails embedded in her neck.
Another had a nail in her left eye. Two men, one with a six-inch piece
of glass in his right temple . . . tried to walk away . . . A man
groaned . . . His legs were blown off. Blood poured from his torso . . .
A three-year-old girl, her face covered with glass, walked among the
bodies calling her mother's name . . ."
But whatever the reason, you can hear a tide quietly turning among
Washington's political and journalistic elites. In a matter of a week,
five separate columns in The Washington Post called for Israel to junk
the Oslo accords and launch a real war against the infrastructure of
Arafat's murder machine. The goal? To separate Israel from neighbouring
Palestinian areas by a simple, defensible wall. No more negotiations
with duplicitous murderers. No more peace process.
Here's the scenario, floated by the Post columnist Charles Krauthammer,
the brilliant analyst who helped formulate the Reagan doctrine: "A
lightning and massive Israeli attack on every element of Arafat's police
state infrastructure - the headquarters and commanders of his eight
security services, his police stations, weapons depots, training camps,
communications and propaganda facilities - with a simultaneous attack on
the headquarters and leadership of Arafat's Hamas and Islamic Jihad
"Arafat has given Israel war; he will now receive it. He either flees
(as he did from Jordan when trying to overthrow King Hussein in 1970) or
is deported back to Tunis (as he was from Lebanon in 1982). Israel does
not reoccupy Palestinian cities. Israeli troops stay only the few days
necessary to (1) begin building a wall of separation between Palestinian
and Israeli territory and (2) evacuate the more far-flung Israeli
settlements. With a new border consolidated, Israel withdraws."
Part of the impulse behind this is not merely frustration but fear that
the Jewish state, once again, is in peril. Demographers predict an Arab
majority within Israel's current extended borders by 2020. Under the
onslaught of constant murder and fear, the Jewish public might be
convinced to surrender enough arms and territory to give the PLO what
they really want: a chance to destroy Israel altogether and murder any
Jew they can find.
The only solution is to retrench in a smaller, more defensible, more
Jewish state. And the only way to do this is unilaterally. Keep
Jerusalem but seal off the rest of the West Bank by a wall similar to
that which keeps Gaza at bay. Give it all to the thugs who now pass for
political leaders among the Palestinians. Accept that the only peace in
the region will be the peace of a threatened war and an impregnable,
walled border. Ehud Barak, burnt by Arafat one too many times, has now
embraced the plan.
Ariel Sharon is said to be mulling it over. Washington's elites have
given Jerusalem the hint that they will do what they can to support
Israel when the usual chorus of international disapproval descends after
What will the Bush administration do? So far, it has issued the usual
bromides, condemning both sides for any violence, regardless of morality
or provocation. Colin Powell at the State Department will whine and
worry. But Powell doesn't matter on this issue - or on much else, for
The secret of the Bush administration is that it is the most proIsrael
of any since Reagan. Cheney and Rumsfeld and Bush have few illusions
about the Palestinians and quietly look at the Clinton administration's
disastrous interventions as a cautionary tale.
If Sharon strikes, Washington will almost certainly refrain from much
but a mild harrumph. And privately, many in Washington will be relieved
that Israel has decided to enforce what no peace agreement with
terrorists could ever accomplish: a real and defensible peace.
What, one wonders, is Jerusalem waiting for?
America at War
There is more horror to come, fears Andrew Sullivan. The demons who
destroyed the American dream have all the western world in their sights
16 September 2001
Why did it have to be such a perfect morning? On the streets of New York
City and Washington DC and in countless other towns and cities in
America, the day was one of those September idylls we almost take for
I was still sleeping, hundreds of miles away. A close friend was in a
plane flying into New York. Another friend who had waved goodbye to me
only two days before, leaving the gym on his bike, had just left Boston
for Los Angeles. A friend of a friend was drinking coffee and staring
out of her office on the 102nd floor.
Commuters were rushing into work; the children of businessmen and
traders were hurrying to school; rail stations and airports were
bustling with early-morning life. A routine fire drill in downtown
Manhattan was filming a training video. And in a clip I have now watched
so many times with a numbness close to dread, a firefighter heard a
sound and looked up into the clear blue sky, with a kind of insouciant
Then, as a plane passed through the glass wall of the vast building, as
seamlessly as a champion diver into water, something in the soul of
America died. We did not know this could happen to us. We did not know
that we, too, were passing through a pane of looking-glass into another
time, another place, another world. And as I write these words, the
throat chokes and thickens, the computer screen shimmers and blurs
before my eyes. What was once unimaginable is now something that needs
Why did it have to be such a perfect morning?
I wish it were possible to look at these words and regard them as
melodrama. But how else can we account for the most searing experience
in American life in modern times? When we write and analyse this event,
we keep using terms that are inadequate to the task. This was not a
terrorist incident. This was not a massacre. This was the first act in
the first war in which America itself is at stake. This has never
People keep talking about Pearl Harbor, as if it is a parallel. It is no
parallel. Yes, there are resemblances. In the recent film of that name,
the scenes that affected American audiences the most were the scenes of
everyday life as the bombers approached: children playing, lovers
cavorting, washing on lines, troops in practice runs. We saw in that
moment the soft carelessness of a democracy still absorbed with itself,
protected by two vast oceans, a hemisphere away from real danger.
That is where the resemblance ends. In 1941 the world was already at war
on one continent. Americans, divided about their role in it and their
responsibilities, were in some sense girded for something profound and
deadly. And yes, the attack was, strictly speaking, on American soil.
But it was on Hawaii that the bombing began - the most remote part of
the United States, separated from the mainland by thousands of miles of
Even reeling from the shock, Americans saw it as an attack on their
military, but not on their heartland. And it was an attack on armed
forces, not civilians. And even this near-miss was never to be repeated.
In the conflict of the second world war, and afterwards in the cold war,
there was never an attack on America itself - its soil, its cities, its
land. Even in the tensest moments of the Cuban missile crisis, nobody in
America was harmed.
The perspective of numbers tells only part of the story, but needs be
made nevertheless. At Pearl Harbor the United States lost 2,403 people;
4,435 were killed during the war for independence. Or take a British
example. In the Falklands war Britain lost 255 men; in the Gulf 47.
Upwards of 3,500 soldiers, terrorists and civilians have died in
Northern Ireland, Britain and the Irish republic during three decades of
the Troubles. The death toll in New York City and Washington on one fine
morning in September will be greater than any of these.
The sanctity of this continent - a sanctity embedded deep in the
American soul - is hard to convey to outsiders. But it is at the very
centre of what America means to Americans. Its founders saw this new
continent as a place apart, a place unlike the old world, a place whose
geographic distance and defensive inviolability was intrinsic to its
The Pilgrims came here to escape persecution, to a place where their
tormentors could not follow. The American revolutionaries fought the
British to insist on their burgeoning difference from the trappings of
monarchy and established church. The forces of the Union in the civil
war triumphed in the bloodiest event in American history to preserve the
unity of this sacred space and to affirm its unique role in the
preservation of liberty, not merely for Americans but for the world.
The wave after wave of immigrants who followed the civil war arrived to
claim a fresh start, a new beginning. They left their old lives behind,
as I did mine, when I arrived here almost two decades ago. This place,
they believed, was not merely somewhere. It was always, in some sense,
an elsewhere. It was the place that would always be different, the place
in which a secure refuge could always be found, a place where a new
world was not just in existence, but ripe for reinvention with each
So when hostages were taken in foreign lands, Americans knew that,
whatever happened, if the hostages could be brought home, they would be
safe. Whatever horrors lay out there, there was always this place, where
no external force could harm them, where no foreign threat could ever
Yes, much of this is myth. But myth matters. A nation that is not built
on race or creed or an ancient history must build itself on something
else. And Americans built themselves on an idea of liberty and wrapped
it in the myth of elsewhere. Their most inspired leaders - from
Washington to Lincoln, from Teddy Roosevelt to FDR, from John Kennedy to
Ronald Reagan - knew that this myth was central to the success of
America, to its self-confidence and cohesion and strength.
While others around the world scoffed at the platitudes of cowboys or
the rhetoric of log-cabin pioneers, the greatest American presidents
spoke to their people in the language of these dreams. This was the myth
of the place apart, the shining city on the hill, the eternal elsewhere.
And when you saw the squeamishness of Americans to intervene abroad,
dangerous reluctance to embroil themselves in foreign entanglements, it
was at some level this myth that prompted them. Isolationism, for all
its faults, was always the flipside of American exceptionalism. It was a
naivety that was nevertheless founded on a dream that refused to die.
In one morning, this dream ended as America was wakened from its long
sleep. The elsewhere is now somewhere. The refuge is now insecure. The
threat from without is now also within. The new world is now just the
world. Isolationism is no longer even a choice. It is lying in the
rubble in downtown Manhattan.
An American writer last week used, perhaps typically, the metaphor of a
movie. This one begins with a young woman at home alone at night. She
gets threatening calls. She dismisses the first. She ignores the second.
Her fear grows. The threats get more intense. She calls the police and
asks them to trace the calls. She locks the doors. She seals the
windows. She sees her boyfriend masked and tied to a chair outside in
the garden. The police call back. They have traced the calls. They are
coming from inside the house.
What these demons have done is something that reflects not an ignorance
of America; the war they have launched is based on a fierce insight into
the American psyche. They have attacked from within. Because they have
no ability to match American military force, they chose to use no
weaponry at all. They used aeroplanes - civil aeroplanes - as flying
bombs. Their only weapons were box-cutters and razor blades. The message
this sends is a simple one: American military and technological might is
If criminals are prepared to die, if they can infiltrate American
intelligence, then no weaponry is necessary. Why didn't the Japanese
think of that? Why didn't the Russians? In one brilliant stroke, the
enemy has shown that the way in which America had come to defend itself
is completely obsolete. It is as if we had confronted the Nazis with
This is designed to encourage defeatism. It is designed not merely to
terrify but to make an argument. That argument is that the very citadel
of American democracy - its Capitol - is defenceless. The plane that
eventually crashed to a halt in the Pentagon had previously circled the
Capitol, the Mall, and the White House, as if to show us what was
possible. Only a few years ago, a light plane had crashed into the White
House grounds. Reagan National airport is just over the river. I cannot
tell you how many times I have landed in Washington and looked out the
window to see the Washington Monument all but staring me in the face.
What were the authorities supposed to do? Shoot down every commercial
flight that could be steered a few miles in the wrong direction with
barely a warning?
For any nation, this possibility is terrifying. For Americans, it is
world-changing. The country that can send a missile halfway across the
globe and hit a target with an accuracy of inches cannot defend its own
White House. The country that has pioneered technology that has
revolutionised the world cannot defend itself against razor blades. The
eloquence of this is peerless. It is an argument that technology and
power are irrelevant in the new war.
To tell Americans this at the dawn of the new millennium is to tell them
that their current way of life is unsustainable if an enemy is willing
to disable it. In this sense, the new security precautions that went
into force this week are laughable. There will no longer be kerbside
check-ins at our overcrowded airports! How any government official could
have announced that with a straight face is beyond me.
The other weapon is America itself. Like a commandeered plane, America
was hijacked for its own destruction. A free country with open borders
and a multiracial population carries within it its own self-detonation
button. It seems clear now that several of the hijackers were trained in
American flight schools. Others had lived here for over a year. The
Muslim sect that pioneered the first attack on the World Trade Center in
1993 was connected to Osama Bin Laden, but had as its inspiration a
demonic mullah who lived in New Jersey.
This is not an enemy in a uniform. It is not an enemy that, in the
ethnic cauldron of New York City, even stands out an inch. And in a
country that pioneered religious freedom, and guarantees it in its
constitution, there is no ability to deter or even stamp out even the
most crazed religious sect. The enemy knows this. Like judo fighters,
they used the might and freedom of the United States as a lever to fight
We so easily forget that the World Trade Center had been targeted before
and that the bombs that went off contained cyanide that was meant to
wipe out every man, woman and child in the great towers. By good fortune
they were never fully activated. The American embassies in Dar es Salaam
and Nairobi were bombed. The USS Cole was bombed off the coast of Yemen.
The latest attack was an exponential leap forward and, as such, it was
more than a mere atrocity. It was an argument, a threat. If, as some
intelligence experts are already speculating, this leap in ambition,
with intelligence that extended to knowing top-secret White House code,
then we are fools to think it is the last.
Yet already in America and around the world there is a sense that this
event was a single one, that it is some sort of unique occurrence from
which we will now recover. One commentator in America even suggested
last week that, given increasingly fast news cycles, this won't even
register as a news item in a couple of months.
The only word for this is denial. What has happened so far is, in all
probability, merely the latest in a slowly escalating scale of attack.
We have been put on notice that every major western city is now
vulnerable to anything - chemical, biological, even nuclear. We knew
this was a possibility and national missile defence is an inadequate but
still necessary part of our self-defence. Our vulnerability to missiles
bearing deadly cargoes from rogue states continues.
Against the rest - the suitcase bomber, the fanatical urban terrorist
with neither a thought for his life nor ours - we are now clearly with
our backs against the wall. It is no longer a matter of whether these
weapons will be used against us, but when. In that sense, this is
clearly not an American problem alone. It is a problem for civilisation
itself. If the effect of this day is to collapse the distinction between
the new world and the old, it follows that we are in this together.
And if the ultimate symbol of that free way of life is America, and if
America is the only power capable of resisting and defeating this in
alliance with its friends and allies, then something else profound has
happened. In one sense, the guards at Buckingham Palace who played the
Star-Spangled Banner last week got it right. We are all Americans now.
For the United States itself, however, this means one central thing.
Isolationism is dead. Even the distinction between foreign and domestic
policy is moribund. Last Thursday up to 50,000 reservists were called up
to release active military for war. The streets of Washington are now
regularly policed by armed guards familiar in Belfast and Tel Aviv but
still chilling in DC. The question now is simply whether the current
administration and Congress are up to a truly mobilised war, a war that
could well mean American civilian and military casualties that make the
World Trade Center seem like a training exercise.
The only honest answer to that question is that we still do not know.
Nobody should mistake the current lull for defeatism, or the lack of an
immediate response for lassitude. The public mood is still one of the
deepest shock imaginable. But there is, among the public, a unity that
does not seem as if it will evaporate soon.
Everywhere you go, you see American flags. They are draped on roofs,
hung on fences, crammed into cracks in walls, stuck on lampposts. This
tells you something. The response to previous acts against Americans was
different. The hostage crisis, the last major event that deeply affected
Americans' sense of vulnerability, was greeted with millions of yellow
ribbons. But now of course the safe home that those ribbons represented
has been attacked. So the symbol now is the brute one of American
patriotism and pride: the flag that is the only national symbol in this
country of the sacred.
There is a sense of solidarity that is hard to convey. Perhaps those in
Britain who still recall the blitz have a sense of what is going on. The
mood of everyone I have talked to in New York is of heroism and rage.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani was made for this moment. He is New York's
Churchill. Barely sleeping, charging through the streets, directing
every detail, knowing every inch of his city, he is the only leader in
America who has so far visibly grown and dominated the scene. He has
reassured and commanded in a way that will never be forgotten. His
combination of chutzpah, practicality and deep, deep compassion is the
essence of New York City.
Giuliani's troops - the firefighters and cops and medics and volunteers
- would make the Londoners of 1940 proud. If New York alone were a
nation - and it has almost twice the population of Israel - then this
war would already be well under way, and its outcome in no doubt.
Bush has so far passed the test. The criticism of his flying to Nebraska
on Tuesday rather than to Washington is specious. When given coded
warnings that Air Force One and the White House were targets, he would
have been criminally irresponsible to cripple the country's command
centre by putting himself immediately in harm's way. Nobody knows yet
the extent of the preparation for war that is now under way. But Bush's
skill is in executive management. He is right not to strike out
counterproductively. But he suffers from one critical weakness.
Bush has yet to speak in a way that commands reassurance, let alone
resurgence. By Thursday, in an unscripted talk with reporters, he was
beginning to improve.
We know one thing about him: he can grow as a leader. What we don't yet
know is whether he can grow quickly enough. He doesn't have the
instinctive grasp of crisis that a Thatcher or a Giuliani or even a
Blair has. That is not his style. But if ever there was a moment in
which Americans needed to be told that they face a challenge unlike any
in their history, it is now. They need to know the reasons for the
sacrifices they may now face.
The terrorists have helped make the president's case for him. No
eloquence can match the impact of their evil. Americans' critical
weakness in the past two decades has been their reluctance to shed blood
for their goals.
They believed they could construct a huge military and never have it
fight real wars and suffer real casualties. They thought they could
alter history and advance their interests by airpower alone. With the
exception of the Gulf war, in which they hesitated to topple their foe,
Saddam Hussein, they have shrunk from the fight.
When the current enemy struck again and again throughout the 1990s, Bill
Clinton responded without real credibility, struck back without real
endurance and enraged the terrorists without truly hurting them. We are
now living with the consequences of his appeasement, and of his refusal
to challenge Americans beyond what the polls said they already wanted to
do. Whoever launched this war on Americans has now accomplished the task
Clinton didn't dare embark on. America has been bloodied as it has never
been bloodied before.
I would be a fool to predict what happens next. But it is clear that
Bush will not do a Clinton. This will not be a surgical strike. It will
not be a gesture. It may not even begin in earnest soon. But it will be
deadly serious. It is clear that there is no way that the United States
can achieve its goals without the co-operation of many other states - an
alliance as deep and as broad as that which won the Gulf war.
As in 1941, the neglect of the military under Bill Clinton and the
parsimony of its financing even under Bush must now not merely be ended
but reversed. We may see the biggest defence build-up since the early
1980s - and not just in weaponry but in manpower.
It is also quite clear that the US military presence in the Middle East
must be ramped up rapidly, its intelligence overhauled, its vigilance
heightened. In some ways, Bush has already assembled the ideal team for
such a task: Powell for the diplomatic dance, Rumsfeld for the deep
reforms he will now have the opportunity to enact, Cheney as his most
trusted aide in what has become a war cabinet.
The terrorists have done the rest. The middle part of the country - the
great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The
decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead - and may well
mount a fifth column.
But by striking at the heart of New York City, the terrorists ensured
that at least one deep segment of the country ill-disposed towards a new
president is now the most passionate in his defence. Anyone who has ever
tried to get one over on a New Yorker knows what I mean. The demons who
started this have no idea about the kind of people they have taken on.
What the terrorists are also counting on is that Americans will not have
the stomach for the long haul. They clearly know that the coming
retaliation will not be the end but the beginning. And when the
terrorists strike back again, they have let us know that the results
could make the assault on the World Trade Center look puny. They are
banking that Americans will then cave in.
The enemy have seen a great country quarrel to the edge of
constitutional crisis over a razor-close presidential election. They
have seen it respond to real threats in the last few years with
squeamish restraint or surgical strikes. They have seen that, as Israel
has been pounded by the same murderous thugs, the United States has
responded with equanimity. They have seen a great nation at the height
of its power obsess for a whole summer over a missing intern and a randy
They have good reason to believe that this country is soft, that it has
no appetite for war. They have gambled that, in response to
unprecedented terror, the Americans will abandon Israel to the
barbarians who would annihilate every Jew on the planet in return for a
respite from terror in their own land.
We cannot foresee the future. But we know the past. And that past tells
us that these people who destroyed the heart of New York City have made
a terrible mistake. This country is at its heart a peaceful one. It has
done more to help the world than any other actor in world history. It
saved the world from the two greatest evils of the last century in
Nazism and Soviet communism. It responded to its victories in the last
war by pouring aid into Europe and Japan.
In the Middle East, America alone has ensured that the last hope of the
Jewish people is not extinguished and has given more aid to Egypt than
to any other country. It risked its own people to save the Middle East
from the pseudo-Hitler in Baghdad.
America need not have done any of this. Its world hegemony has been less
violent and less imperial than any other comparable power in history. In
the depths of its soul, it wants its dream to itself, to be left alone,
to prosper among others, and to welcome them to the freedom America has
This does not mean we are involved in a war between western and Muslim
"civilisations" as armchair geo-politicians have called it, nor between
"Arabs" and the democratic West. Many of Osama Bin Laden's men have
little religious conviction, but a hatred of our freedoms. Despots and
tyrants are the West's real enemies. There is, however, a powerful
current of paranoid anti-semitic and anti- liberal thinking upon which
these evil men feed. These destructive ideas must be combated at every
Whenever Americans have been challenged, they have risen to the task. In
some awful way, these evil thugs may have done us a favour. America may
have woken up for ever. The rage that will follow from this grief and
shock may be deeper and greater than anyone now can imagine. Think of
what the United States ultimately did to the enemy that bombed Pearl
Harbor. Now recall that American power in the world is all but
unchallenged by any other state.
Recall that America has never been wealthier, and is at the end of one
of the biggest booms in its history. And now consider the extent of this
wound - the greatest civilian casualties since the civil war, an assault
not just on Americans but on the meaning of America itself.
When you take a step back, it is hard not to believe that we are now in
the quiet moment before the whirlwind. Americans will recover their
dead, and they will mourn them, and then they will get down to business.
Their sadness will be mingled with an anger that will make the hatred of
these evil fanatics seem mild.
I am reminded of a great American poem written by Herman Melville after
the death of Abraham Lincoln, the second founder of the country:
There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand