By Kevin Barrett, Veterans Today Editor
Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, author of Why We Lost
US Army General Daniel Bolger, a leading commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, has called for hearings on 9/11 and the 9/11 wars.
During an exclusive interview with Truth Jihad Radio, I asked Gen. Bolger whether we needed a new investigation of 9/11 in light of the fact that much of the world, including 80% of Muslims, believe it was a false-flag inside job.
Gen. Bolger replied:
“We need to have public hearings sort of like the 9/11 Commission, for our own people first, for Americans! I mean, you’re American. Wouldn’t you like to know – wouldn’t you like to see not just me, but other people like me, come into a public forum and answer the kind of questions you’re asking me today?”
Indeed I would, I replied – especially if people like Dick Cheney are forced to give their answers under oath. Any half-decent local DA could smash Cheney’s conflicting accounts of what he was doing on 9/11 into pieces in about five minutes.
Gen. Bolger deserves credit for his willingness to engage in serious dialogue with a 9/11 skeptic. And he deserves even more credit for calling for Congressional hearings at which the neocon architects of the 9/11 wars, as well as the military officers who fought those wars, could be grilled under oath.
Though not every US leader is brave enough to say so, the 9/11 wars were a disaster. America’s economy, reputation, and Constitution are all in shambles. Maybe it’s time to go back and figure out where it all went wrong?
Gen. Daniel Bolger makes a good start in his new book Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The book begins: “I am a US Army General and I lost the Global War on Terrorism. It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. So do my peers. And thanks to our problem, now all of America now has a problem, to wit: two lost campaigns and a war gone awry.”
Though Gen. Bolger doesn’t quite come right out and say so, I think he understands that the war “went awry” from the very beginning. The whole idea of invading, occupying, and nation-building Afghanistan and Iraq as a response to the dubious events of 9/11 – which clearly had nothing to do with the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq – never made any sense.
From his perspective, it would have been much more sensible to overthrow the Taliban and/or Saddam Hussein and then quit while we were ahead, leaving the people of Afghanistan and Iraq in control of their own destinies. If we really wanted to occupy and nation-build in those countries, he says, we would have had to basically announce that we were staying there forever and turn them into “the 51st and 52nd states.”
Somehow I’m not sure that Americans, much less the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, will ever be quite ready for that.
Why We Lost is a terrific account of Gen. Bolger’s painful experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he fought beside US troops on the front lines and also participated in meetings of top military decision makers. Its only major flaw is its failure to explore alternative explanations of what the US was really doing in the 9/11 wars.
The real reason the US lost, Gen. Bolger admits, is that we had no good answer to the basic question: Who is the enemy? Terrorism, the General admits, is not a realistic enemy. The notion of fighting terrorism, a military tactic consisting of attacking civilians to inspire fear, makes no sense. Instead, he suggests, we should have framed the enemy as “anti-Western Islamists and the ramshackle, quasi-fascist Middle East states that enabled them” (xiv).
But this answer, too, makes no sense. Saddam Hussein was no Islamist. In fact, he ruthlessly suppressed Islamists. The British government has done far more to “enable” Islamists than Saddam’s Iraq ever did. So, for that matter, has the American government. Both the US and Britain have allowed Saudi money to finance some of the most virulent Wahhabi strands of anti-Western “Islamism” inside the West. The CIA even uses “Islamist” fighters to run drugs and attack Russia, and has been doing so ever since the US-supported Afghan jihad of 1979. More recently, they’ve used “Islamists” to destroy Libya and attack Syria and Iraq.
So it’s silly to frame “Islamism” as the enemy. Secular anti-imperialists and anti-Zionists are just as likely to attack Western targets as “Islamist” ones are. The vast majority of the people of the Middle East, whatever their degree of religiosity, are anti-Western in the sense that they oppose Zionism and imperialism. Indeed, the backbone of the Iraqi resistance against US occupation consisted of secularist Saddam Hussein loyalists.
Additionally, many “Islamists” are “anti-Western” mainly in the sense that they don’t like pornography, alcohol, sexualized advertising, usury, and other manifestations of Western decadence. But relatively few “Islamists” hate democracy. Both the leading force of Shi’a Islamism, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the less-successful, less-savvy but still leading force of Sunni Islamism, the Muslim Brotherhood, are very strongly pro-democracy.
In fact, Islamists (meaning Islamic political activists) generally LOVE democracy! It is the secular dictators and secular ruling classes in Muslim-majority countries who hate democracy, because they know democracy empowers Islam. The Shah, a secularist, hated democracy, while the Islamic Republic that overthrew him is the most democratic nation in the Middle East. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood loves democracy because it elected President Morsi, while the Jewish-secularist fuhrer al-Sisi has destroyed Egyptian democracy so he and his secularist cronies can continue to loot the country. In Algeria, French-supported secularist thugs crushed the nascent Islamic democracy circa 1990. And on and on it goes.
By 2014, with the US fleeing both Iraq and Afghanistan with its red-white-and-blue tail between its legs, Gen. Bolger writes: “Behind it all, the old question hovered, rarely asked aloud: Who was the enemy? Al-Qaeda. The Taliban. The green-on-blue turncoats. Karzai. The Pashtuns. The Pakistanis. Everyone. It was past time to go.”
And that was the problem. Everyone WAS the enemy. When you invade and occupy someone else’s country, everybody in that country, plus anyone else on earth with a functioning conscience, an active heart and mind, and a shred of integrity, decides that YOU are the enemy.
We have met the enemy and he is us.
America’s tragic flaw, in General Bolger’s view, was “a distinct lack of humility” (431). US leaders thought that because they could quickly and easily overthrow the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, they could be equally successful in imposing their wills in a longer-term occupy-and-nation-build operation. After all, doesn’t the whole world want to be just like us?
To call this line of thinking “lack of humility” is an understatement. Satanic arrogance would be more accurate.
I would add that US decision makers lacked empathy as well as humility: They were unable to grasp how their opponents thought and felt. “We didn’t know our enemy,” Gen. Bolger says. Perhaps the unwillingness to walk a mile in the enemy’s boots was due to an unconscious realization that the enemy was right and we were wrong. If we try to see things from the perspective of people fighting to liberate their countries from occupation, we might realize that those people are the heroes…and we are the villains.
whywelostAn alternative subtitle might have been appropriate: Why We Lost…And Deserved to Lose.
Gen. Bolger describes how occupying troops and occupied trainees had to pretend to be friends…until the occupied trainees would occasionally “express their real feelings” (403) by suddenly killing their US trainers. These “green on blue” attacks, like the fraggings of overly-zealous commanders in Vietnam, sapped morale and exposed the bogus basis of the war.
When someone says “I am from the US government and I am here to help you” even Americans roll their eyes. So imagine how people of countries occupied by US troops feel about the “help” they’re supposedly getting from the foreign soldiers who have slaughtered so many of their countrymen.
Handed such a rotten mission by the criminals who launched the 9/11 wars, Gen. Bolger and most other US soldiers seem to have served according to their sense of honor and duty, given their flawed understanding of what was going on. Why We Lost evocatively describes the sights, sounds, and smells of what it was like to be a soldier in these godforsaken wars, and paints a picture of mostly-decent young men and women trying to serve their county as best they can. It reveals that there is something heroic – flawed, to be sure, but still heroic – in doing your best for a bad cause that you don’t really understand. (I suppose the same could be said about some Islamic State fighters too.)
But ignorance as an excuse can only get you so far. The bottom line is that these young American men and women fought, killed, and died for a monstrous lie. That is the real reason Why We Lost.
Gen. Bolger’s book takes the official version of 9/11 as axiomatic. It completely ignores the real elephant in the living room: the Zionist role in US mideast policy in general and in 9/11 and the 9/11 wars in particular. Most VT readers will find these lacunae annoying.
But despite its inevitable shortcomings, Why We Lost is a terrific (though painful) read. More importantly, it could be a substantial force for good in the world. By facing up to a fair bit of a very unpleasant reality, General Daniel P. Bolger has courageously opened the door for a critical re-examination of America’s most recent – and perhaps most disastrous – wars. By reading his book, heeding his words, and ultimately facing the full truth about this horrendous chapter in our history – including the 9/11 big lie that launched the whole sorry episode – Americans may still have a chance to heal and save their country.
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