Among the biblical prophets, Jeremiah has something of a bad name. When you say someone publishes a jeremiad, readers don’t usually take it as as compliment. Yet our Jeremiahs say things we have to hear. As prophets do, they issue warnings: If you do these things, you will suffer retribution and disaster as a result. A warning like that acquires special force for a nation that undertakes aggressive war.
A prophet would say, “Don’t do it!” Don’t go that way, for calamity will follow. Many, many people issued that warning before George W. Bush undertook Shock and Awe in Iraq in March 2003. No one could turn him back. Now buildings burn, families drown, and innocent people die everywhere from Pakistan to Paris. You cannot blame Bush for every act of warfare that followed his blind, reckless attack. Yet history’s judgment will rest with him for starting a conflagration that consumes everything it touches, including our own civilization.
When Bush and his national security cabinet announced in 2002 that they wanted to start a war with Iraq, the idea floored critics. When his vulcans went further, to state they wanted to attack Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein because he helped to execute the 9/11 attacks, no one skeptical of Washington’s propaganda could grasp how the United States could invent a plainly false casus belli, then attack a weak nation under such a wild pretense. Not only was the war a blunder, the justification for it was inexplicable.
To explain a serious mistake, you have to discover and analyze the action’s true motivations. Motivations for initiation of aggressive war cannot be simple or unmixed, nor will they reveal themselves entirely through political leaders’ public statements. If you want to know why the United States attacked Iraq in a preemptive war in 2003, you have to consider more than propaganda that preceded the war. Nevertheless, the president’s propagandists revealed something when they tied their reasons for war to the Twin Towers. To explain the war, you have to explain 9/11.
The latter task is incomplete. We do not have an accurate explanation of why or how 9/11 occurred. We have memorials, books, reports, video recordings, and photographs, but we do not have an explanation. An explanation would describe exactly what happened, how the attackers planned and carried out their destruction, where responsibility for the crime lies, and why the attacks occurred. Right now we have nothing of the sort, though independent researchers have made an excellent start. Official reports and mainstream journals contain no explanations relevant to anything that actually happened.
I have made this point many times in past writings. If we do not uncover, then face the truth about what happened on 9/11, we cannot assemble the wherewithal to face our opponents. The national security state that pretends to protect us will not do so. You cannot enter a struggle of the kind that has developed for fourteen years with deceit at your back. Falsehood offers no foundation for strength. Expressions of solidarity, though valuable, cannot compensate for chronic dishonesty. We have to acknowledge – and own – what we have done to extinguish the passion for death kindled in 2003.