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9/11 Inquiry,
March 28, 2004
Paul Fitzergerald www.grailwerk.com/

I wish to thank Carol Brouillet for inviting us to San Francisco and this amazing conference. It’s been an inspirational three days. You should know that the event you just saw on the screen was at the Parker House Press room in Boston, the place where JFK announced his candidacy for President in 1960. You see, ritual is important - not just to skull and bones.

In the fall of 1980 I approached the prospect of scooping an Afghanistan story with a fair degree of excitement. It was December 27, 1979 that Afghanistan had first flashed across American TV screens. On that night a squad of specially trained Soviet commandos parachuted onto the manicured grounds of the Daruluman Palace on the outskirts of Kabul - shot their way through to the beleaguered Marxist President, Hafizullah Amin and set the stage for a Soviet invasion that would rock the world.

Within hours, a chorus of voices demanded retribution - with Harvard professor Richard Pipes amongst the first to decry the Soviet move as "... a springboard from which to launch offensives both into the Indian subcontinent and into Iran..." And following in that tone America’s media presented the Soviet invasion as an overt act of communist aggression that took the United States by complete surprise.

In Jimmy Carter’s words, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan represented the greatest threat to peace since world war II and over the next ten years the United States Congress provided the funding for the greatest U.S. military buildup since WWII to match it.

Little concern was voiced in the United States at the time as to whether a World War II scale military response was appropriate. Even less concern was voiced over America’s sudden embrace of Pakistan’s extremist-linked military government which was already under sanction by the United States for it’s covert nuclear weapons program.

For most, watching the events of September 11, 2001 was their initiation into the black logic of the Afghan drama. But for me, September 11 was proof - and vindication that America’s secret and unnecessary war in Afghanistan had been a dangerous, self-destructive folly which knowingly undermined international law and diplomacy while weakening our own national security. It was also proof that America’s media had been complicit in that folly - by not only failing to warn of the consequences of the covert war, but by romanticizing the Frankenstein marriage of convenience that grew from it.

The events of September 11 brought the United States once again directly into the internal politics of Afghanistan. But in the panic that ensued, few would understand Afghanistan’s role in the origin of this event or greater still, the plan still in the works to involve America in a 10 year war for South Central Asia.

Even before 9/11 the Bush Presidency was Deja vu. There was something about the constant crisis-mindset that was endemic to the Nixon/Ford era of the 1970's. A disputed election followed by a Constitutional crisis, followed by a sudden energy crisis, followed by a sudden confrontation with Communist China were all reminiscent of another era. Even the President’s cabinet was a throwback trained for Cold War confrontation. The media too seemed ready for combat with television icon Dan Rather on the air live, reporting the destruction of the World Trade Towers. Dan Rather had inaugurated his ascension to the anchor chair at CBS with Afghanistan in 1980 by helping to reestablish a Cold War mentality. Now here he was talking to his correspondent Mika Brzezinski as she vividly described the ongoing scene of destruction in lower Manhattan. The choice of Brzezinski as his eyewitness to the atrocity was in a word, bizarre. It had been Mika’s father, Cold War architect and national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski whose black operation against the Marxist Afghan regime had helped to lure the Soviets into an Afghan war. Now here was his daughter 22 years later reporting on the ultimate outcome of her father’s successful campaign.

In the days after September 11 it was like watching 1979 in the mirror as the "terror war" created to hound the Soviets in Afghanistan suddenly became the "war on terror." New and comprehensive strictures would be placed on the public’s right to know the truth about the attack - and the defense budget would soar again as it had 20 years before. High tech weapons would get even higher-tech, social controls would become tighter and the surveillance of American citizens would reach levels unimaginable and completely unacceptable just a few short days before. Urgent calls would come for controls on civil liberties. Dissent would be suppressed. Persons willing to compromise their constitutionally guaranteed liberties would be rewarded with special privileges and step by step the American people would be inched toward supporting policies and programs that more resembled a third world banana republic than anything ever known in the United States.

In 1979 - the carefully managed image of a "fiercely religious"Afghanistan conquered by an Evil Empire was a windfall for America’s defense propagandists. Having stood by helplessly during Vietnam as the Soviet Union won third-world hearts and minds for wars of national liberation, American policy makers not-so-quietly cheered at having the Russians succumb to their own Vietnam. But America’s expressions of concern for the freedom of Afghanistan were never genuine. Partitioned and surrounded by 19th century colonial architects, invaded by the British on three separate occasions, Afghanistan’s efforts to maintain independence were often viewed with contempt in the West when they were viewed at all.

Defiant, linked to Moscow politically and militarily and a constant threat to U.S. ally Pakistan, Afghanistan was of no practical value to Washington. But as a pretext for the largest covert military operation in America’s history, Afghanistan was a key and as it had so many times in the past, became a stage on which the death of one empire and the birth of another would be played.

Then, as now, Afghanistan provided the perfect pretext for Western action, first as a war of "fiercely religious freedom fighters" against communism, now as a war against those same "fiercely religious freedom fighters" - a biblical war that is not only sharply redefining America’s role in the world in the 21st century, but the future of the world itself.

For a year following 9/11 Kipling’s metaphor "Lest we forget, lest we forget," struck a resonant chord as a sometimes Dan Rather sign-off in remembrance of the victims of September 11, sometimes as their flag-draped bodies were removed from the site at ground zero, sometimes at a funeral as a bugle played or at a speech given by President George Bush.

But Rather paid little service to the memory of the latest victims of America’s secret war in Afghanistan by citing Kipling’s warning to boastful Empire builders, lest they repeat the tragic mistakes of the past.

Lest we forget, many mistakes were made in Afghanistan in the rush to crush the Soviet’s Empire and expand America’s. Draped in the illusion of helping the people of Afghanistan to regain their country from communist oppression, the United States recruited, armed and trained the most extreme of Arab terrorists, brought them to Afghanistan and set them on the hapless Russians. Then, lest we forget, when these elements, battle hardened and armed with the latest American high tech weapons turned on each other after the Soviets departed, the United States left Afghanistan in the hands of a profoundly corrupted Pakistani military establishment with a well known hatred for Afghan independence. Then, lest we forget, the United States encouraged Pakistan’s creation of the hated Taliban regime and came within months of recognizing it as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Lest we forget, the effort to first humiliate and then defeat the Soviet Union, destroyed Afghanistan’s civil society while enabling Pakistan to conceal its development of nuclear weapons - a phenomenon which nearly resulted in a nuclear war as long ago as 1992.

Lest we forget that the safer and better world that had been promised following 40 years of record setting military spending against the Soviet Union never materialized, while the United States now embraces most of the totalitarian practices of state ideology these budgets were meant to defend us against.

And lest we forget, the new, smaller, lighter "war-fighting" nuclear weapons produced by the Soviet Union to counter the American nuclear buildup of the 1980's have long since found their way into far more dangerous hands who can and will use them in an attack that may soon put the horror of September 11 to shame. And lest we forget, the programs and policies that might have ended the hemorrhaging of such devices across the now porous Russian border - have fallen through the security net of the Bush administration as America gears up for the next generation of high technology weapons.

Lest we forget what remains of Nineveh and Tyre, Greece, Persia and Rome. Lest we forget the "valiant dust that builds on dust,... the frantic boast and foolish word" and ask our God for mercy.

And lest we forget, it was Dan Rather who first set the chilling official tone on America’s secret war in Afghanistan; a tone that re-established the Cold War in stark and the uncompromising terms of light against dark and kept that tone alive as Afghanistan became the breeding ground for terror. And lest we forget it was Dan Rather who knew more than anyone what had been done to Afghanistan, what it had become, and what it would become, but instead of reminding us and warning us of the dangers of Empire, he chose to let us forget. And as the world moves closer to Armageddon this Sunday morning, that is something we should all remember.

In 1981 we went to Afghanistan as an act of individual initiative. In 1983 we returned with the hope of aiding a negotiated settlement. We returned to Afghanistan again in 2002 to find a country that had been nearly leveled by the war. At Kabul university students sat on bare floors in rooms with no doors and no walls. In the former Soviet compound, 2000 people huddled in squalor. Millions of refugees had returned from exile in the middle of a drought to find a ravaged city with no adequate supply of food, housing, electricity or even a source of clean water.

It was painful to see, especially knowing that it had all been preventable and that the American people might have demanded a diplomatic resolution to the conflict from their government had they been informed. But despite the ruins and destitute nature of the country, seeing the people of Afghanistan through the eyes of Sima Wali left me with an abiding belief in the power and goodness of the human soul and the belief that no matter what - a new and perhaps better Afghanistan can be made from the ruins. And if that can be done under such terrible circumstances as this, then perhaps we too can rebuild our America into a nation we can once again be proud of.

Copyright c 2004 Gould & Fitzgerald

All Rights Reserved



by Rudyard Kipling

God of our father, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle-line-
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient Sacrifice—
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boasting as the Gentiles use—
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard—
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

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