For the State Blowback Is a Feature, Not a Bug

Every year, we’re subjected to another round of mawkish, smarmy 9/11 memorial ceremonies whose main purpose is to maintain loyalty to the very national security state whose aggression brought the terror attacks of September 11 on us in the first place. It’s all part of an endless cycle, repeated over and over, dating back to the late ’70s. 1) Criminal, aggressive intervention overseas by the American national security state; 2) the ensuing destabilization from that intervention results in terrorist blowback to the people of the United States; 3) the leaders of the American state take advantage of the terrorist attack by waving the bloody shirt to manipulate the public into supporting a new wave of criminal aggression; which leads to 4) more blowback. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Al Qaeda came into existence in the first place because the United States, under President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, supported an Islamic fundamentalist uprising that destabilized the pro-Soviet government of Afghanistan, and the Reagan administration subsequently backed the Mujaheddin guerrillas against the Soviet invasion. All this was for the sake of bogging the Russians down in their own “Vietnam” – a move in the “Great Game” that Brzezinski, even after 9/11, said was worth it.

Another contributing factor to 9/11 was Operation Desert Shield/Storm – a war entirely engineered by the Bush’s quiet encouragements to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait – which outraged many in the Islamic world by bringing American troops on the soil of Saudi Arabia, home country of the holiest sites of Islam.

9/11 was, in turn, a bonanza for the U.S. national security state. Using the terror attacks as a pretext, the American leadership was able to stampede Congress into rubber stamping the USA PATRIOT Act (a grant of police state powers comparable to those granted Hitler under the Enabling Act passed after the Reichstag Fire) and two foreign wars, along with a blank check to initiate other wars at will (used to legitimize Obama’s interventions in Libya, Syria and Kurdistan, among others). Right up to the present, anyone opposing new military actions by the United States, or suggesting that terrorist attacks of the past were blowback from previous US interventions, is labeled a defeatist or worse. As antiwar blogger Jennifer Abel put it (“Your Annual 9/11 Memorial Riddle,” Ravings of a Feral Genius, Sept. 11): “Q: What’s the difference between 9/11 and a cow? A: The government can’t milk a cow for 14 years and counting.”

The Iraq War itself, in turn, has been the source of endless further blowback. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) the guerrilla network that came into existence to combat American troops in Iraq and the Iraqi puppet regime set up by the United States, was entirely the result of American intervention. So is ISIS, a far more radical offshoot of AQI that had its origins among Al Qaeda prisoners of war in Iraq and in the anti-Assad guerrillas trained by the US and its allies in Syria.

So we can add up the 1.5 million Iraqis killed in the actual Iraq War, the American troops sacrificed there, all the murders and atrocities committed by ISIS against the Kurds, and the suffering of the Syrian refugees now desperately fleeing to Europe, to the butcher’s bill racked up by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld – and by opportunists like Hillary Clinton who knowingly aided and abetted them – in a deliberate, murderous war of aggression to confiscate “weapons of mass destruction” they knew didn’t exist.

(Of course all this didn’t start even with the destabilization of Afghanistan; we can trace it back to the artificial division of the former Ottoman Empire into colonies – ahem, “mandates” – after WWI, the British support for Zionist colonization in Palestine, US support for the Saud family’s war of unification in the Arabian peninsula, the US overthrow of Mossadegh, US support for the Muslim Brotherhood against Nasser … ad nauseam.)

The thing is, such blowback never seems to be blamed on its authors. In fact they see it as a feature, not a bug, because they can use it as a new bloody shirt to stampede the American people – who never seem to learn their lesson – into supporting further American aggression. In fact the leaders of the American state explicitly described the 9/11 attacks as an enormous opportunity. For example Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

If the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11 bookend a major shift in international politics, then this is a period not just of grave danger, but of enormous opportunity. Before the clay is dry again, America and our friends and our allies must move decisively to take advantage of these new opportunities.

And don’t forget Bush described it as “hitting the trifecta.”

So from the perspective of the state, “failures” of policy that result in massive casualties to the population they rule aren’t failures at all. They’re “opportunities” for further grants of still more power to abuse.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

Reprinted from Center for a Stateless Society with permission.

Author: Kevin Carson

Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political EconomyOrganization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online.