Afghanistan: Was September 11 the only reason for the attack on Afghanistan?

Aug 26, 2021

In one of his latest statements, Joe Biden reiterated the US states mission in Afghanistan, “America went to Afghanistan 20 years ago to defeat the forces that attacked this country on September 11th. That mission resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden over a decade ago and the degradation of al Qaeda.”           

When the US first invaded Afghanistan, it was difficult to argue against the contention that it was a just war, that the US was merely responding to the grievous provocation.  However, for many who detest war and the cruelty that attends it, and who are wise to the disingenuity of politicians, the American presence in Afghanistan can be read as an adventure with a wider agenda at play.  There is ample evidence that the Americans were there to insert themselves strategically in a location right in the midst of the biggest powers in the Eurasian and Asian region – Iran to its west; Pakistan to the east; China to the northwest; Russia and its previously Soviet Union member states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north.  That the US and its allies have wider geopolitical interests in the region is evident from just two sources:

The U.S. focus on Afghanistan has impinged on broader geopolitical interests that the United States has in the region. One of the longer-term objectives of the Groups recommendations is to calibrate our commitment in Afghanistan in the context of broader strategic considerations, particularly with regard to China, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia. 

While the statement by USIP presents the US geopolitical interest as incidental, it is likely that it was a factor considered by the powers that be who made the decision to invade Afghanistan.  If it were merely “an eye for an eye”, the US could just bomb Al Qaeda camps and take out as many Jihadi terrorists as American and other lives lost in the 9/11 attacks. Another source with a more direct reference to US’s and its allies’ intentions is provided by the leading UK’s defence and security think tank,

to help hold the line against predatory Russian and Chinese geopolitical influence in South Asia; and above all, to demonstrate to Washington that the UK remained its most reliable and most significant military ally. Prof Michael Clark (2021). 

What the US and its allies consistently fail to consider is that the line drawn by them cannot be held by the sheer might of their military machines.  The region is diverse and nations are held together by their distinctive cultures and their underpinning ideologies that have shown time and again to be resistant to domination by alien ideologies such as Western liberal democracy.

Further disquiet about misguided US response finds ramifications in the ongoing lawsuit initiated by the families of the 9/11 victims against the Saudi government for alleged complicity in the 9/11  attack.  The world now currently awaits anxiously for the US government to review, and possibly release, some of the secret 9/11 records on Saudi Arabia.  A concise account of the whole sordid affair is provided by Wikipedia (albeit not the most reliable sources but adequate for the purpose).  There is credible evidence provided by the lawsuit to indicate that the US’s greatest ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, or its national, were involved; not the least of which was the financing of the attack.  Worthy of note are the allegations:

  • That 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
  • That two Saudi nationals, al-Qudhaeen and Hamdan al-Shalawi carried out a “dry run” flying from Phoenix to Washington prior to 9/11.  They were Saudi agents operation in the US under the guise of USA students according to the FBI; and that they trained in Afghanistan with other operatives that participated in the attacks.
  • That “In March 2016, Saudi Arabia threatened the Obama administration to sell US$750 billion worth of American assets owned by Saudi Arabia if the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) designed to create an exception to the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act was enacted, which caused fears of destabilizing the US dollar.”
  • That “On September 11, 2020, US Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn ordered two members of the Saudi Arabian royal family including, Prince Bandar bin Sultan to answer the questions it raised under the 9/11 lawsuit…Relatives of the September 11 attack victims claim that the agents of Saudi Arabia knowingly supported al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, before hijacking and crashing the planes into New York’s World Trade Center Twin Towers.”

To say the Americans were unscrupulous and callous in its pursuit of its political and economic interest around the world is stating the obvious to all who keep themselves informed.  The Americans made a Faustian deal with the Saudis.  They made their bed and they now have to lie on it.  The problem for the rest of us is that the of victims of callous political and economic machinations are those innocent people who died in 9/11 and their families, the soldiers who were maimed and killed in the conflict and their grieving families, and for 20 years, the Afghan people.

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