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The fallout from 9/11

By Rajeev Srinivasan
September 11, 2006 11:47 IST
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I have been observing the ritual self-flagellations and mumbling-of-platitudes every year for the past four years on the anniversary of the World Trade Center bombings. This year too, I expect more of the same, but the fact is that tragedy has turned into farce, to paraphrase the inevitable Karl Marx.

For, when the tragedy struck, it appeared to me that it was Pearl Harbor Redux. For one brief, shining, moment, we had all become Americans, in sympathy. I expected, naively as it turns out, that America would rise to the occasion, as it did to their forced entry into the Second World War. I have always had a considerable admiration for what the natives refer to as a 'can-do' spirit. I thought the Marines would ride to the rescue, and that this tragedy would show the steel that America was made of.

Alas, five years on it transpires that America has made a complete mess of things. The crowning glory in this sad tale of incompetence (and worse) was an astonishing news report in the Washington Post of September 6, 2006: Pakistan reaches peace accord with pro-Taliban milita.

Consider the implications: America's favourite 'ally in the war on terror' is, in plain sight, saying that they are willing to dance with the Taliban again. This, after much blood, sweat and treasure have been expended on bringing some semblance of civilisation to Afghanistan, after several years of medieval, barbarian rule by the Taliban.

The fact remains, of course, that the Taliban are a creation of Pakistan's ISI, and what were allegedly Taliban's fighting forces were simply Pakistani troops who had exchanged their uniforms for the baggy pants of the militia. As I have remarked more than once, it was rather startling that the Taliban -- an alleged 'Mohammedan seminary student militia' -- could so suddenly learn to fly planes and drive tanks.

This is also not the first time that the Americans have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by the Pakistanis. There was the time during the Afghan campaign when they allowed Pakistan to evacuate a large number of senior officers who had been active Taliban. I found it astonishing -- it was either extreme naivete, or their capture by the Northern Alliance would have caused some American skeletons to tumble out of closets, as I remarked in my column What happened at Kunduz?

It is hard to believe that it is naivete, not several years later. It is probably the result of a cynical calculation by the US State Department that the Pakistanis will remain useful mercenaries for their plans to win a 'Great Game' of their own, checkmating the Russians and the Chinese in the quest for Central Asian oil and gas. The extreme enthusiasm, and the noises made often by Americans about the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline add substance to this theory.

The astonishing collusion of the Americans with the Musharraf coverup on the A Q Khan nuclear Wal-Mart is something else that causes the impartial observer to question whether the US is serious about controlling proliferation -- especially when nukes can easily fall into the hands of wild-eyed Mohammedan fundamentalists in Pakistan -- or whether there is more than meets the eye to all this.

It is abundantly clear that Pakistan is the epicentre of almost all acts of Mohammedan terrorism regardless of where it takes place in the world. All the suicide bombers and other dangerous specimens have, it always turns out, been to Pakistan to be 'trained' at the schools of jihad that have sprouted there.

In fact, a very good case can be made that the true 'axis of evil' is Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. Pakistan is the supplier of fanatics, Saudi Arabia the money-bags, and China the strategist using the 'clash of civilisations' to weaken its enemies such as the US and India; China has declared that Pakistan is 'China's Israel', that is, a proxy.

Refusing to recognise the 'Great Game' by this trio, and in effect sticking its head in the sand, George Bush's America is increasingly isolated in the world. It has thoroughly and comprehensively dissipated the great outpouring of sympathy from five years ago. America is looking more and more like a bully; the Pew Attitudes Survey a while ago showed the extreme animosity towards the country in particular among the citizens of some of its fondest allies, including the usual suspects Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China.

Five years after 9/11/2001, America is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and on the verge of invading Iran, if only it had enough troops; the price of oil is at an all-time high, thus adding windfall billions to Saudi Arabia's budget for encouraging Wah'abi fundamentalism everywhere; the threat of Mohammedan terrorism has reached alarming levels all over the world. Israel's air of invincibility has been punctured by Hezbollah, and thus, by extension, Iran and Syria.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan's damning question to the Democrats some years ago, are Americans truly safer than they were five years ago? I would venture to say they are not. The 'War on Terror' has been a dismal failure. Al Qaeda appears to be more and more a figment of some fevered State Department staffer's brain, because it is not a small group of extremists.

Huntington's 'clash of civilisations' is upon us, and it is not pretty. 9/11 was only the first broadside, and America is vulnerable to more terror, as has been experienced by Indians and Europeans for years.

Comments welcome at my blog at

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Rajeev Srinivasan