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The Iconoclast: Understanding the Moral Derangement of the U.S.-led ‘Free World’

April 1, 2002 No Comment
By Dr John McMurtry, Canadian Social Studies, Volume 36, Number 3, Spring 2002

As Samuel Coleridge long ago advised, suspension of disbelief is the necessary state of mind for a drama to capture an audience’s attention. As entertainment pervasively supplants understanding in global mass culture, suspension of disbelief regarding 9-11 seamlessly operates by liquidation of the facts that ground truth.

The long line of repressed facts begins years before 9-11, most clearly with top-down blockings of F.B.I. agents’ investigations of mounting evidence of a plan for civilian aircraft hijacking and dive-bombing of major U.S. buildings – a plan called “Project Bolinka” and known about since before 1996. These blocks on F.B.I. investigations were so obstructive that the Deputy-Director of the F.B.I. and its Director of Anti-Terrorism, John O’Neill, resigned in a career-sacrificing protest at the top-down interference. This was before he too revealingly died on 9-11 as the World Trade Center’s new Director of Security.1

There were also explicit warnings from the intelligence agencies of Sudan, France, Russia and a chorus of other international sources about the coming 9-11 attack. There were even statements by “Israeli members of the intelligence community in the U.S.” that they knew of the attack beforehand – reports which were not denied by U.S. Secretary of State Powell when the question arose in a press conference which I observed on December 18. Perhaps most remarkably, there had been direct warnings from the Republican Party’s own past Chief Investigative Council for the House Judiciary Committee to the closed decision circuits of Congress and the Bush administration. Representing F.B.I. special agents suing the U.S. Justice Department (along with Washington-DC Judicial Watch), David Philip Schippers reported in Houston on October 10 on the “Alex Jones Talk Show” that these agents knew of a plan of bin Laden’s network to attack Lower Manhattan with “commercial airlines as bombs” long before 9-11, but were blocked from investigative and preventative action by F.B.I. and U.S. Justice Department command, and threatened with prosecution under the National Security Act if they published this information. Attorney-General Ashcroft himself, reports Schippers, refused to return calls on this matter to his fellow senior Republican for four weeks before 9-11.

The Inner Logic of Decision
The mass media, dominantly owned by military-industrial and infotainment corporations, declined to report any of these facts. The inner logic of the shared value ground and decision structure operating under the deadly phenomena of “America’s War against Terrorism” runs deeper and wider the more one looks. In the world of forgotten fact, U.S. logistical and financial support of terrorist networks and narcotic-financed “wars of liberation” from Afghanistan to Kosovo had been systematically fomenting chaos for well over a decade before 9-11 – the distinguishing strategy of this empire’s movement of military-political perimeters across borders. In this case, it involved the CIA’s partnership with Pakistan’s Intelligence Services (I.S.I.) in financing and training al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Afghanistan-based terrorist camps. The I.S.I’s commander in chief, Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad was, in another moment of this offstage decision structure, visiting Washington the week preceding 9-11, and is known to have ordered that $100,000 be wired to the lead WTC hijacker, Mohammed Atta before that. These facts do not fit “the whole new reality” that is officially proclaimed after 9-11, and so the global corporate news empire communicates only disconnected trivia dominated by terrorist news to sustain the appropriate audience mood. What is feared above all in rule of home audiences by illusion is reversal of public acceptance of the image structure.

It would take a logbook more to report the full panoply of failures and stand-downs of standard operating procedures throughout the highly co-ordinated steps and logistics of the 9-11 attack, described by a former German Minister of Technology, Andreas van Buelow, as “unthinkable without years-long support from secret apparatuses of the state and industry”. High-level interventions in normal precautionary routine included years of overriding immigration rules for U.S. passports to Middle East “freedom fighters” destined for al Qaeda, U.S. airforce training of Afghani-based terrorists, non-action on repeated alarms of al Qaeda terrorist activities threatening the United States and New York, top-down interdiction of investigation of Saudi royal funding of al Qaeda, and ignoring of known floods of puts on affected airline stocks before 9-11 linked to a firm, A.B. Brown, with high-level C.I.A. management.

The money sequences, arms and illegal narcotics connections all bore a familiar pattern. What connected them was their ruling moral syntax whose portrayed meaning is “protecting the Free World”. But the last steps on the stage were across the open heavens and difficult to conceal. Although U.S. airforce interceptions of hijacked planes are normally only minutes-long, there was a stand-down of these automatic interception actions for all of the hijacked planes of 9-11, without one airforce plane turning a wheel for over two hours. The terrorists circled jumbo jets known to be hijacked around the military air-command’s front yard airspace until after all three of the buildings had been dive-bombed. Yet no disciplinary process nor formal investigation by the Pentagon, the F.B.I., Congress or the mass media was undertaken despite all the stunning breaches of defence routine, which together provided an open passage for the long-planned attack.

None of these connected gaping holes in the official story have been followed up in the received media. One reason for this is that from the first moment of the 9-11 aftermath all attention was, instead, riveted on the claimed threat of an Islamic-based plot to “destroy America”. No sooner had the 9-11 disaster sunk in than “the anthrax attack” then followed. Not even the known genetic signature of an official U.S. source for the anthrax sent to Democrat Senate majority leader, Tom Daischle, registered as a fact over the weeks of terror that followed. Throughout, the inertial acquiescence of the terrorist-occupied mass mind remained intact. What goes against the grain of conditioning is experienced as not credible, or as a hostile act.
The Unseen Moral Syntax
As a philosopher, I am not interested in “conspiracy theories”, the favoured term to invalidate questions about 9-11. I am interested in the deeper question of the life-and-death principles of regulating value systems which connect across and explain social orders. In the wider lens of investigation of the normative regime of a civilisation, the pattern of 9-11 decisions is linked to a larger historical pattern. This larger pattern included U.S. plans prior to 9-11 to invade Afghanistan for long-stated geostrategic reasons of Middle Asia oil, forward military bases, and political axes of control. It included as well the U.S.’s successful strategic plan for Soviet Union collapse a decade before that – a collapse which was precipitated by the multi-billion dollar strategic, financial and armaments support by the U.S. National Security Agency and the C.I.A. of the same Afghanistan fundamentalist factions and warlords as plotted 9-11, including Osama bin Laden. These “moral equivalents of the founding fathers”, as U.S. president Reagan then called them, were U.S.-supported terrorist rings who were also later involved in training, armed support and narcotics-route partnership with the KLA (“Kosovo Liberation Army”) insurrection in Yugoslavia, as well as in Russia’s Chechnya province. Interestingly, it was only when the formerly favoured Taliban faction suddenly shut down over 90% of Afghanistan’s opium production for the global market in 2001, as UN officials confirmed in March 2002, that the Taliban was declared America’s mortal enemy and all its known positions bombed for months on end – while the opium that remained growing was concentrated in the areas controlled by the newly favoured Northern Alliance.

With the transnational opium market on the covert side of the new business, and the vast new oil and gas fields for Texas control on the overt side, the “expanding global market” has a deeper meaning than yet spoken. “Who cares about wetlands and the environment any more?” proclaimed theNew York Times in the post-9-11 ghost town of public affairs. Yet the price of oil kept sliding in the world market – to only $16 a barrel in November after all these victories against “Islamic terrorism” had been won. So a threatened war against Iraq unfurled from the strategic planning of the oilman Whitehouse to select for better outcomes. Declaration of imminent war on Iraq soon righted the pattern. It focussed all attention on another shadow of the Other whose omnipresent threat is always necessary to sustain a deranged order of rule, and it almost doubled the price of oil to over $27 in April. Behind all the shadows dancing on the wall of the global media screen was one constant – the deranged value system determining the decisions from behind. It silently regulates “Free World” approval and disapproval across borders with an actually regulating meaning of “our values and way of life” whose inner logic is morally insane.

“Who benefits?” is a standard forensic question which helps to clarify the meaning of acts of commission and omission. One of the prime connecting interests of “the great game” being played here is the vast and largely untapped mineral deposits across the entire third world of continuing crises and wars. Political chaos is a prime strategic pattern of this resource rule – from Latin American death-squads through sub-Sahara African wars to South-East Asian covert armies and invasions. In this case, there was also the U.S. off-stage government’s threat of a “carpet of bombs” for Afghanistan before September 11 if the formerly U.S.-favoured Taliban faction could or did not expedite the long-planned Unocal oil pipelines through Afghanistan to Central Asia’s vast oil and gas fields. This prime value objective was quickly confirmed for construction with the Pakistani Minister of Oil on October 10 as soon as the bombing of Afghanistan had been accepted by the official world. The newly installed Afghanistan government’s support for the U.S. oil consortium was then certain after that, because Afghanistan’s newly appointed interim Prime Minister, Hamid Karzai, is known to be a friend of U.S. oil interests, the CIA and specifically a former Unocal representative to Afghanistan.

In short, the more the dots of the officially unmentioned facts are tracked in their interlocking frame across time and place, the more the lines of their connection reveal a deep structure of values, choice and consequence which crosses national borders as the universalising logic of a civilisation’s moral corruption. “America is at war” has a meaning which has not yet been understood. As long as it is not comprehended, it will continue to command its allies to loot and destroy the planet, now all under cover as “the free world’s war against terrorism”.

The Deranged Value System
An illustration explains the closure of the fanatic moral syntax. When the U.S. president immediately identified the 9-11 terrorist attack as “a declaration of war”, his categorical assertion was certain and officially accepted as certain by obedient allies like Canada although there was no international law or norm which justified this official designation. Here as elsewhere, an absolutist groupthink rules above the law and beneath it, and is what the law itself is selectively enforced or disregarded in terms of. That the saturating declaration of “war against America” by an enemy that could not be found and who came from another country than the one to be bombed did not occasion reflection. Nor did the fact that international law requires invading forces to be repelled to justify such an attack across another nation’s borders.

True to the comportment of the fanatic mindset, the imperviousness to due process or evidence overrode the indisputable fact that the subsequent U.S. bombing and invasion of peasant Afghanistan 8000 miles from its borders was itself a major war crime. None of these issues can register to this fundamentalist value set. For it is structured to militantly repudiate or deny whatever evidence questions its validity, including the number of innocent civilians maimed and killed by the “historic triumph” of the superpower’s attacks on one of the world’s poorest countries. Official and media representation operates only manages public perception to justify what cannot be wrong. Since this value system is not connected to life interests beyond its commands, no problem can arise to it. That the war which followed 9-11 bombed a distant and starving people, that it knowingly stopped food supplies from reaching the rapidly increasing millions of famine victims, that it disrupted planting of the next year’s crops, that it terrorised the majorities of the larger cities to flee into homelessness, that it directly killed by far more innocent civilians than were killed on September 11, and that its carpet-bomb invasion caused the deaths of countless innocent children and uprooted millions – none of these facts could be perceived through the lenses of the ruling moral syntax as facts.
Like the rules of the game to the players, and “the great game” is the language of the ascendant players themselves, the rules of value are not an issue they can think of inside the game. They can only calculate what maximises their places within its political offices and investment returns. The truth thus comes increasingly to be only an issue of when the cheque clears, and how much more of the globe is made subject to transnational money-sequencing. In this way, the English-speaking world acquiesces step by step in a pattern of fanatic absolutism not witnessed since the fascist interregnum.
This article is adapted from the Preface of John McMurtry’s VALUE WARS: THE GLOBAL MARKET VERSUS THE LIFE ECONOMY now in press (London: Pluto Press, 2002).


1. These facts and those in the following two paragraphs are most comprehensively documented by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development, in his valuable 200-page study, The War On Freedom: Causes and Consequences of 9-11(Brighton U.K.: 2002).

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