Posted by on September 20, 2001 at 01:37:13:
The Reichstag Fire in New York
The terrorist attack in New York and Washington on 11 September has already been compared with Pearl Harbour and with the sinking of the Kursk. Mikhail Gorbachev saw a parallel with Chernobyl - the most exact comparison, if we take into account the shock and ignominy experienced by the American governing apparatus. In both cases we have first of all seen incompetence and helplessness, then despairing efforts to save the ?honour of the uniform?.
There is, however, one comparison that so far has not occurred to anyone - the comparison with the Reichstag fire. The anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hysteria that has spread through the entire world since the catastrophe forces one to seek parallels with the 1930s. The American authorities have immediately started looking for culprits among Arabs. Bin Laden was named almost immediately, while other possibilities were scarcely examined.
In the first minutes after the explosions no-one doubted their ?Arab? origins, and the writer of these lines is no exception. But the more evidence and arguments are adduced in support of the ?Arab version?, the more this version arouses doubts. Speaking on television immediately after the explosions, the well-known political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov remarked that culprits would undoubtedly be found, and that if they were not found, they would be appointed. He added cynically that it would be good for Russia if the people appointed were the Taliban and bin Laden.
Subsequent events fitted this scenario perfectly. There was a search for Arabs who knew how to fly an airliner, a search conducted in complete certainty that no-one else could have perpetrated the deeds. The list of suspects turned out to include pilots who knew how to fly only small sporting aircraft; they were listed simply because they were Arabs. A vast quantity of evidence was swiftly found, and the press reported the existence of an even greater mass of irrefutable proof. In the midst of this a strange feeling arose. Super-professional terrorists were making elementary errors, and leaving a mountain of evidence, such as paying for all their tickets using one credit card.
As ill luck would have it, within two days it was discovered that at least two of the suicide terrorists, whose guilt in the view of the press had been incontestably proven, had not even been on board the aircraft. As for the third, it seems he did not know how to fly a Boeing.
This, however, did nothing to shake the ?Arab version?. One is reminded of the story of the person who searches for a lost key underneath a street lamp, simply because the light is brighter there. Credit must be given to Aleksandr Gordon, who appeared on two Russian television channels and stated that those guilty of the crimes might not be Muslims, but the same right-wing ?militias? who organised the explosion in Oklahoma City. Some American sites also point to the similarity of various features, including a reluctance to accept responsibility for the blast. The reaction of bin Laden is also significant in its way. While approving of the terrorist act, he not only disclaimed authorship of it, but did not conceal his envy of the people who organised it.
It is well known that Arab terrorist groups in the Middle East are infiltrated by the Saudi security agencies who work closely with the CIA. Russian intelligence experts are sure that neither bin Laden nor any other major Arab terrorist could organise an operation so complex and serious without Saudi officials knowing and the Saudi regime would necessarily inform the Americans.
The attack mounted in New York and Washington, however, cannot be seen simply as a continuation of the explosion in Oklahoma. The scale of the two actions was quite different. The 11 September attack was on a scale not only beyond the powers of bin Laden, but also of the ultraright militias, at least in the form in which we have known them until recently.
Studying the 11 September events, analysts have stressed just how simple it was to carry out each individual element of the terrorist operation - to take knives onto the aircraft, to break into the cabin, and so forth. But to coordinate all these actions, which took place at the same time in different parts of the country, and to permit not a single serious failure, would have been extraordinarily difficult. The operation would have required enormous efforts on the level of managing, securing and coordinating its various elements - logistics and fine tuning, as the Americans say. It is simply inconceivable that this was the work of Arab terrorists. The strength of Islamic terrorism lies in its relatively simple organisation, in its invincible element of spontaneity and unpredictability. All of the groups act autonomously. Even the smashing of command centres has no affect on the overall situation, since each of the warriors of Allah is able to act on his own.
What happened on 11 September bears less similarity to Arab terrorism than to the American idea of it. Bin Laden is an American myth, not in the sense that no such person exists, but in the sense that he is nowhere near so influential and powerful as he is made out to be. The Americans have invented a global criminal organisation with a centralised leadership and with a chief villain pulling all the strings from a secret refuge, just as in the James Bond movies. In reality, bin Laden is not an organiser of terrorism but a general sponsor; he merely pays money to support terrorist brigades that function quite independently in various parts of the world.
Meanwhile, the 11 September operation was coordinated on various levels and was carried out faultlessly. All of the tiniest details were thought through and meticulously coordinated. There were no failures at any stage. Multilevel planning and precise direction were required. Of the four aircraft seized by terrorists, three struck their targets. Taking into account the scale of the operation, this shows an effectiveness rare even for professional security services. The people required would not simply have been professionals, but a combined team of star performers. And to become a professional on such a level, a lengthy career would have been needed. No-one could have gained this experience in terrorism without revealing themselves. And here, an entire structure was involved.
On the other hand, there is the placing of false clues, leading the investigation into a dead-end, but pointing clearly to an ?Arab trail?. The organisers of the terrorist act have been unwilling to claim responsibility. What does this resemble? It is the way state security organisations operate, and sometimes, extreme right-wing groups. Some commentators have already remarked that an attack as complex as the one on 11 September is not within the powers of terrorists, and could only be carried out by state security forces. The problem, however, is that no state security organisation could have carried out such an operation either. Executed in the US, the terrorist act demanded lengthy preparation, the recruiting of large numbers of people, and theoretically, if these people were foreigners, their infiltration into the country. The act required the prolonged collection and painstaking study of diverse information; staff and operative training on various levels; iron discipline, and precise direction. An action on this scale, whether carried out by security services or by terrorists, would sooner or later have suffered a failure, after which all the links would have been broken.
The blow that was struck on 11 September was so monstrous precisely because no-one was expecting it. But what does this mean? The American press, television and cinema had for a long time been raising the threat of Islamic terrorism on a daily basis. But the blow was struck not only in an unexpected form, but also from a direction no-one was anticipating. It is said that armies always prepare to fight the previous war. This is by no means necessarily true. In the present case, the question is not of another war, but of another enemy.
It appears that the operation was prepared by people who not only moved freely about the US, but who also were considered totally above suspicion. If these were professionals, they did not amass their experience as members of underground terrorist groups. But not in state security organisations either.
When Bush declared that the events of 11 September amounted to war, he may not have understood personally how right he was. What we are confronted with is not a secret police operation, not an act of terrorism, but a well-planned air raid. Such things are not taught either in intelligence schools or in terrorist camps. In such places people might learn to fly an aircraft, but not to plan a military air attack. Meanwhile, the attack was carried out according to the same rules as the US bombing of Bagdad and Belgrade. It featured the meticulous choosing of targets, and precise blows. The targets chosen were important politically and symbolically. The terrorists clearly did not aim to wipe out the country, or else the aircraft would not have crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, but into nuclear installations. If the latter had been done, the dead by now would not be numbered in the thousands but in the millions.
To judge from several testimonies the air raid was accompanied, as during recent wars, by an electronic assault on the air defence system. Neither Iraqi nor Iranian intelligence would be capable of anything like this. Whatever the ideologues of the Chechen Islamists might have written, neither the Russian nor the Israeli intelligence services would try to blow up the US. Furthermore, it is absurd to suggest that the American security forces have lost their senses to the extent of blowing up their own country.
If neither terrorists nor security forces are responsible, then who is? The weight of the evidence suggests that the attacks on New York and Washington were prepared from within the US itself, and that they were prepared by US citizens who were extremely experienced in military matters, but who did not arouse any suspicions. These people could be retired military personnel, more than likely with irreproachable service records and close ties to the security services and armed forces. As necessary, they could make ?blind? use of people of Arab origin. In the latter case, the parallels between the recent events in America and the explosions in apartment buildings in Moscow in 1999 are compelling. The Nazis, it should be recalled, also sent a communist to set fire to the Reichstag.
In other words, we might be talking not just of ultra-right-wing ?popular militias?, but of a conspiracy with the same ideology, but with far greater scope and completely different potential. If this is indeed the case, then what has happened is just the beginning. The future points to a wave of hatred directed at Muslims and immigrants, new bombing raids on the Middle East, and ultimately, the restoration of the ?values of Western Christian civilisation?, undermined by liberals of all stripes.
A conspiracy theory? Certainly. But acts of terrorism are impossible without conspiracy. Especially terrorism on such a scale. But whoever was behind the explosions in Washington and New York, they have already, objectively, played the role of new Reichstag incendiarists in Russia and Israel. Extreme right-wing politicians, champions of the values of ?Western civilisation?, have already issued a chorus of demands for vengeance. The same message is endlessly repeated: Muslims are inhuman barbarians, and negotiating with them is impossible. They are not the same as us, and hence our criteria of democracy and human rights do not apply to them. ?There?s no need to be afraid of unpopular measures,? some maintain. ?We should not be limited by democratic conventions,? others add.
Behind the general words is a distinct meaning. The minimum program involves arbitrary arrests, mass deportations, and indiscriminate searches. The maximum program is genocide. From the screens of the television sets, an individual with the appropriate surname of Satanovsky calls for what President Putin used to urge in the old days - that is, terminating. Killing. It is clear that mass repression will lead to mass resistance, that it will multiply the numbers of the enemy. Can it really be that the people who are now trying to frighten us with the ?Islamic threat? do not understand this? They understand it perfectly, but they believe in the possibility of a final solution. If not on a world-wide scale, then at least on a particular territory.
When the US administration said that it needed proof of Osama bin Laden?s guilt, it was clearly lying. Only a court can determine guilt. At least a year is needed for this, even if the terrorists can be identified and captured. To prove the guilt of an American citizen who has stolen a hamburger from McDonalds, an investigation has to be made, the culprit has to be caught, and the verdict of a jury obtained. The US authorities are ready to pronounce a guilty verdict on a whole country - Afghanistan - in the space of a few days without any court investigation. At the same time, reports are coming from the US of attacks on mosques and Islamic centres. It is clear that Muslims will answer the bombings and other attacks with terror, and the necessary proof will thus be supplied. It was just the same in the case of Milosevic. The Serbian leader unquestionably committed war crimes, but all the facts for which he was called to account in the Hague relate to the period AFTER the start of the American bombing of Serbia. In other words, first the punishment, then the crime, and then again punishment. This is the way our ?Christian civilisation? now understands justice.
Twentieth-century fascism came to power as a result of the economic crash of 1929-32. This was fascism in uniform. Now times are different. People are already describing the present crisis as a repeat of the Great Depression, advancing slowly but inexorably. Present-day fascism is many-faceted. It is advancing from various directions, at times trying on the clothing of respectable politics, at times that of skinhead racists. It does not wait for the full-scale onset of crisis before beginning to act. The fascists are not even in power yet, but the Reichstag is already burning.
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