In the days after 9-11 I was on a couple of panels about the attacks. Several months later while doing a vanity google search I came across a falsified depiction of what I said in a magazine called Reason which purports to be in favor of human freedom.
The thrust of the article was that people who were critical of the Bush administration and the way it was using 9-11 were not offering an alternative. To buttress this thesis, the writer of the piece, Sam MacDonald, falsely claimed that when he questioned me at the panels I couldn't really offer anything constructive about what the Bush administration could do.
The fact of the matter is that I did offer a very serious course of action, but MacDonald didn't seem to what to hear it. Do you? Here it is: After 9-11 the Bush administration should have ... Told the truth.
When I suggested this after 9-11 I was specifically thinking of the evidence that Bin Ladin was guilty of 9-11 -- which I didn't doubt was the case -- but I thought it important that the evidence the Bush administration was claiming that he was guilty should be shared. I thought it odd that it wasn't shared, given that I thought he was guilty. I also wanted the administration, or anyone for that matter, to tell the truth generally about U.S. policy in the Mideast. From the truth about the U.S. government's prior backing of people like Bin Ladin to the truth about why a lot of people in the Mideast were very resentful of U.S. policies like its backing Israeli aggression and insisting on the draconian sanctions on Iraq.
As it turned out, there were very good -- or perhaps we should say very bad -- reasons that even the evidence regarding Bin Ladin's guilt was not shared. Among other things, it could have revealed early on that the Bush administration all but ignored intelligence findings with headlines like "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike U.S." Had that gotten out in Sept., 2001, the people of the U.S. would have gotten an early sense of how much their security counted to the administration which was about to wage two major invasions in the name of ... their security.
Similarly, now we are hearing people saying that the slogan of much of the peace movement "End the War, Bring the Troops Home Now" is unrealistic and not really constructive. Many are saying: "We can't cut and run." Presumably we are supposed to think hard about a prolonged "exit strategy." We are suppose to pretend that we are doing this in concert with the Bush administration as if they have displayed a real desire to withdraw from Iraq, but simply lacked the method and are waiting around for our help.
What should be done now, is what should have been done after 9-11, is what should be done always: Tell the truth.
Discussion of things like Bush's lies are had in the U.S. as if the rest of the world is unaware of them. As if the only victims -- and the only people who have a sense of the lies -- are in the United States. Don't you think that the fact that Bush lied and has not been made to acknowledge that in any way has something to do with the dynamics of the resistance in Iraq?
Let Bush tell the truth. Let him tell the truth about his lies about weapons of mass destruction, let him tell the truth about the bogus Al Qaeda links to Iraq, let him tell the truth about why many people in the Mideast resent U.S. policies. Let him tell the truth about the puppet government his administration is putting in place in Iraq, let him tell the truth about U.S. military bases being built there, let him tell the truth -- why let him answer this simple questions honestly: "Does Israel possess nuclear weapons?" If past actions are a guide, Bush will not answer it honestly, if at all.
The exit strategy from Iraq is to tell the truth.
Chiseled into the marble wall at CIA headquarters is a verse from the gospel of John: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Knowing the truth, or pretending to know it, isn't enough. I think you have to say it to be free. Bush knows that Israel has a huge nuclear arsenal, but the White House does not acknowledge this simple, obvious truth. (see: here)
Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed Israel's nuclear arsenal and has suffered in prison for 18 years for it -- and continues to suffer various restrictions for it -- is nonetheless free because he spoke the truth. (see: here)
Not telling the truth is a way of hunkering down, of digging in your heels because you are not open to the alternatives before you. Not telling the truth is a strong indication that you don't want an exit strategy; rather you want to continue the crime spree, each evil action a distraction from the last so that the crimes spree, let's call it imperialism in this case, can continue. Not telling the truth is a symptom that your stated goal (protecting people in the U.S.) has little to do with, indeed, may be contrary to, your actual goals (control over oil, building empire, fueling the military, getting big contracts, buttressing Israeli domination, cutting deals with local proxies oppressing their people).
So-call critics come up with convoluted proposals, as if they were president or want to be, as to what should happen. These proposals often take the administrations goals at face value. And as such, they sometimes actually enable the administration's actions.
If Bush -- and a lot of other people -- were to tell the truth, you'd be surprised what might happen. If he did that, his words would not inflame resentment, but would lead to real dialogue. Let Bush tell the truth and you'll be surprised how many people in the Mideast and around the world would react. Let Bush and everyone else tell the truth and you'll be surprised how many doors -- exit doors, entrance doors -- will fling open.
[originally published at husseini.org on Sept. 19, 2005]