Moscow News
October, 2001

       ďPolitics is  dirty businessĒ, so goes the clichť. Today, we could also say that it is an oily business. In the course of this war, which is now several weeks old, the real objectives for waging it are becoming increasingly obscure. We are being told that the primary goal is to get Osama Bin Laden, ďdead or aliveĒ, and ďto smoke out ď his Al-Qaida network. Considering the events of September 11th, the objective is clear. But why then is it necessary to plan for a decade-long battle, as some officials in the Bush administration are doing, in order to get a several thousand men, ill-equipped and hidden away in primeval caves?

Letís face it, neither Bin Laden, nor his commandos who are guarding him are going to poke their noses out of those stony caves for the breath of fresh air, much less take an after-meal stroll around Kabul, due to justified fear of being immediately detected by the sophisticated spy-satellite systems which the US have installed on the territory of Afghanistan. In the unlikely case that the US and the British Special Forces are wholly unsuccessful in their search which, letís say would take five years, the Al-Quaida soldiers along with their founder will either die of natural causes or boredom. So where is the ten year time parameter coming from? And is it justified?

I am afraid, it is if we take into consideration a crude fact: Al Quaida and Bin Laden are only a needle in the haystack filled with similar prickly needles. But unlike Osama, the other needles are not buried inside of labyrinths of caves. They are the visible majority of the Muslim population, not only in countries like Syria, Libya and Palestine, which are openly displaying their hatred for the United States, but also in countries like Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, who have joined the coalition to fight the terrorists. This majority of mostly young, fanatically religious men, poor and uneducated, (unlike their unofficial leaders like Bin Laden or Zawahiri)  have already sharpened their box-cutters and are ready to join the jihad against the infidels. Radical Islam has promised them 72 virgins in the afterlife and daily conversations with Mohammad if they die in the battle. If they survive, however, they are promised that their families will not go hungry.

Their carousing monarchs and princes, like the Saudi royals have delivered nothing of the sort: just more toil and hunger. And the young and angry men of Islam have long been ready to try the sharpness of box-cutters on some royal necks. Nothing surprising here at all -- this is the way of all revolutions. The Saudis and the Kuwaitis and the Jordanians have been telling the top officials in the US for years that the situation is becoming outright dangerous. Their argument went something like this: help us or they will kill us and you will no longer get the dirt-cheap oil from us simply because there will no longer be any us left.

The US, starting with Reagan, has assured the pseudo civilized Arab monarchs and oligarchs that ďyes, they feel their painĒ and would come to their aid when called. Bush came true on that promise when he sent American soldiers to fight for the cheap Kuwaiti oil while the Kuwaiti princes where discoing it up with long-legged blondes in various European capitals. As for the unruly populations, the Americans, as it has become known now from a New Yorker article by Seymour Hersch, have been well aware of their pain as well. Moreover, they have been aware for years, that in order to appease the radical groups in the Arab World, like the Islamic Jihad, Hesbollah, al-Quaida, the Saudis have been shelling out considerable sums of money to them and thus getting away from having their heads severed. For now, they are tolerated by radical Islamist groups because, the latter, just like the Mafia, milks them and extorts much-needed money from them. In fact, 19 hijackers on September11th have reportedly been sponsored by none other than the Saudi greeens.

Nevertheless, when the current administration is asked about the Saudi royals, Americans insist that they have been highly cooperative. Thatís highly questionable especially as the Saudis are not allowing the CIA to trace the hijackersí checks. According to the New Yorker article, the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia has always been shady and conducted on very top level. The CIA has been discouraged from conducting risky operations there and Bush SR, in particular, has requested that the agency heed to his much beloved ďprudenceĒ when it came to the oil kingdom. Incidentally and interestingly, both the Bush and the Cheney families have vested financial interest in Saudi oil reserves. What will happen to their assets if the carousing princes are replaced by the ascetic Bin Ladens? The price of oil will go up in America. But should the average American really care at this point?

The money that Homeland Defense alone is costing the taxpayers, 1.5 trillion, is much more than what the tax payer would save with Fahdís oil. Minus the sacrifices of American lives -- military and civilian. Minus the loss of Afghani lives. However, what we are dealing with here is a handful of oligarchs on both sides of the spectrum unwilling to part with or share their wealth. Radical Islamic tactics are as repugnant to me as that of the Saudi royalsí and the US businessmenís willing to conveniently close their eyes on all sorts of injustices when their own pockets are being filled.

Terrorism did not become a problem on September 11th. It has been one for many years now. When Putin pointed out  to Bush Jr. that the number one problem the world faces today is international terrorism, the warning was swept away as yet another attempt on the part of Russians to postpone the much-publicized missile defense plan. When the Russians said that the Saudi and Kuwaiti money is supporting the Chechen warlords and rebels who are intensely connected with the al-Quaida, Americans said that the Russians should be more tolerant towards the break-away republic. After several explosions in Moscow and other parts of Russia, at the time of the American presidential elections, the current administration was restrained in voicing alarm or indignation. Now, it has become known that the King Fahdís regime which pays for Bin Ladenís network also made generous contributions to the Bush campaign. Obviously, now, they have changed their tune. Or have they?

Just one more curious tidbit regarding the needles in the haystack. Reportedly, in the first few days of the latest war, the American military knew exactly where the head of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, was hiding along with his convoy. The military requested for an immediate permission to fire on the target. The word from Washington was mysterious: Donít fire directly on the target, bounce it off on the front door and see who comes out. The military obeyed and obliterated several cars that were parked nearby. Not surprisingly no one came out. Several hours later Omar had fled. The US military was left furious and discouraged. We, the civilians, or the collateral damage, are still simply confused.

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