Sept. 11 was not born out of nothing but rather out of
chaos: The regional and international chaos following the
destruction of the fragile balances in the Middle East. While
delivering Kuwait from the brutal fraternal embrace of the
Iraqi “Big Brother”, “Desert Storm” — when it calmed down —
not only left all the thorny questions raised by the invasion
of Kuwait without answers, but even heightened the tensions to
an unprecedented level. If Kuwait was liberated, the 23
million Iraqis were trapped between Saddam’s unyielding anvil,
and the hammer of the UN sanctions.
Elsewhere in the picture, the two most important accords
between Arabs and Israelis — after Sadat/Begin/Carter’s Camp
David peace — reached an unsaid because unacknowledged
deadlock. Neither Jordan nor the Palestinian Authority
succeeded in selling their peace with Israel to the other
Arabs. How would they? Peace actually resembled something
else. President Clinton, who probably was attracted by the
perspective of entering American and world history as the man
who achieved peace between Arabs and Israelis, did not hide
his bitterness after the negotiations failed. He will not
outdo Carter’s achievement and win a Nobel Prize. He will pass
into history as the Don Juan of the White House, which is no
When his successor came to the White House, almost
everything in the Middle East was to be re-settled. The
Israelis and the Palestinians resumed their interminable war.
The Iraqis were suffering a thousand pains under the embargo.
The Syrians were still recalcitrant. The Lebanese found
another reason to continue the struggle in Shabaa.
The Jordanians and the Egyptians were jammed with their
peace accords: On the one hand they could not deny them, and
on the other their hearts were bleeding because Israel had not
changed. And all those people along with their Arab and Muslim
brethren, from the mountains of Afghanistan eastward, to the
confines of the Great African Sahara westward, were living
“the time of the assassins”, to use Henry Miller’s
In effect, never before that time had Islamic radicalism
attained such an authority in those surroundings. The new
Assassins were not the direct descendants of Hassan
Al-Sabbah’s medieval sect, although they use similar
techniques of terror against their enemies. They are not doped
with Hashish as their Ismaelite predecessors, but rather with
modern brainwashing techniques, that have been used — and even
gained fame — by the CIA. The Manchurian candidate of the Cold
War has become a remote memory, although his “fathers” have
unwittingly begotten the new robots of the suicide-bombing
mania. This is proof that even in the terrorism business,
there is a lot of work and a lot of progress.
Since Sept. 11, everything has changed.
Friends and allies are no longer the friends and allies we
know. It has become necessary thus to ask the right questions:
Who are our allies and friends in this world? Ask the
Americans. Out of the blue, they woke up in a hostile
environment, like someone who after being shipwrecked finds
himself alone on a little island in the ocean. And the
questions followed: Why do they hate us? Are we then so alone?
Whenever they look around them, the Americans saw little
sympathy, a lot of hypocrisy and hate and envy. While they
thought of themselves as the nicest people on earth, they were
dismayed by the fact that this earth did not give them back a
genuine reflection of that belief. So, what’s wrong?
The new president found it easier to resort to the good old
Manichean concepts of good and evil. Henceforth, we are the
good people, and they are the evil. And like in the cartoons,
the good hero would have to fight evil and prevail. That is
the strategy of today’s superpower.
Once the strategy was adopted, the new administration had
to find the enemy. It was not hard. If Saddam was
self-designated, Osama Bin Laden would take the rest of the
burden. However, to strike Saddam first would have been
nonsense. Cleansing the Afghan caves and destroying the
Taleban and Al-Qaeda’s bases, the Bush administration was all
the while preparing the true, the delicious, and the most
succulent meal. It was not the stony Afghanistan that
concerned America, but the wealthy Iraq. And it was not the
shadowy Bin Laden who represented the real weight in the
international balance, but the ruthless Saddam Hussein.
After all, even if there is not the least connection
between Al-Qaeda and Saddam, and even if Sept. 11 has nothing
to do with the embargo imposed on Iraq, what could the
Americans take from Bin Laden? His life? It is worthless now.
His $300 million? They are a drop in the ocean. Compared to
the real fortunes of wealthy Americans, what is Bin Laden?
Afghanistan? That’s easy, but it never belonged to Bin Laden.
He was just a refugee there. Yet if Bin Laden seemed
worthless, Saddam appealed almost naturally to the American
Why a vendetta? Because Sept. 11 happened. And behind Sept.
11, there was a dark conspiracy where anybody in the
Arab-Islamic world could be involved at some level or another.
Maybe this sounds a little paranoid, but that is the way the
CIA and the folk from the Secret Service think. After all,
what is Al-Qaeda if not the international Islamic terrorist
network? Somehow like International Communism during the Cold
War, but with a different ideology.
Saddam appealed to American anger not only because he was
the model of “evil” according to President Bush (so numerous
other models continue to live unharmed, though), but most of
all because something valuable could be snatched from him, and
if achieved, such a project could be as rewarding to the USA
as it was devastating to its enemies.
It is obvious that the reward is Iraq itself. Snatched from
the hands of Saddam, Iraq would help America settle the old
accounts with its enemies on the one hand, and open the way to
the new regional order so desired by Washington and Israel on
This is not to say that Saddam Hussein was an obstacle to
America’s plans in the Middle East. Anybody with a little
presence of mind knows that Saddam actually helped Bush —
father and son. He helped the father enter in force in the
Gulf when he invaded Kuwait. Remember that ambassador April
Glaspie did not object to Saddam’s plans, so he thought the
Americans were encouraging him oil. It goes without saying
that the previous American assistance to Saddam during the war
against Iran made him believe that Washington would comply
with his wishes if he invaded Kuwait, in order to pay back the
billions he owed to almost everybody. Such foolishness.
Besides, Saddam was ready to sell Iraq to the Bush
administration if he was allowed to stay in power. The
collective graves the world is discovering in Iraq would have
been nothing compared to the dark future the dictator was
preparing for his people. Today the question is not whether
Bush was right to attack Iraq or not, but rather whether
Saddam was right to cling to power.
As to Saddam’s pretension to lead the “resistance” against
the American occupation, this is merely a joke. A bad joke
indeed. And his “letters” to the Americans or to the Iraqis
relayed by Al-Jazeera, sound like the same low brand of humor.
We know that the dictator is — like many of his kind — a man
without humor. Yet who among the rational Iraqis could take
him seriously? Saddam a resistance fighter? Sure, that was in
the fifties of the last century. We are in 2003. And the
majority of the Iraqi people cannot be so foolish, so
masochistic, and so stupid as to wish the return of a
There is a link between all these events, if we read them
thoroughly. Neither is America a model of goodness nor the
rest of the world all evil and conspiring against it. From the
period preceding Sept. 11, we can probably discover a lot of
indirect reasons for hatred. After Sept. 11, the Americans
should wonder whether their policy helped to make the world a
better place or not. Some of the questions they raised are
still unanswered. For the true answers are not to be found in
the books and the press, but rather on the field -- in all
those regions of the world that have been plagued by
sicknesses, and that are still waiting for the good to come,
for their peoples have experienced nothing in their lives but
To be faithful to their creed, the Americans are not
expected to play the good Samaritans, but just to follow the
Ariadne thread, in order to understand and make themselves