With the release of an audio tape from Osama bin Laden on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, did the most wanted fugitive on the planet signal that another Al Qaeda attack on America is imminent?
There has been a pattern to the attacks on America by Al Qaeda since the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Although the attack injured more than a one thousand Americans and killed six, newly elected president Bill Clinton did not launch a global "war on terror" in his first year in office. Instead, U.S. law enforcement authorities successfully hunted down the perpetrators who were then tried, convicted and jailed.
In September 2001, the first year of George W. Bush's presidency, the two World Trade Center towers were destroyed by a pair of Al Qaeda hijacked commercial airplanes. The Pentagon was also the target of a hijacked commercial airplane, causing substantial damage to the building and the deaths of dozens of passengers and militarily personnel. President Bush then declared a war on terror that led to the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.
Although President Bush has admitted that Saddam Hussein was not involved in the attacks on September 11th, he did order an invasion of Iraq in one of the grossest violations of international law and American ideals.
The occupation of Iraq has lasted six years and the military operations in Afghanistan that began as a search for Bin Laden after 9/11 have cost the American people nearly one trillion dollars. In addition, the number of U.S., Iraqi and Afghani deaths (military and civilian) number in the hundreds of thousands. In short, the Bush Mideast foreign policy has caused untold misery and suffering in the Mideast and burdened the American people and future generations with a mountain of debt.
The cost in lives, blood and treasure of the neocon's foreign policy is a disgrace. America should have been adhering to George Washington's assertion in his Farewell Address about our proper relationship with the rest of the world. Instead, for most of our history, presidents have been creating an American Empire, and the costs in human lives and financial resources have been mounting endlessly. (A brilliant and enlightening documentary of U.S. foreign policy since the end of World War II, Why We Fight, must be viewed by all Americans.)
The right foreign policy for America should be clear. It has been articulated by George Washington: It is our true policy to steer clear of entangling alliances with any portion of the foreign world." And Thomas Jefferson said in his 1801 inaugural address: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations - entangling alliances with none." And most recently, Congressman Ron Paul and a 2008 GOP presidential candidate wrote: "Nointerventionism is not isolationism. Nonintervention simply means America does not interfere militarily, financially, or covertly in the internal affairs of other nations. It does not mean that we isolate ourselves; on the contrary, our founders advocated open trade, travel, communication, and diplomacy with other nations."
Now that Barack Obama has been inaugurated President of the United States, will Al Qaeda launch another attack on American soil in the first year of his presidency just like it did during the first year of his two predecessors? I hope not. But hope will not stop Al Qaeda from reacting to the military and political intervention of the United States in the Middle East.
President Obama has the opportunity to embrace America's noble ideals and finally break the hold the military-industrial-congressional-think tank complex has on the country's foreign policy. Or will he perpetuate the morally bankrupt foreign policy of the political and financial elites which is undermining the American people's wealth and prosperity? Time will tell. And Al Qaeda probably will respond accordingly.
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