Dissenting and official opinions on “9/11”
There are plenty of cryptic theories about what really happened on September 11, 2001. Two years after the attacks on the World Trade Center, a set of best-sellers were put on the market by renowned and esteemed authors, e.g. Andreas von Bülow, the intelligence expert and former German Minister of Defense, which follow one “enormous suspicion”: did the American government turn a blind eye on the attacks, or did it possibly commit the attacks itself? Did the “geopolitical chess masters” in the White House sacrifice the “twin towers” in order to achieve “global supremacy”?
Conspiracy theories …
“Qui bono?” – “who benefits?” – these authors ask and reach an unambiguous finding:
“The most important lead for solving a crime is the motive. While one can prepare fingerprints, telephone calls, radio messages, pieces of rubble and even pieces of corpses or allow them to disappear according to discretion, the motive can never disappear. Because without the motive the act would never have happened. One can try at most to make false motives available in order to overlay the true motive. Also in in the case of 9/11, true and false motives are in circulation … If one draws a sober balance sheet according to ‘who benefited from it,’ one finds that nearly the whole world only had disadvantages from the attacks … The only governments for which the September 11 attacks were really useful were the United States and Israel. The USA used it as a unique opportunity to get a grip on the entire globe. It could change the subject from its disastrous economic situation and from home-made financial scandals as well as search at the same time for access to the oil resources of the Arab world.” (Gerhard Wisnewski, Operation 9/11, p. 289)
These dissenting theories begin eith the question of the “motive“ for September 11, and there they are basically finished: because the US used the attacks to justify its wars, the authors conclude that the Bush administration must have masterminded the attacks, or at least authorized them. They are so sure of their case that the argument “qui bono?” explains any circumstance that does not fit this accusation as a mere appearance that they won’t let mislead them. Every fact that doesn’t fit is denied or inserted into the worldview that it’s not only an appearance, but one that has been intentionally designed – a consciously placed “false lead,” a “forgery.” In this way, those who have exploited the act for propagandistic purposes become criminals and conspirators who cover up their evil deed with “lies, deceptions and false leads” made in “Brainwashington D.C.,” which become all the more finely woven the more they are contradicted by closer inspection. In short: once the suspicion exists, it “solidifies” completely by itself and can barely be budged any more. The authors strictly insist that, due to the cover up by the US authorities, nobody can ever know exactly what really happened – and they go on in this way free from any obligation to prove their assertions; it suffices for their accusation to cast doubts on the official version. Testimonies, documents, press reports, photos, etc., are questioned for “inconsistencies.” Each discrepancy bears new “open questions,” and the raising of so many open questions only proves too well that it has been raised correctly, and the thing must be a bit fishy.
Certainly, this can convince only those who are happy to be convinced or who are already half-convinced, but it is also not refutable vice versa, particularly as the validity of each piece of evidence is of no further importance anyway.
… and their motive
The authors of the conspiracy theories can present themselves as thinking “the unthinkable” – that the attacks were staged by US authorities – not because of this “accumulation of inconsistencies,” but because they do not approve of the conclusions that the US sees the attacks entitling it to:“It would be foolhardy to want to clear up the pre-history and action of 9/11 in detail without help from the giant apparatuses of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA or the Mossad. But doubts about the official version are sufficient to simply refuse allegiance to the American government’s representation of the events and the political as well as military strategies derived from it for a ‘world war.’ This strategy is a danger to world peace. Ultimately, the extremely bloated American military apparatus not only threatens ‘preventive war,’ but also the removal of the United Nations as a countervailing factor between nations, destroying international law as it has developed over decades, centuries.” (von Bülow, The CIA and September 11, p. 10).
In the foreign policy that America has underlined with the invocation of 9/11, von Bülow notes the avoidance of the established international rules of procedure – which appears to him both now and in hindsight as a stronghold of peace and international justice. He does not want to concede the official reasons for this dangerous act of destruction of a world order – “war against terrorism” – which he holds sacred, and promptly finds the truth in American foreign policy documents:
“The plans laid down long before 9/11/2001 in discussions and in writings by the decisive representatives of the present American administration … aim at the protection of a century of American world domination, the containment of the billions of peoples of China and India, the prevention of the rise of competitive counter-powers on the Eurasian continent and ultimately access to oil reserves, a raw material that becomes of more strategic importance the scarcer it becomes, and the financial power associated with it. The Bush administration used the events of 9/11, without hesitating even for a moment, to implement and justify this already formulated policy in the course of the war against terror.” (von Bülow, p. 8)
So von Bülow doesn’t delude himself about American imperialism – and if he would prove the aims and motivations of the American program for war, then he would have a long list and would basically be finished. But that’s just not done. Of all things, the military re-organization of the world which, as he himself writes, is about nothing other than US interests, about maneuvers in imperialistic competition, about power and force, means that he must consequently critically examine whether it is really happening because of the terrorist attack. Although von Bülow and the others oppose this “war against terror,” they do not want to simply say no to its legitimacy without further ado – rather, they very constructively and affirmatively examine whether the tremendous break with the norms of international politics could perhaps be acceptable in light of an attack on American territory that is just as tremendous and unprecedented.
For these critics of the USA, it is so self-evident that official government authorities are entitled to destroy unofficial “terrorist” aggressors and insubordinate states that they do not notice the extent to which, in the eyes of world public opinion, the different moral statures of the two warring sides rely on the size and success of their respective power – and nothing else. The authors do not find Bush’s radical use of the legal claim to the “war against terror” sufficiently unmasked. If, under the slogan “war against terror,” America takes the occasion of the destruction of the two skyscrapers to define the entire globe as a battlefield and to dictate the inviolability of its power as a condition for peace to the rest of the world, then the authors do not believe the Americans, certainly not that this incident was the real reason for the “response” – but in opposition to it, they only dare to contend that America did not give the real reasons for it.
They do not speak up as opponents of imperialism, but as idealists of international law and as alternative European nationalists who deny authorization to the supreme superpower’s obnoxious imperialism. They don’t want to have anything against the annihilation of unofficial “terrorist” combatants or the violent re-organization of the world order, hence they don’t find anything to oppose in the content of the American policy – they think they can only oppose the war if they deny the facts on which the Bush administration has built its justification. If the attacks on the twin towers really took place the way they have been represented, von Bülow and other fans of a just war against terrorism would not know how to make objections against a brutal right to global self-defense and preventive attacks. And vice versa – those who do not want to entitle this mental attitude of the gangsters in Washington must fiddle with “inconsistencies” in the “official version”!
The conspiracy theorists (Bröckers, Wisnewski, von Bülow) happily round out the idea that Bush and his crew do not deserve the confidence of the world with a character sketch which has nothing to do with the current wars and the 9/11 attacks. The authors come to the core of the matter in their digressions: one finds out that George Bush is a member of the same “reactionary New England fraternity” in which his grandfather, Prescott Bush, “stole the head of the Apache chief Geronimo as a trophy” and later “became one of the most important financiers and supporter of the Nazi regime” (Bröckers); or that the US secret services are involved “closely with organized crime and the illegal weapons and drug trade” (Bröckers and Wisnewski); and above all that the administration maintains the best of relations with assassins (“Cads’ fighting when ended is soon mended: the Bush-bin Laden Connection”; “Bush and Bin”; “old comrades”: all of them unanimous). This type of administration discredits itself by its collaboration with the evil one! “The same terrorist!” shout the authors, knowing exactly how they have to regard this type of government that appoints itself to such a holy a thing as a war against terrorists.
So the picture of the world is complete and, in the view of the authors, everything that needs to be said about the current wars: a power one doesn’t want to believe entitled is seen as merely violating law and morality: what interests the USA may have – this power is “only” concerned with power, thus “naked self-interest” and, already again laid bare, “naked force.” Or a “real power politik unconnected with morality and law,” von Bülow complains, apparently a fan of “interests” dressed up with a lot of prettified “morality” (von Bülow, p. 226). He calls it an “attack on the world,” the innocent; the war is not on terrorism but “civilization,” the good. “Does the leadership of the USA lower itself to blood lust?” Wisnewski asks (p. 349).
The completely normal insanity I:
Conspiracy theories and their critics
Conspiracy theories about September 11 may be popular – but in the democratic media they have a bad reputation. From the conservative NZZ (“an uncontrolled imagination run amok”) to the alternative taz (“for some, life is marvelously simple”), the respectable press feels challenged to form a kind of counter-publicity and clear away the “wild conspiracy theories.” However, the conspiracy theorists did not invent the procedure of discrediting the world power with its own justifications and phraseologies, but adopted this from the established press. Who familiarized its readers with revelations that the far-reaching actions of the world power are “in truth” not about the honorable fight against terrorism, but “only” “occupying oil fields” or changing the subject from “bad economic data” or “polishing up the image of the President” in the fight against sinking poll numbers? Who then incessantly certified that American propaganda lacked credibility and saw “George Bush’s failure of evidence” – only because specialists searching in occupied Iraq couldn’t find “weapons of mass destruction”? Where the respectable (European) press accuses the US of more or less openly abusing the terrorist attacks in order to carry out its national interests, the conspiracy theorists only take this one step further and question the authenticity of this “pretext.”
Obviously, the inability to perceive politics in a different way than from the standpoint of state morality and propaganda titles is not confined to a few eccentric journalistic outsiders, but is an occupational illness. The democratic media makes a habit of thinking about politics primarily under the criterion of compliance with venerable principles; it sees nothing in the world of politics other than the dichotomy between a nice appearance – for which it has a lot of fondness – and the pertinent suspicion that it could also be a mere appearance. Because it clings to the facade of politics, it is also ready to explain recent events as a mere facade which are a matter of seeing through. It is a journalistic commonplace that one may not believe the politicians anyway, especially foreign politicians, certainly when they stress noble and venerable motives. That’s why the goals of politicians can’t be found in press conferences or political deeds – the “true” intentions of the powerful are discovered in their scattered “indiscretions” – which, however, one must not carelessly fall for! – as well as in “insider information” – a modern word for the servant’s perspective through a keyhole.
The view from “behind the scenes” always shows the same picture: behind the facade of responsibility for the common good, “party squabbling,” “jockeying for positions,” “nepotism” and other synonyms for the absence of responsibility. A critical media does not shy away from explaining the political program in class society as a mere deception: the fulfillment of an honorable agenda is only faked, the politicians are “only” – as if this would be a contradiction! – concerned with holding their own power. In the need “to be fooled by nothing,” the readership consumes publications which render outstanding services in confusing grounds with backgrounds, of criticism with exposé. People who do not allow their confidence in the free-market economy and democracy to be shaken are full of distrust for those who bear responsibility for them, and they gladly see hidden forces in control behind the events of recent history: the death of Lady Di – an assassination; NASA’s moon-landing – only faked in the desert, etc., etc.
If conspiracy theorists are nevertheless inundated with such reproaches, then that is not because they depart from the spectrum of the normal absurdity, but from the terrain of the politically opportune. With all old Europe’s bitterness about the new course of their “American friends”: the provocative theory which would have the new world rulers in the White House, in a repeat of the classical conspiracy theory that the Roman emperor Nero covered his own metropolis with friendly fire, creating a pretext for the establishment of a “new American century” – this assertion is too venomous to be made diplomatically by the European junior partners of the USA and journalistically represented by the respectable press in these countries.
The completely normal insanity II:
Conspiracies and conspiracy theories in world history
But life itself always makes the cruelest jokes: while the world of bourgeois journalism cooks up its alternative conspiracy theories, the world of imperialism is full of practically effective conspiracy theories. The mother of all conspiracy theories about “9/11” comes directly from the White House and not only includes a complete worldview, but also a program for a world war. In an handy metaphor, an “axis of evil” is spoken of, together with its “weapons of mass destruction.”
As with any conspiracy theory from the center of power, “the axis of evil” also assumes that the national interests of the USA are a profoundly entitled matter, so it is self-evident that they apply limitlessly and absolutely. God’s own country insists on turning the attribute “justified” directly into an independent subject: that is the starting point of the good, which from now signs its name as a sponsor of the interests which extend from America over the entire world. This is the sense in which the world is to be put in order, and wherever American directives are not welcomed as the unquestionable basis for the respective raison d'etat, there begins the world of “rogue states.” They offend this world order, and that’s why their raison d'etat is a crime: evil. America takes exception to them as if their true raison d'etat would consist in wanting to destroy the realm of the good.
The “axis of evil” draws an image of a global conspiracy which not only connects the individual rogue states to each other, but to a secret collective of aggressive anti-Americanism – it doesn’t matter that some of the designated states might also be hostile to each other, such as Iraq and Iran who waged a decade-long war against each other. All the same: states produce “weapons of mass destruction” to pass them on to secret societies which can use them without restraint because they have nothing to lose. If UN weapons inspectors, despite their intensive search for the possession of such weapons by these states, can’t prove this, then that only proves that their insidiousness is beyond doubt – this worldview is as airtight as that of the conspiracy theorists.
As a theory, the American version of events is no less crackpot than that of von Bülow and company: whereas the latter identify the Mossad and the CIA as the attackers behind the attackers, for the former it is Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. But the conspiracy theory from the White House does not aim at putting a moral picture of the world in the right in order to then resign itself to the way the world turns. In contrast to the worldviews sometimes adopted by ordinary people, this persecution complex not only suits a world power determined to wage war for its interests, but is also intended quite practically: the US administration takes bloody seriously its moral fundamentalism, which sees in the world only good and evil – the first therefore entitling it to commit any atrocity and the second having no right to exist. It uses war to turn its value judgments about evil into reality and to make its interests valid in practice. And the US demands allegiance from the rest of the world by demanding belief in its conspiracy theory.
For this worldview, the US has used the September 11 attacks as the stuff of a mission. The disaster is construed into an unforgettable event in the emotional life of the nation: “Ground Zero” is a monument to the inviolable unity of the people and their leaders, welded together by a sneak attack by foreign criminals, and symbolizes the justice of American power, which avenges this crime. All this is so familiar to the American public that a mere reference to the date of the attacks suffices to invoke everything that is necessary to justify the current wars. The American administration does not go to all this effort because a peace-loving people like the Americans can only be incited to war by deceit. It’s the other way around: the argument “9/11” can only make sense to a people who are already willing to be dragged into war by the legitimacy of American entitlement. It’s exactly the same with both the dissenting opinion and the state propaganda: partisanship sires conviction; the moral attitude only needs to be offered illustrative material, which doesn’t produce the attitude, but confirms it.
In order to explain its right to wage war to itself and to the rest of the world, no party in war wants to let it be said that it took the first step in the competition of weapons without needing to; the belief that in each case one always only “returns fire” is part of the self-image of any nation at war. The history of war among civilized nations is full of myths and legends; and a number of fabricated incidents, such as the famous “incident at Tonking” which was the occasion for escalating the Vietnam war, are also part of the history of America’s path to war. So a patriotic sense of justice invents facts for itself, and the patriotic spirit gets the deception that it seeks.
[Translated from Gegenargumente radio broadcast: January 20, 2004]