Connecting…

I used to watch a television show hosted by a guy named James Burke called ‘Connections.’  Great show.  It’s a bit dated, now, but still highly entertaining.  Basically, he shows how one thing led to another, sometimes intentionally, sometimes, not so much.  He kind of infected my brain.  I like looking for connections, these days.  I stumbled upon one the other day.  My connection?  How the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980’s led directly to the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City.

Mr. Burke does his connections in a very entertaining way.  This one is presented in what might be called a more…matter-of-fact style but it’s really quite simple.

September, 1980 – July, 1988: Iran and Iraq fight a war that leaves both countries treasuries depleted.
August 2, 1990: After receiving “permission” from the US, Iraq invades Kuwait.
August 3, 1990: Saudi Arabia objects to Iraq’s invasion
1990: Osama Bin Laden offers to send his “Afghan Arabs” to defend the Saudi border from Iraqi incursion. The Saudi royal family spurns the offer and turns, instead to “infidel” Americans for assistance, enraging Bin Laden.
August 8, 1990: The US begins massing troops on the Saudi Arabian border and tells Saddam to back out of Kuwait.
January, 1991: The US military pushes Saddam out of Kuwait. The base the US built in Saudi Arabia for 41’s invasion, Prince Sultan Air Base, remains intact and in use.  Bin Laden considers the presence of Americans on holy soil an insult to Islam.
September 11, 2001: Al Qaeda initiates the plan to use airliners to crash into the Pentagon and the WTC – and the towers come down.

The thing that gets me is that at any point, the trajectory of events might have been changed.  Kuwait might have been better about their OPEC obligations.  The US might have discouraged Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait.  The Saudi’s might have taken advantage of Bin Laden’s offer.  There are, of course, many more pieces to the puzzle.  I’ve only highlighted six of them above.  But…just to be thorough, the entire chain of events, large and small, are detailed below, if you’re interested.  (If not, you’ve seen the highlights…)

September, 1980 – July, 1988: Iran and Iraq fight a war that leaves both countries treasuries depleted. US arms manufacturers (among others) supply weapons to both sides.
1988: Osama Bin Laden forms Al Qaeda (‘The Base’).
1989: The Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan. Bin Laden also leaves Afghanistan and returns to Saudi Arabia.
July, 1990: Saddam Hussein complains that Kuwait is slant-drilling into a shared oil field and exceeding it’s OPEC quota, depressing world oil prices and hurting Iraq which needs the revenue to recover from it’s war with Iran. Saddam decides to invade Kuwait.
July 25, 1990: Saddam asks April Glaspie, the American Ambassador to Iraq, if the US would have any objections to such an invasion. Glaspie replies, “We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960’s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America…”
August 2, 1990: After receiving “permission” from the US, Iraq invades Kuwait.
August 3, 1990: Saudi Arabia objects to Iraq’s invasion claiming incursions into Saudi Arabia. Iraq insists the incursion was an error.
1990: Osama Bin Laden offers to send his “Afghan Arabs” to defend the Saudi border from Iraqi incursion. The Saudi royal family spurns the offer and turns, instead to “infidel” Americans for assistance, enraging Bin Laden.
August 6, 1990: The UN imposes sanctions on Iraq.
August 8, 1990: The US begins massing troops on the Saudi Arabian border and tells Saddam to back out of Kuwait. Saddam stays in Kuwait despite a UN order to leave.
January, 1991: The US military pushes Saddam out of Kuwait. On the day the operation is launched, it’s called ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation’. People opposed to the action immediately jump on the fact that the acronym is ‘O.I.L’. The name is quickly changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. The base the US built in Saudi Arabia for 41’s invasion, Prince Sultan Air Base, remains intact and in use. The base operates under US standards, meaning, in part, that American women are in Saudi Arabia and allowed to visit surrounding areas without head coverings – a sin in Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden considers the presence of Americans on holy soil an insult to Islam.
April 3, 1991 – The UN passes Security Council Resolution 687 setting the terms for the cease fire in Iraq and establishing the international weapons inspection team known as UNSCOM.
1991 – 1998: UNSCOM encounters various difficulties. Iraq is not fully cooperative.
December 29, 1992: Al Qaeda makes it’s first attack, a hotel bombing in Aden Yemen. The hotel was bombed because American troops had been stationed there. The troops had already left and no Americans were injured in the blast.
February 26, 1993: Several middle eastern men try to blow up the World Trade Center using a van full of explosives in an underground parking garage. The plan is to topple one tower into the other. The first tower fails to fall. Ramzi Yousef is called the mastermind of the attack. He received financing for the operation from his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Yousef and Mohammed had envisioned a larger plot, later known as the Bojinka Plot that involved, among other things, hijacking an aircraft and using it as a missile to attack CIA headquarters. Osama Bin Laden is not implicated in this attack, though Yousef had trained in Al Qaeda camps.
1996: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed takes the plan to use airliners to attack America to Osama Bin Laden.
1997: Osama Bin Laden claims he never knew Ramzi Yousef but confirms he knew his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
November, 1997: Iraq charges that US spies on the UN team are planting bugs and expels all American weapons inspectors. Iraq says they will accept non-US inspectors and continue to cooperate with UNSCOM.
1998: UNSCOM is withdrawn at the request of the United States in preparation for Operation Desert Fox, a joint, 4-day bombing mission carried out by US and the United Kingdom. The justification for the strikes was Iraq’s failure to comply with UN resolutions despite UNSCOM’S own estimate that 90 – 95% of Iraqi WMD’s had been destroyed.
1998 – 2002: No weapons inspectors in Iraq.
January, 1999: US admits using spies on weapons inspection teams to plant surveillance devices. (New York Times.)
October, 2000: Saddam realizes he’s been betrayed by the US. He decides to create an oil market that trades in Euros. (The US created the world oil market and requires all players to use US dollars…) The world laughs at Saddam because the Euro isn’t as strong as the dollar and his new market isn’t very popular.
September 11, 2001: Al Qaeda initiates the plan to use airliners to crash into the Pentagon and the WTC – and the towers come down.
October 7, 2001: Bush 43 invades Afghanistan, ostensibly because Bin Laden might be there. He isn’t.
September, 2002: In a letter to Hans Blix, Saddam Hussein invites UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq to “remove any doubts Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction.”
November 2002: Weapons inspectors (now known as UNMOVIC) return to Iraq.
February, 2003: The Euro strengthens against the dollar and Saddam’s oil exchange is less funny to the world – certainly to the US.
February 5, 2003 – Colin Powell appears before the UN. He presents some scary drawings and threatening imaginings that Iraq might, maybe, perhaps still has. None of them are correct.
February 14, 2003 – Hans Blix, UN Chief Weapons Inspector appears before the UN along with Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Blix refutes most of Powell’s unfounded assertions and claims the only remaining violation is in a missile that can fly farther than it’s supposed to if it catches a good tailwind. The missiles are being dismantled. ElBaradei disputes Powell’s claim that Iraq still has a nuclear weapons program.
March 18, 2003: The US invades Iraq anyway.
April 30, 2003: Bush 43 pulls most American troops from Saudi Arabia – a key demand of Osama Bin Laden. This move ends the threat from Osama over the “insult to Islam” of having Americans on holy Islamic soil.
June, 2003: The Iraq oil exchange that operated using Euros is shut down. Iraqi oil returns to being traded in dollars.
May, 23, 2003: Bush 43 disbands Iraq’s army but doesn’t take any of their weapons. Out of work and cast-out from society, the fired soldiers become rebels, many of whom become major contributors to ISIS.
December 30, 2006: The US brutally “executes” Saddam Hussein.
2009: Barrack Obama is given the Nobel Peace Prize in the hopes that he’ll do something to create peace in the Middle east. He doesn’t. The “end date” comes on George’s Wars but Obama manages to keep both of them going in one form or another in thrall to the military/industrial complex. As of this writing (May, 2018), the death and destruction initiated by Bush 43 and that Dick Cheney continues…
May 2, 2011: Osama is killed by Obama. Evidence indicates Osama had been living in Pakistan this whole time…

As a bonus, if you look at the entry for October, 2000 you’ll see the REAL reason the US invaded Iraq: the oil trade…

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