The Conference Part One: The Pipeline

4 February 2009

In July 1979, just as Zbigniew Brzezinski was creating the original Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Benjamin Netanyahu and a host of other notable names were meeting in the Jerusalem Hilton for four days. The subject was international terrorism, only a distant speck on the political horizon for western countries at that time. Two years later, Netanyahu published International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, an account of that conference consisting of all the main speeches and some brief question and answer sessions. Put simply, it reads like a post 9/11 neoconservative manifesto, some 20 years prior to those attacks. Of course, it isn't alone in this respect, it sits on the same shelf as the PNAC document Rebuilding America's Defences, just down from the pilot episode of the Lone Gunmen and the DVD of The Long Kiss Goodnight.

The purpose of the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism (JCIT) was obviously not to plan 9/11, but in Netanyahu's own words:

'To focus public attention on the grave threat that international terrorism poses to all democratic societies, to study the real nature of today's terrorism, and to propose measures for combating and defeating the international terror movements.' - International Terrorism, foreword by Benjamin Netanyahu

Out of context this may just seem like beneficent foresight, but this is from a man who only last year said that Israel was benefiting from the attacks of 9/11, and the membership list for the conference almost entirely consists of Zionists and American neoconservatives. Benzion Netanyahu, father of Benjamin, wrote the preface. After dismissing the 'moral relativism' of 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' Netanyahu Snr goes on to explicitly define terrorism in his eyes, as:

"The deliberate and systematic killing of civilians so as to inspire fear."

Under this definition, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 was not terrorism, as it targeted military personnel, but the recent bombing of Gaza by Israel most definitely does count as terrorism, being as it is part of a concerted effort to drive the Palestinians to seeking refuge in other countries. But this is only the start of the conference's outlining of an ideology replete with doublethink and double standards. The particular irony is that the timing of the conference was after the Gladio network was well established and at the exact same time as the US was seeking to internationalise radical militant Islam to draw the Soviets into a Vietnam-style trap in Afghanistan.

Some of the most blatant hypocrisy and deceptive rhetoric is found in the contribution of Professor Richard Pipes, a Polish-American historian who served as a consultant to Senator Henry Jackson (who attended the JCIT), is a close associate of Richard Perle, and served on both the Committee on the Present Danger (a long standing Soviet-threat scaremongering lobby group) and Team B, as well as being a member of the ubiquitous Council on Foreign Relations. As Adam Curtis covered in The Power of Nightmares, Team B was pure neoconservatism - ramping up the Soviet threat to justify increased expenditure and more aggressive interventions around the world.

None of the threat was real, but they didn't care in the slightest. By that point, ideology was driving the US intelligence community and foreign policy establishment, rather than any notion of facts or truth. Team B was set up under President Gerald Ford, of the Warren Commission, and one of its members was Governor Connally, the second man to be wounded by the magic bullet. But it's real masters were then CIA director George HW Bush (who organised the JCIT along with Netanyahu), Richard Pipes at the helm of the group, General George Keegan (who attended the JCIT) and senior advisors Paul Wolfowitz and Paul Nitze, the latter of which had founded the Committee for Present Danger back in the 1950s. They were no doubt ably assisted by Dick Cheney, then Chief of Staff in the Ford White House and Donald Rumsfeld in his first stint as Secretary of Defense.

The philosophy of this group was something akin to the precautionary principle, in that the lack of evidence of a conventionally understood threat only led Team B to conclude that the threat must be unconventional. There was no question that the threat was simply not there. Anne Cahn, a former US intelligence officer and stern critic of Team B, wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1993:

When Team B looked at "hard" data, everywhere it saw the worst case. It reported, for instance, that the Backfire bomber "probably will be produced in substantial numbers, with perhaps 500 aircraft off the line by early 1984." (In fact, the Soviets had 235 in 1984.) Team B also regarded Soviet defenses with alarm. "Mobile ABM [anti-ballistic missiles] system components combined with the deployed SAM [surface-to-air missile] system could produce a significant ABM capability." But that never occurred.

Team B found the Soviet Union immune from Murphy's law. They examined ABM and directed energy research, and said, "Understanding that there are differing evaluations of the potentialities of laser and CPB [charged particle beam] for ABM, it is still clear that the Soviets have mounted ABM efforts in both areas of a magnitude that it is difficult to overestimate...

...Team B's failure to find a Soviet non-acoustic anti-submarine system was evidence that there could well be one. "The implication could be that the Soviets have, in fact, deployed some operational non-acoustic systems and will deploy more in the next few years." It wasn't a question of if the Russians were coming. They were here. (And probably working at the CIA!) - Cahn, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Remind you of anything? Well, the most obvious comparison is with Iraq's WMD, which we were told for months most definitely existed but which clearly didn't, validating the early scepticism of former UN Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, among many others. The same deceptive philosophy was amusingly employed by Donald Rumsfeld in his now notorious comments of February 2002:

Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know. - Rumsfeld

This butchering of any rational or scientific concept of the threats posing us, whereby the absence of evidence of a threat is no reason not to take the maximum possible reaction as if there were the maximum possible threat, was delightfully satirised by the Boondocks character Gin Rummy, a pastiche of Rumsfeld, in the following scene:

So what did Richard Pipes have to say at the JCIT? Initially, he defines the origin of the philosophy of modern terrorism with a Russia group called The People's Will who murdered Czar Alexander II in 1881. Pipes explained:

"Surely we have had innumerable political murders in the past. But those murders were of individual political leaders... the murder of political figures in the past had been carried out by individuals against individuals, by those who felt that a particular man in power represented or embodied political or social evil...

The People's Will organisation was the first to consider the enemy to be the whole system, and by system again I emphasise it means not only autocracy, but also capitalism, religion, law and everything else which kept the body politic together." - Richard Pipes, International Terrorism

While Pipes may well see this as an innovation, I think he's ultimately pulling a fast one to help shore up his personal belief that Russia is the origin of all modern evil. One only has to look at the assassination of Julius Caesar, which Michael Parenti contends was only one of many political murders, or that Jesus Christ was executed along with numerous other people the entrenched powers considered a threat, to see that for a long time people have been killed for more general ideological reasons than their individual status or values. For a more recent example, that Pipes really has no excuse for overlooking, one might look at the 1789 French Revolution, particularly the period referred to as the Reign of Terror, during which tens of thousands of people were executed. The very fact that Pipes only really considers the murders of leaders as 'political' illustrates that he's marginalising or plain ignoring a huge number of political murders of ordinary people considered, for want of a better word, as part of a 'system' that needed destroying.

Richard Pipes goes on to talk of 19th century sociologists and political scientists who defined the state as an institution which enjoys a monopoly on violence. The treatment of criminals, the insane and anyone else who for whatever reason rejected the state's authority shows this quite clearly. Indeed, some subsequent writers elaborated. Charles Tilly, an American sociologist, conceived of the state as a protection racket. As David MacGregor explains:

States maintain a monopoly om the legitimate use of violence through their claim to protect citizens from criminals or against external enemies. However, states often follow practices made familiar by organised crime's protection rackets, where the racketeer creates a threat and then charges for its reduction. - MacGregor, Hidden History of 9/11

Pipes goes on to embrace this hypocrisy and monopoly of violence by the state:

But what about terror? Are there any objective criteria by which we can judge what is legitimate terror and what is not? I personally believe that it is illegitimate to use terror anywhere at any time as a means of fighting... political, national or economic oppression. It is legitimate... as a means of fighting terror itself, whether it emanates from the state, as was true for example in Nazi-occupied Europe, or from political organisations dedicated to terror. - Pipes, International Terrorism

This is, in effect, the logic of a bully beating another kid to a bloody pulp and then claiming they started it. How, for example, can we apply such logic to the Israel-Palestine war? The implication is that the Palestinians are illegitimate in fighting the Israeli state force but that the Israeli state is merely 'using terror to fight terror' and therefore Israeli violence is legitimate. Similarly, the American wars and statecraft since 9/11 are 'legitimate' because, as Bush II put it:

The terrorists attacked us and killed 3000 of our people before we started the Freedom agenda in the Middle East. - George W Bush

Beyond the naked double standards there are the numerous examples of the US making use of or even creating freedom fighter/terrorist groups, such as the creation of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan which began at approximately the same moment as Pipes delivered this speech. The US spent much of the next decade heralding the Afghan freedom fighters, to the extent President Reagan even dedicated the Columbia shuttle launch to them, and fed billions of dollars into the area via the ISI.  The aim was political and military - to entangle the Soviets in a war, and ultimately to defeat them. Similarly, the funding of the Nicaraguan Contras throughout the 1980s was essentially the same strategy as employed in Afghanistan and the US (mis)adventures in the Middle East did not begin on September 12th 2001.

Violence exists in the world, and people can always find some reason from the past to continue being violent today if they desire to do so. Revenge is easily justified by the brutality of human history. Perhaps violence is even, as Walter Benjamin analyses in his essay On the Critique of Violence, produced by nature or part of nature, but the distinction made by Pipes largely comes down to the old sociology he cited whereby the state has a monopoly on legitimate violence but anyone fighting against the state does not. The state has the power to write history, and to fake attacks against itself and thus it can always make its violence seem reactionary, like it was provoked by someone else.

We see this playing out in the work of Richard Pipes' odious muslim-hating son Daniel. A prolific writer and teacher, Daniel Pipes in deeply involved in the academy and mainstream media. He founded and remains head of the Middle East Forum, a conservative thinktank, is a signatory for the Project for the New American Century, is on the editorial board of The National Interest, as well as being deeply involved with Campus Watch, a project which tries to censure any non-neoconservative views of the Middle East in the American academy. Pipes once described Muslims as:

Brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene. -

He later tried to put this distance himself from this sentence, claiming he was characterising the thinking of Western Europeans, not his own views. The man has clearly learnt from his father about rhetoric conjuring tricks. The strategy is to inspire this attitude among Western Europeans by describing Muslims in such an derogatory and insulting way, and then if anyone criticises you claim that you were merely reporting on an attitude that already exists. It's the same strategy as causing violence covertly and then defending the response of war by claiming it is a reaction to someone else's wrongdoing. Pipes was rather comically appointed by Bush II to the US Institute of Peace in 2003, a body who apparently seek to prevent and resolve international conflict. There was such opposition at the time that Bush bypassed the Senate in initially making the appointment, and didn't renominate Pipes when his temporary appointment finished.

Some of Daniel Pipes' other behaviour warrants scrutiny. The infamous cartoons of Mohammed which eventually caused international controversy were originally published in Denmark by the Jyllands-Posten, whose cultural editor Flemming Rose is a close associate of Daniel Pipes. Initial criticism and protests in Denmark were peaceful and sensible, but the 'row' (as it has inevitably been portrayed) only became aggressive and violent after several other publications also printed the offending cartoons. Towards the end of February 2006 the Arab European League accused Pipes of having commissioned the cartoons to promote the 'clash of civilisations' between Muslims and Christians. In what probably isn't coincidence, on the same day Pipes published an article debunking any notion of him being involved. As Pipes proudly states, his response is to deny any such allegation, in keeping with what he wrote in his 1992 CIA commissioned report on dealing with conspiracy theories. In pointing out that of course he would deny any such suggestion or conspiracy theory the article suggests he's not affirmatively denying that the allegations are true, just that it's his place and position to deny such things.

It's worth noting that the same paper turned down satirical cartoons of Jesus some two years earlier on the grounds that they would probably cause offence, and that Daniel Pipes was in the mainstream media throughout trying to fan the flames of an argument that never needed to happen. In early February 2006 he published an article called Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism. In it, he sought to establish a binary opposition, thus trying forcing people to pick one of two diametically opposing sides:

The key issue at stake in the battle over the twelve Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad is this: Will the West stand up for its customs and mores, including freedom of speech, or will Muslims impose their way of life on the West? Ultimately, there is no compromise: Westerners will either retain their civilization, including the right to insult or blaspheme, or not. - Pipes, NY Sun

This false dichotomy - between 'free speech' advocates who wanted the cartoons in every newspaper in the world, and 'Islamic imperialism' advocates who wanted the cartoons destroyed and the newspaper editors strung up by the throat - became the official way of discussing the issue in the western media. Simultaneously, Pipes appeared on CNN, blaming the whole thing on Muslim leaders seizing on the cartoons to agitate anti-Western sentiment. Ultimately, this lead Christopher Bollyn of the American Free Press to state:

Framing the cartoon scandal in this way and forcing a false choice between defending the "free press" or the Muslim protesters, Pipes reveals his hidden hand behind the publication of the cartoons, which now appears to be a well-laid trap into which a number of newspapers and populist parties have fallen. - Christopher Bollyn

However, the intelligence of Bollyn and others fell on deaf ears and the opposition between Muslims and freedom of speech settled in. In October 2006 the usually somewhat progressive or at least liberal Channel 4 (UK) broadcast a special Dispatches debate hosted by veteran newsman Jon Snow.

It is astonishing that both the channel and Snow himself, a respectable journalist, gave up their time and lent their reputations to such a one-dimensional discussion of a serious topic. It is one of the worst things the channel has broadcast in years, though not quite as shameful as the BBC conspiracy files shows on 9/11. Nonetheless, the Dispatches debate does illustrate perfectly how the discussion was framed around two apparently polar opposites.

The most crucial point about this is that even the most left-progressive channel in the UK in 2006 was essentially employing the same mentality that senior Zionists and neoconservatives had at the JCIT nearly three decades earlier. That is how effectively the discussion was turned into a divisive and aggressive opposition of people into two violently different camps. Benzion Netanyahu, father of Benjamin, chaired the JCIT and gave the opening speech.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is quite clear that the terrorist has declared war on the society of free men." - Netanyahu (snr), International Terrorism

Shimon Peres would speak next. He is in the 7th decade of his political career, having served as Prime Minister twice he is currently President of Israel.

"Terror is an expression of virulence and extremism based upon a hope that the weaker side, the victim, will give in to its lack of logic and restraint. You cannot bring an end to terror around a negotiating table, because the motive of terror is to exact a surrender by terrorising the other side." - Peres, International Terrorism

This same philosophy of opposing our 'freedom' in the west with whatever the enemy is - Soviet Communism, Al Qaeda, angry Muslims - combined with a view of the enemy whereby compromise and negotiation are impossible, is maintained across generations, across thousands of miles of 'western democracy', across hundreds of political parties and media channels. It is ultimately the philosophy of the two minutes hate. These people, whoever they are and whether or not they really exist, are the officially authorised enemy. We're allowed to hate them, and so we've got to try and hate them with everything we've got. Even if that hatred makes us worse than them.