Leaving the 20th century
As more information becomes available about the recent past it becomes necessary for revise the conventionally accepted picture of the War on Terror in the light of new revelations. One site that illustrates the forthcoming flood is the Pajamas Media Iraq files dedicated to covering newly released documents confiscated during OIF. More new documents have just been released and one can only guess what's in them. Some of the documents have already suggested that Saddam may have been in contact with Osama Bin Laden before September 11 to plot terror attacks against the US, though to what extent is yet unknown. A number of recent books have already made good contributions to recent history and more are in the works. Among them: George Packer's Assassin's Gate, Bing Wests's No True Glory and most recently Gordon and Trainor's Cobra II. Nobody is going to be completely happy with the new information. Saddam was not as innocent of WMD intentions as many Liberals retrospectively claimed him to be. He was more brutal than anyone could imagine him to be. Administrations supporters will be unhappy to learn that Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush probably made errors in judgement in the planning and execution of OIF. But Liberals will be saddened to discover that President Bush may not have been eager to invade Iraq at all, despite portrayals to the contrary by the press, deciding only after the intelligence community (which did not entirely cover itself with glory) convinced him that Saddam was an imminent threat. We learn that press exaggerations may have helped abort the first battle of Fallujah, probably to the detriment of the American cause. The recent histories will reignite the debate the role of Colin Powell; whether de-Baathization was a good move in retrospect and about a dozen other things. And about Donald Rumsfeld: the Jawa Report now thinks he should go. Suggestive stories are still pouring in. For example, it may be the case that Saudi Arabian and Pakistani engineers helped destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas. Saddam apparently funded the Abu Sayyaf.
Sebastian Junger (of the Perfect Storm) says Pakistan is still supporting the Taliban and may have helped Osama Bin Laden escape American capture. Details in April's Vanity Fair. Christopher Hitchens highlights the distortions that are closer at hand, pointing out Al Qaeda's almost Satanic and long-standing plan to set every ethnic group in Iraq against every other may succeed because of the US domestic preoccupation with the blame game. Aller gegen alle. And not just in Iraq.
It would have been surprising to discover a really simple narrative behind the events of the last four and half years. The public is only now beginning to catch a glimpse of the fantastic complexity that somehow lay beneath the placid exterior of the 1990s, an era that came to an end with everyone worrying about the millennium software bug but which failed to anticipate September 11. The emergence of bewildering detail is reassuring in this respect: the events since are not the simple contrivance of a few bureaucrats at the Mossad or the CIA. Real historical forces and not cheap conspiracies are at work, though perhaps not every politician has realized that yet.