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Questioning the War on Terror: A Primer for Obama Voters Paperback – July 1, 2009
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Kevin Barrett is taking on a big sacred cow, one that hardly anyone in the mainstream media or in Congress would dare to seriously question--The War on Terror, which in the past eight years has joined the flag, motherhood and apple pie as things an American dares question only at the risk of being labeled 'unpatriotic' or a 'supporter of terrorism'. Barrett delves into many of the assumptions behind the The War on Terror: the myths, the lies, the propaganda. The reader should be prepared to question some of his favorite political beliefs. --William Blum, author, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
About the Author
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America's best-known critics of the War on Terror. Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications. Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host. His website is TruthJihad.com
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First there is the tone of the rhetorical questions that form the book's backbone. It's easy to satirize:
Is pseudo-Socratic questioning perhaps a way of making unsupportable insinuations one is unwilling to state directly?
Might it serve to conceal logical fallacies?
Does it not create justifiable suspicions about the integrity of the author, and the validity of his scholarship?
Could Barrett's statements that terrorism is "insignificant" and "negligible" be a deliberate attempt to alienate those who lost loved ones on 9/11?
His second problem is the lousy scholarship. Barrett cites important points from credible commentators like Ron Suskind, Nat Hentoff, Mike Ruppert, James Bamford, Jonathan Turley, Marjorie Cohn, Naomi Klein, Ray McGovern, Alfred McCoy, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists--and makes them seem unreliable when he mixes in silly claims.
Barrett invites his admirers to buy his book in bulk and "throw them" at Obama voters. They will do so at their peril. The book begins with three pages of quotations. The most provocative one, from the FBI, is a misquote. A dishonest misquote. Strike one. The second page of text provides our first source citation. For the uncontroversial fact that Obama sent more troops to Afghanistan, Barrett cites the World Socialist Web Site. What's wrong with mainstream sources? The first eight references are to outfits like PressTV, atheonews, dissidentvoice, truthout. Then we get two references to British newspapers many Americans never heard of. Strike two. The third page addresses Bush-era torture of prisoners, but the damning facts aren't enough for Barrett: he has to claim that video of torture sessions was live-streamed into the White House and that a pedophile ring operated there. His source for this? A blogger's report available to paid subscribers only. Strike three. By the fourth page my Obama voters have concluded that Barrett is an idiot, that his questions about the War on Terror are silly, and that the person who commended the book to them is a fool.
At the end of the second edition our subscription blogger pops up again to bookend the narrative with a claim that Obama's former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, is a Mossad agent. The evidence offered is that Mr. Emanuel sometimes goes to synagogues at the same time as other suspected Mossadniks. Perhaps if Barrett spent more time in the mosque, he would be more objective about the problems of guilt by association. The book moves on to conclude that "Since World War II the U.S. has been committing a worldwide holocaust that dwarfs that of the Nazis". That Barrett's admirers fail to recognize such nonsense for what it is indicts them.
Barrett's iconography is getting to be a running gag. The Statue of Liberty has long been a symbol of the 9/11 Truth movement. Barrett's rendition (pun intended) transforms her on this cover into a rotting fish wrapped in dollar newsprint--a symbol of decay with skulls for breasts. Like violin music played 90% in tune, Barrett's 90%-correct work does an enormous disservice to his material, to himself, and to his gullible fans.
by Kevin Barrett (Author)
Kevin Barrett takes on the central myth from which the "War on Terror" springs, and without which the entire concept collapses like an empty burka. Although the 9/11 myth has been used to justify all manner of deeds and insults inflicted upon the American people, it is as a causus bellum that it has paid off as a dream come true for the Neocons of the Project for a New American Century - a "New Pearl Harbor" that they wished for so fondly in their manifesto famously posted in 1998. Of course, as fate would have it, their little plan to mount the crusader's steed and romp and stomp through the Middle East, rolling up Islamic nations like so many dominos before our hegemonic might, hit one or two snags on the way to the glorious future envisioned by PNAC and the administration. The Iraqi insurgents objected, and the Taliban in Afghanistan are begging to differ as well, to the point that doubts about our ability to prevail at all in the latter case continue to grow. The sorrows of empire are upon us, although the new administration of Barack H. Obama seems remarkably patient with the Bushian status quo, particularly in light of the impatience increasingly voiced by many of his erstwhile supporters.
Kevin Barrett is a well-known and articulate doubter of the officially sanctioned conspiracy theory that was constructed during the 9/11/01 pageant. In the instant book, he asks cogent questions - some 50 of them - that address the concept of false-flag operations as provocations for war, and historical examples stretching back to Guy Fawkes. He spends much of the book challenging the explanation for much of what has characterized American policy in the new century - the idea that we are beset by enemies who share a common ethnic and religious orientation who "hate us for our freedom". He challenges the stated motivation for practically all of the questionable activities and initiatives of the former administration, and he does so persuasively. That isn't particularly difficult when at least the liberal part of the media have done yeoman's work in deconstructing the surface case that the administration put together to justify their adventurism. Obama seems to be saying that regardless of the bogus reasons for going to war in Iraq, it now is self-justifying that we must stay there until the "job is finished". Never mind that the precise definition of a finished job is as elusive as ever.
Afghanistan is another matter entirely, and here the reasons for going in and 9/11 are inextricably intertwined, so Mr. Obama recites the conventional connection to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and the heinous acts of 9/11 as received gospel, unchallenged and unchallengeable. Mr. Barrett is well practiced in taking on that neutered orthodoxy by reference to the myriad inconsistencies with fact and countless contradictions between the conspiracy theory favored by the government and reality as represented by laws of physics and non-9/11 cause and effect. Publication was prior to additional information published this year that knocks the official explanation of the event down about the government's ears and renders speculation about what caused the towers' collapse moot, or silly. I refer to the peer-reviewed publication in the Open Physics Journal of the work of 9 distinguished scientists that establishes the copius presence in the dust that blanketed Manhattan, of a high-tech, military grade incendiary, nano-thermite, with an added ingredient that renders it a powerful explosive. This is not your daddy's gun cotton. You need a very advanced and well equipped laboratory and a boatload of expertise in nano-chemistry. The fire and airplane explanation of the towers and Building 7 "collapse" is as dead as the dodo.
Further, on the scene comes Citizens Investigative Team, a pair of researchers from California, in cooperation with Pilotsfor911truth.org, whose interviewing of already documented eyewitnesses to the approach of the aircraft alleged to have hit the Pentagon establishes by careful documentation by those witnesses, to a moral certainty, that the aircraft could not have possibly have hit that building. Oops!
The new evidence seals the already persuasive case that screams "inside job", but even without it, Mr. Barrett makes a powerful case for anyone who cares to read it. Obama remains somewhat of an enigma, particularly to those who filled in his blanks during the campaign to complete his portrait as a liberal savior and a white-hatted believer in the values that THEY espoused, such as peacemaker, champion of the rule of law, bringer of justice for lawbreakers, restorer of the constitution, and so on. Post-January, the picture is far from clear. Kevin Barrett maintains in Part 1 of this book that if enough people demand answers to the hard questions about the war on terror, they will get from Mr. Obama the change they voted for.
While I do not reject that view out of hand, ability to maintain any degree of belief in Mr. Obama's intentions to restore integrity and rule of law grows weaker with every affirmation of Bush appointees or statement of support for Bush policies. This book does a good job of summing up the many reasons to doubt the premises of the War on Terror, a term that has fallen out of favor in the new regime. The book is more convincing when pressing the case for disbelief of the official story of 9/11/01 than it is in holding Mr. Obama up as the real deal many people believed him to be when he ran for office. For those yearning for "Change We Can Believe In", it appears to many of us as primarily cosmetic and Mr. Obama gives every indication of doing business at the same old stand, with a disarming smile in place of the smirk to which we had grown accustomed.
It's a poor basis for hope.