Summary: The US begun planning courting the Taliban for permission to build an oil pipeline since 1997. We even flew Mullah Omar to Texas to try and convince him. After it was clear that wouldn’t work, we threatened to bomb them and begun attacking on a smaller scale for a year before 9-11. We already planned to invade two months before the attacks. While it’s not clear they knew about 9-11 it certainly provided a convenient cover for their plans.
Three days after we started bombing, we begun official work on the pipeline Karzai, the Afghanistan president we installed (who incidentally used to work for the oil company Unocal and was a former Talib) focused on the pipeline rather than rebuilding his torn country. Yet, the entire pipeline is unworkable because it’s too expensive and will be sabotaged by warlords and Pakistan.
Bin Laden was essentially a venture capitalist: he funded attacks but didn’t carry them out. It’s far more likely that an Egyptian group, Islamic Jihad, carried out the attacks. If we wanted to stop the terrorists, we should have gone after them. If we wanted to stop anti-Americanism, we should have gone after Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Instead, our bombing created the perfect opportunity for Bin Laden to escape. Nor did we bother to stabilize Afghanistan, the country is as ruined as ever.
“Unfortunately, our government seized the moment as well, not to do good or right, but to take advantage—of our grief, of our naiveté, of our lust for justice and vengeance. They did it to line the pockets of themselves and their friends, to gain political and economic advantage for a tiny coterie of influential people. In doing so, they endangered the rest of us. They took advantage of our ignorance about Islam, Caspian Sea oil and remote Central Asia. I have faith that the fundamental goodness of the American people will cause them to see what was done in their name, and to do something about it.”