Why Russians believe the U.S. government was involved in 9/11
Nearly 3,000 lives were lost on 9/11. Now take this number and compare it on a worldwide scale. Compare it to the more than 100,000 civilian casualties of the Iraq War. As Lev Navrozov, a columnist for the New York City Tribune, said: “Of course, every human life is priceless, but speaking in global military terms, it can be recalled that in Hitler’s attack of 1941-45, Russia lost 27 million men, women and children.”
Navrozov may seem cruel, yet quite the realist. In fact, to America 9/11 was a tragedy that no one was prepared to experience. Yet, from a historical standpoint, the attack was quite minimal.
Many Russian citizens share Navrozov’s view. In Russia, where I was born, numerous people still believe, for many reasons, one being that because the damage was so minimal, the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 catastrophe. For years after the event, professors still taught this theory and the news media still featured it.
Russia Today, a popular Russian news network, aired multiple stories that focused on the perspective of the “9/11 Truthers.” New Yorkers were interviewed about their opinion on the attack, of which many spoke against the version that it was terrorist aggression. Manny Badillo, an activist for We Are Change, a grassroots peace movement, alleged that newly released photos revealed that explosives brought down the buildings, not planes.
This version of the events that happened on 9/11 circulates throughout Russia to this day. General Leonid Ivashov, former Chief of Staff of the Russian armed forces, once claimed that “international terrorism” was a strategy to manipulate the U.S. citizens in order to gain their support to declare war on Afghanistan.
John Bleimaier is an attorney and a member of the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. Being of Russian heritage and having fluency in the language, John has heard the alternative version of 9/11. Although he does not believe that the attack was supported by the American government, he understands why Russian citizens might believe that it was possible. He pointed out that the majority of Russian citizens are distrustful of governments due to the country’s recent history. During the Soviet Era of 1982-1991, the government often lied to its citizens and took advantage of power. Bleimaier said it makes sense for a society like that to have a negative connotation toward any higher authority.
Coupled with this, Russians, and many others throughout the world, believe the United States has a reputation for desiring dominance, which makes their 9/11 theory more feasible. For example, when the United States felt threatened by Japan’s military attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, they responded with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to reestablish their supremacy. During the 50s when the U.S. perceived Communism as a threat to its security, the United States declared war in Vietnam to maintain power and prevent Communism from spreading from the North to the South. During the Cold War, the United States pursued an arms race for power, in which United States and the Soviet Union competed for allies, territory, advancements, wealth and authority.
Then again, after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. made sure to show off its might by invading Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of fighting terrorism. Furthermore, Afghanistan’s location is strategically favorable for the U.S. military base and could aid the U.S. to strengthen its ties with leading countries in this world, such as India, China and Russia. The list goes on and on. The United States has a history that supports their need for empowerment and drive to achieve it by any means necessary.
Some Russians also believe the U.S. government was in on the attacks in order to gain access to vital resources. Afghanistan’s one trillion dollars’ worth of untapped minerals would financially benefit the United States. Besides being perceived as a country that desires military dominance, the United States is also seen as a country that yearns for financial superiority.
“In the end, we must ask ourselves how much trust we are willing to put in governments,” said Natasha Leonidovna, a writer for the Russian National Union news. “If we should have any trust at all.”
The problem with the popular Russian view, however, is that it’s derived from speculation rather than concrete evidence. The point here is: even though the idea that the 9/11 attack was sponsored by the U.S. government is fictitious, it’s important to know that such views exist due to the imperialistic tendencies of the U.S. government.
Anna Isachenko is a freshman business administration major who loves mother Russia. Email her at aisache1[at]ithaca.edu.