Copied from the newsgroup alt.politics.socialism.trotsky, where it was posted by DCQ.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for REDS – Die Roten.
AS PEOPLE around the world were still grappling with the enormity of the human losses in the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., George W. Bush and his government were beating the drum for even more death and destruction.
They’re trying to use a horrific tragedy to advance their own agenda – war abroad and a crackdown on civil liberties at home.
The attacks were “an act of war,” Bush declared – and he was matched, word for word and threat for threat, by Republicans and Democrats alike. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a video message to U.S. armed forces around the world. “The task of vanquishing these terrible enemies ... falls to you,” he announced.
Eliot Cohen, the director of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University, told reporters, “We’ve got to stop talking as if this is a crime – this is war. We’re going to have to begin killing people. It’s not about bringing people to justice. It’s about going after them and killing them.”
Meanwhile, the NATO alliance invoked a treaty provision allowing a collective military response – essentially declaring that it would back any U.S. “war on terror.”
The corporate media fed the war fever. “Revenge. Hold on to that thought,” the Philadelphia Daily News shouted. “Go to bed thinking it. Wake up chanting it. Because nothing less than revenge is called for.”
Even liberals like New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis called for a military assault. “The United Nations must demand that all countries deny shelter to terrorists, and help to crush them,” he wrote. In other words, the U.S. should have the right to attack any country that doesn’t go along with its program.
These calls for war and revenge stood in contrast to the spirit of candlelight vigils held across the U.S. and the sacrifice, heroism and solidarity of those involved in rescue efforts.
People who are outraged by this senseless loss of life will understandably want to find some way to bring those responsible to justice. But justice is the last thing that Bush and the U.S. military have in mind.
They are seizing the opportunity to push through policies they have been unable to win for decades. The International Herald Tribune reported that the Bush administration was considering a “menu of options” that includes:
Add to this list the curbing of political and civil rights for U.S. citizens. Within a few hours of the attacks, pundits like former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and former CIA Director Robert Gates were blaming the attacks on the fact that the U.S. is an “open and democratic society.”
Their answer? More law enforcement, spying and restrictions on immigration – including a possible national ID card.
To justify all this, the media fixed on Osama bin Laden, the millionaire Saudi businessman who has been accused of other attacks on U.S. targets.
We may never know who or what organization carried out the attacks. But it’s worth remembering that the same “terrorism experts” who are pointing the finger at Arabs did the same after the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. After stirring up a racist backlash that led to physical attacks on Arab Americans, these “experts” made no apologies when authorities apprehended white supremacist Timothy McVeigh.
When bombs leveled U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998, Bill Clinton declared bin Laden the mastermind – and ordered a missile strike on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory that he claimed was connected to bin Laden. Ten months later, the U.S. admitted that it had no evidence linking the factory to bin Laden.
Yet the politicians aren’t letting embarrassing facts get in their way. Instead, they’re falling over one another to declare their “unity.”
But what this really means is that all questions will become subordinate to the drive to war.
The talk about “protecting the Social Security surplus” has gone out the window. Instead, politicians of both parties will push through a tremendous hike in military spending – including the Bush gang’s Star Wars missile defense scheme. Money that should be spent on health care, education or any one of a number of areas that would help working people will now be robbed to pay for a military that is already the largest and most powerful in the world by far.
In their rush to assign blame and demand revenge, no politicians or journalists bothered to ask a simple question: Why would someone target the U.S.?
The answer is the devastation and misery wreaked around the world by the U.S. in its role as the world’s biggest superpower. In the last two decades alone, the U.S. has launched military attacks on Grenada, Libya, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia – and this is not even to count wars where the U.S. backed a proxy force. In the Middle East, U.S. policy has left millions embittered and angry.
America’s support for Israeli repression of Palestinians is one part of the picture. So is the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq.
The war killed as many as 200,000 Iraqis – most of them civilians – and left the country in a “pre-industrial state,” according to the United Nations (UN). Since then, UN sanctions against Iraq – backed most strongly by the U.S. – have killed more than 500,000 Iraqi children.
In a chilling 1995 interview, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright justified these deaths, saying, “We think the price is worth it.” We should remember Albright’s words when we hear the drumbeat about “terrorists” who “have no regard for human life.”
To the Bushes and Albrights of this world, such rhetoric is only an excuse to justify atrocities far worse than the ones committed in New York and Washington, D.C.
If the attacks turn out to have connections to the opponents of U.S. policy in the Middle East – which is by no means proven – then this is disastrously misguided. Far from putting the U.S. on the defensive for its international crimes, it allows the U.S. establishment an opportunity to rally the country around this tragedy – and push through a right-wing agenda, both at home and internationally. That will make the U.S. an even less democratic – and less free – society.
Meanwhile, all the rhetoric from Washington has whipped up a racist backlash against Arab Americans.
We must stand up for basic human and civil rights of all people – and not permit “guilt by association” because of racial or ethnic background. We must also oppose the effort by the U.S. to launch new wars and build up its military machines.
We do have an answer to the horror of September 11 – but it begins with making a commitment to rid the world of poverty, hunger, militarism, oppression and inequality. Another world is possible, but only if we stand up for what we believe in.
THE MEDIA was full of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rants in the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
“Kill the bastards,” wrote New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy. “No, I don’t mean hunt them, arrest them, extradite them and prosecute them in a court of law. I mean a far quicker and neater form of retribution for this cabal of cowards. A gunshot between the eyes, blow them to smithereens, poison them if you have to.”
And using the cover of sympathy for the attacks’ victims, racists across the U.S. took the cue.
In Brooklyn, N.Y., home to many Arabs, a man ran up and down the street, slamming parking meters and screaming that he was going to strap them with C-4 explosives. In Chicago, nearly 1,000 miles away, the Arab Action Network was forced to close its offices early after a car circled several times, with people inside shouting that Arabs were “baby killers.”
“This is what happens every time there is a bombing,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, the center’s director. “I knew right away that the attack would be blamed on Arabs and Muslims.”
In the Chicago suburb of Burbank, signs appeared on telephone poles that read, “Kill all Arab terrorists.” In nearby Palos Heights, a man was arrested after he attacked a gas station attendant he thought was Arab with a 2-foot-long machete. “I don’t want to go outside today,” said cabdriver Mohad Khan.
At the University of Illinois-Chicago, students sitting in a lounge watched news reports about the attack. When the scene that networks played over and over – of a handful of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories cheering – came on, a few men at one table started yelling, “We’re going to kill you. Bomb ’em!”
“Unfortunately, it’s the case that the media leans toward Muslims being at fault,” Suhaib Quadri, Muslim Student Association president told Socialist Worker. “And we feel the ramifications of that.”
Such intimidation and violence is the inevitable result of the war hysteria whipped up by politicians and the media alike.
We’ve seen the ugly results before. Arab Americans were chased through the streets by angry mobs following the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran. In the days following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, some 200 incidents of harassment, threats or violence against Arab Americans were reported. Of course, the terrorist in that bombing turned out to be white American Nazi Timothy McVeigh.
Now Bush, Congressional Republicans and Democrats are urging “national unity” – as they prepare for military attacks on Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East. At the same time, the government will use the drive to war to attempt to restrict the rights and freedoms for people of Arab descent in the U.S.
Already, a week before the Trade Center attacks, federal agents descended on the offices of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, in Richardson, Texas – a nonprofit organization that coordinates humanitarian aid to the Middle East.
They also swooped down on the nearby offices of InfoCom Corp., an Internet services business that hosts about 500 Web sites, including the Holy Land Foundation’s. The agents copied documents and computer hard drives – and refused to disclose why. Then the U.S. Commerce Department suspended InfoCom’s export privileges.
Today, airlines are now considering the merits of “profilers” for domestic flights like those used in international flight – a racial-profiling practice Palestinian activist Rania Masri has called “flying while Arab.” And NBC’s anchor Tom Brokaw used the attacks as an opportunity to suggest stronger restrictions on immigration.
“[I]n the back of every American Muslim’s mind right now is the camps that Japanese-Americans were thrown into after the [Pearl Harbor] bombing,” Omar Ricci of the LA branch of the Muslim Public Affairs Council told the Wall Street Journal.
As Rania Masri told Socialist Worker, “I woke up this morning to news that Arab ‘cells’ have been arrested throughout the country, and I am truly frightened for tomorrow. The local mosque has received two bomb threats ... and numerous Arab-looking people and women in Muslim dress have already been insulted and spat on. I fear the worst is yet to happen.”
We can’t let them get by with this scapegoating. We have to oppose all attacks on Arabs and Muslims – and organize opposition to Bush’s drive for war. And we have to recognize that restrictions on civil liberties aimed at “fighting terrorism” will be used against anyone who opposes the government’s policies – whether Arab or not.
WHILE POLITICIANS clamor for war, thousands of people turned out for vigils across the country to mourn the victims of the attacks in New York and Washington – and to show their opposition to more violence.
In Berkeley, Calif., some 4,000 University of California students attended a “free speech candlelight vigil for peace” in the wake of the attacks.
More than 50 students and community members spoke at an open mic. Some talked about people they knew who died in the attacks, and a few supported President Bush’s calls for war. But the vast majority spoke against the U.S. responding with violence and the racist backlash against Arabs and Muslims.
After one student called the attacks a “new Pearl Harbor” and urged the crowd to prepare for war, the next speaker said, “Remember how Pearl Harbor ended? With the incineration of 100,000 men, women and children in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.”
At the University of Iowa in Iowa City, nearly 1,000 sat silently holding candles and listening to brief statements at a vigil the same night. A handful of students clamoring for war against Arab nations shouted down other speakers. But one activist responded by reading out a nasty message posted on his group’s cubicle implying that activists would be happy with the attacks.
“We’re not happy, we’re horrified,” he said, to loud applause. “We’re against terrorism, and we’re against Bush using this tragedy to scapegoat minorities like Arabs.”
Hundreds gathered at vigils held in New York the day after the attacks. And in Chicago, a vigil called by the Rev. Jesse Jackson was attended by some 120 people.
The politicians and pundits will push patriotism. But these turnouts show that not everyone is ready to support Bush’s calls for war and the growing racist backlash.
NOAM CHOMSKY, one of the best-known opponents of U.S. militarism and imperialism, talked about the background to the attacks.
THE TERRORIST attacks were major atrocities. In scale, they may not reach the level of many others – for example, Clinton’s 1998 bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people (no one knows, because the U.S. blocked an inquiry at the UN, and no one cares to pursue it). And this is not to speak of much worse cases, which easily come to mind.
But that this was a horrendous crime is not in doubt. The primary victims, as usual, were working people: janitors, secretaries, firemen, etc. It is likely to prove to be a crushing blow to Palestinians and other poor and oppressed people. It is also likely to lead to harsh security controls, with many possible ramifications for undermining civil liberties and internal freedom.
The events reveal, dramatically, the foolishness of the project of “missile defense.” But today’s events will, very likely, be exploited to increase the pressure to develop these systems and put them into place.
“Defense” is a thin cover for plans for the militarization of space, and with good PR, even the flimsiest arguments will carry some weight among a frightened public. In short, the crime is a gift to the hard jingoist right – those who hope to use force to control their domains.
As to how to react, we have a choice. We can express justified horror; we can seek to understand what may have led to the crimes, which means making an effort to enter the minds of the likely perpetrators.
If we choose the latter course, we can do no better, I think, than to listen to the words of Robert Fisk, whose direct knowledge and insight into affairs of the region is unmatched after many years of distinguished reporting.
“This is not the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days,” he writes. “It is also about American missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and U.S. helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996, and American shells crashing into a village called Qana, and about a Lebanese militia – paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.”
And much more. Again, we have a choice: we may try to understand – or refuse to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much worse lies ahead.
HOWARD ZINN, the author of A People’s History of the United States and a veteran antiwar activist, explained the political consequences of the attacks.
IT’S A delicate situation, in which we have to make clear that we understand the pain and anguish that people feel. We even understand the reflex cry for punishment and revenge. But we mustn’t let that immediate emotional reaction govern what we do, which should be based on a thoughtful assessment of how we can prevent further violence – whether by terrorists or governments.
The U.S. government is going to respond – and the media will sheepishly go along with calls for military action, increases in the military budget, which is exactly what makes terrorism inevitable.
U.S. military aid and support of Israel create anger and resentment in the Arab world, leading a tiny portion of the angry and resentful to plan terrorist attacks in retaliation. The military response to terrorism just perpetuates the cycle of terrorism and counterterrorism.
The continued expenditure of more than $300 billion for the military has absolutely no effect. If we want real security, we will have to change our posture in the world – to stop being an intervening military power and to stop dominating the economies of other countries.
A 1997 Defense Science Board report to the U.S. government showed “a strong correlation between U.S. involvement in world situations and an increase in terrorism.” We have huge military bases in 19 countries, and this inevitably leads to trouble. What Bush is proposing now is just what other presidents have proposed before – Reagan, Clinton, both parties – since the Second World War: the pursuit of dominance over whole areas of the world. The horror we experienced today is something that people in other parts of the world – Southeast Asia, Iraq, Yugoslavia – have experienced as a result of our bombings.
This should have a sobering effect on any desire to continue with military solutions.
GEORGE ORWELL’S maxim is chillingly appropriate. He wrote, “Those who control the past control the future. Those who control the present control the past.”
To talk about Osama bin Laden without mentioning his relations with the CIA in Afghanistan in the 1980s is to put history into the dustbin. And watching hour after hour of network TV in the last 24 hours, I couldn’t find the slightest such reference.
We have mass media in the United States that simply reinvent history as what’s convenient. This is driven largely by the close proximity between press and state – and the fact that many of the same assumptions that hold sway in the Oval Office or the Pentagon or the State Department hold sway in the newsrooms of major media outlets.
Within hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Colin Powell said, “Once again, we see terrorism, we see terrorists, people who don’t believe in democracy, people who feel that with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose.”
If you read that and you look at the phrase, “people who feel that with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose,” we’re reading an apt description of Colin Powell himself, and the people he works with and for.
Specifically, it’s a very good description of what he and his colleagues – including Dick Cheney and George Herbert Walker Bush – did during the Gulf War, which after all is the reason why Colin Powell is so prominent today. He became a media superstar supervising a war that – in less than two months, according to the Pentagon itself – killed about 200,000 people with exactly the underlying approach that Powell condemned right after the tragedy took place.
What’s on the agenda-setters’ agenda is to beat the war drums in the guise of retaliation.
D.K. is a member of the ISO and contributor to Socialist Worker. He tells what he saw in New York on the day of the air attacks.
I WORK for UPS at 175 Water Street, about eight to 10 blocks from the World Trade Center.
At 8:45 a.m., most us were hanging out at the air package center. My route is around 1 Liberty Plaza – across the street from the World Trade Center. But that day, the truck hadn’t yet come down with our work.
I never heard the first explosion. I just saw what looked like snow or confetti raining down outside. We ran to the corner and looked to where everybody was pointing. About 15 minutes later came the second strike – a sudden boom and a terrifying ball of fire exploding everywhere. Even though I thought we were a safe distance away, some people started running. Soon, we heard that both buildings had been hit by planes.
That’s when we decided to get out of Manhattan. A bunch of us walked inside to grab our stuff.
Our supervisor was there. He told us to stick around until we heard what UPS wanted us to do. My coworker, J., wasn’t hearing that. He just kept walking. So the supervisor started barking at him that he’d better stay or turn in his ID card.
It was an absurd moment. The supervisor’s yelling at J., I’m yelling at the supervisor, people are yelling at J. not to kill the supervisor, and outside, everybody is screaming.
We just left. He didn’t try to stop us. The situation was too crazy for even UPS to control.
About five of us walked up to the Brooklyn Bridge. There were thousands of people already walking over to Brooklyn. On the bridge, we met a guy who was on the 90th floor of one of the twin towers, who was able to evacuate after the plane ran into the other tower. He was saying, “We can’t let these people into our country.” One of my coworkers, who is an immigrant, was nodding his head.
J. argued the opposite. “You’ve got to blame the government,” he repeated all morning. “They fuck with people around the world, and now it’s coming back to us.”
About halfway over the bridge, someone pointed behind us and shouted. We turned and saw one of the twin towers collapse. Another UPSer turned to me with tears in him eyes and said, “Do you know how many people just died? All those firefighters and cops?” Then we thought about what would have happened to us if we had listened to the supervisor.
We walked down Atlantic Avenue. This is an Arab neighborhood, and I was afraid we’d see people terrorizing the area, but it was calm. Since then, I’ve heard about anti-Arab violence in Brooklyn and Westchester – but the news hasn’t mentioned it.
There’s been a lot of anti-Arab racism whipped up, but J.’s argument made much more sense: Of course we’re scared and angry, but let’s blame the force that’s actually responsible for this situation: the U.S. government.
THE U.S. government is reacting to the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., the only way that it ever has – by arming itself to ruthlessly impose its military, political and economic interests around the world.
It is this history that explains why millions of people across the globe despise the U.S. government. The U.S. literally grew up on force – including the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans and the seizure of half of Mexico – in the 19th century. It emerged as a world power during the Spanish-American war of 1898, when the armed forces killed 2 million people in the Philippines.
Over the next four decades, U.S. military interventions increased – to expand the holdings and increase the dominance of American corporations.
Marine Gen. Smedley Butler described that period in his memoirs: “I spent most of my time being a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism ... I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China, I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”
Many believe that the U.S.’s role in the Second World War was different. But Washington fought not for freedom, but to dominate the world. The U.S. refused to bomb railroad tracks to concentration camps during the Holocaust. But it did drop two atom bombs on a Japan that was starving and virtually defeated – just to demonstrate its awesome military might and its willingness to use it.
During the Cold War against the former USSR, the U.S. armed and equipped murderous dictatorships around the globe – the military rulers of South Korea, Somoza in Nicaragua, Pinochet in Chile, Mobutu in Zaire, the Shah of Iran and many more. As Amnesty International said in 1996: “Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman, or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed, or ‘disappeared,’ at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame.”
All this was justified in the name of fighting communism – as was the war in Vietnam. That intervention cost the lives of 58,000 U.S. service personnel. The horrific tactics of the U.S. military – including carpet bombings of civilian targets, napalm and wholesale massacres – led to the deaths of 3 million Vietnamese and other Asians.
It was this slaughter that led civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to oppose the war.
“We were taking the Black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem,” he told an antiwar meeting in April 1967. “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”
For the last decade, the U.S. has been the world’s only superpower – and has continued to use its economic and military might to bend smaller and weaker nations to its will.
Washington imposes International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies that crush the poor in Asia and Latin America. It used the NATO military alliance in Europe to wage a war in the Balkans. And because it imposes murderous sanctions against Iraq and backs Israel’s repression of Palestinians, the U.S. is widely hated in the Middle East.
Such policies inevitably rebound on innocent people in this country, as foreign policy expert Chalmers Johnson predicted a year ago in his book Blowback. “Terrorism by definition strikes at the innocent in order to draw attention to the sins of the invulnerable,” he wrote. “The innocent of the 21st century are going to harvest unexpected blowback disasters from the imperialist escapades of recent decades. Although most Americans may be largely ignorant of what was, and still is, being done in their names, all are likely to pay a steep price – individually and collectively – for their nation’s continued efforts to dominate the global scene.”
If Bush and Co. get their way, the terrible human tragedy of the attacks on New York and Washington will be used as a pretext for horrifying U.S. military assaults that will kill even more innocent people. That’s why we must expose Bush’s phony appeals to defend “freedom” – and oppose his drive to war.
THE U.S. government has a long history of manipulating the truth – even outright lying – in order to win public approval for its military adventures.
“THIS IS Pearl Harbor for the age of terrorism,” wrote one Chicago columnist about the suicide plane attacks. But the story behind Japan’s December 1941 air assault reveals more than the media would like us to know.
U.S. officials had intercepted Japanese messages and knew about the impending attack before it took place – but did nothing because they wanted Japan to fire the first shot. Then-Secretary of State Henry Stimson told Congress after the war that the U.S. government wanted to maneuver Japan to “fire the first shot ... in order to have the full support of the American people” for U.S. entry into the war.
After the attack – in which more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers lost their lives – the U.S. government and media whipped up a hysterical campaign against Japanese Americans. President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans into concentration camps.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was also used to justify the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 – costing the lives of more than 200,000 people.
President Truman justified the atomic bombing on the grounds that it saved lives by bringing a quicker end to the war. But Japan was already ready to surrender before the bombs were dropped. As Major Gen. Curtis LeMay remarked in September 1945, “The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”
The real reason for Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to demonstrate to Russia and the rest of the world the awesome power of America’s new weapon of mass terror.
The parallels between Pearl Harbor and the recent terrorist attacks lead us to ask the same question posed by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.
“Are we to believe,” they write, “that the $30 billion annual intelligence budget, immense electronic eavesdropping capacity, thousands of agents around the world, produce nothing in the way of a warning?”
WITHIN HOURS of the attack on the World Trade Center, the media had made up its mind about who the perpetrators must be Arabs.
Osama bin Laden topped the list of suspects – even though he denied any connection to the attacks. But politicians were quick to pin the blame on Palestinians as well – again, despite the fact that Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat and every Palestinian organization condemned the attack.
Meanwhile, nearly every TV and radio station described Palestinians in the Occupied Territories celebrating the tragedy in the U.S.
“I would like to stress that the Palestinian people identify with the victims of this horrifying terrorist act,” said Ghassan Al Khattib, director of the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center. “We Palestinians are ourselves victims, and we therefore feel the American people’s pain ... Of course, there were minor insignificant exceptions where some people foolishly expressed joy as an immediate reaction. The majority, however, felt a great deal of sorrow.”
But the Israeli military didn’t wait to exploit the tragedy. The day after the attack, Israel stepped up its repression by raiding a West Bank town and two nearby villages, killing seven Palestinians, including an 11-year-old girl.
“Now the world will not be as patient as it was before to the terror conducted and supported by the Palestinian Authority,” proclaimed Israeli Defense Ministry spokesperson Yarden Vatikay.
In reality, the Israeli military and fanatical right-wing settlers are the real source of terror in the Middle East – with the full backing of the U.S. government.
After all, it’s weaponry made in the USA that gives Israel the overwhelming force that has maimed and injured several thousand Palestinians – and killed more than 500 – since the Intifada against Israel’s occupation began a year ago. Israel uses U.S. aircraft and military supplies to carry out its assassinations of Palestinians – under the name of “fighting terrorism.” And it’s U.S. political and diplomatic support for Israel that allows the government to seal off Palestinian towns and villages, actions that have plunged almost half of the population into dire poverty.
U.S. backing for Israel has created bitterness and desperation on a massive scale among the 2 million Palestinians living under apartheid-like conditions. Palestinians rightly blame the U.S. government for the misery and violence they face.
For others across the Middle East who have endured similar devastation at the hands of the U.S. and its allies, the shock at this tragedy is compounded by fears that the U.S. government may use it as an excuse for wreaking more destruction.
SAUDI MILLIONAIRE businessman Osama bin Laden and his “vast network” of international terrorists were quickly blamed for the air attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
This is nothing new. Bin Laden has been a favorite bogeyman for the Washington establishment for years. He’s been blamed for the suicide attack on a U.S. destroyer in Yeman last year, the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and more.
But if bin Laden is involved in terrorism, he was taught by the best – the U.S. government. Both he and the Taliban in Afghanistan that protects him are products of the 10-year-long, U.S.-backed war against the ex-USSR occupation of Afghanistan. After Russian troops invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. trained bin Laden and thousands of other Arab men. Back then, President Ronald Reagan liked to call bin Laden and his cohorts “freedom fighters.”
After the USSR was forced out of Afghanistan in 1989, the CIA-trained “freedom fighters” split into rival factions that fought a civil war during the 1990s. With help from the CIA and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, the small Taliban militia group emerged out of the chaos, taking over the government in 1996.
The U.S. backed the hard-line Islamists of the Taliban because they thought the group would be able to provide stability for big business. But then the Taliban began to shelter bin Laden and other Islamist movements that the U.S. opposes.
Like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein before them, bin Laden and the Taliban have moved from U.S. allies to enemies.
Last updated on 18.9.2001