14 July 2005
Bush went on to tell the US Congress that: ‘Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money: its goal is remaking the world - & imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere. Americans are asking ‘why do they hate us’? They hate what we see right here in this chamber – a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote & assemble & disagree with each other.’
At a time when world sympathy & support overwhelmed the American people, Tony Blair said: ‘these attacks were not just attacks upon people & buildings; nor merely upon the USA; these were attacks on the basic democratic values in which we all believe so passionately & on the civilized world’.
Last week, as the horror of the terrorist bombings in London unfolded, George Bush stood silently behind Tony Blair in Gleneagles as he said the terrorists would not win.
Later, a grim-faced Bush said US & British resolve to win the war on terrorism was unshaken. ‘We will bring them to justice. And, at the same time, we will spread an ideology of hope & compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate’.
In weaving their ‘fear meme’, our political warriors employ the best of ‘darkest hours’ rhetoric to paint the enemy as ‘fundamentalist Islamic jihadists’: barbarian hordes at the gate; savages determined to destroy our ‘freedom & liberty’.
Tony Blair, ‘spinmeister extraordinaire’ - he who warned us that Saddam Hussein was capable of unleashing his weapons of mass destruction on our defenceless homes in 45 minutes - said: ‘We condemn utterly these barbaric attacks. Those responsible have no respect for human life.’
John Howard, our own keeper of ‘core’ & ‘non-core’ truth said: ‘This brutal, indiscriminate, unforgivable attack on innocent people going about their daily lives is a mark of the depraved character of the people who carried it out ….’
And, of course, never to be outdone in the ‘hyperbole stakes’ ever ready to demonstrate his grasp of world affairs, ‘bomber Beazley’ said: ‘These terrorists are subhuman filth who must be captured & eliminated & we condemn them & their evil.’
Then this week, the much quieter voice of an Iraqi humanitarian organization reported that 128,000 Iraqis have been killed since the US invasion began in March 2003.
Dr Hatim al-‘Alwani, chairman of ‘Iraqivun, a Baghdad-based humanitarian organization, said that the toll included everyone who has been killed in that time. He added that 55% of those killed were women & children aged under 12 & included those who had died during US assaults on al-Fallujah & al-Qa’im.
But in cruel contrast to events in London, there are no front page headlines; no live feeds; no program interruptions, no instant photos from mobiles; no ‘hotlines’ home, no ‘human interest’ stories about the victims & certainly ‘no comment’ from the men of manifest destiny, who struggle so mightily to protect us from the ‘evil-doers’, whilst earnestly protecting civilization as we know it.
Our crusading political warriors would rather that we ignore such horrific figures & pretend that those innocents never existed.
As General Tommy Franks, the former Iraqi commander, & Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence, have both said: ‘We don't do body counts.’
When Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt was asked about the images of American soldiers killing innocent civilians on Arab television, Kimmitt said: ‘My solution is quite simple: change the channel. Change the channel to a legitimate, authoritative, honest news station. The stations that are showing Americans intentionally killing women and children are not legitimate news sources. That is propaganda. And that is lies.’
George Bush, Tony Blair & John Howard would have us believe that their ‘war on terror’ is a ‘war of necessity’: a war to defend western society from those who ‘despise our values’ & want to destroy ‘our way of life’.
The ‘accidental’ War President’s ‘war on terror’ has morphed into an even better war than the ‘cold war’: an endless ‘third world war’, a war that can’t be won, as long as the endless state sponsored injustices that are perpetrated in our names are ignored: injustices so profound, that the rage, despair & hopelessness of its victims can motivate them to become suicide bombers.
Almost 4 years has passed since September 11 & George Bush’s declaration of his ‘war on terror’.
In that period, the US has launched a ‘pre-emptive’ & illegal war of aggression against Iraq: a war based on a lie & a war which has all but destroyed one of the world’s oldest civilizations & brought ruin upon its people.
A war that has claimed the lives of nearly 1,800 US servicemen & women, maimed the bodies & crippled the minds of tens of thousands more & drained more than US$200 billion from the US treasury.
A war allegedly mounted to ‘make us safer’ but which has succeeded only in further enriching the oil cartels & other members of the military / industrial complex, whilst demonstrably making us less safe.
A war that has made targets of us all.
In the wake of the London bombings, John Howard also said: ‘ … it's a reminder that people who do things such as this are enemies of all of us & all of us are targets & all of us must maintain our resolve & our commitment to resist, never to be cowered by & never to bow down to terrorist threats.’
Usama bin Laden could well have used the same words to exhort his followers in their jihad against the US.
The US government’s official ‘911 Commission’ found that bin Laden’s grievances with the US ‘started in reaction to specific US policies’ & reflected a belief that ‘America had attacked Islam’ & that ‘Americans are blamed when Israelis fight with Palestinians, when Russians fight with Chechens, when Indians fight with Kashmiri Muslims & when the Philippines fights ethnic Muslims’.
The Commission also found that bin Laden held the US responsible for supporting repressive governments in many Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan & Pakistan, & that such governments were ‘agents’ of the US.
So it would seem that the terrorist retaliations are not rooted in anger & hatred for American & English ‘freedom & values’, as Bush, Blair & Howard would have us believe, but instead in anger & hatred for their respective foreign policies.
Given the invasion & occupation of Iraq & the murderous slaughter visited on its civilian population; given the torture, rape, sex abuse & murder perpetrated at Abu Ghraib; given the carnage wrought on Fallujah & given the decades of oppression visited on the Palestinians, should we be surprised that terrorist incidents have increased threefold since September 11?
Ironically, there is an attack being mounted against our ‘freedom & values’ but it is an attack sponsored by our own politician leaders & their intelligence services, ostensibly to protect us from the marauding terrorists.
We are told that permanent coercive powers are required by our intelligence agencies to protect us. We are told that secret arrests, detention & interrogations’ will keep us safe from the hidden ‘cells’ of evil-doers lurking in our midst. We are told that secret renditions, torture, indefinite detention & suspension of the rule of law are essential powers our government’s must have to protect our ‘freedom’.
Instead of attacking our ‘freedom’, we should be demanding that our politicians put an end to foreign policies that give rise to terrorism.
After September 11, bin Laden said: ‘Just as they are killing us, we have to kill them, so there will be a balance of terror. We will do as they do. If they kill our women & innocent people, we will kill their women & innocent people until they stop’.
In a video speech broadcast around the world in the final days of the 2004 US presidential election, bin Laden said to the American people: ‘Your security does not lie in the hands of Kerry, Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Each & every state that does not tamper with our security will have automatically assured its own security.’
Great Britain & the US have long pursued interventionist foreign policies, not just in the middle-east but in Asia & South America. These foreign policies have inevitably been fashioned to protect & serve powerful business interests & the ambitions of military hawks.
Iraq is no exception, given it owns fully 25% of known world oil reserves.
The invasion & continued occupation of Iraq; the continued presence of US military bases in Muslim countries, coupled with continued western support for authoritarian regimes & continuing support of Israel at the expense of justice for the Palestinian people, guarantees that terrorism will not go away.
Sadly, the long, bloody & largely secret history of US foreign policy suggests that there is little hope that it will change & ultimately, it would seem, we are all doomed to pay for it.
The Secret Government
11 July 2005
The Australian July 11, 2005
As usual, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock wants it both ways (‘May be terrorists here: Ruddock’, Australian, July 11).
Our nation’s chief law officer argues for the extension of ASIO’s ‘coersive’ powers because a number of Australians have allegedly received terrorist training & this points to the possible existence of ‘sleeper cells’ in Australia. He then quite deliberately cites David Hicks & Mamdouh Habib as examples.
The government has acknowledged on numerous occasions that neither Hicks nor Habib have broken any law. In spite of this fact, Hicks has been abandoned by our government whilst being detained & tortured at Guantanamo Bay for more than 31/2 years.
Whilst Ruddock argues that it’s ‘inconvenient’ to have to continually justify ASIO’s coersive powers & that this detracts from the ‘war on terror’, his government has repeatedly failed to uphold the human & legal rights of Australian citizens.
The Prime Minister has pledged that terrorists will never succeed in destroying our ‘values’.
Perhaps his government could start by protecting & upholding the ‘rule of law’, rather than conniving to find convenient ways to undermine it?
10 July 2005
But while terrorism is a grave & serious crime, the greater crime of "aggression" should not be lost upon us. Defined by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg as "the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole", this greater context should remain in perspective in any serious analysis of the Bush administration's so-called "war on terrorism".
In this Counterpunch article, Jeremy Hammond makes a nonsense of America’s ‘war on terror’, elegantly highlighting its hypocrisy & once again demonstrating the truth of the adage: ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’.
State Sponsors of Terrorism