A December 19th headline says: "U.S. wary of millennium attack," as "agents eye terrorist groups eager to ring in the New Year with a violent strike." Meanwhile, CNN, pulsating with its drum-beat newscasts, reports an Algerian man, just arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, may have links to Osama Bin Laden and his "terrorist network." Computer experts meanwhile are warning of "cyber terrorists who may cripple our communications systems" or "with their viruses destroy our airline computer networks, shutting down transportation systems." The INS announces a surge of illegal aliens coming across our borders while General McCafrey of the Drug Enforcement Administration just demanded of Congress a billion dollars to control those "narco terrorists" in Columbia who are flooding our cities and poisoning our youth with potent and cheaper drugs. Aside from our media's 24-hour obsession with violence, an obsession guaranteed to glue viewers to the TV screen and so guarantee advertising dollars, there are more serious issues involved.
What response should we Americans make to these supposed threats? Is this planet's wealthiest nation, a people armed to the teeth with the latest military devices plus thousands of nuclear warheads, truly at risk? Should we retire to our bunkers and hunker down as the Millennium arrives, or standing in defiance, shake our fists at these supposed adversaries? Might it not be the better part of wisdom for us to quietly take measure of ourselves and our behavior as the Year 2000 arrives?
In the fall issue of CAQ, Edward S. Herman, in an article, "Why Do they Hate Us?" writes: "As a superpower, we have taken upon ourselves the right to exercise force and to ignore legal processes.... This superior right is so ingrained that the public does not see the gross double standard involved." Herman goes on to say that, "The American people are largely protected from understanding why large numbers hate us by politicians and pundits who demonize our enemies...and refuse to admit the double standard in our actions...so obvious to peoples abroad." Examples of such U.S. actions abound:
During the past years the U.S. has developed the bad habit of bombing rather indiscriminately. A list (compiled by William Blum, CAQ Spring/Summer 1999) of the countries which have felt themselves targets of our explosive might from the '40s to the present reads as follows:
China 1945-46, 1950-51
Guatemala 1950, 1954, 1967-69
Cuba 1959, 1961
El Salvador mid-1980s
For the past half century, Washington has stood by while Israel in 1948 forced some 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland and again in 1967 attacked her neighbors to seize the Golan Heights, Southern Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. With illegal settlements, Israel continues to steal what remains of the Palestinian's land, water and future, while Washington, the "honest broker" stands by.
In 1991 the U.S. with its allies destroyed Iraq, bombing it back to a Third World status. The bombing and embargo continue with the loss of life now reaching almost two million. "Weapons of mass destruction" obliterated years ago are the pretext for this genocide led by the U.S. and Britain.
On August 20, 1998, responding to the bombing of two of our embassies in Africa, President Clinton, on what has since been shown to be false and inconclusive evidence, destroyed, at Al Shifa, Sudan's only pharmacological plant, thereby depriving the Sudanese, as well as other Third World peoples, of those drugs necessary for survival. On the same day, Clinton's missiles fired into Afghanistan to supposedly strike at Osama Bin Laden's headquarters, destroying several buildings including a small mosque with its 15 students. Bin Laden was not around, nor has he yet been shown to have been responsible for the embassy bombings.
This last year, using the forces of NATO and with "humanitarian reasons" as an excuse, Washington destroyed both Kosovo and Yugoslavia. Homes, businesses hospitals and clinics, rail and highway transportation as well as all river traffic on the Danube have been blown away. As winter now sets in, thousands of these refugees, living in tents, cardboard shelters and the skeletons of their burned-out homes, without adequate food or fuel oil, will die. By interfering in what was a purely Balkan dispute on the false premise of "humanitarian intervention," we have created another hell on earth.
In a Paris interview on December 17, President Jacques Chirac, while assuring Americans of his "friendly predisposition," made some timely observations. Chirac felt entitled to offer a little constructive criticism.
First, France's President was critical of our Senate's rejection of the nuclear test-ban treaty, setting a bad example and threatening to start the arms proliferation race again. As for President Clinton's decision to embark on a missile-defense program, Chirac noted: "If you look at world history, ever since man began waging war you will see...a permanent race between sword and shield. The sword always wins. The more improvements that are made to the shield, the more improvements are made to the sword. So we are just going to spur swordmakers to intensify their efforts." Chirac added that China and India, both of which have the capability, would then be encouraged to follow suit.
As for Washington's criticism of the "Rapid Deployment Force," which the European countries have just announced they will form by the year 2003, Chirac's foreign minister Hubert Vedrine had already reminded reporters, "The United States...has always been for sharing the burden. They have never been much for sharing the decision-making." Both Chirac and Vedrine assured newsmen the projected European force actually strengthens NATO.
As for the future, Chirac, a student of history, predicts that "China, India, Europe and Russia will be the great powers of the next century."
For Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, England's poet laureate Rudyard Kipling wrote "The Recessional." A few lines come to mind:
"Far-called our navies melt away
On dune and headland sinks the fire.
Lo, all the pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre.
Judge of the nations, spare us yet,
lest we forget, lest we forget."