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December 2001

A Nation in Denial

By Edward W. Miller

Moving across the TV screen as the CNN camera zooms in, dust rises in a series of earth-shaking clouds, thundering along the foothills of the Hindu Kush just east of the Pakistan border near the Afghanistan cities of Kunduz and Taloqan. Fifty thousand feet above in the bright November sun, B-52 vapor trails crisscross an otherwise cloudless November sky. On the frozen, parched and treeless land below, along hundreds of dusty trails or unpaved narrow roads, through steep ravines, moving like a steady stream of ants, between six and seven million terrified Afghans, on foot or donkey cart, their few possessions on their backs with tired struggling children, make their way eastward toward a Pakistan border which most will find sealed off by that country's military. Pakistan, since the US bombing began, has already received over 2.5 million refugees.

As winter seizes the bleak Afghanistan landscape, this massive human tragedy results from Washington's terrorist response to a largely invisible al Qaeda, an organization which, on Sept. 11, again warned the United States that the Third World would no longer suffer in silence the West's killings nor tolerate its economic and human rights abuses.

America might have responded to the Twin Towers and Pentagon bombings in many different ways. We might have taken a deep breath, looked carefully at ourselves, and questioned why, of all the democracies on this small planet, were we the target of such violence? Although a largely Christian nation, "Forgiveness" a pillar of our faith, never seems to have crossed our minds. We might have adopted a few of the suggestions offered by Osama bin Laden such as ending our genocidal embargo of Iraq and quit those harassing and useless overflights which annoy and kill people, and were never UN-authorized. We could stop our annual stipend to Israel which serves only to support her armed occupation of Palestinian and Syrian land and even withdraw our 5,000-plus Christian troops from the Saudi's Muslim Kingdom thus showing some decent respect for their religious sensitivities.

Instead, with little input from a politically-inactive population, and led by a less-than-intelligent President whose Administration has already failed every human-rights challenge offered it, we chose to respond with the same barbarism which created the attacks against us.

As I scanned the Dec. 2001 World Press Review, a few items caught my attention. On page two, the New York Times quoted the Dalai Lama: "If we could love even those who have attacked us, and seek to understand why they have done so, what then would be our response? Yet if we meet negativity with negativity, rage with rage, attack with attack, what then will be the outcome?"

Page four from Belgrade's weekly, NIN: "America's war on terrorism is seen by our public with mixed feelings... having faced terrorism at home... we joined the anti-terrorist coalition... On the other hand, as a country that was cruelly bombed by America two years ago..." (78 straight days) ..."we cannot... wildly applaud the same Americans because they bomb a poor, starving... people under the pretext of war against world terrorism."

On page five, Havana's Communist Party Weekly, Granma, Oct. 14: "It's not a war against terrorism which could and should be waged in a faster, more effective and lasting way. That opportunity was within reach. But now it's a war... whose military operations will make terrorism much more complicated and difficult to eradicate. It's a remedy worse than the illness itself."

On page five, Amman Jordan's Al-Rai: "The question is what will happen if and when and after the Taliban are destroyed? Will Afghanistan be better? ...the existence of the Taliban and even worse groups like al Qaeda are the direct result of (US-supported) domestic repression of Islamist groups in Arab countries... The new 'cold war' against terrorism cannot be one of bombs and missiles, but of diplomacy, economic support, and investment and the elimination of poverty and repression, the causes of terrorism."

London's Guardian editor (Oct. 8) notes: "The voices of dissent can hardly be heard over the chorus of approval and self-righteous enthusiasms... War propaganda requires moral clarity so the conflict is now being cased as a battle between good and evil. Both bin Laden and the Taliban are being demonized into Bond-style villains, while halos are being thrown over our heads... The extent to which this is all being uncritically accepted is astonishing... In the heat of battle and panicky fear of terrorism, liberal strengths such as tolerance, humility and a capacity for self-criticism are often the first victims."

Across the world, millions have watched with growing anger and disgust as the United States undermined their United Nations just to satiate the expansionist appetite of an apartheid Israel, an Israel whose vocal and powerful Washington lobby, AIPAC, today, like a spoiled child, is demanding we now invade Iraq to kill Saddam Hussein and even extend our senseless embargo on an Iranian people who want to make friends with us.

Blame for the Twin Towers destruction and 6,000 deaths rests not with the thousands of the Mideast madrassas, where Muslim students, sitting on cold floors, chant verses from the Koran, but rests rather in our own Congress and the corridors of our own Department of State where the deaths of over 1.6 million Iraqis, the 78-day savage bombing of the Yugoslavian people, our killings in Somoiia and the daily murder of Palestinian protesters are seen simply as "foreign policy issues."

Bush's "anti-terrorist campaign" lead by the US, the world's foremost terrorist, rather than reducing the violence on this small planet, is seen by many as an international policing action intended to quell and control those who express legitimate grievances against repressive regimes or international commercial interests, which are intruding on their lives, their liberties and their pursuits of happiness.

A careful reading of the just-passed 156-page Patriot Act suggests that the loss of personal liberties by us Americans may represent the major fallout from our Congress' knee-jerk response to "terrorism."

John Philpot Curran, on July 10, 1790, in a speech upon the right of election of the Lord Mayor of Dublin said: "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance, which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

-- Bartlett's Familiar Quotations

 

 

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