Questions About America's Anti-terrorism Crusade
by Martin A. Lee

The Failure of U.S. Foreign Policies
by Manning Marable

Violence Doesn't Work
by Howard Zinn

excerpted from the book

September 11 and the U.S. War

Beyond the Curtain of Smoke

Edited by Roger Burbach and Ben Clarke

City Lights Books, 2002


Questions About America's Anti-terrorism Crusade
by Martin A. Lee

Mainstream journalists in the United States often function more like a fourth branch of government than a feisty fourth estate. If anything, the patterns of media bias that characterize sycophantic reporting in "peacetime" are amplified during a war or a national security crisis.

Since the tragic events of September 11, the separation between press and state has dwindled nearly to the vanishing point. If we had an aggressive, independent press corps, our national conversation about the terrorist attacks that demolished the World Trade Center towers in New York and damaged the Pentagon would be far more probing and informative. Here are some examples of questions that reporters ought to be asking President Bush:

1. Before the attacks in New York and Washington, your administration quietly tolerated Saudi Arabian and Pakistani military and financial aid for the Taliban regime, even though it harbored terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. But now you say fighting terrorism will be the main focus of your administration.

By making counter-terrorism the top priority in bilateral relations, aren't you signaling to abusive governments in Sudan, Indonesia, Turkey, and elsewhere that they need not worry much about their human rights performance as long as they join America's anti-terrorist crusade? Will you barter human rights violations like corporations' trade pollution credits? Will you condone, for example, the brutalization of Chechnya in exchange for Russian participation in the "war against terrorism?" Or will you send a message loud and clear to America's allies that they must not use the fight against terrorism as a cover for waging repressive campaigns that smother democratic aspirations in their own countries?

2. Terrorists finance their operations by laundering money through offshore banks and other hot money outlets. Yet your administration has undermined international efforts to crack down on tax havens. Last May, you withdrew support for a comprehensive initiative launched by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which sought greater transparency in tax and banking practices.

In the wake of the September 11 massacre, will you reassess this decision and support the OECD proposal, even if it means displeasing wealthy Americans and campaign contributors who avoid paying taxes by hiding money in offshore accounts?

3. Four months ago, U.S. officials announced that Washington was giving $43 million to the Taliban for its role in reducing the cultivation of opium poppies, despite the Taliban's heinous human rights record and its sheltering of Islamic terrorists of many nationalities. Doesn't this make the U.S. government guilty of supporting a country that harbors terrorists? Do you think your obsession with the "war on drugs" has distorted U.S. foreign policy in Southwest Asia and other regions?

4. According to U.S., German, and Russian intelligence sources, Osama bin Laden's operatives have been trying to acquire enriched uranium and other weapons-grade radioactive materials for a nuclear bomb. There are reports that in 1993 bin Laden's well-financed organization tried to buy enriched uranium from poorly maintained Russian facilities that lacked sufficient controls. Why has your administration proposed cutting funds for a program to help safeguard nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union?

5. On September 23rd, you announced plans to make public a detailed analysis of the evidence gathered by U.S. intelligence and police agencies, which proves that Osama bin Laden and his cohorts are guilty of the terrorist attacks in New York and on the Pentagon. But the next day your administration backpedaled. "As we look through [the evidence]," explained Secretary of State Colin Powell, "we can find areas that are unclassified and it will allow us to share this information with the public... But most of it is classified."

Please explain this sudden flip-flop. How can we believe what you say about fighting terrorism if your administration can't make its case publicly with sufficient evidence? How do you expect to win the support of governments and people who otherwise might suspect Washington's motives, particularly some Muslim and Arab nations?

6. Exactly who is a terrorist, and who is not?

When the CIA was busy doling out an estimated $2 billion to support the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, Osama bin Laden and his colleagues were hailed as anti-communist freedom fighters. During the Cold War, U.S. national security strategists, many of whom are riding top saddle once again in your administration, didn't view bin Laden's fanatical religious beliefs as diametrically opposed to Western civilization. But now bin Laden and his ilk are unabashed terrorists.

Definitions of what constitutes terror and terrorism seem to change with the times. Before he became vice president, Dick Cheney and the U.S. State Department denounced Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, as a terrorist. Today Mandela, South Africa's president emeritus, is considered a great and dignified statesman. And what about Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who bears significant responsibility for the 1982 massacre of 1,800 innocents at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon? What role will Sharon play in your crusade against international terrorism?

7. There's been a lot of talk lately about unshackling the CIA and lifting the alleged ban on CIA assassinations. Many U.S. officials attribute the CIA's inability to thwart the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington to rules that supposedly have prohibited the CIA from utilizing gangsters, death squad leaders, and other "unsavory" characters as sources and assets. Why don't you set the record straight, Mr. President, and acknowledge there were always gaping loopholes in these rules, which allowed such activity to continue unabated?

It's precisely this sort of dubious activity-enlisting unsavory characters to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives-that set the stage for tragic events on September 11th. It's hardly a secret that the CIA trained and financed Islamic extremists to topple the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan. Some of the same extremists supported by the CIA, most notably bin Laden, have since turned their psychotic wrath against the United States.

Instead of rewarding the CIA with billions of additional dollars to fight terrorism, shouldn't you hold accountable those shortsighted and perilously naive U.S. intelligence officials who ran the covert operation in Afghanistan that got us into this mess?

8. John Negroponte, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says he intends to build an international anti-terrorist coalition. During the mid-1980s, Negroponte was involved in covering up right-wing death squad activity and other human rights abuses in Honduras when he served as ambassador to that country. Doesn't Negroponte's role in aiding and abetting state terrorism in Central America undermine the moral authority of the United States as it embarks upon a crusade against international terrorism?

9. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon brought home the frightening extent to which U.S. citizens and installations are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. If terrorists hit a nuclear power plant, it could result in an enormous public health disaster. In the interest of protecting national security, why haven't you ordered the immediate phaseout of the 103 nuclear power plants that are currently operating in the United States? Why doesn't your administration emphasize safe, renewable energy alternatives, such as solar and wind power, which would not invite terrorism?

10. After years of successful lobbying against rigorous safety procedures, the heads of the airline industry will receive a multibillion-dollar taxpayer bailout for their ailing companies. Given your support for the airline rescue package, do you now agree that letting the free market run its course won't resolve all our economic and social problems? (That's what antiglobalization activists have been saying all along.) And if airlines deserve a bail-out, how about a multibillion-dollar rescue package for human needs like health and education? Why aren't we bailing out our under-funded public schools, our insolvent hospitals, our national railroads, and other elements of our dilapidated social infrastructure?

11. September 11th will be remembered as a day of infamy in the United States because of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. In Chile, September 11th is also remembered as the day when a U.S.-backed coup toppled the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973, initiating a reign of terror by General Augusto Pinochet. Given your administration's avowed stance against terrorism, will you cooperate with the various international legal cases that are honing in on ex-secretary of State Henry Kissinger for colluding with Pinochet's murderous regime?

12. If the killing of innocent people in New York and Washington is indefensible, and surely it is, then why do U.S. officials defend American air strikes that kill innocent civilians in Iraq, Sudan, Serbia, and Afghanistan? More than 500,000 Iraqi children under age 5 have died as a result of the 1990 Gulf War, subsequent economic sanctions and ongoing U.S. bombing raids against Iraq. Will your planned actions lead to a similar fate for the children of Afghanistan?

13. What will you accomplish if you bomb Afghanistan? Wouldn't this galvanize Islamic fundamentalist movements that are already powerful in Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, the oil-rich Arab monarchies and the Balkans? Wouldn't a U.S.-led military onslaught against Afghanistan be the fastest way to create a new generation of terrorists?

Adept at manipulating real grievances, terrorist networks breed on poverty, despair and social injustice. Do you think you can wipe out or even reduce this scourge, Mr. President, without seriously and systematically addressing the root causes of terrorism?


Martin A. Lee is the author of Acid Dreams and The Beast Reawakens. This essay was first published in Outlook India.Com Magazine on Oct 29, 2001.



The Failure of U.S. Foreign Policies
by Manning Marable

The bombing campaign against the people of Afghanistan will be described in history as the "U.S. Against the Third World." The launching of military strikes against peasants does nothing to suppress terrorism, and only erodes American credibility in Muslim nations around the world. The question, "Why Do They Hate Us?," can only be answered from the vantage point of the Third World's widespread poverty, hunger and economic exploitation.

The United States government cannot engage in effective multilateral actions to suppress terrorism, because its behavior illustrates its complete contempt for international cooperation. The United States owed $582 million in back dues to the United Nations, and it paid up only when the September 11 attacks jeopardized its national security. Republican conservatives demand that the United States should be exempt from the jurisdiction of an International Criminal Court, a permanent tribunal now being established at The Hague, Netherlands. For the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, the U.S. government authorized the allocation of a paltry $250,000, compared to over $10 million provided to conference organizers by the Ford Foundation.

For three decades, the U.S. refused to ratify the 1965 United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racism. Is it any wonder that much of the Third World questions our motives? The carpet-bombing of the Taliban seems to Third World observers to have less to do with the suppression of terrorism, and more with securing future petroleum production rights in Central Asia.

The U.S. media and opinion makers repeatedly have gone out of their way to twist facts and to distort the political realities of the Middle East, by insisting that the Osama bin Laden group's murderous assaults had nothing to do with Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. Nobody else in the world, with the possible exception of the Israelis, really believes that. Even Britain, Bush's staunchest ally, links Israel's intransigence towards negotiations and human rights violations as having contributed to the environment for Arab terrorist retaliation.

In late September, during his visit to Jerusalem, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated that frustration over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might create an excuse for terrorism. Straw explained: "There is never any excuse for terrorism. At the same time, there is an obvious need to understand the environment in which terrorism breeds." Millions of moderate and progressive Muslims who sincerely denounce terrorism are nevertheless frustrated by the United States' extensive clientage relationship with Israel, financed by more than $3 billion in annual subsidies. They want to know why the US allowed the Israelis to move over 200,000 Jewish settlers-one half of them after the signing of the 1993 peace agreement- to relocate in occupied Palestine. It is no exaggeration to say that for most of the world's one billion Muslims that Israel is as anathema to them, as the apartheid regime of South Africa was for black people.

How does terrorist Osama bin Laden gain loyal followers from northern Nigeria to Indonesia? Perhaps it has something to do with America's massive presence-in fact, its military-industrial occupation-of Saudi Arabia. The Washington Post recently revealed that in the past two decades, U.S. construction companies and arms suppliers have made over $50 billion in Saudi Arabia. Today, over thirty thousand U.S. citizens are employed by Saudi corporations, or by joint Saudi-US corporate partnerships. Just months ago, Exxon Mobil, the world's largest corporation, reached an agreement with the Saudi government to develop gas projects worth between $20 to $26 billion. Can Americans who are not Muslims truly comprehend how morally offensive this overwhelming U.S. occupying presence in their holy land is to them? Even before September 11, the U.S. regularly stationed 5-6,000 troops in Saudi Arabia. Today, that number probably exceeds 15,000 American troops. How would the U.S. government react if the PLO's close ally, Cuba, offered to send 15,000 troops to support the Palestinian Authority's security force? There is, to repeat, no justification for terrorism by anyone, anytime. But it is U.S. policies-such as the blanket support for Israel and the blockade against Iraq that has been responsible for the needless deaths of thousands of children-that help to create the very conditions for extremist violence to flourish.

There is a direct linkage between the terrible events of September 11 and the politics represented by the United Nations World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, only days prior to the terrorist attacks. The U.S. government in Durban opposed the definition of slavery as "a crime against humanity." It refused to acknowledge the historic and contemporary effects of colonialism, racial segregation and apartheid on the underdevelopment and oppression of the non-European world.

It polemically manipulated the charge of anti-Semitism to evade discussions concerning the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people. The world's subaltern masses represented at Durban sought to advance a new global discussion about the political economy of racism-and the United States insulted the entire international community. Should we therefore be surprised that Palestinian children celebrate in the streets of their occupied territories when they see televised images of our largest buildings being destroyed? Should we be shocked that hundreds of protest marches in opposition to the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan are being held throughout the world?

The majority of dark humanity is saying to the United States that racism and militarism are not the solutions to the world's major problems. Transnational capitalism and the repressive neoliberal policies of structural adjustment represent a dead end for the developing world. We can only end the threat of terrorism by addressing constructively the routine violence of poverty, hunger and exploitation which characterizes the daily existence of several billion people on this planet. Racism is, in the final analysis only another form of violence.

To stop the violence of terrorism, we must stop the violence of racism and class inequality. To struggle for peace, to find new paths toward reconciliation across the boundaries of religion, culture and color, is the only way to protect our cities, our country and ourselves from the violence of terrorism. Because without justice, there can be no peace?

Dr. Manning Marable is Professor of History and Political Science, and the Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Marable's column, "Along the Color Line" is distributed free of charge to over 350 publications throughout the U.S. and internationally. It is also available on the Internet at



Violence Doesn't Work
by Howard Zinn

The images on television have been heartbreaking.

People on fire leaping to their deaths from a hundred stories up. People in panic and fear racing from the scene in clouds of dust and smoke.

We knew that there must be thousands of human beings buried alive, but soon dead under a mountain of debris. We can only imagine the terror among the passengers of the hijacked planes as they contemplated the crash, the fire, the end. Those scenes horrified and sickened me.

[After 9-11] our political leaders came on television, and I was horrified and sickened again. They spoke of retaliation, of vengeance, of punishment.

We are at war, they said. And I thought: they have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the history of the twentieth century, from a hundred years of retaliation, vengeance, war, a hundred years of terrorism and | counter-terrorism, of violence met with violence in an unending cycle of stupidity.

We can all feel a terrible anger at whoever, in their insane idea that this would help their cause, killed thousands of innocent people. But what do we do with that anger? Do we react with panic, strike out violently and blindly just to show how tough we are? "We shall make no distinction," the President proclaimed, "between terrorists and countries that harbor terrorists." Will we now bomb Afghanistan, and inevitably kill innocent people, because it is in the nature of bombing to be indiscriminate, to "make no distinction"? Will we then be committing terrorism in order to "send a message" to terrorists?

We have done that before. It is the old way of thinking, the old way of acting. It has never worked. Reagan bombed Libya, and Bush made war on Iraq, and Clinton bombed Afghanistan and also a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, to "send a message" to terrorists. And then comes this horror in New York and Washington. Isn't it clear by now that sending a message to terrorists through violence doesn't work, only leads to more terrorism?

Haven't we learned anything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Car bombs planted by Palestinians bring air attacks and tanks by the Israeli government. That has been going on for years. It doesn't work.

And innocent people die on both sides.

Yes, it is an old way of thinking, and we need new ways. We need to think about the resentment all over the world felt by people who have been the victims of American military action. In Vietnam, where we carried out terrorizing bombing attacks, using napalm and cluster bombs, on peasant villages. In Latin America, where we supported dictators and death squads in Chile and E1 Salvador and other countries. In Iraq, where a million people have died as a result of our economic sanctions. And, perhaps most important for understanding the current situation, in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, where a million and more Palestinians live under a cruel military occupation, while our government supplies Israel with high-tech weapons.

We need to imagine that the awful scenes of death and suffering we are now witnessing on our television screens have been going on in other parts of the world for a long time, and only now can we begin to know what people have gone through, often as a result of our policies. We need to understand how some of those people will go beyond quiet anger to acts of terrorism.

We need new ways of thinking. A $300 billion dollar military budget has not given us security. Military bases all over the world, our warships on every ocean, have not given us security. Land mines and a "missile defense shield" will not give us security. We need to rethink our position in the world. We need to stop sending weapons to countries that oppress other people or their own people. We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians of the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children. War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.

Our security can only come by using our national wealth, not for guns, planes, bombs, but for the health and welfare of our people-for free medical care for everyone, education and housing guaranteed decent wages and a clean environment for all. We can not be secure by limiting our liberties, as some of our political leaders are demanding, but only by expanding them.

We should take our example not from our military and political leaders shouting "retaliate" and "war" but from the doctors and nurses and medical students and firemen and policemen who have been saving lives in the midst of mayhem, whose first thoughts are not violence, but healing, not vengeance but compassion.


In a career that has spanned over forty years, Howard Zinn, as a professor, radical historian, progressive political theorist, social activist, playwright and author, has brought a fresh, thoughtful, humane and common-sensical approach to the study and teaching of history. He is the author of twenty books and plays, including the seminal A People's History of the United States. He is a regular columnist for The Progressive.

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