excerpted from the book
How our covert wars have
across the Middle East and brought terror to America.
by Mark Zepezauer
Common Courage Press, 2003,
Over the past fifty years, the United States has:
* Sponsored assassination attempts against
the leaders of Iran (Mossadegh and Khomeini), Iraq (Qassim and
Hussein), and Libya (Qadaffy).
* Fomented coups and coup attempts in
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey.
* Deployed our armies and our bombs in
Afghanistan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Sudan.
* Paid for proxy wars in Afghanistan,
Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Sudan.
* Imposed punishing sanctions on Afghanistan,
Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria.
* Backed vicious terrorist forces in Afghanistan,
Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey.
* Set up more or less permanent military
outposts in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Kazakhstan, Kuwait,
Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey,
Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan-as well as more than a hundred other
countries around the world.
Our government has told us that there are terrorist cells, in
more than sixty countries and that the present war effort may
not end in our lifetimes. If we continue to dominate and kill
millions of innocent people, that prediction of a never-ending
war cannot help but become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we choose
this path, here's what we can expect:
* More militarism. This country is the
largest arms merchant on the planet. Our annual defense spending
is already bigger than the next 20 largest military budgets combined.
Our leaders promise to spend still more, inching up towards a
half trillion dollars per year. Combined with the president's
$1.35 trillion tax cut, our military spending will crowd out needed
services, including education, health care, mass transit and environmental
cleanups. If you own stock in defense firms, this is probably
the path for you. The rest of us will pay twice: first with our
tax returns, and then with a downward spiral of unmet social needs.
* More dead Americans. Subsidizing the
occupation of Palestine, the oppression of the Uzbeks, the theocracy
of the Saudis, and the infant mortality rate of the Iraqis will
never end terrorism. On the contrary, it will simply provide an
endless supply of new enemies. Bombing wedding parties in Afghanistan
and air raid shelters in Baghdad is the single best way to assure
more recruits for al-Qaida. If we want to make ourselves more
hated, and guarantee that Americans both at home and abroad will
be targets, we should focus on an exclusively military approach
to the problem of terrorism.
* More angry allies. It seems incredible
that the administration could have squandered the widespread sympathy
and solidarity for our nation in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
But by repudiating treaties on international war crimes, land
mines, money laundering, global warming, and arms control, our
government has helped to dry up the pool of good will for our
country. Allies who used to support us now do so half-heartedly,
after being bribed or cajoled, or not at all. As with the first
Gulf War, the U.S. twisted arms and cut backroom deals in the
UN to produce a new resolution in November 2002, calling for renewed
weapons inspections in Iraq. But U.S. officials repeatedly insisted
that we retain the authority to launch another Gulf War with or
without UN approval. So to the rest of the world the entire exercise
looked like a transparent PR ploy, with the U.S. thumbing its
nose at the UN. How much longer can we get away with this sort
of thing? If some of our allies tire of propping up our trade
deficit, or begin to withdraw their investments in our economy,
we may find that international good will counts for a great deal.
* More curtailment of our liberties. If
we're going to be fighting a shadowy enemy for generations to
come, we'll be on a permanent war footing. During previous wars
our government has suspended the writ of habeas corpus, jailed
antiwar writers for sedition, rounded up foreign-born citizens
into internment camps, and spied on citizens who dared to dissent.
The current administration has shown itself amenable to similar
measures. It has backed off on plans to create a nationwide system
of domestic informants, a military office of disinformation, and
a suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act, only under a barrage
of criticism. If the war winds on for many years, expect to see
these and other such proposals revived.
* Many, many more wars. As mentioned before,
every war plants the seeds of the next one. The reparations clamped
on Germany after World War I fueled the resurgence of German nationalism
and militarism that gave us World War II. The devastation of Europe
and the collapse of European colonialism after World War II helped
fuel the Cold War rivalry between the victorious Soviets and Americans
for control of the resulting power vacuum. The tactics we used
in the Cold War, like arming Islamic militants in Afghanistan
and backing repressive regimes in the Middle East, have come back
to haunt us in the current war. And the enemies we create by stomping
over the globe after al-Qaida will surely bring us more wars in
the future. We may be sparking new civil wars in Pakistan, Saudi
Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Uzbekistan and other countries, and
our history suggests we are unlikely to avoid taking sides. The
more we intervene abroad, the more we will have to respond to
the messes our interventions create.
Luckily, another path is available to us.
* The path of diplomacy. Representative
Dennis Kucinich (D/OH) has proposed the creation of a cabinet-level
Department of Peace. This agency would be given the resources
necessary to promote international cooperation through conflict
resolution and mediation. The Secretary of Peace would also seek
to prevent violent conflicts between nations before they start.
A curriculum in peace education would be developed, and international
cooperation would be fostered at all levels, from sister cities
to international law. It stands to reason that preventing a war
is less costly than fighting one. Are we willing to provide, in
pursuit of peace, even a fraction of the resources lavished on
* The path of reconciliation. The Marshall
Plan was one of the most successful international programs this
nation has ever undertaken. Rebuilding Europe engendered generations
of good will and helped U.S. businesses as well, by creating export
markets-truly a win/win situation. Now the Worldwatch Institute
has proposed a Global Marshall Plan for the Third World, and their
rationale is worth considering: "A report in 1998 by the
United Nations Development Programme estimated the annual cost
to achieve universal access to a number of basic social services
in all developing countries: $9 billion would provide water and
sanitation for all; $12 billion would cover reproductive health
for all women; $13 billion would give every person on earth basic
health and nutrition; and $6 billion would provide basic education
for all....These social and health expenditures pale in comparison
with what is being spent on the military by all nations-some $780
billion each year." Nothing is more likely to ensure success
in combating terrorism than to reduce the conditions of human
misery that provides endless recruits to the cause of hatred.
And given our history of interventions abroad, we have a lot to
make up for.
* The path of cooperation. Perhaps you
noticed that the repudiated treaties mentioned above would all
be immensely useful in the fight against terrorism. An international
criminal court would help to pursue justice when crimes against
all humanity are perpetrated. A land mine treaty would help to
reduce civilian casualties; such deaths help to provide more terrorist
recruits among the survivors. A money laundering treaty would
help to dry up the sources of funding for international terrorist
organizations. A global warming treaty would help to reduce dependency
on fossil fuels, and tighten the budgets of the oil-rich governments
that support terrorist groups. And it goes without saying-or it
should- that international cooperation on curtailing both small
arms and weapons of mass destruction would help to keep those
weapons out of the hands of terrorists. But the key is that in
order to foster this international cooperation, we and our client
states will have to subject ourselves to the same international
laws we expect other nations to follow. How difficult is that?
* The path of democracy. To cut down on
the burning resentment that provides terrorist recruits throughout
the Arab and Muslim world, we have to break ourselves of the habit
of backing any repressive regime that proves useful to us. An
airtight arms embargo against nations that use them on their own
people may cut into the profits of our weapons contractors, but
it would also help to prevent any number of future wars. At the
same time, a modest improvement in the fuel economy of our domestic
automobile fleet would enable us to cut out imports of Middle
Eastern oil altogether. This would certainly free us from the
perceived necessity of supporting autocratic and murderous governments
just because they can keep our SUVs humming along. But if we want
to promote democracy abroad, it would help to set a good example
at home. Let's show that we can enhance our national security
by keeping our Constitution strong. A healthy debate about a more
humane foreign policy will not weaken us. Foreign-born citizens
are a great asset to this country, and we don't make ourselves
more secure by targeting people solely on the basis of their national
origin. Nor do we enhance our security by holding people without
charging or trying them. If there is a basis for detaining someone,
we ought to be able to show why in a court of law. Sticking to
our principles at home will give us greater credibility should
we choose to encourage some of our client states to derive their
authority from the just consent of the governed.
* The path of peace. Nobody is suggesting
that we sit back and let ourselves be attacked. But it's noteworthy
that most of the successes in our struggle against terrorism have
come from international police work and cooperation. At the same
time, some of the most noteworthy failures-like the scattering
of al-Qaida forces across the Pakistani border-have come from
our sledgehammer military approach to the problem. Ultimately,
there is no military solution to the problem of terrorism. We
can defend ourselves best by working to eliminate the root causes
of terrorism: hunger, disease, lack of education, repression.
It's true that bin Laden himself is neither poor nor uneducated,
but millions support him because they perceive him as standing
up to the forces that subsidize their oppression. We can combat
that perception by showing our willingness to right past wrongs
and to work for a more just world order. The al-Qaida network
has never once said that they attack us because they envy our
freedom. They have said time and again that they oppose our support
for the occupation of Palestine, our deadly sanctions against
the people of Iraq, and our military alliance with the corrupt
monarchy that holds sovereignty over Muslim holy lands. Reversing
these policies just happens to be the right thing; we should not
stay on this counterproductive path just because our enemies demand
otherwise. We can deny them support by proving them wrong about
us. And we can defeat them without creating new enemies by taking
a multilateral approach to terrorism, ,, cooperating with international
law and ceasing to insist that, as the president's father once
crowed, "What we say goes."
Now, if you prefer the path of more war,
death, anger and repression, there are some things you can do
to help. You can contribute financial support to the most warmongering
politicians in the country. They're not hard to find; you can
see them on television news programs nearly every day. You can
also treat all Arabs and Muslims as enemies, and blame them for
the sorry state of their home countries, while making excuses
about the role your tax dollars might have played in contributing
to the situation. It would also be helpful if you waste as much
gasoline and electricity as possible. This country wastes more
energy than any other, and if you believe that it's easier to
attack foreign countries than to make our country more energy
efficient, you have a variety of consumer choices available to
you to help further that cause. Finally, it's very important that
you attack the patriotism of anyone who questions this path. This
has worked well in the past to help create conditions that lead
to future wars.
On the other hand, if you would prefer
the path of peace, democracy, reconciliation and cooperation,
well, you have your work cut out for you. You can find out more
about the above proposals of Rep. Kucinich and the Worldwatch
Institute, and offer some financial support to their causes. There
are a number of other organizations working to promote peace and
justice; they are generally not found on your TV screen, but a
little diligent internet searching will reveal a wealth of resources.
You can also lobby your elected representatives for a more humane
foreign policy; some of them will be more reluctant than others,
so be persistent. If you would like a more sensible energy policy,
you can start by voting with your wallet and buying more efficient
vehicles and appliances. Perhaps the most important thing you
can do is to educate yourself and your neighbors about the reality
and the history of our interventions in the Arab and Muslim world.
Of course, you also have the choice to
do nothing at all. That's one easy way to guarantee that we stay
on the path of war. The old saying is truer than ever: If you
want peace, work for justice.