9 -11

by Noam Chomsky

Seven Stories Press, 2001


political scientist Michael Stohl

"We must recognize that by convention-and it must be emphasized only by convention-great power use and the threat of the use of force is normally described as coercive diplomacy and not as a form of terrorism," though it commonly involves "the threat and often the use of violence for what would be described as terroristic purposes were it not great powers who were pursuing the very same tactic,"

"[An] act of terrorism, means any activity that (A) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; and (B) appears to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping." (United States Code Congressional and Administrative News, 98th Congress, Second Session, 1984, Oct. 19, volume 2; par 3077, 98 STAT 2707 [West Publishing Co., 1984].

The U.S. is one of the most extreme religious fundamentalist cultures in the world; not the state, but the popular culture. In the Islamic world, the most extreme fundamentalist state, apart from the Taliban, is Saudi Arabia, a U.S. client state since its origins ...

In much of the world the U.S. is regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason. We might bear in mind, for example, that in 1986 the U.S. was condemned by the World Court for "unlawful use of force" (international terrorism) and then vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on all states (meaning the U.S.) to adhere to international law.

Nicaragua in the 1980s was subjected to violent assault by the U.S. Tens of thousands of people died. The country was substantially destroyed; it may never recover. The international terrorist attack was accompanied by a devastating economic war, which a small country isolated by a vengeful and cruel superpower could scarcely sustain ... The effects on the country are much more severe even than the tragedies in New York the other day. They didn't respond by setting off bombs in Washington. They went to the World Court, which ruled in their favor, ordering the U.S. to desist and pay substantial reparations. The U.S. dismissed the court judgment with contempt, responding with an immediate escalation of the attack. So Nicaragua then went to the Security Council, which considered a resolution calling on states to observe international law. The U.S. alone vetoed it. They went to the General Assembly, where they got a similar resolution that passed with the U.S. and Israel opposed two years in a row (joined once by El Salvador). That's the way a state should proceed. If Nicaragua had been powerful enough, it could have set up another criminal court. Those are the measures the U.S. could pursue ...

It is entirely typical for the major media, and the intellectual classes generally, to line up in support of power at a time of crisis and try to mobilize the population for the same cause.

New York Times, September 16, 2001
"The perpetrators acted out of hatred for the ... values cherished in the West as freedom, tolerance, prosperity, religious pluralism and universal suffrage."

[The quote] has all the merits of self-adulation and uncritical support for power. And it has the flaw that adopting it contributes significantly to the likelihood of further atrocities, including atrocities directed against us ...

The United States government, like others, primarily responds to centers of concentrated domestic power.

... the U.S. government is now trying to exploit the opportunity to ram through its own agenda: militarization, including "missile defense," code words for the militarization of space; undermining social democratic programs; also undermining concerns over the harsh effects of corporate "globalization," or environmental issues, or health insurance, and so on; instituting measures that will intensify the transfer of wealth to the very few (for example, eliminating corporate taxes) and regimenting the society, so as to eliminate public debate and protest.

... there are hawkish elements who want to use the occasion to strike out at their enemies, with extreme violence, no matter how many innocent people suffer, including people here and in Europe who will be victims of the escalating cycle of violence.

... we can think of the United States as an "innocent victim" only if we adopt the convenient path of ignoring the record of its actions and those of its allies, which are, after all, hardly a secret.

The U.S. is the only country that was condemned for international terrorism by the World Court and that rejected a Security Council resolution calling on states to observe international law.

The U.S. is officially committed to what is called "low-intensity warfare." That's the official doctrine. If you read the standard definitions of low-intensity conflict and compare them with official definitions of "terrorism" in army manuals, or the U.S. Code you find they're almost the same. Terrorism is the use of coercive means aimed at civilian populations in an effort to achieve political, religious, or other aims. That's what the World Trade Center attack was, a particularly horrifying terrorist crime.

Terrorism, according to the official definitions, is simply part of state action, official doctrine ...

A U.S.-backed army took control in Indonesia in 1965, organizing the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly landless peasants, in a massacre that the CIA compared to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. The massacre, accurately reported, elicited uncontrolled euphoria in the West, in the national media and elsewhere. Indonesian peasants had not harmed us in any way. When Nicaragua finally succumbed to the U.S. assault, the mainstream press lauded the success of the methods adopted to "wreck the economy and prosecute a long and deadly proxy war until the exhausted natives overthrow the unwanted government themselves," with a cost to us that is "minimal," leaving the victims "with wrecked bridges, sabotaged power stations, and ruined farms," and thus providing the U.S. candidate with "a winning issue": ending the "impoverishment of the people of Nicaragua" (Time). We are "United in Joy" at this outcome, the New York Times proclaimed.

We should not underestimate the capacity of well-run propaganda systems to drive people to irrational, murderous, and suicidal behavior. Take an example ... World War I ... on both sides, the soldiers marched off to mutual slaughter with enormous exuberance, fortified by the cheers of the intellectual classes and those who they helped mobilize across the political spectrum, from left to right including the most powerful left political force in the world, in Germany. Exceptions are so few that we can practically list them, and some of the most prominent among them ended up in jail for questioning the nobility of the enterprise: among them Rosa Luxemburg, Bertrand Russell, and Eugene Debs. With the help of Wilson's propaganda agencies and the enthusiastic support of liberal intellectuals, a pacifist country was turned in a few months into raving anti-German hysterics, ready to take revenge on those who had perpetrated savage crimes, many of them invented by the British Ministry of Information. But that's by no means inevitable, and we should not underestimate the civilizing effects of the popular struggles of recent years. We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe merely because those are the marching orders.

Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a war against terrorism.

In the 1980s the U.S. fought a major war in Central America, leaving some 200,000 tortured and mutilated corpses, millions of orphans and refugees, and four countries devastated. A prime target of the U.S. attack was the Catholic Church, which had committed the grievous sin of adopting "the preferential option for the poor."

The U.S. is ... the only country condemned by the World Court for international terrorism-for "the unlawful use of force" for political ends, as the Court put it-ordering the U.S. to terminate these crimes and pay substantial reparations. The U.S. of course dismissed the Court's judgment with contempt, reacting by escalating the terrorist war against Nicaragua and vetoing a Security Council resolution calling on all states to observe international law land voting alone, with Israel and in one case El Salvador, against similar General Assembly resolutions.

In the l990s, the U.S. provided 80 percent of the arms for Turkey's counterinsurgency campaign against Kurds in its southeast region, killing tens of thousands, driving 2-3 million out of their homes, leaving 3,500 villages destroyed (7 times Kosovo under NATO bombs), and with every imaginable atrocity. The arms flow had increased sharply in 1984 as Turkey launched its terrorist attack and began to decline to previous levels only in 1999, when the atrocities had achieved their goal. In 1999, Turkey fell from its position as the leading recipient of U.S. arms (Israel-Egypt aside), replaced by Colombia, the worst human rights violator in the hemisphere in the l990s and by far the leading recipient of U.S. arms and training following a consistent pattern.

Terrorism - as defined in official U.S. documents: "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature. This is done through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear."

Arundhati Roy
"The Taliban's response to U.S. demands for the extradition of bin Laden has been uncharacteristically reasonable: produce the evidence, then we'll hand him over. President Bush's response is that the demand is non-negotiable." She also adds one of the many reasons why this framework is unacceptable to Washington: "While talks are on for the extradition of CEOs, can India put in a side request for the extradition of Warren Anderson of the U.S.? He was the chairman of Union Carbide, responsible for the Bhopal gas leak that killed 16,000 people in 1984. We have collated the necessary evidence. It's all in the files. Could we have him, please?"

The U.S. explicitly reserves to itself the right to act as it chooses, and is carefully avoiding any meaningful recourse to international institutions, as required by law.

The Arab world has had one free and open news source, the satellite TV news channel Al-Jazeera in Qatar, modeled on BBC, with an enormous audience throughout the Arab-speaking world. It is the sole uncensored source, carrying a great deal of important news and also live debates and a wide range of opinion ...

Al-Jazeera is, naturally, despised and feared by the dictatorships of the region, particularly because of its frank exposures of their human rights records. The U.S. has joined their ranks. BBC reports that "The U.S. is not the first to feel aggrieved by Al-Jazeera coverage, which has in the past provoked anger from Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt for giving airtime to political dissidents."

[The Wall Street] Journal ... "many Arab analysts argued that it is, after all, Washington's perceived disregard for human rights in officially pro-American countries such as Saudi Arabia that fuels the rampant anti-Americanism."

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