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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.manningmarable.net
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
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
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.
11 and U.S. War