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Pat Bennett © 2002

 

 
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"TERRORISM: 1. The act of terrifying; use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy. 2. The demoralization and intimidation produced in this way".

Webster's New World Dictionary

We try to sleep... but sleep won't come. The image of the twin towers of the World Trade Center imploding into fiery piles of rubble on thousands of innocent people has been burned indelibly into our minds. Finally, as the days fade into weeks and sleep does come, other images begin to sift to the surface of our memories -- other images of horror, across the giant oceans and far from us, in other places, to other people. We watched these images on our TV sets, in the comfort of our "secure" homes; we watched, muttered about the horror of it all, yet we did nothing. After all, it wasn't happening to us.

But now it has happened; globalization, in the largest
sense of the word, has challenged our security for all time; the most powerful nation in the world has been attacked. Who would dare to do this? Who would dare to challenge the power of the mighty United States and its NATO allies?

An old man, interviewed on television, asked the one
incisive question we must all now ask ourselves: " WHY? Who had reason to hate the United States that much? Why did this happen to us? What have we done?"

Ahhh, a touch of sanity in a world gone mad for blood. This attack was thoroughly planned; the enemy knew the structural weaknesses of the towers, they knew exactly which planes must be hijacked, and when, and these people were quite willing to die to effect their purpose. There had to be a reason.

They gave us no warning, no declaration of war. Were these people simply out for American blood in a fanatic and mindless terrorist strike, as President Bush would have us all believe? Or were these people so fed up with the policies of the American government, and the untold innocent deaths these policies have cost, that they just couldn't take it anymore? We are not innocent of terrorism ourselves; Canada and Britain, along with France, have backed the U.S. in many diabolical and terrifying actions meant to bring stubborn countries to their knees.

Most Canadians are unaware that several Canadian government departments are aiding and abetting the export of Canadian military hardware to many governments engaged in wars and the violation of human rights. Canada's on-line data base of military firms claim "export experience" to many countries, including: Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Congo, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Rwanda, and the Sudan. The U.S. buys about sixty per cent of Canada's military exports, and has probably launched more coups, invasions, and military interventions than any other nation in history, flexing their "super power" muscles all over the globe.

Is Bin Laden the man behind the attack on the United States? Maybe; he has certainly threatened them, time and time again. But through the years, the activities of the U.S. government has made them many enemies, and a vocal threat does not necessarily translate into violent action. Proof is absolutely necessary here, yet we have taken it upon ourselves to kill more thousands of innocent people in the name of justice.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB-IBRD) have burdened much of the Third World with a debt load that can never be repaid. Both these organizations are specialized agencies of the United Nations offering lines of credit to governments subject to specific conditions, and controlled by a group of the world's most powerful and rich nations led by the world's most powerful, the United States.

In the subject countries, the people who need financial assistance the most never see a penny of it, as the small group of ruling rich elite and their transnational friends syphon off the money, and the poor get poorer as their taxes rise and their social services like health care and education are cut to the bone to pay off the compound interest of a debt they have no hope of ever repaying. Enter, the new slavery; an enslaved people become an angry people.

Afghanistan has been a country in violent and confusing political upheaval for years, as has much of the Middle East. In December, 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and this served as a pretext for the intensification of the Second Cold War, initiated several months earlier with the U.S. decision to freeze the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.

The invasion by the Soviets also triggered a solidarity among
Islamic fundamentalists, and many, financed by Saudi Arabia, travelled into Afghan territory to fight the Holy War against "Satan". Billions of dollars in military aid were sent to prop up the ruling government of Army Chief of Staff, General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq in Pakistan, as millions of Afghans flowed across the border looking for safety, and many of the weapons given to the Afghans to fight the Russian invaders ended up in Pakistan's markets.

Finally, the Soviets were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1988, and after many more years of insurgenence and civil war, the Taliban guerrillas, 8000 strong, siezed the capital, Kabul, and the leader of the Taliban movement, Mohammad Rabbani, took office as the head of a six-man Supreme Council in 1996. Rebel forces within Afganistan hoped to oust the Taliban, but Pakistan supported the new regime. Now finally the Taliban is crushed and life has improved some, but the Warlords remain, and many of the people still suffer hunger and uncertainty. What will be the end result of our supposed " war against Terrorism?"

Images from hell still disturb our sleep:

A child bends down to examine a toy plane shimmering half-hidden in the dirt; he folds his small hand around it -- and it explodes in his face. His life is forfeit because some powerful nation decided to target children in the landmine game. Which nation? We don't know -- but several will not sign on to the landmine treaty, the U.S. among them.

In Iraq, a beautiful seventeen-year old lies in a hospital dying of cancer; she is old enough to know that she is dying. Many of the victims are too young to understand why they feel so sick. During the Gulf War, more ordnance rained down on Iraq than was dropped in the whole of World War Two. Unknown to the public or the Allied troops, much of it used on Iraq was coated with depleted uraninum (DU). This radioactive coating burns on contact, producing a fine dust which can be ingested and inhaled, and which enters the food chain via water and soil.

Radioactivity remains active for four thousand, five hundred million years. If cancers continue to rise, they will affect forty-four per cent of the population within ten years; sounds a lot like genocide, doesn't it -- a crime against humanity? To our shame, DU weapons have now been sold to seventeen countries. Deformities and birth defects are also on the rise. Of course, the unsuspecting Allied troops were also affected, and many have since died as a result of the effects of using DU weapons.

Although DU weapons have been designated by the UN as weapons of mass destruction, along with napalm, fuel air-bombs, and cluster bombs, depleted uranium was used in Bosnia in 1995, and also used extensively in the Balkans. Since the poisonous stuff floats on the air, radiation readings in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Greece have recorded readings forty times over the recommended safety limit.

In 1990, the United Nations imposed tight sanctions on Iraq in order to force it to pull out of Kuwait. This failed, and the Gulf War followed. But sanctions remain in place and to-day two hundred and fifty people, mostly children under five, die every day as a result. Over a million people have died in Iraq since 1990 as a direct result of sanctions.How many of us have given a sweet damn?

Since January 1999, the US and UK have unilaterally conducted almost daily air-strikes in the "no-fly zones". Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State promised that the sanctions and bombings will continue until Saddam Hussin leaves. These sanctions and bombings do not affect Hussin; they impact on the helpless civilian population who cannot afford to escape the country. So we will continue to sacrifice innocent little children and their mothers; so much for humanitarism, NATO style. Is this not itself a form of terrorism?

At one point US Attorney General Ramsey Clark thought so. He headed a Commission of Inquiry which he hoped would include human rights activists, trade unionists, international jurists, medical personnel, rank-and-file soldiers from NATO who were in Yugoslavia during the US/NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, and people who were living there during the bombing. Hearings were being organized throughout the world, at the conclusion of which an International War Crimes Tribunal was to consider all the evidence. This indictment got nowhere, of course.

Iraq's French-built veterinary medicines factory was suspected of manufacturing chemical weapons, and rendered inoperable by a United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). The Director of Veterinary Services in Iraq, Dr. Fadal Abbas Jassem, said that they were not manufacturing any chemical weapons and felt that there was another reason. "Iraq was supplying vaccines for diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease at cost price or free to other countries in the Middle East. It was vital to the whole area, and we were undercutting the multinationals".

Iraq now accuses the US of complicity in a plague of foot-and-mouth disease and screw-worm. Consignments of veterinary medicines are routinely vetoed by the Sanctions Committee. Screw-worm, indigenous to the US, Mexico, and Central America, but unheard of in Iraq prior to 1996, infects the wounds and orifices of warm-blooded livestock, and can affect humans. The larvae can consume an entire cow in five to seven days, and at least forty people have since fallen victim to the worm.

"We have no idea how it got here, in the heart of the country," Professor Basil of Iraq's Ministry of Agriculture, said. "But to date, there have been over 70,000 reported cases." An article in the Baghdad Observer in July, 1997, suggested "that these Latin American parasites are now found in Iraq should provoke a few questions about the probability of biological warfare. ... To answer the question about how the flies came to Iraq, one does not have to look very far... in boxes in a small plane. The only flights in or out of Iraq are those of the UN, and more recently, the bombings by US and British planes."

The CIA has admitted a range of biological attacks on Cuba,
and certainly Iraq has every right to suspect the US of deliberate introduction of the screw-worm. In July, 1999, Ian Broughton, a New Zealand national employed by the UN, was expelled from Iraq for allegedly planting boxes of locust larvae in the north of Iraq, an allegation the UN denies.

Another image, from the pages of the New Internationalist, September 1999, in a column by Reem Haddad:

"Looking back, I can't really remember which of the firefighters was Wissam Chaaban. They all looked so young and eager when I stepped back to let them pass into the blazing inferno inside the building. I remember debating whether I should sneak in after them. But the soldiers were forcefully preventing all reporters from entering the burning electricity power station.

"Israeli warplanes had bombed the station less than an hour before as part of a wide-ranging series of air strikes against the country's infrastructural targets. The air strikes, the heaviest in three years, were in response to a rocket attack by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas against northern Israel earlier in the day. The rocket assault, in turn, was retalliation for the wounding of six Lebanese civilians over the previous four days ... the residents living around the power station were fleeing the area ... Then unexpectedly, the warplanes returned for another raid ... amid screams, the journalists and soldiers ran in panic trying to seek shelter ... the firefighters were badly burned ... five were killed outright ...... Wissam Chaaban, age twenty two, was one of the dead ..."

One of the fortunate firefighters who escaped with his life, but was badly burned, asked: "Why do they do this to us? Israelis have firefighters in their own country. We were only there to put out the fire and protect people. We don't even carry knives. Why would they do this?" Why, indeed? And who, until very recently, has backed this madness? The United States.

During the American invasion of Vietnam, the U.S. took over an air-strip in Thailand called Bo Fai. There they mixed together several toxic chemicals, and dropped this mixture called Agent Orange from a variety of military planes on the Vietnamese. Between 1962 and 1975 (when the Americans fled the country), the U.S. Air Force dropped fifty million litres of deadly Agent Orange on Vietnam.

When they left, they simply buried what was left of this
poisonous crap in barrels at the end of the runway. Dioxin poisoning is now everywhere. The IMF and the World Bank encouraged Thailand to have no investment in environmental protection in order to encourage the investment of foreign capital, (one of their usual conditions to open the door for multinational exploitation of resources), so there are no effective laws against this dioxin. To date, the U.S. government has denied liability.

There are many such images. In the province of West Papua in indonesia, the military control the province's resources and its people, using killings, torture, rape, buring villages, and land dispossession. The West Papuans requested international help to establish independence from Indonesia. This plea was ignored by Australia, Britain, and the U.S. The U.S. was the first to betray these people by making a deal with the Dutch to leave West Papua and hand over the administration of the territory to the U.N., then quietly allowing Indonesia to take over the province, and human rights be damned.

West Papua is probably the most profitable real estate Indonesia owns, due to its rich mineral resources. The chief mining enterprise is the world's largest copper and gold mine, the American company Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold. The Indonesian government has a nine per cent stake in the mine, and Britain's mining giant Rio Tinto owns nearly fifteen per cent of Freeport's share capital. West Papuans will get nothing but a ruined environment out of the mine. Freeport dumps seventy million tonnes of tailings a year into the Ajikwa river, and will leave a huge scar in the jungle when the mine closes in thirty years.

There are many such examples world-wide, too numerous to mention. We have meddled in other sovereign nations' affairs where we should not meddle, and delayed intervention when we should have intervened. We have protected multinational investment and activities by turning a blind eye to their use of a country's military force against civilians who protested their unfair and disastrous environmentally destructive practices in the name of profit. We, too, have innocent blood on our hands, and now we have brought hatred down upon ourselves.

So now we face a "Holy War", or a "War against Evil Doers". No war can ever be called "Holy"; there is nothing holy about killing your fellow human beings, regardless of race, color, or religion, yet both sides in this equation seem to think they are fighting for the glory of God, and have God on their side.

Those who were behind the terrifying attack on the US may have thought they had a reason, but they certainly had no right. Now the US will retaliate in kind, and then we can expect further reprisals, and so on, and so on. Death and destruction could envelope the entire globe very quickly, with plagues due to bacterial and chemical warfare, DU bombings, and even nuclear devices. What have the children of the world done to deserve this?

Certainly anyone involved in the attack on the US should be brought to justice; that's a given. But must we inflict untold misery on millions of innocent people in the name of revenge? Vengence is not ours to take, remember; we are well warned against this. It is time to change some of our policies that inflict pain on other nations, and reexamine our own actions globally.

Christians are told to "love one another ... love your enemies... do good to them that hate you..." by Jesus Christ. The Hindu, Krishna, taught people to "Be humble, be harmless, be upright, keeping the body and mind in cleanliness ...". The Buddha, also from India, taught his followers: "Not to commit any sin, to do good, not to blame, not to strike, and to purify one's mind". Then there came the Moslems from Arabia with Islam, the religion of the prophet Muhammad, who taught through the Koran: "Seek help through patience and prayer, and feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan, and the prisoner, for the love of Him (God) ... Do not evil in the earth, causing corruption." But it is difficult to find love in our human hearts when our hearts are filled with hatred.

Aboriginal peoples from all over the globe give us a ray of hope when they speak of a time of the coming of the "Warriors of the Rainbow" which their prophets have foretold:

"The rainbow is a sign from Him who is in all things. It is a sign of the unions of all peoples like one big family. Go to the mountaintop .... and learn to be a Warrior of the Rainbow, for it is only by spreading love and joy to others that hate in this world can be changed to understanding and kindness, and war and destruction shall end."

Amen to that.

   
   
   

 

 
   
         

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