Viewing Terrorism through a Different Lens
Viewing Terrorism through a Different Lens
By Jason Miller
Remember in September of 2001, when the US President (appointed by Katherine Harris) dissembled to the American public about why the Middle Eastern "terrorists" hate America?
In case you forgot, here is what he told us:
"Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
How ironic that the man who utilized his brother's governorship, Katherine Harris's lust for power, and a corrupt decision rendered by the Supreme Court to steal the 2000 presidential election would pontificate to Americans about democratic elections in the US and self-appointed leaders in the Middle East. Since it is a given that such a virtuous "born again" Christian could not have been lying, it is obvious that temporary amnesia prevented him from recalling voter disenfranchisement, his regime’s plans to strip its citizens' freedoms with the Patriot Act, and his nearly absolute intolerance for dissent.
Reality is too Complicated to Conform to Your Fairy Tale, Mr. Bush
Why do the "terrorists" and other people of the Middle East hate us? The truth is much more complicated than George Bush's disingenuous, propagandistic explanation to the American public. However, Bush's assertion was accurate in one sense. When he said, "They hate what we see right here in this chamber," he captured the true focus of the ire of the Arab world: the US government.
Since the internal combustion engine became an indispensable aspect of economic vitality, the United States government has invaded, exploited, manipulated and cheated Arab nations in its ongoing quest to purloin their precious oil. Preying upon internal strife and ongoing unrest amongst varying factions and sects of the Islamic faith, the US government has raped the people of the Middle East for decades. Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease. Acts of retaliation against the US are the result of victimized people attempting to thwart their over-powering, deceitful oppressors in Washington.
Show Me the Democracy….
Consider the fact that the power-brokers in Washington DC have long supported, and continue to support, a repressive monarchy in Saudi Arabia known as the House of Saud. Washington maintains this incestuous relationship with these iron-fisted rulers to ensure a steady supply of crude oil and to guarantee they have an ally to host regional military bases from which to further their goal of global hegemony. (The US has recently significantly diminished its military presence in Saudi Arabia, but once it has established a stable occupation in Iraq, it is quite likely US forces will return to the Saudi Kingdom in large numbers). Over the years, the world's "champion of freedom" has consistently looked the other way as the Saudi government has enforced Shari'a Law. This ruthless monarchy has routinely flogged and imprisoned alleged homosexuals without a trial. Political parties have not been allowed allowed. The House of Saud has allowed virtually no freedom of expression. Saudi citizens have often been detained and tortured arbitrarily. Saudi women have been treated as second class citizens. With full knowledge of these human rights abuses, the US government continues to pump billions of dollars of oil money into the over-flowing coffers of the House of Saud and to provide the “muscle” to ensure that the Saudi monarchs retain power. In August, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia reported that relations with the US "couldn't be better". Leaders from both nations work tenaciously to preserve this reprehensible symbiosis.
You’re Continuing to Pour Gasoline on the Fire, George
Perhaps the most poignant and timely illustration of the US government fueling Arab antipathy is Iraq. In 1963, the US helped sponsor a coup which brought Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party to power. King Hussein of Jordan has confirmed that the CIA located Iraqi Communists for the Ba'athists, who in turn tortured and killed these members of their opposition. Once Saddam came to power in 1979, the US became his staunch ally, pushing for Iran's defeat in the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980's. Providing money (via loans from Middle Eastern US allies), conventional weapons (through US allies), and the precursors to biological weapons (directly from the CDC) to Hussein (despite realizing he was committing genocide by killing tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and using chemical weapons against Iran), the US government again showed its willingness to support a brutal tyranny to further its own interests.
Once the Iran-Iraq war ended and Hussein became expendable, the US government deftly deceived Hussein into invading Kuwait in 1990. Bush I declared Hussein to be the sworn enemy of the US and launched the Gulf War. Hussein was defeated but remained in power. Throughout the next decade, harsh UN economic sanctions spear-headed by the US resulted in the death of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. The sanctions left Hussein, their alleged target, virtually unscathed.
In 2003, Bush II, with the aid of the sycophantic Tony Blair, launched the illegal invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq. They based their incursion on the false pretexts that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was an ally of Osama bin Laden. Evidence abounds (i.e. the Downing Street Memos) that Bush lied to the American public and Congress so he could secure the authority he needed to expand the American Empire. In an egregious violation of international law, the US invasion has resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, the establishment of a puppet government, and the beginning of long-term US occupation of Iraq (twelve permanent US military bases are under construction).
1. The US supported Hussein when he killed tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980's.
2. Economic sanctions imposed by the UN (due to great pressure exerted by the US), caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
3. The US government has killed over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians since the illegal occupation began in 2003. They justify their state terrorism by calling these murdered victims "collateral damage".
Number of Middle Eastern "Conventional Terrorist"-inflicted civilian deaths (in the WTC Attack): 2,726
Number of US "State Terrorist"-inflicted civilian deaths in Iraq (since Hussein took power in 1979): Hundreds of Thousands (and counting)
Tell us again why they hate us, Bush II? And tell us, who are the real terrorists?
As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap….
Iran, a member of the triumvirate Bush cited as the "Axis of Evil", is another Middle Eastern victim of US state terrorism. In 1953, through Operation Ajax, the CIA led a coup which replaced Iran's nationalist leader, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, with Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the infamous Shah of Iran. The Shah outlawed the existence of rival political parties and created SAVAK, his secret police force. SAVAK vigorously pursued and crushed dissent against the Shah's government. The Shah routinely tortured dissidents in the infamous Evin Prison. US government support of the Shah and of his "Westernization" of Iran both infuriated the populace of Iran and eventually led to the Shah's ouster in 1979. His successor was the virulently anti-American Ayatollah Khomeni. Violence spawns violence. Hatred begets hatred.
Despite principally supporting Iraq, the US played both ends against the middle to jockey for strategic advantage by supporting some factions within Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, thereby perpetuating a conflict that killed over a million Arabs and Persians. Today, the Bush regime continues to enhance the choler of many in the Middle East with its hypocritical efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear power while beating the drums for another unprovoked war against a sovereign Middle Eastern nation.
US and Israel: Hypocrisy, Double Standards, and More State Terrorism
Despite the numerous examples of the US government's detrimental intervention in Middle Eastern affairs, the most flagrant violation of Arab identity and sovereignty has occurred in Palestine. Since its founding in 1947-48, Israel has treated the Palestinians much like the US government treated Native Americans and Afrikaners treated the indigenous population of South Africa. Despite their repugnant violations of human rights, the US has remained a staunch ally to Israel. In fact, Israel’s government has followed its benefactors lead by consistently employing state terrorism against the Palestinians.
To gain perspective on the grossly disproportionate amount of money the US has expended in aiding Israel, consider that from 1949 to 1998, the US supplied more money to the 5.8 million people of Israel than it did to the 1,054,000,000 people of Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. When Israel was founded, it controlled 78% of Palestine and half of Jerusalem. Israelis displaced 750,000 Palestinians and have fought four wars with various Arab nations throughout Israel's existence because of their imperialist aspirations.
Palestinians now reside in the "reservations" of Gaza, the West Bank, and half of the city of Jerusalem. Israel has “allowed" them to occupy 22% of Palestine, but has denied Palestinians full autonomy within their meager allotted territories. While Israelis have denied the right of Palestinian Arabs to form a sovereign nation, the US government has continued to pressure Middle Eastern governments to officially recognize the state of Israel. I just cannot imagine why that would infuriate Arabs. Can you?
Israeli state terrorism has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians who have been denied their right to statehood. Yet when the Palestinians strike back against Israel, they are labeled as "terrorists". Such has been the perverse argument of the US government for decades. If a state-backed military action kills innocent civilians, those murdered are called "collateral damage", and the killings are "justified". Yet if a group (or individual) opposing an imperialist, tyrannical nation attacks that nation's military or citizens, the US leaders brand them as "terrorists". Why are violence, killing, and mayhem justified for some, but not for others? Murder of civilians is a crime, whether it is by a state or by individuals.
Manure is a More Accurate Description of What Bush is Spreading
Inciting still more Arab fury, Bush II cloaks his imperial ambitions in Iraq under the guise of "spreading democracy". Democracy in the United States is a media produced camouflage for a government "of the rich, by the rich and for the rich", as evidenced by the Patriot Act, Jose Padilla, the 2000 election, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Gharib, the military industrial complex, the obscene power of corporations, thinly-veiled Social Darwinism and racism, and the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is now quite obvious to the casual observer that the US government is deeply corrupt and avaricious, and has the mechanisms in place to implement an overt tyranny to protect the interests of wealthy plutocrats while essentially enslaving the rest of the population. While they have yet to utilize their new-found powers on a wide scale, they do have them. Democracy is a scarce commodity in the US, and America certainly is in no position to spread it to the rest of the world.
On The Daily Show, Kurt Vonnegut skewered the US version of democracy and the absurd notion that America could “spread democracy” to other nations when he stated:
"In democracy after a hundred years you have to let your slaves go. After 150 years you have to let your women vote. And at the beginning of democracy there's quite a bit of genocide and ethnic cleansing…..."
So, again I pose the question Bush II and his adherents. Why do "terrorists" and other Middle Easterners hate the US?
Terrorism is a Two Way Street
Admittedly, the perpetrators of 9/11 (if one believes that Arab terrorists actually committed the act), the members of the resistance in Iraq who have bombed Iraqi civilians, and members of Hamas who have killed Israeli civilians, have committed acts of terror. However, the number of murders they have committed pales in comparison to the "collateral damage" inflicted by the US government and the civilians killed by its proxies. Besides, not all acts committed by Hamas or similar groups are acts of terrorism. Some of the acts the US government labels as "terrorism" are carried out by sovereign nations (or oppressed people) defending themselves against imperial aggressors.
What is my conclusion? Both the US government and Arab organizations (which truly commit terrorist acts) are abominations because they kill for political or ideological gain.
What Does the Real Majority Want?
Thankfully, many US citizens and Middle Easterners thirst for a peaceful solution to a conflict which has festered far too long. What rational-minded individual wants to live in nearly constant fear of a terrorist attack? Neither the Christian faith, which many Americans practice, nor the Islamic faith, which is the dominant religion in the Middle East, promotes killing or violence. Many Arabs and Americans simply want to find a means to co-exist with minimal conflict.
Unfortunately, religious extremists like Pat Robertson and the terrorists comprising the Bush regime have juxtaposed Christianity as the "good" against the "evil" Islamic faith. They have used this false dichotomy to whip uneducated and uninformed Americans into a furor against the Arab world, enabling the US and Israeli governments to continue committing egregious acts of state terrorism. Fundamentalist Islamic clerics have turned many of their followers against "the Great Satan", fueling acts of individual terrorism against the US, its Western allies, and its allies in the Arab world.
Two Disparate Goals: US Hegemony vs. Arab Survival
Perpetual war benefits the small minority who sit atop the food chain. The poor and working class suffer and die while society's elite, wealthy leaders grow richer and more powerful. While Arabs share in the responsibility for the conflict in the Middle East, much of the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the state terrorists who have operated from their command centers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Pentagon, Foggy Bottom, and Langley over the last several decades. Arab "terrorism" is a reaction to years of victimization at the hands of the US government and its proxies in the Middle East. The way to end "terrorism" is for the American people to engage in a non-violent revolution to replace the abhorrence in Washington which masquerades as a democracy, to withdraw from Iraq, to close US military bases in the Middle East and around the world, to stop supporting Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and to redirect this nation toward humanitarian objectives rather than military ones. 5% of the world's population does not need to account for 50% of the world's military expenditures. America simply needs to reduce its military to a force large enough to defend itself and scrap its imperial ambitions.
Power to the People...
A true victory in the “war on terror” would involve eradicating the US terrorist state and criminally prosecuting those who have perpetrated the associated war crimes. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and many others in that foul administration belong in Guantanamo Bay with those they have deemed to be terrorists. The most dangerous terrorists on Earth move about freely, wield great power, enjoy immense wealth, and reside openly in Washington, DC. Corrupt, bellicose, avaricious war-mongers represent a fraction of the US population yet they harbor almost all of the power and wealth in the world's only remaining superpower nation. Arrests and prosecutions through US and international courts, tax revolts, protests, nation-wide strikes/walkouts by union and non-union employees alike, massive consumer boycotts, increased education of the American public, increased unity amongst the proponents of social justice, and the emergence of a powerful spiritual leader whose true goal is to achieve social justice are needed to excise the cancer in Washington which plagues the world.
Teetering on a Precipice....
Meanwhile, Bush II edges the US closer and closer to tyranny as he imposes the elites' Social Darwinism upon the poor and working class by butchering social welfare program budgets, weakening unions, lowering taxes on the wealthy, working to dismantle Social Security, protecting and empowering corporations, and deregulating businesses. During the New Orleans debacle, the US government's response revealed glimpses of a US military machine prepared to employ state terrorism domestically. Katrina was a wake-up call for the people. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers, his former personal attorney who has no experience as a judge, to fill the US Supreme Court vacancy continues an unprecedented pattern of incredibly corrupt cronyism. Miers' virtually assured approval by a Republican-controlled Senate will complete the trifecta necessary for Bush II to control each branch of the US government. Social justice and peace can still prevail, but the elitists and war-mongers hold a significant advantage in the struggle, and are strengthening their hand.
We the People have a lot of wood to chop.....
Jason Miller is a 38 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. He works in the transportation industry, and is a husband, and a father to three boys. His affiliations include Amnesty International, the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He welcomes responses at email@example.com or comments on his blog at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.