The Great Denial - Terror Attacks on USA

I sent this to the Shields Gazette. Needles to say it was never published, even in part. I later lengthened it into another post on thsi blog "Terrorists and Terrorists (I am unsure of the actual date I wrote this - just workiong here from a date in the article's properties)

The proverbial line has been drawn in the sand and President George W Bush has told the world “either you’re with us or you’re against us.” It’s a catch all sentiment that is taking hold. Indeed, one local letter writer asked me through the letters page of the Shields Gazette: “A simple message to John B******. Which side are you on, ours or the terrorists?” “It’s that simple”, I’ve been told on the streets!

The mainstream view is that the forces of barbarism have declared war on the bastion of democracy - or so the explanation to a bewildered nation reads. George Bush boldly declared: “They hate our freedom, our freedom of religion, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with one another.” Yet wonders not why, if this were so, the Statue of Liberty, the White House or the Lincoln memorial was not attacked. Why the Pentagon and the WTC - one a symbol of America’s global military reach, the other a symbol of US economic prowess?

Of course there is much missing from Bush’s assertion that Islamic terrorists are just simply jealous as hell of the democratic freedoms ‘enjoyed’ in the US. The simple truth is that throughout the Middle East, indeed the world, the US has, despite its alleged support for movements towards democracy and greater freedoms for all, generally hampered provisional steps in the direction of democratisation. Whilst it has increased its support for despotic regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Morocco, it has invariably lowered its economic, military and diplomatic support for any Arab country embarking on major political liberalisation.

Israel, for instance, gets 40 per cent of all US overseas aid. Meanwhile Israel is in breach of 6 UN resolutions and its continuing repression of Palestinians. During Jordan’s despotic and repressive rule in the 1970s and 80s, US aid for the Amman regime was enormous. Then when Jordan decided to oil the cogs of its political machine in the 1990s, that aid was vastly reduced and for a while suspended. Similarly, aid to Yemen was cut off within months of that unified country’s first ‘democratic’ election. In recent weeks, when it was discovered that Qatar’s satellite channel Al-Jazeera was beginning to sound pro-democracy, upsetting regional dictators, broadcasting images of the US bombings and airing bin Laden’s now famous video, it was Colin Powell who demanded the channel be closed down, insisting it fostered ‘anti-Americanism’

When it comes to Middle Eastern peace, the US has ensured the region is as unstable as ever, cocking a snook at UN Resolution 687 which calls for region-wide disarmament - which would also mean an end to Israel’s nuclear capability – and at the same time selling $60 billion worth of arms to Middle Eastern country in 10 years (80% of all world arms exports to the Middle East). Israel, by the way, receives $3 billion in US military aid on the pretext it is defending itself from its Arab neighbours!

Writing in the Guardian (29/9/01), Artundhati Roy goes a little further. “Could it be’ she asks, ‘ that the stygian anger that led to the attacks has its taproot not in American freedom and democracy, but in the US government’s record of commitment and support of exactly the opposite things, to military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorships, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocides?’ (for more on this see the October issue of Socialist Standard).

This side of the Atlantic, In his finest Orwellian double-speak, Tony Blair could announce: “The values we believe in should shine through in Afghanistan”. Could this be the same Blair whose government armed the Indonesian military machine during its recent rampage through East Timor, whose government has signed 91 military export licences for Israel since the current Intifada? Such instances fly in the face of the FCO claim that ‘we will not issue export licences where there is clearly identifiable risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression or adversely effect regional stability.’ Are these the same ‘values’ which, on the same day as the attacks on the US, allowed the DSEi arms fair to go ahead in London and to continue for another 2 days? And are these same ‘values’ informing a Labour government who, without any mandate from the UN, has helped notch up 15,000 RAF/USAF bombing raids on Iraq since the second Gulf War?

These same values are now behind the decision that Britain and the US should support a proxy army, the Northern Alliance, an outfit with an impressive record of widespread rape, pillage and murder in Kabul, in its confrontation with the Taliban. One of the key figures in the Northern Alliance is Abdul Rashid Dostom, and ally of Uzbekistan’s President Karimov, who has made huge profits from exporting drugs via Uzbekistan, and who allegedly was all to keen to secure Russian weapons and military supplies in exchange for keeping the gas flowing north.

Just as Blair’s values can enable him to curry favour with Israel’s Ariel Sharon, architect of the slaughter in Qibya in 1953 and the 1982 massacres in Sabra and Shatila, so can these same ideals prompt him into friendly dialogue with President Islam Karimov, whose airfields are suddenly strategically important now the destruction of Afghanistan has commenced. Karimov, incidentally, holds 7,000 political prisoners, allows no free press and no political opposition. Karimov of course has other reasons for supporting the anti-Taliban alliance. His corrupt police state is facing bankruptcy and he is intent on running an oil pipeline through Afghanistan to a Pakistani port

But back to the US. It’s fair to say that the Bush administration is in the throes of foreign policy denial – there is almost blanket rejection of any notion hinting that previous US policy has any bearing on the present. Yet few worthwhile commentators have not mentioned the Middle East linkage, the US support for Israel in its continual oppression of Palestinians and of Washington’s continuing war with Iraq. In a video-recorded message to the world, bin Laden asked: ‘You American people, can you ask yourselves why all this hate against America and Israel? The answer is clear and simple, that America has committed so many crimes against the nations of Muslims.’ Bin Laden proceeded to list the aforementioned grievances.

Here in Britain, Foreigh Secretary Jack Straw was castigated by his Labour bosses for making such a link between Palestine and the recent terrorist attacks in the US when he said that Middle eastern terrorism was bred “by the anger many people in this region feel at events over the years in Palestine.” Tony Blair was to spend 15 minutes on the phone to Ariel Sharon, trying to calm him down and get him to agree to meet Straw

Neither will Washington acknowledge its complicity in other areas which have a direct bearing on the present. Whilst Bush is mouthing off about the importance of curbing the funding of terrorist groups and keen to see the Taliban’s overseas assets frozen, it was his own administration that scuppered international efforts to clamp down on tax havens, withdrawing support for an OECD initiative that called for more transparency in tax and banking procedures.

Moreover, it was only in May of this year that the Bush administration was giving the Taliban $43 million as an incentive to reduce the cultivation of poppies, knowing full well the Taliban were notorious abusers of human rights and that they harboured terrorists from all over the Islamic world. And there was no criticism of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who for years gave the Taliban military and financial aid.

For quites some time now, US, German and Russian intelligence services have been alerteing Washington to the fact that Osama bin Laden has been trying to acquire weapon’s grade nuclear material, indeed as early as 1993 from Russian outlets with poor controls. What was the response of the Bush administration to this? They proposed cutting funds for a programme aimed at preserving nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union.

Such hypocrisy is further reflected in the personnel at the forefront of Bush’s anti-terrorism ‘crusade’ - Colin Powell, US Sec of State and John Negroponte, the current US ambassador to the UN. The former came to prominence when given the job of covering up the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, next seen trying to whitewash to the Iran-Contra scandal, whilst the latter, as US ambassador for Honduras, was up to his neck covering the tracks of US backed right-wing death squads and their state terrorist activities. Yet these same mendicants are charged with routing out the threat to freedom and democracy!

No comments: