Sunday, March 26, 2006

Questions About the War on Terror

The "War on Terror" is morphing into the "Long War" and the nation still has not had a rational discussion about who we are fighting and why.

Frankly, it sickens me to hear supposedly intelligent people state that the "War on Terror" is worth fighting and that "terrorists" are an enemy who hate us unreasonably and therefore must all be killed.

Knowing a bit about U.S. history, which shows that our leaders have used deception to rouse us to support military activities in the past, I am naturally skeptical when a new enemy is identified as a target.

History also shows that our government has a record of military and covert activities that bring down political movements in other countries when those movements threaten corporate investments, control of resources, or profits.

Castro was branded as a "Communist" but his real sin was that he closed Cuba off from American business interests that were exploiting Cuba with the help of a corrupt and brutal dictator, and impoverishing her people.

Democratically elected leaders have been equally targeted when they dare to restrict corporate interests by returning land and resources for the improvement of their people or refusing to accept the trade treaties that allow for exploitation of labor and environment.

Two such leaders were Dr. Mossandegh who was elected Prime Minister of Iran in 1951 and planned to nationalize oil which was operated by British Petroleum. Though BP was offered compensation, the British coordinated an economic embargo of Iran while the CIA organized a coup. The Shah replaced him and oil remained in the hands of BP.

In Guatemala Jacobo Arbenz was elected by a landslide in free elections in 1951. In an attempt to modernize his country, he appropriated some unused land controlled by Rockefeller owned United Fruit (they were compensated). Arbenz was labeled a tool of the international Communist conspiracy and the CIA was sent in to undermine him. Arbenz was forced to flee in 1954 and was replaced by the CIA's chosen man, Gen. Armas.

You may have noticed that Venezuelan President Chavez has been labeled a danger to American interests and has already suffered one covert attempt by the US to remove him from office. He has the crazy idea that the oil wealth of his country should pay for education, health and homes for his people.

The evidence indicates that the actual agenda of our leaders who use the military tends not to be "advancing democracy" but securing control of resources for the benefit of corporate interests.

With some of this history in mind then, we must look at the current situation stripped of fear and propaganda.

Osama bin laden was blamed for 9/11 and we were told the "terrorists" hate us for our freedoms."

There are two questions here.

1. Where's the proof we were promised linking OBL to 9/11? The government has never delivered the promised "whitepaper" with the evidence of his guilt. In April of 2002 the FBI said they were unable to show a paper trail linking the hijackers to 9/11. As fans of CSI and other criminal justice shows, we should know better and demand the proof of their guilt.

2. Question two is do they "hate us for our freedoms" or has our government been poking their hive when we weren't paying attention?

In 1998 Osama bin Laden released a statement to the US in which he states that the people of the middle east were "offended" by the military presence of US troops on their territory and asked that they be removed. He also requested that the US stop interfering in their politics by supporting corrupt regimes that oppressed the people there. He requested the US to act as an honest broker to help resolve the Palestinian/Israeli problem. Her warned that if the US persisted in its presence and interference in their homelands, they would consider themselves to be at war with us. These statements did not seem to be rantings of hate but an effort to state a position in an attempt to resolve a problem.

What did our "peace loving democratic government" do? They continued to transgress. If 9/11 was indeed the work of 19 hijackers, the facts show that the US had initiated the agression in their homeland and bears some responsibility for the "blowback" of those attacks.

The attack on Afghanistan was as misguided as an attack on Oklahoma would have been following the bombing of the Murrah building, especially since guilt hadn"t been proven as to the perpetrators of 9/11.

The unfounded attack on Iraq showed the true colors of the US government and its corporate allies which is the willingness to take by force resources that are not theirs.

So why are we in a war on terror? Why is this to be a "long war?"

Faced with the huge costs in blood and money that war engenders, we need to look at the facts and determine if waging this war is necessary and examine options for ending it.

Are there "terrorists" out there? Yes, but they are not fighting "because they hate our freedoms," they are people, like ourselves, who object to the opressive presence of foreign military forces in their homeland. Lacking an official state military apparatus, they use whatever they can to resist that opression. What would we do if our nation was occupied by foreign troops and our government was in league with them? We would use every means at our disposal to fight them. I"m sure King George considered the resistance of the colonists to be acts of terrorism.

I would also submit that using the power of our military to bomb the people of another nation is also an act of terrorism. Terrorism is defined as "to impose one's will by the use of force." Our use of military to impose our will, whether it's to force "democracy" on them or to "punish" them for resisting US control of their homelands and resources, has created more anger and resistance to the US. Our peace and security has been more threatened by this use of military force. They will never give up the fight to free their lands from us.

A note here about suicide terrorism. Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago has studied suicide terrorism for decades and has the largest body of information on that subject in the world. His findings show that "suicide terrorism" tends to be the result of foreign occupation of the territory the "terrorists" see as their homeland. Once the occupiers go home, the suicide terrorists tend not to follow them but stop their terrorist activities. A 1994 Defense Department study reported that the incidence of terrorism increases in proportion to US interference in foreign countries.

Unless we are okay with the killing of thousands more on both sides, we should insist that our government stop behaving like a bully. Agressive behavior unchecked will lead inevitability to the use of nuclear weapons and that will damage an already fragile earth as well as causing horrific death and destruction. War is not the only option we have. We must recognize the part that the US has played in this whole scenario and move to alter the suicidal an unjust course we are on.

The way to peace is obvious. Get out of their homelands and let them determine their own future. Make fair trade agreements to get the resources they have and we need. Stop threatening others with force to supress them while taking their resources.

Here at home, our own "democracy" is under attack from corporations who are destroying and looting our environment, out sourcing jobs and buying off our leadership to get laws that favor them in place, and from a government that has let the infrastructure go to hell while diminishing our civil rights while leadership shares the power and profits their corporate allies accrue. Our tax dollars fund these nefarious activities leaving us with an 8 trillion dollar debt, which is the responsibility of each and every citizen . Who among us has the economic means to pay it off should our creditors call the debts in? Who has gotten all that tax money? I would only note that the oil companies, Halliburton, and those supplying the war, have reported record profits.

The real enemy we face is those who use their positions of wealth and power to repress resistance to their immoral activities that steal peace and life from us all, here and abroad.

Sue Dyer
Guest Essayist