On the Bombings
13th September, 2001
The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In
scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example,
Clinton's bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying
half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers
of people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at
the UN and no one cares to pursue it). Not to speak of much worse
cases, which easily come to mind. But that this was a horrendous
crime is not in doubt. The primary victims, as usual, were working
people: janitors, secretaries, firemen, etc. It is likely to
prove to be a crushing blow to Palestinians and other poor and
oppressed people. It is also likely to lead to harsh security
controls, with many possible ramifications for undermining civil
liberties and internal freedom.
The events reveal, dramatically, the foolishness
of the project of "missile defense." As has been obvious
all along, and pointed out repeatedly by strategic analysts,
if anyone wants to cause immense damage in the US, including
weapons of mass destruction, they are highly unlikely to launch
a missile attack, thus guaranteeing their immediate destruction.
There are innumerable easier ways that are basically unstoppable.
But today's events will, very likely, be exploited to increase
the pressure to develop these systems and put them into place.
"Defense" is a thin cover for plans for militarization
of space, and with good PR, even the flimsiest arguments will
carry some weight among a frightened public.
In short, the crime is a gift to the hard jingoist
right, those who hope to use force to control their domains.
That is even putting aside the likely US actions, and what they
will trigger -possibly more attacks like this one, or worse.
The prospects ahead are even more ominous than they appeared
to be before the latest atrocities.
As to how to react, we have a choice. We can express
justified horror; we can seek to understand what may have led
to the crimes, which means making an effort to enter the minds
of the likely perpetrators. If we choose the latter course, we
can do no better, I think, than to listen to the words of Robert
Fisk, whose direct knowledge and insight into affairs of the
region is unmatched after many years of distinguished reporting.
Describing "The wickedness and awesome cruelty of a crushed
and humiliated people", he writes that "this is not
the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked
to believe in the coming days. It is also about American missiles
smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles
into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing
into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia -paid
and uniformed by America's Israeli ally- hacking and raping and
murdering their way through refugee camps." And much more.
Again, we have a choice: we may try to understand, or refuse
to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much
worse lies ahead.