October 2001

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Vol. I Number 4

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 The Response

 

                                America’s New War or War on Terrorism?

 

 

On September 11, America “was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty”, as President Bush put it in his speech on September 14 at the National Cathedral in Washington.

 

This attack on their homeland—the worst in 225 years - was no doubt the most devastating strike not only on American soil but also on the American psyche.  This kind of attack, though spoken of and picturised by Hollywood, was not considered possible.

 

On Monday, September 12, 1994, Frank Eugene Corder, 38, a student pilot with a history of alcohol and drug abuse, stole the single-engine Cessna from an airfield north of Baltimore, and slammed it against the White House South Lawn.

 

Federal officials had conceded then that Corder's flight exposed a seam in the government's muscular, electronically sophisticated zone of presidential defence. However nothing seems to have been done to handle such a situation. There was no policy in place to handle an internal air strike or series of air strikes like the one that slammed in to the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

 

After Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, who planned and commanded the attack, said, “I’m afraid we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled it with terrible resolve”. Now, “as Americans absorb what is being called their second Pearl Harbor, the giant is stirring again”, writes Marcus Gee in The Globe and Mail.

 

“The U.S. is the world’s sole superpower and its ability to deter attacks is essential to its well-being,” says Aurel Braun, who teaches international relations at the University of Toronto. “It can not be allowed to be seen as a helpless giant.”

 

CNN’s has recently moved from Attack on America and Sprit of America, to America’s New War while updating their newscast.

 

Was this an attack on America or the civilized world? UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said, “This was not an attack on the United States. It was an attack on the world.”

 

President Bush has called for War on Terrorism. Is this going to be only America’s war?  Or is this a war of the civilized world against terrorism?

 

Former President Bush does not want America to act unilaterally. He told a Boston audience, "Just as Pearl Harbor awakened this country from the notion that we could somehow avoid the call to duty and defend freedom in Europe and Asia in World War II, so, too, should this most recent surprise attack erase the concept in some quarters that America can somehow go it alone in the fight against terrorism or in anything else for that matter."

 

Karl Kaiser, a foreign policy expert in Germany, said contrary to the initial concern in Europe “about (administration’s) unilateralism… something rather extraordinary has happened, and the reaction…thus far, contrary to some fears that existed, was so different, so cautious and stressing the need to act with others.”

 

Whether US wishes to go alone or with others, taking their views and advice, it is important that they do not turn this into a war against Muslims- a war of the North against the South- a war of the Rich against the Poor- a war of the one-third of the world against the two-third- The Third World.

 

Unlike the Pearl Harbor attack, this time there is no nation that can be held accountable directly for the attack. Secretary of Defence, Rumsfeld, said: "In the past we were used to dealing with armies, navies and air forces. This adversary is different. He doesn't have any of those things."

 

The problem is to track down the enemy.

 

Secretary of State, Colin Powell stated, "It's not one individual, it's lots of individuals and it's lots of cells," Powell told reporters. "Osama bin Laden is the chairman of the holding company, and within that holding company are terrorist cells and organisations in dozens of countries around the world, any one of them capable of committing a terrorist act… It's not enough to get one individual, although we'll start with that one individual."

 

The ‘prime suspect’ for terrorist attacks on US, as the Administration claims, is “Saudi militant bin Laden, who reminds his listeners that the West not only physically invades the Muslim world, but culturally and spiritually pollutes the Muslim soul,” says Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former officer with the Central Intelligence Agency.

 

“Bin Laden is a symbolic head of a movement of religious fanatics who want to purge the world of evil and the United States is the symbol of that evil,” says Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA officer who was deputy director of the U.S. State Department's Office of Counter terrorism in 1989-93.

 

Osama bin Laden “serves as a source of inspiration… he, in fact, is emerging as a mascot of Islamic militancy and it hardly matters whether he is physically involved or not. A dead Osama could inspire just as effectively, if not more. A dead Osama, a dramatically mythified Osama could actually be more dangerous”, writes Muzamil Jaleel, in Indian Express.

 

Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who until last fall headed the United States Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, said, “They (terrorists) are spread all over. They hide in mountains and caves. They do not lend themselves to being targeted.”

 

Afghanistan is unlikely to be the only target in the war against those nations who support terrorism. Mr. Rumsfeld said that al Qaeda terrorist network that Mr. bin Laden heads may have activities in 50 to 60 countries, and al Qaeda is just one of the networks that President Bush has vowed to vanquish.

 

The respected British Mid-East specialist, Robert Fisk, is of the view that the perpetrators of this monstrous crime were small in number, likely no more than three score, possibly an unknown, American-based cell without direct links to any known terrorist organisation.

 

Are  “terrorists” born or created?

 

Robert Fisk wrote last week that a "crushed, humiliated population struck back with the wickedness and awesome cruelty of a doomed people."

 

Though we are being constantly told that it is a war between ‘‘terror’’ and ‘‘democracy’’, it is really much more than that. It certainly has its roots in the double standards of the democracies of the world, he said.

 

"Don't think for one minute that this war is new," says Sean Maloney, a professor of war studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. "This war against the United States has been going on for a long time."

 

Noam Chomsky writes that ‘‘again, we have a choice: we may try to understand, or refuse to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much worse lies ahead’’.

 

Across the Continent, European leaders were urging American restraint. Far closer to the Arab world and with larger Muslim populations, European countries worry that military action by the United States could lead to more terrorism that would inevitably hit them as well.

 

In Moscow, an influential parliamentarian, Aleksei G. Arbatov, said although the consensus there was “total moral support” for the United States and the struggle against terrorism, there also existed a strong humanitarian concern "not to resort to massive strikes, to nonselective actions which are unjustified from the moral point of view, to avenge the death of thousands of innocent people with the deaths of tens of thousands of other innocent people.”

 

President Jiang Zemin of China telephoned Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and President Jacques Chirac of France. He admonished his Western counterparts to tell Mr. Bush that "any military action against terrorism" should be based on "irrefutable evidence and should aim at clear targets so as to avoid casualties to innocent people," according to official news reports from China.

 

Mr. Jiang also telephoned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and although the two leaders denounced "terrorism in all its forms," they spoke just of cooperating with each other and the United Nations to "develop a mechanism for fighting terrorism," the reports said.

 

Pakistan's military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has promised "full support" to an American military operation. He faces a "mass exodus" from Afghanistan's Taliban-controlled cities, which will further burden the economy.

 

In another development that threatened the stability of this Muslim nation of 140 million people, a hard-line Islamic cleric in Karachi, has issued a religious decree, or fatwa, calling for a "holy war" against an American military operation from Pakistan and against General Musharraf.

 

As the world approaches the launch of War on Terrorism or America’s New War, Eric Margolis, writing in The Toronto Sun, cautions, “While carpet bombing bin Laden's headquarters - or even mounting commando raids against him - may assuage America's fury, even if he is killed or arrested, growing anti-American terrorism will persist. Terrorism is not some independent evil, like a tornado or plague, but "blowback," to use CIA terminology, from America's policies in Asia and Africa. Lashing out in blind rage will make most Americans feel better, but won't lower the threat or reverse the hatred of the U.S.”