1/28/04

Why the 'war on terrorism' ... ain't

By Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row

Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.
-- I.F. Stone, Independent Journalist

When presidents and their flacks announce their various warson this, or wars on that, one should look deeply into such proclamations, for the real underlying reasons for their actions.

Usually, it has very little to do with the announced reasons for the latest so-called 'war.' That is not to suggest that they aren't really wars, and that like all wars, there are serious casualties, but one must examine the reasons made in their defense.

Many Americans will proclaim, with cold-eyed certainty, that the U.S. is engaged in a 'War Against Terrorism.' They are sure of this, and point to the newspapers and TV news shows to buttress their claim. But, as with the other various 'wars' during the last century, the wars against communism, against poverty, and against drugs, things are seldom what they seem.

Let's try a simple test. Please name a country that is involved in terrorism. Go ahead; do it now: _____________

Unless I miss my guess, many have listed nations that are familiar to us if we read, or listen to, the corporate news. Iraq. Perhaps Afghanistan. Syria might be added. Perhaps Cuba.

Few would add the names of nations that are far more familiar to us as US allies: Turkey. Israel. Russia ... (and for our world-wide readers or listeners, the United States!).

If we define terrorism as the use of violence for political aims and ends, then the last set of nations are big players in the terrorism game. They either directly engage in, or arm and support, states which wage wars on occupied or minority populations. Indeed, to scholars and global activists, this isn't even subject to questioning.

Antiwar activist and linguist, Noam Chomsky has written about this subject for decades, and one of his latest works, *Power and Terror: Post 9/11 Talks and Interviews* (Seven Stories/Little More, 2003), makes the case cleanly. On Turkey, Chomsky explains:

They [Turkey] carried out some of the worst atrocities in the 1990s, I mean, far beyond anything that Slobodan Milosevic was accused of in Kosovo, surely before the NATO bombing. They were carried out at about the same time in southeast Turkey against maybe a quarter of the population, Kurds, who are horribly repressed. And millions of them were driven out of their homes, thousands of villages destroyed, maybe tens of thousands killed, every imaginable kind of barbaric torture. ...Turkey became the leading arms recipient in the world outside of Israel and Egypt, which are in a different category. And they're very grateful that the United States was so willing to help them in carrying out massive state terror.And in reward, they are now fighting the "War on Terror" [pp. 18-19].

This demonstrates that the proffered reason for the Iraq War, now to stop human rights abuses, was a political shadow dance. The common argument that Hussein was a tyrant who used gas "against his own people", Chomsky
explains, is only part of the story:

He did use gas against "his own people" (actually, Kurds are hardly his own people), *with our support*. He carried off the Anfal operation, maybe killing one hundred thousand Kurds, with our support. He was developing weapons of
mass destruction at a time when he was really dangerous and we provided him the aid andsupport to do it, perfectly consciously. He was a friend and ally, and he remained so [pp. 37-38].

The Americans didn't care about the Kurds under Iraqi control, and don't care about the Kurds under the boots of
Turkey today. They don't give a rat's ass about the Iraqi people either. Chomsky uses a wonderful quote by the German philosopher Hegel which captures American thoughts exactly:They are "mere Things--whose lives have no value." (Incidentally, Hegel was writing about Africans).

The other nations I mentioned? Study. Read Chomsky's *Power and Terror*. Draw your own conclusions.

Chomsky quotes two Western figures, Churchill, and the British statesman, Lloyd George, to show how the British defended using poison gas against what Churchill called "recalcitrant Arabs." Lloyd George, who began his career as a great Liberal, is quoted as saying, "[W]e insisted on reserving the right to bomb niggers" [p. 121].

Terrorism isn't grown merely in foreign deserts: it's as present as our own back yards.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues. His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa
World Press, 2003) was named one of "The Most Remarkable Books of 2003" by *Black Issues Book Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]

Check out Mumia's NEW book:
FAITH OF OUR FATHERS: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF AFRICAN AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN PEOPLE
at www.africanworld.com

Mumia Abu-Jamal is also the author of three other books:
'Live from Death Row',
'Death Blossoms', and
'All Things Censored'.

When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice."
- Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal