The horrendous events of September 11, 2001 in the U.S. have set into motion unprecedented changes in the world. Terrorism is a scourge of our times and must be eliminated. But elimination of the terrorists themselves will be insufficient if we do not eliminate the causes of their violent actions. We believe these causes lie in the gross inequities that exist in our world, accelerated by the process of globalized capital and the U.S. policy of corporate welfare supported by its adherents in the industrialized world. Still another cause is the failure to create a Palestinian state in the troubled land of Israel and a mode of living side by side in peace. And a further cause is the antiquated kingdoms of the Middle East, coupled to U.S. dependency on their oil reserves in an atmosphere where oil and politics do not mix. Finally, there is the dedicated programs and policies of the U.S. for the ideological cleansing of the world, supported by their operationalized nuclear threat.
To all of the above, the U.S. response was predictable: “Dead or Alive” – this is the kind of juvenile rhetoric one might expect from a Texas vigilante. “You are either with us or against us” – nothing is that simple except to a simpleton. This is, yet again, a juvenile statement by the robotic president of the United States, who confuses ends and means. One can agree with the ends of stopping the terrorists, whose acts are totally unacceptable. But we disagree with the means the global bully has chosen. Once again he has attempted coalition building outside the rightful role of the United Nations while side-stepping international law. There is a relevant article of the Charter of the United Nations which applies, i.e. Article 51.
Article 51 Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security. Reading Article 51 carefully one can only conclude that the U.S. action is in contravention of the U.N. Charter as well as international law, for example the 1971 Montreal Sabotage Convention, of which it is a signatory, together with one hundred and seventy-three other states and which requires mediation through the International Court of Justice. But as the ultimate world bully, the U.S. dictates the terms of conflict resolution in a unilateral uncompromising way that suits its consistent interventionist position. In fact it deliberately bypasses the international security regime, including the United Nations, preferring NATO, a military organization it controls. The right to self-defence in Article 51 is similar to that of individual rights. It does not permit the individual to bypass the law, once they have defended themselves.
It has been reliably reported, including in U.S. Congressional committee reports, that the U.S. has consistently supported terrorist groups all over the world. Throughout Central and South America it has helped to overthrow democratically-elected regimes in support of military juntas and dictators. It gave aid to terrorist groups in the Honduras army who murdered hundreds, including American nuns. It used the CIA to assassinate the democratically-elected Allende in Chile and his Chief of Staff, General Schneider. In fact the General’s son has lodged a case against Henry Kissinger who, together with Richard Nixon, ordered these murders. It poisoned the people of North Viet Nam with Agent Orange. Through its sanctions, some million Iraqis, many of them children, have died in the U.S.’s terror of hunger. In fact it has directly supported Asama bin Ladin in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, as well as by the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in Kosovo and Macedonia. It has supported the extreme right in Greece, the Philippines, Chile, Iran, Panama, Indonesia, Angola, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Grenada, Cambodia, etc. In all of these actions not thousands but millions of civilians were killed. In its earlier history it carried out a genocidal war against its Native peoples, destroying their culture and seizing their lands. Then, on August 6th and 9th, 1945, it incinerated 200,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed by decades of radiation damage. And this was no more than a military experiment since Japan was prepared to surrender under acceptable conditions. Together with NATO, it committed war crimes in Serbia and Kosovo. It has refused to support a UN International Criminal Court, preferring to control the War Crimes Tribunal, its own creation. And the U.S. condoned the killing of a large proportion of the people of East Timor by the Indonesian military. Adding to this were the murders in Chile by Pinochet, involving thousands. The total of all these victims adds up to millions and the U.S. is largely culpable for their deaths.
But there is still another kind of terrorism of which the U.S. is guilty. This is internal or structural terrorism derived from poverty, disease, murder, hunger and deprivation of all kinds. The U.S. has the highest rate of permanent poor among all the highly industrialized Western countries. Examining the arithmetic of structural terrorism, some 40 million Americans have no health coverage whatsoever, one in five children are born in and live in poverty. It has the highest infant mortality rate among nineteen industrialized countries. The U.S. is twenty-ninth in the world in population per physician (Cuba is eleventh in this category). The U.S. has the lowest life expectancy among the nineteen most industrialized nations. Twenty-one per cent of all Black Americans go to sleep hungry in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. All of this adds up to lives of hopelessness, hunger and disease for many millions of Americans. The U.S. also has the highest murder rate among the highly industrialized countries, and the only one that has the legal right to bear arms and the only one with capital punishment. The inverse ratio between the latter two is hardly ever acknowledged. The hypocrisy of the U.S. about these matters knows no bounds, with a co-opted media indulging in a shameful cover-up.
But the greatest terrorist threat in the history of humankind is embodied in the U.S.’s nuclear warfighting policies, plans and programs. We have established beyond any possible dispute that not only does the U.S. (and NATO) have a “first use” policy, but in fact the U.S. has operationalized plans to fight a nuclear war against Russia, considered to still be the major obstacle to the completion of the U.S.¹s global hegemony. In the Reagan administration, when this policy first evolved, a nuclear war with the Soviet Union was first operationalized despite the realization that it would lead to the death of twenty million Americans and one hundred million Russians. More recently, following the demise of the Soviet Union, the U.S. has operationalized plans to launch a devastating pre-emptive strike against Russia. The counterforce strike is directed against all Russian nuclear launchers – on land, on and under the sea and in the air. It is guided by an elaborate list of strategic targets embodied in a single integrated operational plan (SIOP). This includes Russia¹s command, control, communications and intelligence centres (C½I). Such a counterforce strike would kill fifteen million Russian civilians, an act of terrorism that dwarfs what happened to the U.S. on September 11, 2001 (see W.M. Arkin, “SIOP – forever immoral”; The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Sept.-Oct., 2000, p.72). When we add the above fifteen million deaths to our calculations of murders, killings and assassinations, plus the internal structural terrorism described in the previous paragraphs, we can only conclude that the U.S. is the greatest terrorist nation in the world.
But, not satisfied that some Russian missiles might escape destruction, the U.S. is committed to a national missile defense (NMD) system, despite the violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty and the 1967 Outer Space treaty. Their intention is to rule the world from space, universalizing free enterprise and investment and completing the ideological cleansing of the world, converting it to universal capitalism. The U.S. would be the CEO of this global enterprise. Yet such an NMD system would be totally ineffective against the kind of attacks that took place on Sept. 11, 2001 or against chemical and biological warfare. George W. Bush and Company have asserted that their NMD system is designed against so-called “rogue states”. This is a transparent scam that has been discredited by authoritative figures.
The coalition that Bush pressed into in his declared war against terrorism is not as solid as he had hoped. For one thing, Saudi Arabia balked at permitting the U.S. to launch its attack against the Taliban from its territory. “In this case, you are with us”, did not mean you are against us. This is how oil talks. His staunchest supporter is Tony Blair, who must have had a sex change and is really Margaret Thatcher. For Tony Blair to praise the courage and bravery of the early attacks on the Taliban is misguided, when most of the launches came from cruise missiles 1,000 miles away. The question of whether the U.S. is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the Taliban deserves a resounding affirmative. It is an essential part of their strategic posture. Russia and China have their own reasons for supporting the U.S., which will quickly collapse if Iraq is attacked, a plan now in place.
Richard Perle, the superhawk and former adviser to Ronald Reagan, now to George Bush, was asked if the U.S. might use nuclear weapons in its “war on terrorism” (CNN, 7 Oct., 2001). His answer was both interesting and predictable. He said the U.S. should use whatever weapons are appropriate to win this war. This is a predictable response but has subtle undertones which are a clear affirmative.
One positive fallout of the terrorist attacks on America is that the U.S. budget is in a state of chaos. Bush’s huge tax reductions, mainly for corporate welfare, are now revealed as a risk not worth taking. Also, given the budget crisis, it is unlikely that NMD will proceed as planned, i.e. by the U.S. dropping out of the ABM treaty before the end of the year. However, for the victims of September 11th there can be no benefits, only the terrible disbenefit of their grieving families.
The predictable is occurring yet again. As reported in the London Observer of October 21, 2001, U.N. officials in Afghanistan have reported that a disaster is looming with 7.5 million Afghans threatened by starvation directly attributable to the bombing. The bombing seriously threatens delivery of the humanitarian supplies into Afghanistan. The British charity, Christian Aid, has reported that six hundred people have already died in the Dar-e-Suf region from starvation and related diseases. All of this is exacerbated by the three-year drought that has hit Afghanistan. None of this is reported in the U.S. media, which, as always, is managing consent with American terrorism. Finally, how can the U.S. lead a campaign based on common security when it is the leading obstacle to the radical reduction of nuclear weapons, let alone their elimination.