Sunday, November 4, 2001
@ Ruta Maya, mostly 1822 hrs
It is my belief that in this war against ideas they truly are trying to stop us from thinking. Or from beginning to think
Let us first acknowledge that this is not a war. It has not been declared by Congress and there is no real defined enemy aside from “terrorism.” “Terrorism” has yet to be defined by government officials in the context of this “war”. Indeed, there is hardly an agreed-upon definition of terrorism in any government document–the Army War College disagrees with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and on and on. The Central Intelligence Agency’s definition applies both to the current situation and the majority of their own operations undertaken in the past fifty years overseas, as noted by Mike McGowan. Finally settling on a definition of this term may be our greatest victory in this war.
The withholding of information is just as much a facet of propaganda as the printing of false “facts”. There’s propaganda on both sides in any war–and whatever wrongheaded ideas “they” may have don’t quite beat the magnitude of our own misunderstandings and ignorance of the situation–especially if you take the government and major media’s line as fact. We bash Al Jazeera as propagandists while “they” bash CNN–we’re both probably partly right. The real news just isn’t getting through.
Deep down we each know what is right and that what we’re being told isn’t the whole story. More death and destruction is not the answer. I think every civilian death in Afghanistan should be added to the World Trade Center/Pentagon/Pennsylvania casualty toll as if those killed by American bombs overseas were in the Towers when they collapsed. These actions are only a perpetuation of what the terrorists “started”. I put quotations around that word because I’m doubtful as to whether or not they can be blamed for starting this conflict. American policy in the Middle East has been fucked-up for a long time and it comes as little surprise that this lashing out by the inhabitants of the region against their oppressors (and supporter of oppressive regimes) happened. It isn’t the first and it isn’t the last. Replacing the definition of terrorism as the best thing to come out of this might be a deeper understanding (or discovery) by the American people of their government’s policies in the region. Maybe that will lead an adventurous few to attempt to better understand the actions of our government in other areas of the world, too.
This “war” on terrorism will only be moved to new fronts, as any research into American foreign policy will force us to concede. For wherever there is oppression of the people to further American interests, there will be freedom fighters (aka “terrorists”) ready to give the last thing they have which is their own in the fight: their lives.
What made me most sick in the days after the attacks were the regular pronouncements by high government officials stating that these terrorists hate freedom and democracy–everything that America supposedly stands for.
Explain to me how a people who have never experienced freedom of movement or expression or self-determination (both politically and personally) can hate these aspects of American society. [This assumes that not all people in the Middle East are religious fundamentalists bent on making over the entire world into a theocracy–just as Christian fundamentalists are not the majority in the United States.] Could their hate be more easily understood if these very same government officials admitted to their constituents that American policies in the Middle East install and support the world’s most oppressive regimes (Saudi Arabia, etc.)? As one astute commentator said in the aftermath of the attacks, it is far more likely that they hate America’s hypocrisy–our rhetoric defining us as a nation devoted to bringing and guarding freedom and democracy the world around while, on the other hand, we far more often support dictatorships and other oppressive regimes. While we enjoy the freedoms of being Americans, they toil in hardship, hunger, and chains provided by American taxpayer dollars.
Profits over people.
I know I’m making the same points over and over, but I think it key to remember that the people we fuck with today will fuck with us tomorrow.
There are many, many more things to talk about in this–I’ve only just begun to write it all down. Over the past two months I have had endless conversations on this topic wtih people from every end of the spectrum–from American jingoists to out-and-out conspiracy-lovin’ hippies. Not only that, but I have done an ample amount of research (drawing from sources such as the Army War College: mainly information on homeland defense; Noam Chomsky: Middle East affairs and rogue state “theory,” if you will; the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the FBI, and the US Attorney General’s Office: US Government Concept of Operations Plan, crisis management and consequence management authorities, etc.; The Christian Science Monitor: for daily news and insightful reports in the days just after the attack; among others.).
Yes, there’s more to come.