<q>The left is getting itself tied up in knots about the Just War and the propriety of bombing Afghanistan. I suspect some are intimidated by laptop bombardiers and kindred bullyboys handing out white feathers and snarling about “collaborators” and being “soft on fascism.” A recent issue of The Nation carried earnest efforts by Richard Falk and an editorial writer to mark out “the relevant frameworks of moral, legal and religious restraint” to be applied to the lethal business of attacking Afghans. I felt sorry for Falk as he clambered through his moral obstacle course. This business of trying to define a just war against Afghanistan is what C. Wright Mills used to call crackpot realism.</q>
<q>So here we have it. The equivocating distinction between civilization and savagery, between the “massacre of innocent people” or, if you like, “a clash of civilizations” and “collateral damage”. The sophistry and fastidious algebra of infinite justice. How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead American? How many dead women and children for every dead man? How many dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? As we watch mesmerized, Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A coalition of the world’s superpowers is closing in on Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world …</q>
<q>The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defense industry. …</q>
<q>Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven’s sake, rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defense secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in America’s new war, he said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be allowed to continue with their way of life, he would consider it a victory.</q>
This article by Arundhati Roy at Common Dreams was submitted to me last night. It’s quite long, but very well-written, making many of the same points as have been covered here in recent weeks, but wrapped in more elegant prose.
<q>When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said: “We’re a peaceful nation.” America’s favorite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of prime minister of the UK), echoed him: “We’re a peaceful people.” … So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is peace. … Speaking at the FBI headquarters a few days later, President Bush said: “This is our calling. This is the calling of the United States of America. The most free nation in the world. A nation built on fundamental values that reject hate, reject violence, rejects murderers and rejects evil. We will not tire.”</q>
<q>Here is a list of the countries that America has been at war with − and bombed − since the second world war: China (1945-46, 1950-53), Korea (1950-53), Guatemala (1954, 1967-69), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-60), the Belgian Congo (1964), Peru (1965), Laos (1964-73), Vietnam (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-70), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), El Salvador (1980s), Nicaragua (1980s), Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998), Yugoslavia (1999). And now Afghanistan.</q>
it adds value to being a cop; and certainly new material for police recruitment campaigns. Can you imagine.
<q>…Bush said the attacks made him all the more in favor of building an anti-missile shield opposed by Moscow. When he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month, Bush said he would raise the possibility of a hostile nation developing deadly missiles that can reach either country. … “Wouldn’t it be in our nation’s advantage to be able to shoot it down?”…</q>
So you see, this is being seen as an opportunity to guilt the rest of the world into letting us out of the ABM and (somehow) substantiates the MDS. Go to CNN for a full transcript of the press conference.
I guess I missed something pretty damn important, but I thought he was saying that an ABM system was an outmoded concept. Period. Was he actually suggesting a more high tech version of same?
The “It’s worth the price” Madeleine Albright quote was mentioned to me the other day, and I found a good list of quotes attributed to her at an AOL member page, of all places. The search for that page turned up this other one on the NY Press site by Alexander Cockburn.
<q>‘We have heard that half a million children have died,’ [Lesley] Stahl said. ‘I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And you know, is the price worth it?’ … ‘I think this is a very hard choice,’ Albright answered, ‘but the price–we think the price is worth it.’ They read that exchange in the Middle East. It was infamous all over the Arab world. I’ll bet the Sept. 11 kamikazes knew it well enough, just as they could tell you the crimes wrought against the Palestinians. So would it be unfair today to take Madeleine Albright down to the ruins of the Trade Towers, remind her of that exchange and point out that the price turned out to include that awful mortuary as well? Was that price worth it too, Mrs. Albright?</q>
“We can all thank Mayor Giuliani for stating the case for civilization in its most elemental terms: “We’re right and they’re wrong. It’s as simple as that.” The mayor has a well-documented penchant for concealing information, however, so I think it’s important to fill in some details. Presumably, the greatest exemplars of civilization are the “first world” industrial powers, so we can look to their foreign policies with confidence that they will instruct us in our highest values. Here’s what we learn:
“We are right to consume the world’s resources in vast disproportion to our population. We are right to reject international treaties or organizations any time they displease us.
“We are right to force other governments to harm their own people as a condition of economic assistance. We are right to arm, bankroll and support authoritarian governments or fanatical guerrillas for temporary advantage, regardless of their motivations or the probable long-term consequences.
“We are right to bomb civilians and destroy the supply lines and infrastructures that allow them to live, while leaving their governments intact. We are right to pursue vendettas against other governments by killing their people.
“We are right to refuse to examine our conduct in the world, insisting that we can do no wrong.
“The list can be improved, but the point remains. When we defend civilization, we ought to know what we’re defending.”
Speaking of security, where were the FBI and CIA? Sure, once this disaster occurred, they pop their heads out and demand that we didn’t give them enough money and/or leeway to do their jobs. We’ve given them trillions of dollars over the last few decades and they had <em>no idea anything was going to happen. From the Newsday, a letter (Sleeping Securely) puts it well:
<q>The campaign to get all of us to rally round the flag has prevented the public from asking questions about our internal “security” system. In the past 50 years, trillions of dollars have been put into the military, the FBI, CIA, etc., supposedly to protect our population from attack. Were all these agencies asleep on Sept. 11? They must be held responsible; they have not done their job. Now we are being told that if we just give them more big bucks, and let them shred what’s left of the Bill of Rights, then they can protect us.</q>
<q>Instead of investigating why we have not been protected by these agencies, Congress is planning to inflict horrendous damage to our civil liberties. Wasn’t this country founded by dissenters? Isn’t free speech one of those rights that our country stands for?</q>
<q>We must stop allowing the media to scare us and make us sheep. Our congressional representatives must hear that we are not willing to give up our rights. They must also hear our demands for an investigation into how many of our “protectors” were asleep at switch.</q>
For those that doubt the ranting of Michael Moore (I know I did), here’s some corroboration of the money donated to the Taliban in Afghanistan in May (quoted at $43 million this time).
This article concurs that it would be bad idea to go to ‘war’. It simply risks adding more people to the already swelling ranks of people who will lay down their lives to attack the U.S.
A late entry from Nico is an article by John Pilger of the The Herald. He’s been reporting on terrorism for years and been critical of the U.S.‘s foreign policy towards the Middle East, in particular. Since this article is impossible to find on the web, and the Herald search engine is less than useful, I’ve mirrored it here</php>.
Found some more nice quotes from Ars Technica message boards:
“Those who are willing to sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.”
“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
“…and with Necessity, the Tyrant’s plea, excused his devilish deeds.”
“Seriously, what I fear most at this point is America’s reaction to this tragedy. We want very badly to make this not have happened, probably enough to kill a lot of people abroad, and further muck up the remains of personal liberty at home. I wish that as a nation we could step back from this and try to think logically about the repercussions of our responses.”
“In any case the following things will likely remain true:
- It is asymptotically faster to encrypt digital communication than it is to break that encryption. This is a relatively simple algorithm that I or any other knowledgable person can implement in an hour or so of work. No organization will be able to defeat this.
- We will not be able to keep weapons as simple as box cutters off of airplanes.
- As long as the United States continues to interfere in the relations between other countries (even when we are doing so for entirely humanitarian reasons) we will have serious enemies.
- The future of technology will make it increasingly easy to kill people (at least falling airplanes are just deadly and not contagious).
“What is obvious here is that this most recent attack did not require extensive planning, it did not require money, it did not require private digital communication. All that it required was religious fanaticism and hate and total resolve. I don’t know what the answer to this is, but I think that one thing is clear. As a fellow nation any interferance by the US will always be interpreted as illegitimate by other nations (i.e. whomever we interfere with). The only solution that I can see to this is some sort of world government with no power within nations, but the power to resolve conflict between nations.”
“Throughout the day following the dastardly and unprovoked attacks using hijacked planes, I have heard a number of media people refer to the possibility that we may have to “tighten down some of our freedoms.” I’ve heard people say that the age of innocence that is America is over, and that we may now all have to join in some sort of sacrifice of our liberties and freedoms in order to protect ourselves in the future.
“I am here to tell you right now that, if anybody thinks that − I don’t care if they’re in the news media, Congress or in the general population—they are missing the whole point of what being an American means. You’re missing the whole point of the Constitution and the whole point of the reason for the founding of this country.“”