No to Terrorism and War, October 2001 post from the precursor to this blog.
Written in the context of the start of the US invasion of Afghanistan during the US administration of GW Bush. At the time hyped “terror alerts” were a fact of life in the United States. These were typically accompanied by meaningless recommendations such as “keep a supply of duct tape.”
The Administration of the US government, Ridge and Ashcroft in particular have just raised their position in the terror business and seem at this point to be spreading fear for its own sake as a distraction to the public from the beginnings of the cracks appearing in their “war on terror” and as a justification for their ignoble aims.
I spent the day, “on alert” but noticed nothing particular out of the ordinary. I will say that in my state of “heightened awareness” the fall colors of Upstate New York did appear magnificent, the air particularly crisp, and the smoke from my chimney so sweet of hickory and maple.
I made all appropriate preparations. Given no specific instructions from the authorities, I followed the longstanding good advice of my mother and father. I wore my long johns, a good cap and gloves, two pair of socks, one of thin cotton and one of heavy wool. Winter is soon upon us, and so it seems is the relentless destruction of a brutal war.
It is a struggle to follow the press and suffer the insult to mind and soul of the spin and lies of war. It is yet clear enough what is being said. The political and military preparations are being made for a large scale ground assault involving regular troops in sustained combat in Afghanistan. This is being done even with the clear and obvious assessment that the majority of the Afghani people and perhaps thousands of Pashtun volunteers from Pakistan, whatever their relationship might be to the Taliban or Al Qaeda, will stand and defend their nation. A war of Imperialism versus national sovereignty. Many such wars have been fought. Their outcomes are predictable.
The rebellion against French colonialism in Indochina began in earnest in the 1940s and was sustained despite hitherto unseen destructive force brought against the Vietnamese people until the mid 1970s. It is a great lie that the Vietnam War was fought half-heartedly by the US government and military. The fact is that more tonnage of explosives was used during the Vietnam War than had been used by all parties during World War II. At the peak of the war half a million US troops were stationed or engaged in the conflict.
In the end imperialism was defeated despite that a full 5 percent of the Vietnamese people had been killed or wounded, and another 5 percent suffered direct bodily injury. Between one and three million deaths and millions non-fatal casualties in a nation of 41 million as it stood in 1969.[These statistics are corrected from my original writing See Hirshman et al.]. Of course the other more well known statistic is the 50,000 US soldiers who died in that war.
A primary motor of change during the 20th century has been the end of colonialism, and the rise of more or less representative national republics. This process directly affected the development of US politics and social development as anti-coloinal struggles in Africa became linked to the fight for human and civil rights for African-Americans and other minorties.
The end of colonial regimes, the final defeat of monarchial governments, the defeat of political leaderships beholden to bodies other than the perceived national interests of an historic people, with common language and custom. In Russia, China, India, Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Algeria, Nicaragua, South Africa just to name a few of the dozens of places, out with the colonialists, kings and imperialists. The political work of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries–the work of social progress which began with the revolutions in America, Haiti and France in the 1700’s–has been nearly completed in the twentieth century. Only a very tiny handful of monarchies, colonies, protectorates, or client states remain in place. None has ever been reinstated successfully by the oppressors in the long run.
The 21st century will not go back on the work of the past. Progress in the 21st century will be defined by an end to imperialism, and the growth in equality and harmony among all peoples and nations.
The present conflict will end in only one of two ways; either in the eventual withdrawal of the imperialist forces or in a holocaust conflagration on the scale of the world wars.
Neither Terrorism nor War
US hands off the Middle East
For a World Without Borders