The events that distinguished September 11 as America’s second “date which will live in infamy” have certainly left an imprint on the American consciousness. Thousands of humans were killed. New York’s famed skyline was permanently altered. The US is primed for war. And multitudes of Americans have become griped by trauma. Yet so few have offered an explanation for the terror.
Rather than analyze these brutal acts, corporate media and right wing US leaders have subjected Americans to a torrent of beguiling proclamations appealing to emotion rather than logic. Hearing that the assaults on New York’s World Trade Center and Washington’s Pentagon building were “attacks on our freedom” that amounted to “America under siege” is enough to adjust any mind towards an eagerness for war. State sponsored hysteria campaigns to promote a rebound of American nationalism have swept the US within weeks’ time under a “you’re either with us or against us” mentality so reminiscent of America’s dark legacy of immigrant repression and McCarthyism. But not even a propaganda campaign as elaborate as our own government’s can erase the disturbing fact that those who coordinated the acts were not motivated by a thirst for blood, a religious order or a desire to “take away our freedom” as mainstream media purports; the attacks constituted only the latest in a decade-long series of brutal responses to US foreign conduct aimed at expanding US domination regardless of human or environmental detriment.
Terrorism aside, Arab opposition to the US is not unfounded. American support of the Zionist movement resulted in the displacement of millions of Arab Palestinian civilians after the imposition of Israel in 1947. The partition of Palestine left its majority Arab population with the minority of land, most of which is less arable than that given to Israel and constantly encroached upon by Israeli housing settlements.
Israel would prosper as the recipient of billions of dollars in US aid, much spent on US-built armaments and planes to threaten neighboring Arab states. Meanwhile, Palestine was reduced to an impoverished zone shunned by the West.
Arab resentment transcends Israel to spotlight US belligerence in middle Asia. The 1991 US war on Iraq was entirely for the protection of American oil interests threatened by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, which was guilty of cross-drilling Iraqi oil. For the sake of retaining a monopoly on middle-eastern oil reserves, three years of US air campaigns killed 200,000 Iraqis, while an additional 576,000 Iraqi children have starved during a decade of US-imposed sanctions.
Arabs feel threatened by a US policy towards Iraq including air raids that continually violate its national sovereignty, advancing widespread support for Iraq’s autocratic regime. Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest city of Mecca, has become the site of an American airbase from which US planes frequently patrol over Iraq’s southern zone in what amounts to a slap in the face of Muslims and Arab nationalists alike.
Indeed, America’s government is loathed not only in the Middle East. CIA-backed schemes have been felt from Indonesia, where the US-backed Suharto regime systematically murdered 2,000,000 Communists during the latter 20th century, to Nicaragua, where a US-backed mercenary war against revolutionary Sandinistas killed tens of thousands.
US policy makers have long endorsed violent means to curtail the fictitious “communist threat,” invading and ruining Korea and Vietnam at the loss of millions of lives and undermining opposing governments such as in Chile, where democratically-elected Marxist President Salvador Allende was murdered in a 1973 US-supported military coup. Over 20,000 died or disappeared after Augusto Pinochet’s bloody rise to power there.
Opposition was dealt with in similar fashion throughout neighboring countries like Argentina, where over 30,000 were murdered under the auspices of the CIA. Countless other states have been ravaged by US covert operations.
America’s latest foe came to power likewise, the Taliban born from Mujahideen Islamic terrorists trained and financed by the CIA with over $5 billion in aid to topple Afghanistan’s then leftist government. US involvement helped establish a dictatorship that relinquished Afghani citizens of basic civil liberties while reducing women to in-home prisoners, affirming that the US government regards freedom and human rights as subordinate to Capitalism in practice.
Once sharing in the US State Department’s vision of destroying Socialism, an institution that eliminated the class and racial oppression on which terrorists thrive, networks like al-Qaida shifted their dissent towards the remaining superpower and its satellites upon the destruction of the USSR. Ten years of periodic attacks on US soldiers ensued, with 18 killed in Somalia on a failed 1991 intervention, 24 more during a 1996 explosion at barracks near the US airbase in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and more recently in an explosion at the USS Cole docked in Yemen. Two explosions at embassies in the Sudan and Tanzania were linked to renowned terrorist Usama bin Laden.
The repercussions of US foreign aggression reached home in early September 2001, and sadly, the loss of life was preventable. Americans realize that the recent acts of terror will never be excusable. But neither will a foreign policy that serves none but few industrialists, which has directly or indirectly killed millions and suppressed millions more, and which ultimately motivates terrorists and civilians worldwide to regard the US with hostility.
The long-term solution to terrorism will not be found in armaments. Peace will come through a foreign policy that promotes fair distribution of economic resources, friendship and cooperation rather than corporate profits and US global ascendancy. Americans must pressure the government to cease extravagant military spending and covert operations that impede the progress of undeveloped states.
US citizens should rally against terrorism in all of its forms: that financed by a fanatical Saudi-born multi-millionaire as well as that orchestrated by the world’s dominant Capitalist regime.
Above all, Americans should oppose retribution that will inflict more destruction, mindful that reprisal against any nation to cause human casualties is a response in kind to the barbarism committed on September 11.