IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #9.9
Part 8 - more additions 6

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

 

Okay, I just spent a few days in the "real" world (Unwound were in town. I had no idea. A pleasant surprise to say the least…) A little bit of normality and a decent nights sleep and the world is back to its special shade of gray. Now it's time to just get as much perspective as is possible. War is coming and we don't know how or when. We're waiting and waiting and waiting. I just don't want to hear Bush's voice anymore. It's about fucking time they came forward with some proof about Bin Laden being behind the attacks. Not that it matters. America doesn't care about justice. They just want to feel safe. Charles Manson didn't kill anyone and he's in jail. Same "manifestation of evil" clichés in a different time…

So, I'm running another report from Robert Fisk. It's pretty fascinating and he is the one Western reporter that has a lot of first hand information from Bin Laden and certainly can speak to the issue with a lot of authority. My friend Gordon (Gordonzolla to you, buddy) sent me the final bit. It's from The Agribusiness Examiner (Gordon works at the Rainbow Groceries co-op in San Francisco. He doesn't just sit around reading agricultural trade magazines for fun… I don't think he does…) and it sorta says better what I've been trying to say these past few days. It's nice to see some smart quotes from Thomas Boswell, a sports columnist. Gordon was really right when he told me that it's nice to put that Albright quote in the proper perspective. Talk about the "manifestation of evil"…

 

Bush is walking into a trap
by Robert Fisk

Sunday, 16 September 2001

Retaliation is a trap. In a world that was supposed to have learnt that the rule of law comes above revenge, President Bush appears to be heading for the very disaster that Osama bin Laden has laid down for him. Let us have no doubts about what happened in New York and Washington last week. It was a crime against humanity. We cannot understand America's need to retaliate unless we accept this bleak, awesome fact. But this crime was perpetrated ­ it becomes ever clearer ­ to provoke the United States into just the blind, arrogant punch that the US military is preparing.

Mr. bin Laden ­ every day his culpability becomes more apparent ­ has described to me how he wishes to overthrow the pro-American regime of the Middle East, starting with Saudi Arabia and moving on to Egypt, Jordan and the other Gulf states. In an Arab world sunk in corruption and dictatorships ­ most of them supported by the West ­ the only act that might bring Muslims to strike at their own leaders would be a brutal, indiscriminate assault by the United States. Mr. bin Laden is unsophisticated in foreign affairs, but a close student of the art and horror of war. He knew how to fight the Russians who stayed on in Afghanistan, a Russian monster that revenged itself upon its ill-educated, courageous antagonists until, faced with war without end, the entire Soviet Union began to fall apart.

The Chechens learnt this lesson. And the man responsible for so much of the bloodbath in Chechnya ­ the career KGB man whose army is raping and murdering the insurgent Sunni Muslim population of Chechnya ­ is now being signed up by Mr. Bush for his "war against people''. Vladimir Putin must surely have a sense of humor to appreciate the cruel ironies that have now come to pass, though I doubt if he will let Mr. Bush know what happens when you start a war of retaliation; your army ­ like the Russian forces in Chechnya ­ becomes locked into battle with an enemy that appears ever more ruthless, ever more evil.

But the Americans need look no further than Ariel Sharon's futile war with the Palestinians to understand the folly of retaliation. In Lebanon, it was always the same. A Hizbollah guerrilla would kill an Israeli occupation soldier, and the Israelis would fire back in retaliation at a village in which a civilian would die. The Hizbollah would retaliate with a Katyusha missile attack over the Israeli border, and the Israelis would retaliate again with a bombardment of southern Lebanon. In the end, the Hizbollah ­ the "centre of world terror'' according to Mr. Sharon ­ drove the Israelis out of Lebanon.

In Israel/Palestine, it is the same story. An Israeli soldier shoots a Palestinian stone-thrower. The Palestinians retaliate by killing a settler. The Israelis then retaliate by sending a murder squad to kill a Palestinian gunman. The Palestinians retaliate by sending a suicide bomber into a pizzeria. The Israelis then retaliate by sending F-16s to bomb a Palestinian police station. Retaliation leads to retaliation and more retaliation. War without end.

And while Mr. Bush ­ and perhaps Mr. Blair ­ prepare their forces, they explain so meretriciously that this is a war for "democracy and liberty'', that it is about men who are "attacking civilization''. "America was targeted for attack,'' Mr. Bush informed us on Friday, "because we are the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.'' But this is not why America was attacked. If this was an Arab-Muslim apocalypse, then it is intimately associated with events in the Middle East and with America's stewardship of the area. Arabs, it might be added, would rather like some of that democracy and liberty and freedom that Mr. Bush has been telling them about. Instead, they get a president who wins 98 per cent in the elections (Washington's friend, Mr. Mubarak) or a Palestinian police force, trained by the CIA, that tortures and sometimes kills its people in prison. The Syrians would also like a little of that democracy. So would the Saudis. But their effete princes are all friends of America ­ in many cases, educated at US universities.

I will always remember how President Clinton announced that Saddam Hussein ­ another of our grotesque inventions ­ must be overthrown so that the people of Iraq could choose their own leaders. But if that happened, it would be the first time in Middle Eastern history that Arabs have been permitted to do so. No, it is "our'' democracy and "our'' liberty and freedom that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are talking about, our Western sanctuary that is under attack, not the vast place of terror and injustice that the Middle East has become.

Let me illustrate what I mean. Nineteen years ago today, the greatest act of terrorism ­ using Israel's own definition of that much misused word ­ in modern Middle Eastern history began. Does anyone remember the anniversary in the West? How many readers of this article will remember it? I will take a tiny risk and say that no other British newspaper ­ certainly no American newspaper ­ will today recall the fact that on 16 September 1982, Israel's Phalangist militia allies started their three-day orgy of rape and knifing and murder in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila that cost 1,800 lives. It followed an Israeli invasion of Lebanon ­ designed to drive the PLO out of the country and given the green light by the then US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig ­ which cost the lives of 17,500 Lebanese and Palestinians, almost all of them civilians. That's probably three times the death toll in the World Trade Centre. Yet I do not remember any vigils or memorial services or candle-lighting in America or the West for the innocent dead of Lebanon; I don't recall any stirring speeches about democracy or liberty. In fact, my memory is that the United States spent most of the bloody months of July and August 1982 calling for "restraint".

No, Israel is not to blame for what happened last week. The culprits were Arabs, not Israelis. But America's failure to act with honor in the Middle East, its promiscuous sale of missiles to those who use them against civilians, its blithe disregard for the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi children under sanctions of which Washington is the principal supporter ­ all these are intimately related to the society that produced the Arabs who plunged America into an apocalypse of fire last week.

America's name is literally stamped on to the missiles fired by Israel into Palestinian buildings in Gaza and the West Bank. Only four weeks ago, I identified one of them as an AGM 114-D air-to-ground rocket made by Boeing and Lockheed-Martin at their factory in ­ of all places ­ Florida, the state where some of the suiciders trained to fly.

It was fired from an Apache helicopter (made in America, of course) during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when hundreds of cluster bombs were dropped in civilian areas of Beirut by the Israelis in contravention of undertakings given to the United States. Most of the bombs had US Naval markings and America then suspended a shipment of fighter bombers to Israel ­ for less than two months.

The same type of missile ­ this time an AGM 114-C made in Georgia ­ was fired by the Israelis into the back of an ambulance near the Lebanese village of Mansori, killing two women and four children. I collected the pieces of the missile, including its computer coding plate, flew to Georgia and presented them to the manufacturers at the Boeing factory. And what did the developer of the missile say to me when I showed him photographs of the children his missile had killed? "Whatever you do," he told me, "don't quote me as saying anything critical of the policies of Israel."

I'm sure the father of those children, who was driving the ambulance, will have been appalled by last week's events, but I don't suppose, given the fate of his own wife ­ one of the women killed ­ that he was in a mood to send condolences to anyone. All these facts, of course, must be forgotten now.

Every effort will be made in the coming days to switch off the "why'' question and concentrate on the who, what and how. CNN and most of the world's media have already obeyed this essential new war rule. I've already seen what happens when this rule is broken. When The Independent published my article on the connection between Middle Eastern injustice and the New York holocaust, the BBC's 24-hour news channel produced an American commentator who remarked that "Robert Fisk has won the prize for bad taste''. When I raised the same point on an Irish radio talk show, the other guest, a Harvard lawyer, denounced me as a bigot, a liar, a "dangerous man'' and ­ of course ­ potentially anti-Semitic. The Irish pulled the plug on him.

No wonder we have to refer to the terrorists as "mindless''. For if we did not, we would have to explain what went on in those minds. But this attempt to censor the realities of the war that has already begun must not be permitted to continue. Look at the logic. Secretary of State Colin Powell was insisting on Friday that his message to the Taliban is simple: they have to take responsibility for sheltering Mr. bin Laden. "You cannot separate your activities from the activities of the perpetrators,'' he warned. But the Americans absolutely refuse to associate their own response to their predicament with their activities in the Middle East. We are supposed to hold our tongues, even when Ariel Sharon ­ a man whose name will always be associated with the massacre at Sabra and Shatila ­ announces that Israel also wishes to join the battle against "world terror''.

No wonder the Palestinians are fearful. In the past four days, 23 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza, an astonishing figure that would have been front-page news had America not been blitzed. If Israel signs up for the new conflict, then the Palestinians ­ by fighting the Israelis ­ will, by extension, become part of the "world terror'' against which Mr. Bush is supposedly going to war. Not for nothing did Mr. Sharon claim that Yasser Arafat had connections with Osama bin Laden.

I repeat: what happened in New York was a crime against humanity. And that means policemen, arrests, justice, a whole new international court at The Hague if necessary. Not cruise missiles and "precision'' bombs and Muslim lives lost in revenge for Western lives. But the trap has been sprung. Mr. Bush ­ perhaps we, too ­ are now walking into it.

 

PRAYERS & THOUGHTS: OPEN LETTER

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Yesterday, September 11, 2001, a day that began, where I live, under a bright sunny blue sky, similar to that same one that greeted people arriving for work in New York City and Washington D.C., was going to be the day that I finally after innumerable delays was to be about the business of posting Issue #125 of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER.

I was ready to report on the specious changing of the guard at Archer Daniels Midland; the allegations by a federal official of rape and intimidation of women workers at a DeCoster Farms of Iowa egg farm being among "the most horrendous and egregious" that he had ever seen; a sad farewell to two dedicated friends of the nation's farm workers --- former United Farm Worker organizer Rev. Jim Drake and Protestant theologian Robert McAfee Brown; an unclean ConAgra poultry processing plant being shut down, and a jury finding DuPont, makers of the fungicide Benlate liable for racketeering, negligence, fraud and a defective product.

But just as I still see in my mind's eye exactly where I was standing and who I was with when on those other days of infamy ---- December 7, 1941 and November 22, 1963 --- so to will I remember my disbelief when first I began making my check of the several online major daily newspapers that I peruse each day for relevant news items, and the first paper I examined left me stunned with the news of the unspeakable terror that had been visited upon the Big Apple and our nation's capital.

For the next 36 hours, just as I listened to the radio continuously for 24 hours in those dark days of December, 1941 and those four disbelieving days in November, 1963, I listened and watched the news on TV unfold from lower Manhattan and the Pentagon.

Watching speechless as those twin 110-story monuments to capitalism imploded and became the burial grounds for thousands of innocent men and women, I could not help but think of the time that I worked for the National Sharecroppers Fund, with offices in lower Manhattan and each morning about that same time, commuting from Central New Jersey, I would emerge from the "tubes" below the Trade Center and transfer to the subway line that would take me to my office.

And as I continued watching the news and listening to the commentary in the hours that followed that horrendous event I found myself, maybe even perhaps as an emotional defense mechanism, becoming more and more of the journalist than just an idle television viewer, impatient at times with the incompleteness of the news and the inane comments by many of the nation's so-called experts on international "terrorism" and military affairs.

The most frustrating aspect, however, of the reporting that I was witnessing during that time was due to the fact that I still think of myself as an ol' school journalist ---- principally I still believe any good news stories should contain the "5W's and H!!!!" --- who? What? When? Where? Why? And how?

Throughout the agonizing hours of the "attack on America" most every story and commentary that I saw fulfilled to varying degrees only four of the five W's . . . and, of course, by simply viewing the unbelievable pictures and film television provided us throughout the day and night the public ---- saw the how?

The fact though that for the most part TV made little effort to answer that all-important fifth W --- why? ---- called into serious question in my mind whether we as a nation were actually learning anything from the events of September 11, 2001????

For to truly understand what happened on that day it is essential that we deal with the question --- why? --- Why this carnage took place? For we need as a nation, as a self-proclaimed "global power," to ask what have we done to inspire such hatred, such anger, such contempt, to motivate fellow human beings to be so cold-blooded and unrepentant killers?

Make no mistake about it, the perpetrators of the World Trade Center and Pentagon carnage should stand condemned and brought to justice before the world, but at the same time the words of the Washington Post's outstanding sports columnist Thomas Boswell rings true. He writes:

"For many Americans, including me, our lives have been conducted in a society where nearly all forces are benign. Our tragedies, of health or accident, are the inescapable sort that no society can prevent. The rest of the world looks at our wealth, our distance from their problems, even our self-absorption, with a wide range of responses. One of those responses is hatred.

…Hate begets hate. Killing begets killing. And the totality of the accumulated pain makes rationality almost impossible. The agony that Americans feel right now is relatively small compared with the pain and fury for revenge that entire regions of the world drink by the gallon each day like mother's milk."

We decry, just as we did yesterday, when hate takes innocent lives. We voice our collective national puzzlement and condemnation when our fellow human beings in the world community say that to achieve their own narrow self-serving interests that taking the lives of innocent civilians is simply the end justifying the means.

But does by simply waving our K-Mart American flags and lighting candles in the window, as this out take of a May, 1996 interview with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, somehow give us the right to consider ourselves the Great Exception in international relations???

LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTES: "We have heard that a half million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima and you know, is the price worth it?"

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price we think the price is worth it."

Television reporters, political and national defense pundits, and newspaper headline writers have had a field day with the use of the word "terror" and "terrorism" to describe the events of yesterday, but as my respected colleague Sam Smith points out in his PROGRESSIVE REVIEW UNDERNEWS:

"The media and politicians call what happened terrorism. This is a propagandistic rather than a descriptive term and replaces the more useful traditional phrases, guerilla action or guerilla warfare. The former places a mythical shroud around the event while the latter depicts its true nature. Guerillas do not play by the rules of state organization or military tactics. This does not make them cowardly, as some have suggested, but can make them fiendishly clever. The essence of guerilla warfare is to attack at times and places unsuspected and return to places unknown. You cannot invade the land of guerillas, you cannot bomb them out of existence, you cannot overwhelm them with your technological wonders.

"This was a lesson we were supposed to have learned in Vietnam but appear to have forgotten. …Our war against 'terrorism' has been in many ways a domestic version of our Vietnam strategy. We keep making the same mistakes over and over because, until now, we could afford to. One of these has been to define the problem by its manifestations rather than its causes. This turns a resolvable political problem into a irresolvable technical problem, because while, for example, there are clearly solutions to the Middle East crisis, there are no solutions to the guerilla violence that grows from the failure to end it," Smith continues.

"In other words, if you define the problem as "a struggle against 'terrorism'" you have already admitted defeat because the guerilla will always have the upper hand against a centralized, technology-dependent society such as ours. …There is one way to deal with guerilla warfare and that is to resolve the problems that allow it to thrive. As we have shown in the Middle East, one need not even reach a final solution as long as incremental progress is being made. But once that ceases, as happened in the past year, the case for freelance violence is quickly strengthened and people simply forget that peace is possible."

If we as a justifiable angry nation now allow ourselves to not learn from history, realizing that violence only begets violence, then we are destined to continue to make the same mistakes that lead only to more violence.

The words of novelist Ken Kesey might well provide us with not only thoughtful commentary on what happened on an unforgettable late summer day in New York and Washington, D.C. that has left a whole nation and world in shock, sorrow, and prayer but his words might also give us some context and a sad but true perspective on the events of that tragic day.

"When God wants to really wake up a nation,
He has to use somebody that counts.
When God wants to get your attention,
He always has to use blood."

A.V. Krebs
Editor/Publisher
THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER

 

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