The Guardian

The Guardian September 19, 2001

Culture and Life

by Rob Gowland

Asking questions

"The betting here is on Middle East terrorists"  CBS News. "Whatever 
we are doing to destroy Mideast terrorism, the chief terrorist threat 
against Americans, has not been working"  The New York Times.

"It has every single earmark of the Islamic car-bombers of the Middle East" 
 Chicago Tribune. "The fact that it was such a powerful bomb in 
Oklahoma City immediately drew investigators to consider deadly parallels 
that all have roots in the Middle East"  American ABC network.

Hang on: Oklahoma? Yes. All these quotes were part of the media speculation 
immediately after the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on 
April 19, 1995. That the media and government speculation after the World 
Trade Centre/Pentagon attacks of September 11 has a dreadful similarity is 
not coincidental.

For the US government and the giant corporations it represents, the name of 
the game is nothing less than world domination. To this end, the US has 
perpetrated horrendous acts against country after country for the last half 
century or more.

As the US pacifist organisation, the War Resisters League, says in a 
statement issued on September 11: "The policies of militarism pursued by 
the United States have resulted in millions of deaths, from the historic 
tragedy of the Indochina war, through the funding of death squads in 
Central America and Colombia, to the sanctions and air strikes against 

"This nation is the largest supplier of 'conventional weapons' in the world 
 and those weapons fuel the starkest kind of terrorism from Indonesia to 

Jason Pramas, a labour organiser for the Service Employees International 
Union, which had many members working in the Twin Towers of the World Trade 
Centre, was moved to e-mail his thoughts on the catastrophic act to a wide 
range of political contacts. Certainly, he wrote, the perpetrators must be 
brought to justice for their heinous crimes.

But, he continued, the government of the United States of America and the 
multinational corporations that drive that government's foreign policy 
"must ultimately share the blame for creating a geo-political situation 
that could produce people desperate enough to commit such grand acts of 

The actions of US capitalism around the world have made the US the most 
hated nation on Earth. Former US President Jimmy Carter was quoted in the 
"New York Times" as long ago as 1989 saying, "We have only to go to 
Lebanon, to Syria, to Jordan, to witness first hand the intense hatred 
among many people for the United States, because we bombed and shelled and 
unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers, women and children and 
farmers and housewives, in those villages around Beirut ... as a result, we 
have become a kind of Satan in the minds of those who are deeply 

Is it any wonder that anger, frustration and despair, fuelled by the 
continuing gross injustices perpetrated by the US or its clients like 
Israel, might erupt in hideous acts of desperation?

Although understandable, such acts, however, tend to play into the hands of 
the very oppressors one is trying to defeat.

The US Government is keen to pin the latest and most horrific outrage on 
"Saudi dissident" and obscurantist fanatic, Osama bin Laden. But not long 
ago, bin Laden was a favoured ally of the US, provided with arms and 

Former US Army Special Forces sergeant Ali Mohammad is one of those who 
used his special knowledge to train bin Laden's "soldiers". The US Army's 
Special Forces are the US Government's overt means of waging state 

According to Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor of April 20, 
2001, Mohammad told investigators involved in the trial of one of bin 
Laden's associates that "he taught bin Ladin's operatives about weapons, 
explosives, kidnapping, urban fighting and counter-intelligence in 
Afghanistan, as well as teaching trainees how to set up activist cells that 
are almost impossible for intelligence services to penetrate".

If bin Laden does turn out to be behind this latest terrorist massacre, 
then the chickens will certainly have come home to roost.

But is bin Laden behind it? Frankly, it is too early to tell as I write 
this. But if we ask the question "who benefits from the terrorist attacks 
on New York and Washington", the answer can only be  global reaction and 
especially US imperialism.

George Bush, who had to steal the election to become President, is now the 
defender of freedom and the sanctity of human life. His father demonised 
Saddam Hussein and put together an alliance to wage the dreadful Gulf War.

Bush Jr is now busy demonising global terrorism and forging a coalition to 
wage war against terrorists "and the states that harbour them", a blanket 
prescription for military intervention anywhere that people attempt to 
fight back against powerful state forces.

It would, for example, permit the US (and its allies like Britain and 
Australia) to invade and occupy Afghanistan, a strategically located 
country handy to Iran, China and Russia as well as the coveted oil fields 
of Central Asia.

It would provide a pretext for invading Cuba and intervening in numerous 
other places. It has even greater potential than the bogus "war on drugs".

With so much to gain, and confident of their own power, I would not be at 
all surprised to learn that US agents had encouraged bin Laden or some 
other terrorist leader to carry out some act of unprecedented terrorism 
against the US. It wouldn't be the first time "agents provocateurs" had 
been used by imperialism.

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