Stupidity: The Just War
by Michael I. Niman
ArtVoice, Buffalo NY – October 25th, 2001
OK. So now we’re tossing around the term, “Just War.” WW II was a just war. Hitler had to be stopped. And if he wasn’t, in all likelihood, I wouldn’t be here. And bin Laden is no better than Hitler. No argument here.
After decades of lame propaganda with the US government and corporate
mass media routinely likening all of our official bogeymen to Hitler, we’ve
finally got a ringer in bin Laden. His
“apocalyptic terrorism,” as The Nation’s Richard Falk describes it,
knows no boundaries. It targets
Americans, Jews and the West in general. His
aim is not world domination, but global cataclysm: A final war between Islam and
the West. The apocalypse.
He is a haunting shadow emerging from Western civilization’s unsavory past. His war picks up where Islam and Christianity left off on September 11th, 1683, when the unstoppable armies of Islam were defeated by Polish forces at the gates of Vienna. His holy war is over a thousand years old. His Christian crusaders have been replaced with secular globalists, but he fights on, carrying the bloodiest war in history into a new millennium. There will be no peace. There will be no negotiated settlement. The sky will “rain airplanes.” The threat is real and immediate.
Bin Laden doesn’t represent Islam any more than Hitler represented Western civilization. His perversion of Islam is as big of a threat to Muslims as it is to the rest of the world. The attack on the World Trade Center killed more Muslim civilians than any Israeli bombing raid in the last 30 years.
Bin Laden must be stopped. This is a just struggle. We may differ on tactics, but we’re all in this war together.
That all said and done, don’t be blinded by the cheers of the warmongers. They’re latecomers to the war on terrorism. This battle was begun by the American Peace movement in the mid-1980s when they decried the Reagan administration’s military aid to the Mujahideen. It was built upon the foundations of earlier struggles against the Contra War, the covert War against Cuba, the less covert war against Guatemala, and so on.
It was a smart war built on what
seemed like a simple premise: Don’t give modern weapons to medieval
psychopaths. Don’t let them take
over a country, build training bases, and spread their ideology of hatred to
angry disenfranchised uneducated young men.
Think long term, not short term. Yes,
we rid Afghanistan of Soviets, but now we’re inviting the former Soviets back
in to help us rid Afghanistan of the former Mujahideen.
Damn, we must seem stupid.
Now that we’re neck deep in shit
we need to start thinking straight – and working together. We need to win this
war. By this, I mean we need to
dismember our Frankenstein, al Qaida. We
need to defend ourselves and we need to diminish the very real physical threat
against us. We need to strike against the people who would kill us and disable
their ability to wreak havoc.
To win, however, we need first to
realize our weapons are obsolete. Throwing
more money at a military machine designed to fight against a superpower
nation-state won’t cut it against al Qaida.
Missile defense systems, still in the science fiction stage, are already
obsolete. They won’t protect us
from pathogens delivered by the mailman. They
won’t save us from a nuclear bomb in a terrorist’s minivan.
Our missile defense investment just served to anger friendly nations
while starving our education, health and social service budgets of badly needed
Our nuclear bombs are also
useless. They are only weapons in
the hands of terrorists. That’s
all they ever were: tools to wipe out a population center and poison the earth.
Their very existence engenders terror. They were designed for the
Strangelovian 1950s doctrine of mutually assured destruction.
They’re useless to us now as we
search for terrorists hiding in over 60 countries. But our cold war race to build more of them has left the
crumbling countries of the former Soviet Union littered with warehouses full of
warheads, just waiting to be sold to, or stolen by, maniacal terrorists.
Our weak stance on nonproliferation and our opposition to strong test
bans has allowed this evil technology to spread.
Way to go.
We’re still caught up in the
same outmoded way of thinking. Weapons
systems were hardly ever funded with our defense in mind.
They were funded as political pork for corporate campaign contributors.
And we’re still at it. As
we struggle to catch cave dwellers with box cutters, we’re funding Lockheed
Martin F-22 fighter jets at a cost of over $200-million per plane. They were
originally designed to fight against the next generation of Soviet warplanes.
But they never came.
At the same time, according to the
Federal government’s General Accounting Office, security gate personnel at 19
of our busiest airports were hired at $6 per hour or less.
These underpaid and undertrained workers often toiled at two jobs to make
ends meet, arriving exhausted to both workplaces.
The airline industry lobbied for years to keep this formally
“cost-effective” system from being taken over by the Federal Aviation
Administration. The same industry now finds itself the beneficiary of one of
the largest acts of corporate welfare in history, while laid-off airline workers
are told to fend for themselves.
As we scour the globe for
terrorists we need to pay heed to Marshall McLuhan’s adage that World War
Three would be an information war. If
we’re to win the hearts and minds of the world’s citizens and convince them
to rout out terrorists in their midst, we don’t need smart bombs, we need
smart public relations (PR). But
despite corporate America’s global media hegemony, we’re losing on this
front. There’s just something about the world’s most powerful
nation launching all of its military might against the world’s most pathetic
nation that works against us. Again,
our bombs are useless. There are no
targets in Afghanistan.
Former UB professor Charlie Keil,
in a recent article (available at
http://mediastudy.com/ckeil.html), suggests that the best long range plan
for a safe world is to eliminate the conditions that breed terrorists.
To this end he calls on the industrial nations of the world to fund a
sort of Marshall Plan, “waging peace” to eliminate hunger, homelessness,
acid rain and illiteracy while providing clean water, health care, debt
management, child care, AIDS prevention and refugee relief to all the people of
the world. Add to that, reversing
deforestation, ozone depletion and global warming, building democratic
institutions, and stabilizing the world’s population.
He cites the World Game Institute as quoting an annual price tag of $229
billion. By comparison, the US
alone will spend $375 billion on defense this year.
At home we’re awash in
patriotism. But it’s all useless
jingoism unless it produces the sacrifices we need to win this war.
We need “smart patriotism.” Slapping
a flag decal on a gas-guzzling SUV just doesn’t cut it.
We need to focus as one united
nation to win this war. In Washington they call it “bipartisanship.”
But I don’t see any of it. George
Bush, in his new role as master orator, recently called for us to unite together
and show the world what Americans are all about.
He sang the praises of a multicultural country where people of many
faiths have come to live together in peace.
No one will divide us. It’s
the Kind of stuff that makes us proud to be Americans.
I was almost ready to go out to
Kmart myself and get one of those little Chinese American flags when he added
that, in order to win the war on terrorism, congress needs to (roll over and
play dead and) give him what amounts to “fast track” authority to negotiate
new trade bills without congressional approval.
He went on explain how the war on terrorism also mandated a new oil
policy (no doubt calling for drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife refuge and
the Gulf of Mexico) and, get this, corporate tax breaks!
This is all the stuff that former
Alcoa CEO, now Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neil had on his wish list.
In August he was dismissed as a wacko.
Suddenly his agenda is central to our war on terrorism.
This is opportunism at its worse. And
it undermines the real war on terrorism – A war that requires us to abandon
opportunism and pull together for the common good, be smart, and work for a safe
Let’s get our shit together.
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