- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
by SHELLEY WALIA
The book reinforces Zinn's reputation as one of the most
perceptive figures of our times.
Terrorism and War, Howard Zinn, Seven Stories Press, p.159,
WRITING about World War I, the famous journalist John Reed
wrote in 1917: "War means an ugly mob madness, crucifying
the truth tellers, choking the artists, sidetracking
reforms, revolutions and the working of social forces.
Already in America those citizens who oppose the entrance of
their country into the European melee are called `traitors'
and those who protest against the curtailing of the meagre
rights of free speech are spoken of as `dangerous lunatics'."
Not really free
As Howard Zinn argues in his post 9/11 book, Terrorism and
War, free speech is meant only for trivial matters of
society and "not for life-and-death issues". The Alien and
Sedition Act of 1789 was passed to deport aliens without
trial and jail anyone who opposed the government policy.
This was followed later in the 20th century by the Espionage
Act and the Sedition Act under which the famous Palmer Raids
were carried out after a terrorist attack on Attorney
General A. Mitchell Palmer. Hundreds of immigrants were
manacled to one another in Boston and marched down the
street, whereas as many were deported including the famous
activists Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman.
This history of oppression gives out only one message: It is
fashionable to go along with authority. After the attack on
the Twin Towers, the Bush government has the power to
authorise new military tribunals for suspected terrorists,
an Orwellian practice where military courts are now given
the power to try civilians, a practice that is nothing but
the rule of military dictatorship. And all this takes place
in the name of democracy.
There is undoubtedly a history of deception and lies behind
all significant international events in which the U.S.
deemed it necessary to intervene. Drumming up fear of the
existence of WMD in Iraq or fabricating the Gulf of Tonkin
affair in which the supposed attack on the destroyers Maddox
and Turner Jay was officially declared as an assault on the
"routine mission" of the navy whereas in truth they were
engaged in a spy operation against North Vietnam. The lie
leads to public approval of the Vietnam War and the
declaration of the Tonkin Resolution which gave Johnson a
free hand in South East Asia. This step was taken in spite
of the full knowledge that the President had of the incident
Zinn further argues that it was a known fact that Johnson
would have had no qualms at escalating the war in Vietnam
only if it was to have a positive effect on his political
future. Kennedy, and like him, George Bush, calculated the
effect of continuing war on their outcome of the
Presidential elections. And all the time the public
continues to believe in the legitimacy of war. As Zinn
argues, 'The one thing that enables the authorities to
deceive the public is to keep the public in a state of
amnesia, to keep the public from thinking back to the
history of war, the history of violence, the history of
government deception, the history of media complicity and
The public has to recognize that the spending of $300
billion dollars on military affairs every year has
absolutely no effect on the solution to terrorism or war. If
Washington needs security "we will have to change our
posture in the world -- to stop being an intervening
military power and to stop dominating the economies of other
countries". We see a rise in terrorist activities around the
world simultaneously with the increase in State terrorism in
Southeast Asia, Iraq, Yugoslavia. The response to terrorism,
therefore, cannot be through terrorising people, stationing
thousands of troops in Saudi Arabia, or by supplying weapons
to Israel and devastating countries through sanctions.
Indeed, the U.S. foreign policy is the villain at whose
hands thousands are provoked into taking up arms.
A social problem
Zinn draws attention to countries like Sweden, Denmark,
Holland and New Zealand which are, unlike the U.S., not
worried about terrorism. They do not have military bases
around the globe. Nor do they have a record of military
intervention. Zinn suggests that the billions spent on arms
should be instead diverted towards health programmes and
medical care in the underdeveloped countries to promote
goodwill and security. He quotes Eqbal Ahmad, who regards
terrorism as a social problem and argues: "You do not solve
social problems by individual acts of violence. Social
problems require social and political mobilization".
Militarisation of the country and suppression of civil
liberties to fight communism in the past and terrorism now
is not the solution. Then and now, the strategy has always
been to create hysteria. In fact, communism was the "enemy"
against which wars were fought in Chile or Guatemala, but in
reality, there was no sign of communism there. The media
creates the environment so that people begin to back the
President whenever he goes to war. But you cannot fool all
the people all the time. The Civil Rights Movement became a
national movement once the people woke up to the suffering
of the Blacks in the South, and when the people realised the
genocide in Vietnam, the "great national anti-war movement"
began. The days are not far when people in the U.S. will
veer towards the socialism practised by Eugene Debs, Helen
Keller and Jack London.
The collection of interviews with Anthony Arnove brings
together Howard Zinn's views on a wide range of topics --
among them the need for dissent, the logic of war and vast
suffering caused to the civilians through military violence.
The book reinforces his reputation as one of the most
perceptive and engaging figures of our times, who has been
leading a vigorous resistance against the American empire
since the Vietnam War.
Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in
any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in
itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or
tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never
entered into any war, or act of hostility against any
Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no
pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce
an interruption of the harmony existing between the two
-- The Treaty of Tripoli, entered into by the USA under