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True Lies

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo The Hindu Date:05/06/2005
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2005
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      The Hindu
      Literary Review
      True lies
      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
      being "fake".

      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.

      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord We├┐rdgliffe & 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
      George Washington
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