September 11 2001The US under terrorist attack Clement Leibovitz
Among the many questions raised by the events of September 11, I intend to choose just a few.
The passengers of the hijacked planes were innocent victims. So were the thousands who died when the twin World Center Buildings crumbled over those who did not have the time to leave the building, or were trapped in it or had just come in to help and save as many persons as they could. Those who died in the Pentagon represent a different category. Whether they were or not legitimate targets, the fact is that they could not be killed without killing the innocent passengers in the hijacked plane who hit the Pentagon.
There can be no justification for an act, whether it was intended to be a powerful political statement, whether it was intended to be a warning, whether it was intend to be an act of revenge or just an act of despair, there is no justification to involve innocents, so many of them, and cause their death. My heart goes out to the families of the victims.
I therefore condemn the terrorist acts that on September 11 killed so many innocent victims.
Having condemned the terrorist acts, do I have to condemn the terrorists themselves?
Just now, it is not known who are those terrorists, to what organizations they belong, what are their main motivations. However, we know about them the following:
1) They strongly believe in their cause.
2) Their cause is related to their perception of unjust terrible sufferings inflicted to their people.
3) They are very idealistic, and ready to sacrifice their life for what they consider to be the good of their people.
4) In a certain sense, a very irrational sad but real sense, they are the cream of the cream of society.
They belong to the kind of persons who would, for the good of the people, accept to be injected with a fatal illness, so that vaccines of non-proved effectiveness could be tested on them.
They are not the egotistic kind. They are altruistic to the highest degree.
The question to be considered is how people so altruistic, can become involved in criminal acts, which harms and kills so many innocents.
Possibly they consider themselves at war with the US. But even war has its rules, and warriors are supposed to respect the Geneva conventions as not to harm civilians.
However, the US and its allies have often disregarded those rules. The bombing of Dresden in February 1945 was a barbaric act committed by the British. Dresden had no industrial and military value. More than 100.000 German non-military people were killed during the raid. It was in flagrant disregard of Geneva conventions. But then, it was the British, and the British are not terrorists!
Then the indiscriminate bombings in Vietnam and the use of Agent Orange were barbaric, in total disregard of the Geneva Conventions. But then the United States is not terrorist! Bombing Belgrade and destructing the bridges and the civil superstructures were conflicting with the Geneva Conventions. But NATO countries are not terrorists! Bombing Iraq, completely destroying the water plants, the Electric stations etc. is against the Genva conventions. But then the anti-Irak coalition are not terrorists!
So, why should the authors of the criminal acts against the US on September 11, consider themselves more terrorist than, say, the US?
IF THEY ARE IRAKIS, they may be obsessed with the Iraki 500.000 children who died as a result of the economic blockade imposed by NATO on their country
IF THEY ARE GUATEMALANS, they may be obsessed by the US criminal intervention who resulted in a coup putting down the honest and dedicated popular leader Arbenz and his replacement with puppets of the US. As a result, thousands of Guatemalans were murdered; the road to economic and democratic progress was closed and replaced by a road to regression and oppression.
IF THEY ARE PANAMANIANS, they may be obsessed by the US invasion of their country, which caused thousands of innocent victims.
IF THEY ARE INDONESIANS, they may be obsessed by the coup directed by the CIA which replaced Sukarno by Suharto and which was followed by a bloodbath estimated to about 1 million victims, most of them having been on a list provided by the CIA to Suharto, and which included all the activists in the trade-unions, and the members of left-wing parties.
IF THEY ARE KURDS, they may be obsessed by the fact that for so many decades the Kurdish people is prevented from exerting its rights for self-determination. The US, for strategic reasons, stood behind Turkey and Irak when they implemented policies of repression against the Kurds. Recently, when the Kurds revolted in Irak, the US helped Saddam Hussein to regain control. They allowed him to send his helicopters in the restricted forbidden zone so as to defeat the Kurdish revolt.
Yes the US would like to get rid of Saddam, but not through a popular revolt which could lead to democracy, but through a palace coup replacing one tyrant by another more willing to comply with the US will.
IF THEY ARE CHILEANS They may remember that their country suffered an horrible regime which caused the death of tens of thousands of their best sons, a regime inflicted on them by the CIA because the US did not like Allende, the democratically president elected in free elections.
IF THEY ARE YUGOSLAVS they may remember that their country was once unified, and all nationalities and ethnicities living side by side in friendly relations. They may remember that as soon as some nationalistic leaders proclaimed the independence of some Yugoslavian territory, the western countries recognize their independence and provided them with arms.
They may remember that BELGRADE was bombed. They may have lost loved ones. They may have some ground to think that, were it not for the foreign intervention in their internal affairs, Yugoslavia could still be a united country giving the example of diversity of ethnicities living in the best of relations.
IF THEY ARE VIETNAMESE, they may remember the horrible unjust and undeclared war inflicted by the US on their people who had just won independence by defeating the French armies. They may remember the lies used by the US to justify their intervention (see Pentagon Papers); they may remember the use of AGENT ORANGE that caused a terrible harm to the Vietnamese vegetation and to the health of millions. They may remember that this unjust war, killed millions of Vietnamese.
IF THEY ARE CAMBODIANS, they can remember the secret war launched on them by the US.
IF THEY ARE LAOTIANS, they can also remember such a secret war.
IF THEY ARE CONGOLESE, they can remember that their road to progress was closed when the US decided that the Congolese leader Lumumba, had to be assassinated
IF THEY ARE ANGOLESE they will remember how the US caused and sustained a civil war against their government
IF THEY ARE US CITIZENS they may remember for how long the blacks were, and still are, discriminated against. The same is true for South Americans and Latin Americans. They may remember that the US government, through its CIA, was the biggest drug dealer and has a great responsibility in the extent of drug addiction in the US. They may remember that in a country so rich, there are so many hungry children and so many shelterless people.
IF THEY ARE PALESTINIANS, they may remember that Israel is the only country who is not punished when, for so many years, they refuse to implement the UN decisions which are based on the GENEVA CONVENTIONS and which would obligate Israel to evacuate all the territories beyond the 1967 boundaries, and would obligate Israel to accept the return of the Palestinian refugees, and would obligate Israel to dismantle all the Jewish settlements beyond the 1967 boundaries.
Israel can ignore the UN decision because the US support Israel and foils any attempts at imposing any sanction against Israel. As a result Palestinian refugees are living in refugee camps for a few generations.
As a result Israel can implement a policy of barbaric repression in territories they occupy illegally. As a result Israel can subdivide those territories into isolated island with no communication between an island and another without Israeli control. This control is exerted in a way that increases the economic strangling of the Palestinians, increases their humiliation and makes it impossible for the children to get medical assistance and proper education. Besides the Israeli army bombs and destroys buildings, targets Palestinians for assassination and kills children if they dare throwing a stone as an act of resistance against occupation.
There are French people who could be raging against the US if they remember that, in order to influence the French elections in the early years after the war, the secret US services (OSS) paid the French Mafia to assassinate French labour leaders in Marseille. They can remember how, with the temptation of lots of money, the US succeeded in operating a split in the trade union federation, the CGT.
Italians who remember how the Americans freed the mafia form Italian jails to use them in a war against the Italian resistance against the fascists, who remember the continual US intervention with enormous amount of money to help the Christian Democratic party win the elections, do certainly have some beef against the US.
There are all kind of people who risked their life, and who mourn the life of comrades, in the resistance against the Gestapo and against Nazism in general, and who are enraged by the fact that the US gave refuge to high-level Nazis. Some of them became US citizens, some of them, known war criminals, were helped to get refuge in South America. Those frustrated people who combated Nazism, do have a beef against the US.
If they are Japanese they can remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is no other weapon that as the atomic bomb kills indiscriminately. It is the ultimate barbaric weapon conflicting totally with the Geneva conventions.
If they are Chinese, they can remember how long the US supported the corrupt regime of Chiang Kai-shek.
Finally, there are people in the US and around the world who know how big is the US responsibility in the degradation of the quality of life in the third world, how great is the role of the US in the pitiless exploitation of the poor people, how great is the role of the US in the continual pollution of the planet.
There are also Cubans who remember how backward was their country under the dictator Batista, how strongly was Batista supported by the US, what enormous progress has been realized in Cuba under the Castro revolution. They remember the Bay of Pigs; they remember the blockade imposed on their country. They surely have quite a beef.
Who committed the terrorist acts against the US on September 11? We do not know.
I am against the acts of terrorism. I cannot always condemn those who commit them.
A peaceful man cornered by brigands, fearful for his life, can become vicious. When violence is resorted to, we must remember that the primary violence is that of occupation, that of preventing a people to rule itself. The violence that is a reaction against it is a secondary kind of violence that is bred and caused by the primary.
Were the Israeli to evacuate the "territories" and dismantle the Jewish settlements that are beyond the 1967 boundaries, most of the violence in Palestine and Israel would cease.
I am against terrorism. But I know that injustice, exploitation and discrimination breeds violence, whether justifiably so or not. Therefore when it comes to struggle against "terrorism" we must all remember that, however much we dislike it, we should dislike still more the conditions which breed it.
I wish the initiators and planners of terrorist acts, would realize that their action they can justify their actions to themselves, those actions are counter-productive.
I do not know who committed the 11 September "attack on the US". I do condemn the acts and those who committed it. But already Sharon is reaping some fruits. He can pretend to identify the actions against US and those against Israel. To those who would justify the US reaction against the attack, Sharon will have less difficulty to justify his actions against the Palestinians.
My sincere condolences to all the victims of terrorism, including of course the victims of the Israeli terrorism over the occupied territories. My particular condolences to the families of the victims of September 11
Clement Leibovitz #56, 3221 - 119 street Edmonton, Alberta Canada T6J 5K7
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