War and Rumors of War

As the united states government gears up to escalate the ongoing war they and the british rulers are waging against the people who live in iraq, the slaughter in afghanistan, which the military hypocritically calls Operation Enduring Freedom, continues apace. While the military authorities deny the true extent of their killing of non-combatants, aided in this endeavor by the compliant american news media, some particularly egregious examples of their murderous actions occasionally manage to show up in the US press. When the american military is caught engaging in the slaughter of civilians, however, such actions are routinely described in the newspapers as errors, accidents where a “bomb goes astray,” even though military officials say they were attacking a “legitimate” target. When bombers attacked a wedding party in the town of Kakarak in July, killing 44 of those attending the celebration, a military spokesperson insisted that american forces had been attacked with anti-aircraft fire from the area, even though no traces of such weaponry could be found. Of course, when peaceful afghans are killed in explosions caused by the equally loathsome forces opposed to the allied invasion, such murders are considered the work of “terrorists.” Quite a double standard.

The government has used the war and the attacks in this country last September as a pretext to further limit the already restricted freedoms of residents of the united states. Federal authorities investigating the September murders arrested around 1200 people and continue to detain at least 147, refusing to even release their names. In June, 131 captives, none of whom were implicated in any terrorist activities, were secretly deported to pakistan after being held for months at INS detention centers. When a judge earlier this month ordered the “justice” department to hand over the names of 751 people detained on immigration charges and another 129 held on criminal charges since September 11, the feds opposed this decision, arguing it would endanger the country. The US has also encouraged other governments to deny their subjects due legal process, as in June, when sudan arrested and deported a “suspect” so that american agents could interrogate him in a third country.Besides committing both random and well-planned acts of murder against regular people in afghanistan, the US government and military routinely detain people using the “war on terror” as a pretext. In May, american forces raided an afghan village and captured 55 people, holding them for at least a week, and punishing them if they talked to each other while imprisoned. The united states-sponsored thugs who make up the current afghan government have incarcerated thousands and keep their prisoners in horrid conditions where many suffer from malnutrition. Prisoners held at Guantanamo by the american military, are kept in cages, hog-tied when they don’t obey their captors, and denied legal counsel. A number of these prisoners apparently were non-combatant charity workers from kuwait, but their attempts to use the american legal system to secure their release have been in vain. The federal government has given its stamp of approval to conditions at Guantanamo by maintaining its courts have no jurisdiction over these prisoners held outside the US, and has thereby given the military permission to treat these captives in whatever way they see fit.

Increases in government surveillance and power have not been limited to the investigation and pursuit of people who have been implicated somehow in violent actions. Visitors to Ellis Island are now subjected to facial recognition camera systems; people from certain countries will be fingerprinted and required to tell the feds about their movements and activities when in the united states; the FBI has been authorized to monitor opposition rallies, internet chat rooms, and church services; one can be arrested for making a joke about bombs at an airport; and FBI agents are checking people’s reading records at public libraries. Some politicians feel even these invasions of our liberties are not enough, like the senator who wants to repeal the posse comitatus act to enable soldiers to arrest american civilians. These authoritarian measures have set a precedent for other governments around the world, who have eagerly used the threat of terrorism to further whittle away at the liberties of their subjects, while avoiding criticism from the supposedly more freedom-loving states of america and europe. The threat of terrorism is also being used to justify international power politics and intimidation, as seen when russia attempts to use the current situation to its advantage by labeling its neighbor georgia, with whom it has some disputes, a nest of terror second only to afghanistan. The lesson the governments of the world are learning—or seeing reinforced—by the US is that one can justify any behavior, no matter how odious, by declaring that it furthers the war against terror.

It is clear that the united states is going to take advantage of the current atmosphere to launch a full-scale attack on and/or invasion of iraq at some point in the future. Justifying this escalation of the ongoing war of terror already being waged on iraqis by claiming that the rulers of that country are developing weapons of mass destruction is the height of hypocrisy. The united states itself already possesses enormous stockpiles of such weapons and has shown itself more than willing to use them, but wishes to deny others the opportunity to have them as well. It has even criticized its sometime ally russia for selling nuclear technology to iran, another country the american politicians have demonized for its refusal to follow their orders. Besides turning up the pressure on its enemies du jour, the US is also attempting to greatly increase the power of its naval forces, which can already board any sea-going vessels in international waters whenever they please, harassing their passengers with impunity, by seeking permission from a number of other countries to police their national waters, as well.

As could be expected, this war-making has increased the budget and size of government, especially the military, and has profited corporations that supply government agencies. The senate has authorized $29,000,000,000 for the aptly named “terror fight” and approved a $355,400,000,000 defense budget, $34,400,000,000 higher than that for last year. The house of representatives has approved even more war money, $383,000,000,000 for 2003. Weapons manufacturers have increased production, in at least one case to the highest level in 15 years, and the coast guard recently awarded a $17,000,000,000 contract to two military suppliers.

While most of the foreign governments the united states dislikes and many of the prisoners it holds are brutish and murderous, this can also be said of many of the governments and politicians with whom it has chosen to align itself. However bad the actions of these “enemy” institutions and people, however, killing peaceable residents of other countries and abusing prisoners can never be justified. The united states has claimed the moral high ground in its military and political actions after the September 11 murders, but has shown itself to be as terroristic and brutal as any of those it is waging its current war against. Ultimately, it is always regular working people, just trying to go about the business of living, whether they live in New York, Kabul, or Baghdad, who end up the victims of terrorist groups, including those that constitute themselves as governments.

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