There are obviously very superficial ways of looking at the
events also. Cultural/civilisational fault lines or religious
fundamentalism versus secular polity apart from war of democracy
against terror that was mentioned earlier. The West,
particularly the USA, has had no problems in living with or even
abetting the forces of religious fundamentalism in the past. In
the Islamic world, the most extreme fundamentalist state (apart
from now- defunct Taliban, which the US indirectly helped
create) is Saudi Arabia, which is a US client state since its
Islamist extremists, were US favourites in the 1980s, because
they were the best killers who could be found". And in
those years, a prime enemy of the USA was Catholic Church, which
was on the wrong side of US because of its 'preferential option
for the poor'. The criterion was subordination and service to
power and not religion. So much for the fight against religions
fundamentalism or the cultural clash.
The USA is
billing it as a 'war against terrorism'. Very well! Everyone
condemns terrorism. But what is terrorism? In its propagandistic
usage by Western powers, 'terrorism' is used to refer to
'terrorist acts committed by enemies against us or our allies'.
So during apartheid times, African National Congress was a
'terrorist organisation' but South Africa was not a 'terrorist
country, Nicaragua, was subjected to violent assault by the USA
in the 1980s. The country was substantially destroyed and tens
of thousands of people died. Nicaragua didn't respond by setting
off bombs in Washington, it couldn't.
They went to
the world court, which ruled in their favour. Chomsky reminds us
that the US is the only country that was condemned for
"unlawful use of force" (international terrorism) by
the world court in 1986 and then vetoed a Security Council
resolution calling on all states (meaning the US) to adhere to
international law. But there is a huge difference between
'terrorism of others directed against us' and 'terrorism by us'.
The book is
based on a set of interviews conducted with Noam Chomsky by a
variety of interviewers during September-October after the
attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Centre and the
Pentagon. Chomsky was much in demand then, providing a
much-needed historical-global perspective to the events and
daringly highlighting the facts that were being glossed over and
even deliberately hidden by powers that be.
Chomsky states (and he states loads of them) about the
complicity of Western powers in terrorism the world over both
directly and indirectly would be generally known to anybody who
cares to know them. Only, these haven't become part of common
sense history in western countries because of 'manufactured
consents' and 'manufactured common sense'.
Who in this
region doesn't know of America's propping up of Afghan mercenary
resistance against Russia? The USA, along with its allies,
assembled a huge mercenary army, may be one lakh strong and
recruited people like bin Laden to fight the Soviet Union, which
they caused in the first place to come to the aid of Afghanistan
government. President Carter's National Security Advisor
Zbiegniew Brzezinski claims that in mid 1979 he had instigated
secret support for Mujahidin fighting against the government of
Afghanistan in an effort to draw the Soviet Union into what he
called an "Afghan Trap". He is very proud that they
did fall into this trap.
accomplished in 1989 with the pullout of Soviet troops, the
mercenaries turned their attention elsewhere—Chechnya, Bosnia
and Kashmir. They also gunned for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the
US, which bin Laden regarded as having invaded Saudi Arabia.
uncomfortable facts and facts like these are sought to be
suppressed. Do you hear any more of destruction of the Al-Shifa
pharmaceutical plant in Sudan (by American missiles) in 1998. It
produced 90 per cent of Sudan's major pharmaceutical products
including life-saving drugs? Chomsky compares the consequences
of its destruction with recent bombings (and receives brickbats
and hate mail for this) through he says, former involved mainly
silent deaths, but deaths nonetheless….
What was the
reaction of the Western powers, to the destruction of the plant?
"Oh, well too bad, minor mistake, let's go to the next
topic." No doubt, when bin Laden brings up that bombing,
'he strikes a resonant chord, even among these who despise and
People like bin
Laden and their associates have over the years caused great harm
to the poor and oppressed people of the region. Terrorist groups
don't care about the people but they draw support from a
reservoir of anger, fear and desperation in the people.
Probably, that is why terrorists pray for violent US reaction
against the events which may have its own chain reaction.
are a gift to the hard jingoist right. They are a gift to the
harshest and most repressive elements on all sides. They are
already being used for accelerating the agenda of
militarisation, regimentation and reversal of social democratic
programs and for transfer of wealth to narrow sectors.
If only people, particularly in
Western countries, choose to be aware of the underlying facts
and deeper causes of the happenings like 9-11, they will have
much greater leverage and restraining effects on the course of
events. The event of 9-11 should implore American people to
change not the way they look at Afghanistan or Islam but the way
they look at themselves!