Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Myth of Global Terrorism

Republican presidential hopeful Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado would like you to believe that someone is already in this country, just waiting for his chance to blow you up, and that only he can save you.

Really. The Mexican border is just letting terrorists in by the bushel. Really.


Interesting how it's never the Canadian border that is discussed in scary tv spots, always the Mexican. Of course, Tancredo's Mexican border paranoia isn't new. He's been obsessed with the issue since before 9/11. The contemporary fear of terrorism and terrorists just allows him to make his pet issue a national security matter.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says he's best equipped, of all the Republican hopefuls, to win the Global War On Terror and keep you safe. He cites how safe he made you feel on 9/11 and how he 'cleaned up' New York. He promises to continue and improve the Bush administration's police state tactics and assault on human rights in the name of keeping you safe. Police state tactics are nothing new to Giuliani. He used them rigorously in his campaign to 'clean up' New York. There was no terror threat then.

Both Tancredo and Giuliani are using the current obsession with terrorism, in its sixth-going-on-seventh year now, to advance issues which have always been their own obsession. Terrorism allows them to make their issues relevant to you in your mind, whether they really are or not.

They aren't the only ones. Neoconservatives in the Republican Party (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Armitage, and Paul Wolfowitz all come to mind immediately) have advanced a unilateralist-interventionist global policy for years. By imposing American capitalist values on the rest of the world, by force if necessary, they would maintain America's alleged economic dominance and make the world a 'better' and 'safer' place. This plan, including the invasion of Iraq and remaking of the Iraqi government, has existed since the first President Bush decided not to remove Saddam Hussein from power. It wasn't new when the current Bush administration decided to invade Iraq, the obsession with terrorism merely furnished the perfect reason.

'9/11 changed everything.' This is repeated over and over. Except, in most senses, it didn't. The invasion of Iraq wasn't a new idea and had nothing to do with 9/11 or Al-Qaeda no matter how hard the Bush administration worked to convince us it did. The Bush administration's first reaction, in fact, had been to blame Iraq for 9/11. Before any facts were in or any evidence gathered, they put that accusation out in the media because the convenient excuse was suddenly present.

It doesn't stop with Iraq. The 'Patriot Act' included a provision covering 'domestic terrorism' that allowed the government to considerably broaden the definition of terrorism and to label nearly any criminal or dissident a 'terrorist' and violate their civil rights. The same civil rights violations have been practiced by government law enforcement agencies in the drug war and crackdowns on hate groups in the past, but now the 'domestic terrorism' label makes them legal.
There hasn't been a single verifiable act of foreign terrorism on American soil since 9/11. The Bush administration rushes to take credit for this while Bush opponents ignore it and say the administration isn't doing enough. However, there wasn't a single verifiable act of foreign terrorism on American soil before 9/11 either, dating back to the World Trade center bombing in 1993. Before that there weren't any significant, verifiable acts of foreign terrorism on American soil.

This isn't to say that terrorism isn't real, that people don't genuinely hate America, or that the forces of right-wing Islam aren't exerting a dangerous influence on the Muslim world. However, reaction is setting in across the entire world and has been for some time now. Since the 90s, right wing Christianity has steadily grown in strength in the U.S. and Europe. In December of 2001, the leaders of the right wing Jewish Defense League were arrested for allegedly conspiring to blow up a prominent Los Angeles mosque and assassinate an Arab-American congressman. Right wing forces have been gaining strength in Israel since the Oslo Accords in 1993. In a host of other less prominent countries, reactionary passions are enflamed. Most of these forces are clearly not aligned together, and in many cases (right wing Christianity against right wing Islam and right wing Judaism) they are directly opposed.

'Global terrorism' was a convenient label for a multitude of entirely independent and often opposed organizations that range from entirely unrelated governments in Iraq (now defunct), Iran (directly opposed to the Iraqi government), North Korea (certainly a potential threat but never linked to terrorism) to insurgent movements in Indonesia, the Phillipines, and all across Africa and the Middle East to leftists in Latin America angry at the exploitation of their labor markets by American corporations. In a move of supreme cynicism by an administration so outspokenly dedicated to the spreading of 'freedom', the Bush state department included the persecuted Falun Gong sect on the list of 'dangerous terrorist organizations' in order to win the support of China and Chechnyan rebels in order to win the support of Russia. The genocidal right wing Islamic government of Sudan, however, was left off the list. So were the illegal military governments of Myanmar and Nepal, the latter of which took power after a particularly bloody slaughter of the royal family. So were pro-American militias in breakaway regions of Georgia.

'Global terrorism' consists of the political enemies of the United States and of the countries from which the United States wanted support. While terrorism is a real phenomenon and terrorists are real, the 'Global War on Terror' consists of the not-even-half-finished attempt to make a country out of Afghanistan, the botched occupation of Iraq, and a constant bombardment of reminders of how much danger we are in and how much we need the government to have the power to violate our civil rights. That's the only way they can protect us.

Yeah, and some illegal alien in a hooded sweatshirt is going to blow up my local mall.

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