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October 30, 2001

The American reaction may be primitive.
It's unlikely to please fastidious people. But it will never be smoothed away. Time will not heal it. The memory will remain the more enduring because such a thing has not happened before. The assault on the nation's existence simply has to be avenged. Though that word is never used, it's the one that comes closest to fitting the sentiment that has banished all doubt from the American mind.

--Edited from: Paul Foot

Al-Jazeera: the CNN of the Arab World

By Tamara Straus

The first Arab news outlet to offer viewers in the Middle East uncensored information and free interpretation of political events. They pointed out that the channel interviews Israeli leaders and Arab government opposition leaders (something uncommon in the Arab world) and allows guests and viewers who call in to its programs to openly criticize Arab regimes and to discuss such taboo issues as sex, polygamy, political corruption and Islamic fundamentalism. They also argued that Al-Jazeera has unprecedented reporting freedom and a reach of 40 million people, because it receives a $30 million annual subsidy from the Qatar's Emir, who does not exercise editorial control, and because it employs over 50 correspondents from 31 countries.

"Because of its free-wheeling talk shows, Al-Jazeera has evoked the wrath of almost every Arab government," wrote Hussein Ibish and Ali Abunimah of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in a Los Angeles Times editorial titled "Al-Jazeera Tells the War Story Unfiltered." They also wrote that "Among the more remarkable developments since Sept. 11 is that the Western monopoly on global news production has met its first serious challenge from a Third World Source." Full Article

The Only Alternative to Global Terror

By Rohini Hensman

My apologies to Anand Patwardhan, but I can't resist the temptation to borrow the title of his film as an apt description of what is happening in the world right now (i.e. October 2001, the month after the terrorist attacks in the USA). Whether the father is Saudi billionnaire Mohammed bin Laden, with his close ties to the Saudi royal family, the son is his estranged offspring Osama, who is enraged every time he thinks of infidel American troops stationed on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia, and the holy war is the jihad which the latter has declared against America and Americans; or the father is George Bush Sr, who started it all with his war to defeat Saddam Hussein by gradually exterminating the people of Iraq, the son is George Jr., who has trouble opening his mouth without putting his foot in it, and the holy war is the crusade the latter has declared against, well, let us say vaguely specified enemies who happen to be Muslims - in both cases, the themes of religious communalism, militarism and machismo are inextricably intertwined. Full Article

'Brutality smeared in peanut butter'

By Arundhati Roy The Guardian

As darkness deepened over Afghanistan on Sunday October 7 2001, the US government, backed by the International Coalition Against Terror (the new, amenable surrogate for the United Nations), launched air strikes against Afghanistan. TV channels lingered on computer-animated images of cruise missiles, stealth bombers, tomahawks, "bunker-busting" missiles and Mark 82 high drag bombs. All over the world, little boys watched goggle-eyed and stopped clamouring for new video games. Full Article

Who is a terrorist? Part II

By Reginald Dumas

We are repeatedly assured by the US and UK governments that they and their coalition allies are conducting a campaign against terrorism, not Islam. But what exactly is a "terrorist"?

Consider this. In the 1940s the British government administered Palestine under a UN mandate. A moderate Jewish dispensation called the Jewish Agency worked alongside the British authorities. But two Jewish groups would have none of this chumminess: a Jewish state had to be created, they declared, and they would by bloody means engineer its establishment. One group was called Irgun, the other the Stern Gang. Irgun's leader was Menachem Begin, who said candidly that their modus operandi was "a prolonged campaign of destruction". Full Article

There is no war on terrorism

By John Pilger

If people were not being killed and beginning to starve, the American attack on Afghanistan might seem farcical. But there is a logic to what they are doing. Read between the lines and it is clear that they are not bombing large numbers of the Taliban's front-line troops. Why? Because they want to preserve what the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, calls the "moderate" Taliban, who will join a "loose federation" of "nation builders" once the war is over. The moderate Taliban will unite with "elements of the resistance" in the Northern Alliance, the bomb-planters, rapists and heroin dealers, who were trained by the SAS and paid by Washington.

This is known as divide and rule, a strategy as old as imperialism. It will allow the Americans - they hope - to reassert control over a region they "lost". Other countries, such as Pakistan and the neighbouring former Soviet republics, are being bribed into submission. The "war on terrorism", with its Rambo raids, is merely a circus for the folks back home and the media. Full Article

Comparing opponents of this war to appeasers is crassly ignorant

By Paul Foot The Guardian

So here are one or two features about the situation in Afghanistan that seem to distinguish it from the situation in Europe in the late 1930s, and appear to have eluded Adam Ingram and Hilary Armstrong. By 1939, the population of Germany had grown to 86m. The chief reason for its rapid growth was the annexation of the Rhineland (1936), Austria (1938), Czechoslovakia (1938) and Poland (1939). Afghanistan by contrast has a population (at most) of 25m, at least a third of whom are starving. The population figures are going down all the time because hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the country. As far as I can discover, the number of countries invaded or even threatened by Afghanistan is nil.

In 1939, Hitler and his colleagues had built the most powerful military machine in the world on the back of one of the three largest economies in the world. The German army had 100 divisions. In reserve, Hitler's special forces, the SA and SS, had 1.5m members. The German Luftwaffe, only a few planes in 1933, could take on any other air force in the world. By contrast the Afghan armed forces rely almost entirely on third-rate weapons and museum-piece planes stolen years ago from the Russians or donated by the Americans.

While Hitler's forces aimed at annexation and attack, the Afghan armed forces are absorbed in defence against opponents in a civil war. While Hitler's armies, backed by the entire state machine of Germany, constituted a constant threat to all neighbouring states, the Afghan army does not threaten any other state. Indeed, the threat from Afghanistan does not come from the state at all, but from terrorists sheltered by the state. In these circumstances, any comparison between appeasement of Hitler in 1939 and opposition to the war in Afghanistan is crass to the point of imbecility. Full Article