Hatred: The price of intervention

23/10/01


"Blood for blood The West will Fall"
- Graffiti in a West Bank refugee camp.

Why?

Unless we think that the actions of 19 individuals (and if we can believe the C.I.A. a network with branches in 60 countries) occurred in a vacuum the question 'Why?' needs to be asked.

How can we answer it? We could identify Islamic fanaticism as a root cause, and certainly that accounts for some aspects of the S11 atrocity - the suicide/martyrdom attitude for instance(although that is found in other religions also). But it does not account for the existence of earlier anti-Western violence led by secular and even Christian Arabs. Nor does it account for the choice of target.

Of course as the pundits say it could be "they hate our freedoms" - which begs the question why not attack other parliamentary democracies - as well as the question why anyone thousands of miles away would be concerned about the structure of American society.

Or it is said "they hate our wealth" - well some of the wealthiest societies in the world (in terms of G.D.P. per head of population) are in the Arabian peninsula, as are some of the richest men in the world, and Bin Laden himself doesn't seem to be to short of a few bob.

Or we could take the U.S. Government's word for it and say that Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the S11 attacks, in which case what does he say. He has made it plain time and time again that his goal in relation to the United States is to drive it from the Middle East, just as he took part in the driving of the U.S.S.R. from Afghanistan. For instance in an ABC News interview he said: "The American government, if it has anything left to hang on to, has no choice but to pull its sons from the Holy Land especially and the Muslim land in general. And to refrain from supporting in any way the Israeli government and Jews who occupy our land."

So there can be no pretence that the S11 attacks were unrelated to American foreign policy.

The Sea

The S-11 attack represents the extreme end of Arab opposition to American power in the Middle East. We can see the extent of that opposition in the public reaction to the Twin Towers attack, we can see it in the reaction to the American assault on Afghanistan.

David Hiro reports in the London Observer that "Each day of American bombing in Afghanistan is raising the temperature in the Arab and Muslim world. The gap is widening between the rulers, who have joined President George Bush's war on terrorism, and the ruled, who are incensed by Washington's military strikes against a poor and defenceless Muslim state." (The Observer 14/10/01)

Let's look at the popular reaction to S-11 on the streets of the Egyptian state, a close American ally and home to some of the hijackers.

According to the Cairo 'Middle East Times' the initial popular view on the attacks on America was ecstatic. It reports:

As people began leaving work, crowds began gathering around televisions in coffee shops and street corners. The rumors began to fly: "They have lost 50,000 people, they are saying its Osama Bin Laden. He's finally done what we all wanted him to do."

Taxi drivers had only one topic of conversation: "Have you heard about the attack?" And before it is possible to answer, "They deserve it."

However one taxi driver, Mamdouh Abdullah, when asked if he was happy about the attack, replied," I want to see the Americans pay for the support they give Israel and for starving Iraqi children, but the dead were ordinary people going to work."

"Nice work," said Abdel Karim, who drives a car for an Asian embassy.

"The Americans have forgotten that God exists. They have us by the throat and now they find themselves in a science fiction film scenario, but this time Rambo's not there to save the White House."

"The Americans are cowards. They use other countries to hit us. They don't have the courage to meet us face to face," said Khalil Matar, 43, who works in a state-run soap factory. "The myth of the indestructible United States has gone up in smoke."

Polytechnic student Amira Ryad also vented her anger.

"We saw the tower crash down," she said, referring to one of the two towers of the World Trade Center, both of which were razed by the attack.

"I only wish (US President) George Bush and his dear little baby (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon had been buried in there too," she added." (http://www.metimes.com/)

The New Saladin

The assaults in Afghanistan, and Bin Laden being elevated to the status of America's public enemy number one, has turned him into a Che Guevara style folk hero.

According to the London 'Observer':

"An increasing number of Arabs are airing their anti-American views publicly and, shedding their fear of the local secret police, identifying themselves.

'The Americans say their target is Bin Laden, and then they strike at innocent people in Afghanistan who have nothing to do with terrorism,' said Samar al-Naji, a bank clerk in Amman. 'They strike Muslims while ignoring the acts of Israel, a terrorist state, which is demolishing Palestinian homes and killing women and children.'

The situation in Saudi Arabia is becoming fraught. An American-trained Saudi lawyer, who works with international corporations in Jeddah, told the New York Times : 'Osama bin Laden has been called the conscience of Islam. What he says, we like, we agree with it.'

In the words of another Saudi attorney in Riyadh: 'No one likes US policies, and young people see bin Laden as a hero because he is the underdog confronting the [sole] superpower.' Indeed, many Saudis, young and old, are calling bin Laden a modern-day version of Saladin, who retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders." (The Observer 14/10/01)

The Sanctions on Iraq

That brings us to the question: What has led to such opposition to the West's role in the Middle East?

Could it be the twin pronged attack on Iraq's civilian infrastructure, the bombings and the sanctions?

Declassified Pentagon documents reveal it is the calculated intent of the continuing American campaign against Iraq to destroy as much of Iraq's civilian infrastructure as is possible. With results the military bureaucrats are well aware of, in fact the results enter into their calculations and are the target aimed for.

One U.S. Department of Defence (D.o.D.)document from 1991, entitled "IRAQ WATER TREATMMENT VULNERABILITIES", reads:

IRAO DEPENDS ON IMPORTING-SPECIALIZED EQUIPMENT-AND SOME CHEMICALS TO PURIFY ITS WATER SUPPLY, MOST OF WHICH IS HEAVILY MINERALIZED AND FREQUENTLY BRACKISH TO SALINE. WITH NO DOMESTIC SOURCES OF BOTH WATER TREATMENT REPLACEMENT PARTS AND SOME ESSENTIAL CHEMICALS, IRAO WILL CONTINUE ATTEMPTS TO CIRCUMVENT UNITED NATIONS SANCTIONS TO IMPORT THESE VITAL COMMODITIES.

1. FAILING TO SECURE SUPPLIES WILL RESULT IN A SHORTAGE OF PURE DRINKING WATER FOR MUCH OF THE POPULATION. THIS COULD LEAD TO INCREASED INCIDENCES, IF NOT EPIDEMICS, OF DISEASE AND TO CERTAIN PURE-WATER-DEPENDENT INDUSTRIES BECOMING INCAPACITATED,INCLUDING PETRO CHEMICALS,FERTILIZERS, PETROLEUM REFINING, ELECTRONICS,PHARMACEUTICALS, FOOD PROCESSING, TEXTILES, CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION,AND THERMAL POWERPLANTS.

2. IRAQ'S OVERALL WATER TREATMENT CAPABILITY WILL SUFFER A SLOW DECLINE, RATHER THAN A PRECIPITOUS HALT, AS DWINDLING SUPPLIES AND CANNIBALIZED PARTS ARE CONCENTRATED AT HIGHER PRIORITY LOCATIONS. ALTHOUGH IRAQ IS ALREADY EXPERIENCING A LOSS OF WATER TREATMENT CAPABILITY, IT PROBABLY WILL TAKE AT LEAST SIX MONTHS (TO JUNE 1991) BEFORE THE SYSTEM IS FULLY DEGRADED."

This report concluded "SOME CHEMICALS ARE DEPLETED OR ARE NEARING DEPLETION, AND OLDER MEMBRANES ARE NOT BEING REPLACED ON SCHEDULE. CONSEOUENTLY,IRAQ PROBABLY IS USING UNTREATED OR PARTIALLY TREATED WATER IN SOME LOCATIONS. FULL DEGRADATION OF THE WATER TREATMENT SYSTEM PROBABLY WILL TAKE AT LEAST ANOTHER 6 MONTHS."
(http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/declassdocs/dia/19950901/950901_511rept_91.html)

According to "Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad", another Pentagon document:

"Food-and waterborne diseases have the greatest potential for outbreaks in the civilian and military population over the next 30 to 60 days. Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban are in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems." (http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/declassdocs/dia/19950901/950901_0504rept_91.html)

While the D.o.D. report "Disease Outbreaks in Iraq" has it that:

"Infectious disease prevalence in major Iraqi urban areas targeted by coalition bombing (Baghdad, Basrah) undoubtedly has increased since the beginning of Desert Storm."

"MOST LIKELY DISEASES DURING THE NEXT 60-90 DAYS (DESCENDING ORDER)

- Diarrheal diseases (particularly children)
- Acute respiratory illnesses (colds and influenza)
- Typhoid
- Hepatitis A (particularly children)
- Measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (particularly children)
- Meningitis, including meningococcal (particularly children) =
- Cholera (possible, but less likely)

MOST LIKELY DISEASES DURING THE FOLLOWING 90-180 DAYS

- Diarrheal diseases (particularly children)
- Acute respiratory illnesses (colds)
- Typhoid
- Hepatitis A (particularly children)
- Conjunctivitis (Eye infections)
- Measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (particularly children)
- Cutaneous leishmaniasis
- Meningococcal meningitis (particularly children)
- Malaria
- Cholera (possible, but less likely)"
(http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/declassdocs/dia/19950901/950901_0pgv072_90p.html)

Put simply, destroy a water supply system - result - increased incidence of disease.

Destroy sanitation facilities, so that raw sewage is flowing down streets, - result - increased incidence of disease.

Prevent the import of medical supplies - result - people dying from curable and treatable diseases.

Prevent a state's trade with the outside world - result- less revenue for welfare programs, less revenues to repair bomb damage, and also a poorer economic situation, high unemployment, poverty - leading to diseases associated with poverty.

Prevent the importation of food (there was a complete ban on food in the early months of sanctions)in a country dependant on imported food stuffs - result - greater incidence of disease related to malnutrition.

Prevent the importation of spare parts to repair infrastructure, coupled with the prevention of trade - result - the situation persists with no end in sight.

The ultimate result is a massive death toll, one identified by the World Health Organisation and U.N. agencies, in particular a rise in infant mortality.

According to estimates produced by the Iraqi government, and verified by U.N. agencies, by 1998 this death toll had reached One point Four million and sanctions are continuing to kill at a rate of 7,000 people a month, and 4,000 of the monthly death toll are children under the age of five.

Enough, one would imagine, to produce considerable popular anti-Western feeling, even if we do not take into account factors such as the continual subsidy for Israel (in excess of 3.5 billion annually - 40% of U.S. overseas aid), support for repressive Arab dictatorships, military bases on Arab soil and an oil revenue which continually makes its way westwards.

Let alone the legacy of French and British colonialism and the history of American military interventions.

In such a favourable climate anti-Western violence grows.

Support the bombing? We might as well slit our own throats.

Increase Arab resentment to the West (and such opposition in the Muslim world generally) by bombing Afghanistan and you increase the potential for further anti-Western violence. It is the sea in which the Bin Laden fish swims, it is the soil which nurtures the Bin Laden plant. More anger equals more recruits, more support, more actions, or do you think that the people who did S11 thought that their violence wouldn't provoke a American reprisal - one that their movement would benefit from?

Do you think that, given that the popular American response to S11 is to want payback, Arabs and Muslims are so different from Americans that they will not and do not want payback for the infliction of suffering far in excess of what was done in New York and Washington?

As shown above the American/British campaign in Afghanistan has increased the cult stature of Osama Bin Laden.

Furthermore it has led to a re-orientation on the part of Islamic extremists, for instance, the Indonesian grouping 'Islamic Defenders Front' has moved it's crosshairs from targeting such assaults on morality as the selling of alcohol, stripshows and gambling to it's new target - the existence of Westerners in Indonesia.

The London 'Economist' reports "Yogyakarta, home to the magnificent Borobudur temple, used to be Indonesia's main tourist draw after Bali. But now the floods of back-packers have become a thin and nervous trickle. Posters on the city's lamp-posts declare: "America equals fuel for hell".
(The Economist October 20th - 26th 2001)

It would only take a fraction of the thousands of anti-Western rioters from West Africa to the Far East to produce carnage. 'Operation: Enduring Freedom' is not a recipe for peace and security, it is a recipe for perpetual violence and war.

See also:
Profits: The Prize of Intervention
If bombing Afghanistan is making a bad situation worse, why is it being done? Might the oil and gas of Central Asia have something to do with it.


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