“I would like to see some helicopters flying over these sites and some bullets fired at looters. I think you have got to kill some people to stop this.”
-- Elizabeth Stone, an American archeologist
part three by alleging that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is guilty of simplistic treatment of
serious matters such as terrorism, genocide, and WMD. If this is true, how
can we then corroborate such an audacious allegation against him?
Let me begin by saying that Annan’s problem does not relate to absence of priorities, but rather from unwillingness to confront the structural cracks of his U.N., as he tends to stress problems that resulted from specific policies of individual states, or in relation to them, but never addresses the cause at the base. Example, in his speech to the General Assembly (9/23/2003), Annan shyly criticized the “pre-emption doctrine” (invented by the Bush Administration as an ideological premise to invade Iraq), but was fast to identify, among other things, the spread of WMD, genocide, and terrorism as the principle problems facing the world. He completely ignored the collapse of the United Nations system because of the U.S. monopoly over its functions. Given that Annan specifically designated these problems as the most urgent facing the world, we feel that discussing them in a factual context, and not on the abstract level that hyper-imperialists usually prefer, is the best way to understand them.
The first point that Annan mentioned in his speech was genocide. Annan talked about genocide in generic terms; was he alluding to Rwanda, Congo, or Cambodia? Otherwise, where else does he mention the criminal and relentless acts of genocide the U.S. committed in Iraq in two wars and 13 years of sanctions? Is the Iraqi genocide equivalent to exterminating a colony of mice? What is the reason for which he carefully avoided talking about the cumulative genocide of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis? He mentioned WMD in reference to Saddam’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Iran and Halabja (Iraq), but he was extra careful not to mention the American-British use of depleted uranium in Yugoslavia, Kosovo, and especially in Iraq? Who knows, maybe Annan’s view of DU is contrary to what scientists, the U.N. itself, and the U.S. know about it!
If Annan and hyper-imperialists find it easy to gloss over important and charged terms, we on the other hand do not. Even if the term “genocide” stands to mean the elimination of a specific group of people for any invented reason, we strongly believe that the term is also applicable or extendable to individuals as well. Because “geno” or “gen” takes its usage from Greek meaning “birth”, “kind”, or “race”, and because “cide” or “cida” is Latin for “kill”, then it can be roughly translated to “birth killing”. Since birth is an individual unique event, then the killing of an individual is necessarily genocide.
When one kills someone else, he inflicted an individual genocide on that unique individual. When Saddam killed his opponents he terminated them by “individual genocides”, when Israel kills Palestinians, it terminates them by “individual genocides”, and when the U.S. kills Iraqis, it commits “individual genocides”. A question: should we include Americans killed by Iraqis in these examples of individual genocides? Of course, we should. However, to be impartial to a strict definition of aggression and its consequences, we have to do that with technical distinction in assigning responsibility. This is how it should work: the U.S. of Richard Perle invented one million reasons to invade Iraq knowing that its bombs will kill. An aggressor is the party responsible for inflicting “individual genocides” on both his soldiers and the people whom they are attacking. In other words, the aggressor has permitted the killing of its own soldiers at the hands of their created adversaries. In this case, responsibility for individual or collective genocides lies exclusively with the U.S. Government and not with the Iraqis.
As for the issue of WMD, Annan treats it as a trivial chat over a barbecue, and not a serious matter that requires its own perspective, frame, and a viewpoint from which you can look at all its philosophical, practical, and moral dimensions. Ultimately, the issue of terrible weapons boils down to one point only: those who own them do not want anyone else to have them. Analyzing the issue of WMD, however goes beyond the scope of this writing.
Third, he used the word “terrorism” in accordance with how the U.S. defines it, and never cared to explain what “terrorism” is, when you can call it so, why it happens, when it happened, in response to what, who is the target, why and for what purpose. Because the word “terrorism” is composed of a common noun and an ideologized suffix, its use is, necessarily, ideological and political depending on the specific focus of those who use it; its meaning, however, is not encompassing as other words such as “bread” for example where agreement on attributes is universal. In other words, it is unsettling, politically, that Annan uses a ideological word, either to please the U.S. or to pre-empt its wrath.
So, what is terrorism? Is it the intentional provocation of fear as in “terrorization”? Can terrorism be a psychological or physical terrorization? If so, is chasing a cat with a broom an act of terrorism or just terrorization? By inference, is the person doing the chasing a “terrorist”? Within this concept, is the relentless campaign to scare the American people with the specter of Islamic “terrorism” a form of terrorization or terrorism? On the other hand, could terrorism be a sudden infliction of injury or violent death on innocent people for reasons that are: 1) calculated to subdue an enemy by bombarding its civilian population, or 2) psychological, as when a disgruntled employee shoots and kills his co-workers because he lost his job? No matter how we wish to define it, current political trends define terrorism as always being political in nature; and in the vocabulary of many international political systems it has one meaning only: any violent action that targets the military and civilian structures of those systems. There is more: those systems, invariably, methodically, and emphatically always describe the attack against their structures as unprovoked, hence it is a manifestation of an irrational and blind criminality.
Is that so?
The answer is no. There are mainly two conditions where aggressions could be committed without provocation. You can see the first condition in ordinary life, when criminal conduct, derangement, jealousy, or any other motive can lead to committing aggression against people not associated with the reasons behind the aggression. You can see the second condition in an international setting throughout history when lust for territorial expansion, empires, or looting can lead to committing aggression on a larger level as in the Mongol invasion of Asia minor, Iraq, and Syria, or the colonialist expansions of European settlers in the Americas and Africa.
In all other conditions where an aggressive action happens, it is always provoked, it has origins, and it comes in response to an inflicted aggression or as correction to arbitrary decisions by others. In this case, aggression is not an intentional act aimed at inflicting just pain or death, but rather a thoughtful process, where the options for a response to an imposed hostile action affecting individuals, groups, or societies underwent evaluation and successive selection. In modern societies where secure boundaries defined the existence of most states or where disputes have been resolved, reciprocal aggressions have ceased. Example, after the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, the killing between Americans and Vietnamese stopped. Likewise, when the British negotiated with the IRA, truce followed and violence ebbed. On the extreme side, when the USSR dissolved itself, all former states that had no affinity with Russia obtained independence, except Chechnya (a czarist colonialist conquest) which although it is federated within Russia proper, it has no ethnical or religious affinity with it. Since Russia would not agree to independence, violence followed.
In places where states deny national and minority rights, where imperialist encroachments and interventions are routine, where imperialistic provocations because of ideology and material gains are habits, aggressions and counter-aggressions are the rule. Even in this case, violence is selectively directed against one entity in particular and no one else. Examples, I have never heard that Kashmiri Muslims ever attacked Chinese or Americans; they only attacked rival Hindu nationalists. I have never heard that Hindu nationalists ever attacked Saudis, Burmese, or Russians; they only attacked rival Kashmiri Muslims or Indian Muslims. Nor have I ever heard that “terrorists” attacked Iceland, or that Iceland has ever attacked anyone else. A self-explanatory question: why did the IRA conduct military operations against Britain but not against Canada, Belgium, or Holland? Another question: why do Palestinians only attack Israelis and not Japanese, Brazilians, or Koreans?
To conclude, when we think of terrorism as a manifestation of or an act of military violence, we have always to ask the question, “why”. In the world of physics, astronomy, chemistry, medicine, etc., there is always a reason for even the tiniest phenomena, so why should it be different for terrorism.
Constantly and through out history, if you hit the military and civilian structures of any country or impose military occupation or restrictions on its people, then, at some point in time, you have to expect retaliation; and this happens regardless of who the attacker and the attacked are. In the current lawless international system, the notion of violent resistance has become the prevailing philosophy and praxis in societies that have exhausted all their means for peaceful solutions. If the U.N. is incapable of effecting any positive change in world relations, if the International Court of Justice is incapacitated, and if the aggressor is unaccountable, then how do we expect legality and justice to work, and who is going to care for justice except those who are the subject of injustice? One last scenario: if the US would declare that it is going to withdraw all of its forces from Iraq within 21 days (that is how long it took the US to capture Iraq), would Iraqis continue to attack its forces?
Therefore, before we address the issue of terrorism at large, we have to define it first. Terrorism, in the pure sense of the word, is a criminal and abhorrent political-military instrument meant to achieve a purpose. However, it is only so when it is applied in a peaceful setting where groups are not engaged in an existential struggle, and it is not so when it happens in an adversarial situation where it is the natural response to aggressions by an enemy. I must note that in military strife among nations and groups, no one defines its military operations as terrorism except the United States, which actually finds it glamorous to call it so by using alternative sophisticated terminology – “shock and awe”. Does shock mean fright or traumatize?
Technically, terrorism is an extremist violent response to an extremist violent imposition, but happens only as reaction to an action; to say the same in a tautological physical sequence, reaction can never precede action! Therefore, it is a condition of consequentiality. You can see this condition at work by observing that when A slaps B, B may react by slapping A. Conclusively, violent response to violence always and invariably, follows a violent action and never precedes it. To enforce this notion, you can compare it to the following mandatory sequence: without opening your eyes, you cannot see. To see, you have to open your eyes. Example, the Iraqi violent resistance against American soldiers did not happen before invasion, it is consequent to it. Can you call this terrorism? The answer is no. This violence is the only response to intentional violence and as such, it is ingrained, beyond redemption, in the animal fabric of humanity, and Annan, Rice, Perle, or hyper-imperialists cannot change that unless they first change the human genome.
Conversely, violence resulting from ideological aberration is a different subject. For example, the Okalahoma bombing was not a response to physical violence within the internal structure of the United States, i.e., the U.S. before it executed Timothy McVeigh as a retribution for his crime, did not inflict any direct physical violence on him. (Ironically, the U.S. taught and used McVeigh to inflict violence on Iraqis [Gulf War, 1991]. Indeed, McVeigh acknowledged killing at least 15 Iraqis by using them as target practice!). To conclude, McVeigh unleashed his violence because of ideological enmity toward the system. Similar to this, is the case of Theodore John Kaczynski, the “unibomber”, as well as the terrorism of the Italian Red Brigades whose ideology predicts the collapse of the system consequent to assassinations of political figures.
Accordingly, to bundle all acts of violence as terrorism is ridiculous and ideologically motivated. Violence, especially physical, intended to inflict pain including death for any irrational, criminal, or any other reason, not only is not equivalent to terrorism, but also it is a different subject with its own origins, methodology, and connotations that finds its own logic in the psychological domains of one or more individuals sharing one specific asocial purpose. In contrast, terrorism as it relates exclusively to the ideology of violent military retribution for received collective injustice, is a tool whose users designed it with the specific idea to employ violence as a means to achieve specific national or emancipation ends, and as such, its use is visceral and natural as much as universal throughout history. Historical examples include Algeria against France, France against Germany, Vietnam against France, and now Iraq against the U.S.
Yet, Bush and Zionists declared war on “terrorism” in the guise of the “war on drugs”, as if the struggle between antagonistic groups and wars of liberations are social malaise or generalized aberrations and not a problem with roots in history and collective memory. Moreover, Bush also tells us that violence and terrorism are the same, and are an exclusive national trait of specific people who are living in specific geographical locations and that is because of peculiar cultural, political, and religious systems. For that reason and with one stroke, hyper-imperialists are now considering all other acts of violence occurring beyond those geographical delimitations as acts of random and “gentle violence”, while violence construed as terrorism means only one thing: Arab and Islamic violence, as if Arab and Muslim mothers feed their babies milk fortified with genetically violent hormones.
Let us look at this example as a sequence. George Bush invaded Iraq with the pretext to disarm the Iraqi dictator from his alleged WMD. George Bush cannot find any WMD and the dictator is overthrown and gone. George Bush stays in Iraq. George Bush is facing resistance to his conquest. George Bush fights those who are resisting his conquest. To resolve the riddle of conflict, George Bush finally declares, “It is better to fight the terrorists in Iraq than here in the United States!” But what terrorist is he referring to? What pertinent specificity is he providing for his arguments? That, as usual, is a mystery connected to the doctored domestic audience! Because Iraqis are only engaging in fighting invaders, it is clear therefore that his ideological designation of them as terrorists does not work! We know what Bush’s labeling is rubbish; even he knows that (!), regardless, his pre-fabricated logic is the official logic of the United States which uses it to establish ideological parameters and related actions. To mingle varied complex concepts in one word out of propagandistic convenience and readily absorbable inference that those who attacked the United States are everywhere in the Middle East is not only a monochromatic deception but also a strident form of fascism.
To explain the above, Bush and Zionists attribute acts of reactive violence by Arabs against foreign occupation, domination, and expropriation as metaphysical characteristics intrinsic to the Arabs, and are an integral part of their natural making, i.e. an Arab is born violent. You can see that when George Bush, master of violence, characterizes Iraq as a “violent land”. We have known many fascists in history who theorized on such matters. Among them, there are two fascists whose record of sinister theorizations against specific groups of people can't be beat. The first is the inventor of Nazism Adolph Hitler, whose theories against Jews, Gypsies, handicapped, and communists are notorious. The second is Menachem Begin of Israel, whose understandable loathing of Nazism pushed him to emulate and surpass it, as when he considered the Arabs below insects and worse than excrement.
Nonetheless, defining “terrorism” cannot proceed without a methodological historical investigation. Let us go back to 1258 when Mongol hordes invaded Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Empire. By George Bush’s standards, if Baghdadis of that time had engaged the Mongols in small-scale war of attrition, how would his highness, the American caliph of Baghdad, define the Baghdadi attacks against Mongols? Just to make sure that the president does not scratch his head looking for an answer, we have to remind him that al-Qaida did not exist then, and that the chromosomes which would create Bin Laden’s lineage in the future had no programs guiding them in that direction! We just hope that the president of the United States would not say that the nasty spirit of Bin Laden had traveled back to the past to inhabit the souls of those fanatic Baghdadis attacking the good Mongols, just because Mongolian soldiers are now participating in the occupation of Iraq! Knowing the president do you think he might just do that?
Let us address another aspect of terrorism that goes beyond the specious definitions of Bush, Sharon, Blair, Berlusconi, Aznar, and Annan. Consider the following ideological situation where Anthony Cordesman (an intelligent military analyst on the side of hyper-imperialism, now associated with the rightwing think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies) offers us a valuable insight on how a political imperialist principle invented to justify an action may be used against those who invented it – a sort of a double edge sword. (Incidentally, Saddam allowed Cordesman to come to Iraq as a military analyst for the Iran-Iraq war, on which he wrote a book.)
In 1991, Cordesman articulated a principle that many Zionists and imperialists embraced immediately. To justify the Gulf War and sanctions against Iraq (1991), Cordesman published an article in the New York Times (late 1991 or early 1992) postulating a principle where he considers the people of any nation responsible for the conduct of their government. That is, if this government misbehaves, the people it rules must be responsible for the actions of their government; consequently, they have to co-share in the punishment exacted on that government. Here is the preponderant implication of Cordesman’s thought: if he meant to articulate a principle, then this cannot be unilateral and must apply to small or big states equally, and it must be universal. It is possible then that forces opposing U.S. military presence and entrenchment on Arab soil are knowledgeable of the published views of Cordesman. This could explain the attack against continental U.S.A.
At this point, having discussed the issues of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and genocide under conditions different from those that Annan treated them, it is now mandatory that we discus them again but only in relation to the U.S. use of radioactive depleted uranium in Iraq, and the implications that derived from that deliberate use. We shall discuss all that and other issues next in part five.
Next, Part 5: The U.S. and the Use of Radioactive Depleted Uranium: Infatuation or Deliberation?
B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American anti-war activist. He can be reached at: email@example.com.