Perspectives on the attack

In light of recent events in New York and Washington DC, Cannabis Culture presents some articles which present perspectives on the attack which are generally missing from mainstream North American media.
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From the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy:

Drug Policy and Terrorism

The Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy has assembled materials on the extent to which many terrorist organizations fund their operations through the profits flowing from the prohibition of drugs. Just as prohibition has enriched organized crime around the world, prohibition has often enriched terrorist groups and financed their activities.

The materials at following web address more fully explain the links between the drug policy of prohibition and the financing of terrorism. www.cfdp.ca/terror.htm

Clearly, part of the response to the tragic events of September 11 must be a reconsideration of prohibitionist policies. Even if they may not have helped finance this terrorist attack on New York (we simply don’t know yet), these policies have certainly helped finance terrorism elsewhere, with equally tragic consequences for innocent civilians elsewhere.

Eugene Oscapella Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy www.cfdp.ca

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On the Bombings

By Noam Chomsky

The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton’s bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at the UN and no one cares to pursue it). Not to speak of much worse cases, which easily come to mind. But that this was a horrendous crime is not in doubt. The primary victims, as usual, were working people: janitors, secretaries, firemen, etc. It is likely to prove to be a crushing blow to Palestinians and other poor and oppressed people. It is also likely to lead to harsh security controls, with many possible ramifications for undermining civil liberties and internal freedom.

The events reveal, dramatically, the foolishness of the project of “missile defense.” As has been obvious all along, and pointed out repeatedly by strategic analysts, if anyone wants to cause immense damage in the US, including weapons of mass destruction, they are highly unlikely to launch a missile attack, thus guaranteeing their immediate destruction. There are innumerable easier ways that are basically unstoppable. But today’s events will, very likely, be exploited to increase the pressure to develop these systems and put them into place. “Defense” is a thin cover for plans for militarization of space, and with good PR, even the flimsiest arguments will carry some weight among a frightened public.

In short, the crime is a gift to the hard jingoist right, those who hope to use force to control their domains. That is even putting aside the likely US actions, and what they will trigger — possibly more attacks like this one, or worse. The prospects ahead are even more ominous than they appeared to be before the latest atrocities.

As to how to react, we have a choice. We can express justified horror; we can seek to understand what may have led to the crimes, which means making an effort to enter the minds of the likely perpetrators. If we choose the latter course, we can do no better, I think, than to listen to the words of Robert Fisk, whose direct knowledge and insight into affairs of the region is unmatched after many years of distinguished reporting. Describing “The wickedness and awesome cruelty of a crushed and humiliated people,” he writes that “this is not the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about American missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia -paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.” And much more. Again, we have a choice: we may try to understand, or refuse to do so, contributing to the likelihood that much worse lies ahead.

Noam Chomsky

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They can’t see why they are hated

Americans cannot ignore what their government does abroad

Seumas Milne Thursday September 13, 2001 The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4255855,00.html

Nearly two days after the horrific suicide attacks on civilian workers in New York and Washington, it has become painfully clear that most Americans simply don’t get it. From the president to passersby on the streets, the message seems to be the same: this is an inexplicable assault on freedom and democracy, which must be answered with overwhelming force – just as soon as someone can construct a credible account of who was actually responsible.

Shock, rage and grief there has been aplenty. But any glimmer of recognition of why people might have been driven to carry out such atrocities, sacrificing their own lives in the process – or why the United States is hated with such bitterness, not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but across the developing world – seems almost entirely absent. Perhaps it is too much to hope that, as rescue workers struggle to pull firefighters from the rubble, any but a small minority might make the connection between what has been visited upon them and what their government has visited upon large parts of the world.

But make that connection they must, if such tragedies are not to be repeated, potentially with even more devastating consequences. US political leaders are doing their people no favours by reinforcing popular ignorance with self-referential rhetoric. And the echoing chorus of Tony Blair, whose determination to bind Britain ever closer to US foreign policy ratchets up the threat to our own cities, will only fuel anti-western sentiment. So will calls for the defence of “civilisation”, with its overtones of Samuel Huntington’s poisonous theories of post-cold war confrontation between the west and Islam, heightening perceptions of racism and hypocrisy.

As Mahatma Gandhi famously remarked when asked his opinion of western civilisation, it would be a good idea. Since George Bush’s father inaugurated his new world order a decade ago, the US, supported by its British ally, bestrides the world like a colossus. Unconstrained by any superpower rival or system of global governance, the US giant has rewritten the global financial and trading system in its own interest; ripped up a string of treaties it finds inconvenient; sent troops to every corner of the globe; bombed Afghanistan, Sudan, Yugoslavia and Iraq without troubling the United Nations; maintained a string of murderous embargos against recalcitrant regimes; and recklessly thrown its weight behind Israel’s 34-year illegal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as the Palestinian intifada rages.

If, as yesterday’s Wall Street Journal insisted, the east coast carnage was the fruit of the Clinton administration’s Munich-like appeasement of the Palestinians, the mind boggles as to what US Republicans imagine to be a Churchillian response.

It is this record of unabashed national egotism and arrogance that drives anti-Americanism among swaths of the world’s population, for whom there is little democracy in the current distribution of global wealth and power. If it turns out that Tuesday’s attacks were the work of Osama bin Laden’s supporters, the sense that the Americans are once again reaping a dragons’ teeth harvest they themselves sowed will be overwhelming.

It was the Americans, after all, who poured resources into the 1980s war against the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul, at a time when girls could go to school and women to work. Bin Laden and his mojahedin were armed and trained by the CIA and MI6, as Afghanistan was turned into a wasteland and its communist leader Najibullah left hanging from a Kabul lamp post with his genitals stuffed in his mouth.

But by then Bin Laden had turned against his American sponsors, while US-sponsored Pakistani intelligence had spawned the grotesque Taliban now protecting him. To punish its wayward Afghan offspring, the US subsequently forced through a sanctions regime which has helped push 4m to the brink of starvation, according to the latest UN figures, while Afghan refugees fan out across the world.

All this must doubtless seem remote to Americans desperately searching the debris of what is expected to be the largest-ever massacre on US soil – as must the killings of yet more Palestinians in the West Bank yesterday, or even the 2m estimated to have died in Congo’s wars since the overthrow of the US-backed Mobutu regime. “What could some political thing have to do with blowing up office buildings during working hours?” one bewildered New Yorker asked yesterday.

Already, the Bush administration is assembling an international coalition for an Israeli-style war against terrorism, as if such counter-productive acts of outrage had an existence separate from the social conditions out of which they arise. But for every “terror network” that is rooted out, another will emerge – until the injustices and inequalities that produce them are addressed

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Violent attacks on Arab Americans

Stuart Millar Friday September 14, 2001 The UK Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4255855,00.html

Arab communities across North America and Australia have come under violent attack amid a rising tide of anti-Muslim anger.

Dozens of retaliatory incidents have been reported throughout the United States, where Arab American communities have been in a state of siege since Tuesday’s attacks.

Gunshots were fired at an Islamic centre in a Dallas suburb yesterday, shattering windows. No one was injured at the centre, which includes a mosque and a school.

In Chicago, a molotov cocktail was thrown at an Arab American community centre. Later, 300 marchers – some waving American flags and chanting “USA! USA!” – tried to march on a mosque in Bridgeview, a suburb to the south-west of the city.

Three demonstrators were arrested as police sealed off the blocks around the closed mosque and turned the march away. One of the marchers, Colin Zaremba, 19, said: “I’m proud to be American and I hate Arabs and I always have.”

In Huntington, New York, meanwhile, a man tried to run over a Pakistani woman in the car park of a shopping mall. Adam Lang, 75, who was drunk, then followed the woman into a shop and threatened to kill her for “destroying my country”.

Across the country, Muslims and many Islamic groups say they have received hate mail, as well as abusive telephone calls and emails.

Bomb threats have closed down many Arab businesses and schools in Detroit.

In Orange County, California, Sarah Mohamed was woken up by a telephone caller who told her: “I’m going to come over there and show you what needs to be done to you people.”

A parent at an Islamic school in Pasadena, Salwa Abdul-Aaal, a physiotherapist, said that one of her patients had demanded to know what her religion was. “If I’m Muslim, she doesn’t want to see me.”

David Bonior, a Democratic congressman from Michigan, home to America’s biggest Arab community, said: “Such hateful prejudice offends us all.”

In Montreal, Canada, a firebomb was thrown at a mosque.

In Brisbane, Australia, a school bus packed with Muslim children was stoned.

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The speech George W. Bush could give

By Doug Morris

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

St. Augustine said that “hope has two beautiful daughters: anger and courage. Anger at the way things are, and courage to struggle to create things as they should be.” These acts perpetrated against humanity today were acts of anger at the way things are. They were not courageous acts, but horrendous atrocities, acts of anger laced with hate. Our first response must be support and compassion for the victims, and families and friends of the victims. But, in addition, we should ask ourselves “what conditions led these fellow humans to develop such anger and hatred, led them to commit such abominably inhumane acts, and why was it directed at these particular targets in the United States?”

We should not repress our anger and indignation at these hateful and callous acts, or our anger and indignation at all hateful and callous acts, but our anger must be accompanied not by hate, but with love, and by the courage to struggle to create a more just world, and THAT my fellow Americans will require a major effort to question, understand, challenge, change and raise OUR national consciousness. Please, my fellow Americans, listen with open ears, open minds and open hearts.

While no loving and decent human will tolerate acts of terror, we must try to understand the extremely difficult question: why? For example, what is the symbolic significance of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in the eyes of the world? And here, my fellow Americans we must search deep into our own history, our own policies, our own pursuits, our own impositions, and, our own hearts. It is painful, but, let us be blunt: the war against terrorism has begun, violently. The two most potent symbols of global military and economic violence, global military and economic terrorism, have been struck. These were cowardly and unconscionable acts, to be sure, and, as in most acts of terror, the innocent suffer most, the working class, the toiling class. We must launch a war against terrorism, non-violently. A.J. Muste, committed pacifist, advised us that in a world built on violence “we must be revolutionaries before we are pacifists.” That is, we must work to abolish the institutions of violence, non-violently.

However, make no mistake, my fellow Americans, the Pentagon IS the center of world military violence and terrorism. The US is the world’s leading exporter of tools of death and destruction. Let us be honest, we have been committed to violence as a way to address international conflicts for many, many years. And a PARTIAL list of the results of our commitment to violence includes: Korea – millions killed. Vietnam – millions killed. Cambodia – hundreds of thousands killed. Laos – hundreds of thousands killed. Iraq – hundreds of thousands killed. Guatemala – hundreds of thousands killed. Hiroshima and Nagasaki – hundreds of thousands killed. East Timor – hundreds of thousands killed. Nicaragua – tens of thousands killed. El Salvador -tens of thousands killed. Colombia – tens of thousands killed. Dominican Republic – thousands killed. Somalia – thousands killed. Haiti – thousands killed. Yugoslavia – thousands killed. Panama -hundreds killed. And let us not forget the ways in which we have mistreated the Cuban people for over 40 years now with our embargo and repeated acts of terrorism. Let us remember my father’s words during the buildup to the US attack on Iraq: “there will be no negotiationsSwhat we say goes.” “No negotiations” simply means we prefer violence. “What we say goes” expresses the arrogance, chauvinism and mystique of invincibility that has separated the US from the world. Both views express the notion that the US is above international law and the UN Charter, outside the family of nations. Is it any wonder that Harvard professor Samuel Huntington said that in the eyes of most of the world the US is seen as “THE rogue superpower,” considered “THE single greatest external threat to their societies”? The world quakes in its boots wondering when we will attack, and what form of violence will ensue: cruise missiles, helicopter gunships, chemical or biological agents, nuclear bombs, F18’s, F22’s, B52’s, fumigation campaigns, IMF/World Bank “Structural Adjustment Programs,” or “Austerity Programs,” embargoes, sanctions, disappearances, assassinations, massacres, tortures, cultural cooptation or erasure, etc., etc., etc.

The Bible warns us: “what ye sew, ye shall reap.” Today, sadly, we have experienced what we have sewn on much of the world. Today, as a country, we have learned that raining death and destruction on another country creates a toll far higher than simply destroyed buildings and dead bodies. Today our freedom came under attack. We thought we were free to impose military and economic violence anywhere we chose, with impunity. The freedom from impunity appears to no longer exist. The World Court attempted to sanction the US for our commitment to violence but the Reagan Administration claimed that the World Court had no jurisdiction over our actions. Yes, we have been, and we are a rogue state, and, my fellow Americans, it must stop!

Tonight, my fellow Americans we must raise a call of humility, a humility that does not in any way diminish humanity, but a humility that raises the respect for, and dignity of, all people, a humility that allows us to celebrate all human life. It is time that we joined the world, not as its major purveyor of violence and destruction, but as a peaceful participant who will work to end violence, end racism, end classism, end sexism, rather than increase them. The proposed Pentagon budget, the “violence” budget, for next year is $330 billion dollars. I am tonight proposing an immediate 50% decrease in this spending that promotes violence, and calling for a redistribution those funds to help ameliorate problems of hunger, poverty and poor-health around the world. It is a call to reach out with love, and a call to find the courage to struggle to create a more just, peaceful, healthful and equitable world, a world in which human creativity is celebrated rather than the human capacity for great violence.

Tonight we must call on the world to forgive us OUR sins, forgive us OUR sordid and calamitous acts of violence that we have pursued without pause for over 50 years. Let this be the beginning of our reconciliation with the world. We now, to some degree, understand the pain, misery and suffering we have caused, the turmoil we have perpetrated, the hate we have elicited, the destruction we have imparted, the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual scars and unconscionable hurt we have created and that much of the world has endured because of our rapacious and destructive pursuit of wealth, power and privilege at the expense of human concerns and human lives. We humbly beg the forgiveness of all humanity, as we pray that you will offer your support, your compassion, your understanding, and your love in our time of suffering, mourning and loss.

This is not a time, as it is never a time, to seek vengeance, but a time to seek the courage to forgive, to harbor the power of anger to be used in acts of love, and to uncover insights that will allow us to direct our indignation at the institutions of power, violence and greed, many of which, sadly, are centered in the US, and begin to transform them in order to increase our love for the victims of that power, violence and greed, including those who died and were injured in the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

When I attended the G8 meetings in Genoa recently I saw a banner in the street that said “you are 8, we are 6 billion,” and it struck me deeply. We have pursued for too long the interests of the few at the expense of the many. Wealth, privilege and power inequalities exacerbate every day. We have created, protected, endorsed and now imposed on the rest of the world an economic system, symbolized by the World Trade Center, and protected by the Pentagon, that must produce and expand in order to profit and survive, an economic system that treats everything as a commodity to be exploited whether it is water, food, air, soil, the rest of the environment, animals, fish, or our fellow humans, a system that puts corporate profit interests above human interests. This must stop. We, who represent and serve power, should have listened sooner. Let this horrible tragedy serve as our wake up call. Let us begin tonight to transform this monster before it is too late. This act of terror, infamous and abominable, will pale in comparison to the growing terrors of increasing global militarism of which we are the primary cause, increased global warming of which we are the primary cause, and intensifying environmental destruction of which we are the primary cause and which may soon make much of the world uninhabitable for humans, and surely increase human suffering, misery and death.

If we are to overcome these acts of terror, and more importantly prevent future acts of terror against humanity, we must act out of a sense of hope and faith that the future is unfinished, that it is there to be created; and, we must be driven by a judicious anger at the way things are, anger at the monster we have created, anger that can be harbored in momentous acts of love, and the courage to struggle in cooperation, understanding, support and solidarity with the rest of humanity to create a world in which all will be happy to live.

Tonight, and in the days and weeks to come, we must find the courage to not only reach out with love and understanding, but to find the courage to self-reflect honestly about what WE have done to the world so that we can understand why things are the way they are, and what we can and will do to struggle to create things as they should be – a world of less violence and greater peace; a world of diminished arrogance and greater humility; a world where more people do not die of hunger every two years than were killed in both World Wars combined, but a world in which all people have access to the great and nourishing bounties of the earth; a world of less disease and greater health; a world of less hate and greater love; a world of less vengeance and greater understanding; a world of less greed and greater sharing; a world of less destruction and greater creativity; a world of less disparity and greater equality; a world of less fundamentalism and more progressivism; a world of less mysticism and more humanism; a world of less criminality and greater justice; a world of less separatism and more solidarity; a world in which we live both an examined life and a committed life; a world of less militarism and more artistry; a world of less vilification and more celebration; a world in which life is worth living; a world in which we understand well the lesson of Rousseau who said “the fruits of our labor belong to us; the fruits of the earth belong to everyone; and, the world itself belongs to no one.”

So, in closing, my fellow Americans, allow us to support one another in our quest through hope, and anger, and courage, to make love our aim during this time of crisis, and in the future. And, let us remember and reflect upon the words stated in Corinthians 13:1-3: “though I may speak with the voice of angels; though I may understand all the mysteries; though I may have all the knowledge; though I may give all to feed the poor; though I may give my body to be burned; if I have not love, I have nothing at all.”

Thank you. Good night, and blessings, peace, justice, solidarity and love for all humanity.

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