Further Reflections on September 11

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“Whenever
you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause
and reflect.” ~
Mark Twain

"We
have met the enemy, and he is us." ~ Pogo (Walt Kelly)

Slightly
more than six weeks have passed since the horrible events of September
11. Retaliation by the United States and its coalition forces (at
present only Britain) has commenced, and has followed predictable
patterns set since the Reagan administration (coalition building,
demonization of the enemy, bombings, media control, etc.), patterns
evident most recently in the Gulf War against Iraq. Government focus
has remained on Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network as the
likely perpetrators of the September 11 attacks, and we have been
cautioned to expect a "war against terrorism" lasting
months or even years. In the past few days there have been increased
concerns of biological attacks in the United States, with several
outbreaks of anthrax contamination in media and governmental offices.
Patriotism in the United States is at a peak last seen in the Gulf
War, and dissent, with few exceptions, has been absent.

In
this paper I would like to explore at a somewhat deeper level than
has been evidenced in the media the causes, consequences and the
outcome of the attacks, and to propose some possible intermediate
and long-term solution possibilities for consideration.

Immediate
Consequences of the Attack

1.
Clearly, the first foreign attack on mainland America in almost
two hundred years has made us feel vulnerable in a way that is unprecedented.
It is not only the magnitude of the assualt (some six thousand deaths),
but the diabolically brilliant execution of the attack that has
raised penetrating questions about our personal safety as American
citizens. This is psychological terrorism at its highest level,
and the fact that Americans as a whole are experiencing vulnerability
for the first time will have consequences for the world that are
at this point in time, unpredictable. It is, however, clear to many
of us that our technological military superiority will be of limited
use in confronting this new advisary, and it is equally clear that
our intelligence capabilities are not now, nor can they ever be,
equal to extraordinarily difficult task of protecting American lives
here or in the rest of the world. It is obvious that committed individuals
who are willing to die for their beliefs can cause mammoth destruction
to our individual lives and to our way of life. I will have more
to say below on the specific dangers that we face.

2. The attack has significantly raised the threshold for terror,
both in the United States and throughout the world. The most lethal
previous terrorist attack in the United States, the Oklahoma City
bombing, measured deaths in the hundreds. The thousands who were
killed on 9/11 have unfortunately established a new level for prospective
terrorists to factor into their thinking and planning, and I am
very concerned that failure to respond intelligently to this attack
will lead to further destruction too horrible to contemplate, both
in the United States and among our allies elsewhere in the world.

3.
The attack (and our response to it) has significantly raised the
likelihood that further terrorist attacks will occur. At an October
4 press conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft indicated that
there was a near certainty that other terrorist attacks will occur.
One intelligence official stated that there is a "100%"
chance of an attack if the US retaliates against Afghanistan. Because
of the actions of the terrorists and the retaliation of the United
States government, American citizens are at greater risk of terrorist
attack than at any point in history. And this time of risk has an
unlimited time horizon – in describing the nature of this new
"war on terrorism" (10/19/01), Vice President Dick Cheney
candidly said, "It is different than the Gulf War was, in the
sense that it may never end. At least, not in our lifetime."

4.
Our civil liberties, particularly freedom of speech, are under unprecedented
attack. Perhaps the most public condemnation was toward "Politically
Incorrect" host Bill Maher. Maher pointed out that those who
committed the 9/11 attacks could not reasonably be called cowards,
and he was roundly denounced by White House press secretary, Ari
Fleischer, who commented that ”people have to watch what they say
and watch what they do.” Later, the official transcript of Mr.
Fleisher's comments omitted the "watch what they say"
remark, and the omission was explained away as ”a transcription
error.”

Attorney
General John Ashcroft has requested increased electronic surveillance
powers and the indefinite detention of immigrants considered national
security threats, because ”We need the tools to prevent terrorism.”

Marlin
Fitzwater, press secretary to the senior President Bush during the
Gulf War, stated that, ”I think this conflict is going to require
a suspension of freedom and rights unlike anything we have seen,
at least since World War II."

Civil
liberties are also under attack in Great Britain. MP George Galloway
reports that, "Throughout the second world war, Aneurin Bevan
subjected the line of the Churchill coalition government to excoriating
criticism and withering examination – as Churchill himself
had done with Chamberlain. Both would have scorned the idea of their
actions being licensed by whips, as if we were circus dogs whose
duty was to perform tricks for the ringmaster. I too have now been
summoned to see the chief whip. Next week, over tea and biscuits
at 11 Downing Street, I will have to courteously explain to my old
friend Hilary Armstrong that I, for one, will not be gagged. "
It is sad indeed to see a people who have made so many major contributions
to world civilization be reduced by the actions of their government
into subservience to misguided American policies. (In addition,
Canada has just passed legislation allowing preventive arrests and
broader electronic surveillance.)

As
a final irony, a friend reports that the Declaration of Independence
in Philadelphia is now closed to public viewing out of security
concerns.

5. The American media, following precedents established during the
Reagan years and heightened during the Gulf War, have virtually
capitulated to government and military pressures to curtail any
reasonable debate on the wisdom of government policies. It is ironic
indeed that the foremost protector of the First Amendment lies not
within our borders, but with Qatar’s Al-Jazeera satellite channel.
As Al-Jazeera chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani recently
stated, “We will continue our work in a professional manner, whether
it be in Afghanistan or elsewhere … offering a margin of freedom
in the Arab world." In contrast, administration spokespersons
have cautioned Americans that we must not speak out or cover opposition
views at this critical time, with Press Secretary Ari Fleischer
making the rather preposterous suggestion that "At best, Osama
bin Laden’s message is propaganda, calling on people to kill Americans.
At worst, he could be issuing orders to his followers to initiate
such attacks." It is absurd to claim that the privilege of
free speech exists at all if not in times such as these.

    Perhaps
    we can excuse the media to some extent, as apparently they are
    in competition with the Pentagon for sources of information. Duncan
    Campbell from the Guardian (10/17/01) reports that "the Pentagon
    has spent millions of dollars to prevent western media from seeing
    highly accurate civilian satellite pictures of the effects of
    bombing in Afghanistan…".

    "The
    irreducible core of all war is the slaughter of the innocent,
    organized by national leaders, ACCOMPANIED BY LIES." (Howard
    Zinn). It is the clear responsibility of the media to ferret out
    these lies and report the truth. But here we have Dan Rather,
    CBS News Anchor, saying on the David Letterman show, "George
    Bush is the commander in chief. If he asks me to line up in uniform,
    to clean latrines, to [do] KP duty or carry a rifle, he has only
    to tell me where to line up and I'm there." I would respectfully
    submit that the American public would be far better served by
    having Mr. Rather conduct some in-depth journalistic investigation
    rather than put on his cheerleader's outfit and worry about the
    brand of rubber gloves he would purchase for his latrine duty.

    "The
    hard truth is that the U.S. media left America as unprepared for
    these terrorist attacks as any Air Force general or CIA bureaucrat.
    As we dropped bombs on Iraq for 10 years running – justified
    or not – the U.S. media failed to report on it. Then suddenly,
    on Sept. 11, we think u2018We're at war' when in fact there hasn't
    been a day since the Gulf War ended when an American aircraft
    hasn't locked onto a target with a missile or bomb. We were at
    war, it's just that the media didn't think it was interesting
    enough to tell you about it. That's our lesson to learn."
    – Michael Moran (senior producer for special projects at
    MSNBC.com; he worked as the BBC's U.S. affairs analyst in London
    from 1993-96).

6. Mark Twain once said, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose
you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”

    The
    Senate, in an almost unparalleled rush to action, passed the "Uniting
    and Strengthening America Act" ("USA Act") of 2001
    (S.1510). This bill was passed without any review by the Senate
    Judiciary Committee and with minimal debate in the Senate as a
    whole. With only one dissenting voice, that of Sen. Russ Feingold
    of Wisconsin, this bill was passed by the self-described "Greatest
    Deliberative Body in the World". Karen K. Narasaki, President
    of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, claims
    that the legislation is nothing more than "a prosecutor’s
    wish list of powers that allows them unchecked discretion to curtail
    the civil liberties of all Americans."

    Both
    Houses of Congress, with the lone exception of Rep. Barbara Lee,
    passed a War Powers Resolution essentially giving the President
    carte blanche in his prosecution of war and stifling dissent at
    home. This is nothing new for Congress. In the 73 military interventions
    by the United States since our last declaration of war (12/8/41),
    including major wars in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, Congress has
    consistently shirked the responsibility imposed upon it by the
    Constitution; to wit, "The Congress shall have the Power…To
    declare War." (Article I, Section 8)

    It
    is particularly interesting to note the reaction of Congress to
    the recent finding of anthrax in Sen. Tom Daschle's office. The
    Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, with the collaboration of
    Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, responded by adjourning the
    House for a week, thus confirming not only Twain's observation
    but also the terrorists' ability to disrupt our lives. To its
    credit, the Senate continued to meet under makeshift conditions.

    If
    the ghost of JFK were writing an update of Profiles
    in Courage
    at this time, it would rival in length The
    Wit and Wisdom of John Ashcroft and other recent classics
    of congressional fortitude. As Benjamin Franklin reminds us, “They
    that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

7.
The President has empowered the CIA, the same CIA that had no clue
of the 9/11 attack, to take unprecedented actions. As reported by
Bob Woodward in the Washington Post (10/21/01): "President
Bush last month signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to
undertake its most sweeping and lethal covert action since the founding
of the agency in 1947, explicitly calling for the destruction of
Osama bin Laden and his worldwide al Qaeda network, according to
senior government officials. The president also added more than
$1 billion to the agency’s war on terrorism, most of it for the
new covert action. The operation will include what officials said
is “unprecedented” coordination between the CIA and commando and
other military units. Officials said that the president, operating
through his “war cabinet,” has pledged to dispatch military units
to take advantage of the CIA’s latest and best intelligence."

Woodward
continues: "Though the new intelligence war presents the CIA
with an opportunity to excel, several officials noted that the campaign
is also fraught with risk. The agency is being assigned a monumental
task for which it is not fully equipped or trained, said one CIA
veteran who knows the agency from many perspectives. Human, on-the-ground
sources are scarce in the region and in the Muslim world in general.
Since the end of the Cold War more than a decade ago, the Directorate
of Operations (DO), which runs covert activity, has been out of
the business of funding and managing major lethal covert action.
The CIA has a history of bungling such operations going back to
the 1950s and 1960s, most notably when the agency unsuccessfully
plotted to assassinate Fidel Castro. In one of the celebrated anti-Castro
plots, a CIA agent code-named AM/LASH planned to use Blackleaf-40,
a high-grade poison, with a ballpoint-hypodermic needle on the Cuban
leader. The device was delivered on Nov. 22, 1963, and a later CIA
inspector general’s report noted it was likely “at the very moment
President Kennedy was shot.” Though no connections were ever established
between the Castro plots and the Kennedy assassination, the CIA’s
reputation was severely tarnished. The covert war in Nicaragua in
the 1980s was another source of negative publicity, as the CIA mined
harbors without adequate notification to Congress and published
a 90-page guerrilla-warfare manual on the “selective use of violence”
against targets such as judges, police and state security officials.
It became known as the “assassination manual.” William J. Casey,
President Ronald Reagan’s CIA director from 1981 to early 1987,
was mired in the disastrous outcome of the “off-the-books” operations
of the Iran-contra scandal. That scandal involved secret arms sales
to Iran and the illegal diversion of profits from those sales to
the contra rebels supported by the CIA in Nicaragua. Reagan and
Casey had trouble when they sought to punish covertly the terrorists
responsible for the 1983 truck bombing of the U.S. Marine compound
in Lebanon, which killed 241 American servicemen in the deadliest
terrorist attack on Americans before Sept. 11. Casey worked personally
and secretly with Saudi Arabia to plan the assassination of Muslim
leader Sheikh Fadlallah, the head of the Party of God or Hezbollah,
who was connected to the Marine bombing. The method of retaliation
was a massive car bomb that was exploded 50 yards from Fadlallah’s
residence in Beirut, killing 80 people and wounding 200 in 1985.
But Fadlallah escaped without injury. Since the Ford administration,
all presidents have signed an executive order banning the CIA or
any other U.S. government agency from involvement in political assassination."

In
defense of the CIA, FBI and other agencies charged with protecting
our borders, keep in mind the following facts. It is possible to
enter the United States from 3,700 terminals in 301 points of entry.
Annually there are 489 million people, 127 million cars and 211
thousand boats that enter our country. In addition, there are five
million forty-foot shipping containers that enter each year (one
million through Long Beach, CA). At Long Beach, each of these containers
is inspected for an average of 20 seconds, because thorough inspection
would take five inspectors three hours each to inspect. Could illicit
materials be brought into this country under such conditions?

8.
Once again we are continuing the cycle of stupidity that has led
to our support of the Ayatollah Khomani , Manual Noriega, Saddam
Hussian and countless other allies-turned-enemies since WW II. A
description of the history of our relationship with Osama Bin Laden
and the Taliban is instructive. As Arundhati Roy reported in the
Guardian (9/29/01):

"In
1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan’s
ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched the largest covert operation
in the history of the CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy
of Afghan resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war,
an Islamic jihad, which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet
Union against the communist regime and eventually destabilize it.
When it began, it was meant to be the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. It
turned out to be much more than that. Over the years, through the
ISI, the CIA funded and recruited almost 100,000 radical mojahedin
from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for America’s proxy war. The
rank and file of the mojahedin were unaware that their jihad was
actually being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam. (The irony is that
America was equally unaware that it was financing a future war against
itself.)"

Roy
continues: "Civil war in Afghanistan raged on. The jihad spread
to Chechnya, Kosovo and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued
to pour in money and military equipment, but the overheads had become
immense, and more money was needed. The mojahedin ordered farmers
to plant opium as a “revolutionary tax”. The ISI set up hundreds
of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the
CIA’s arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland had become the
biggest producer of heroin in the world, and the single biggest
source of the heroin on American streets. The annual profits, said
to be between $100 billion and $200 billion, were ploughed back
into training and arming militants."

Of
course, one of the Afghan "freedom fighters" was none
other that our current target, Osama Bin Laden.

To
top off this story, on 5/17/01, Secretary of State Colin Powell
announced a gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan,
for declaring that opium growing is "against the will of God".
As LA Times writer Robert Scheer so presciently noted (5/22/01),
"So, too, by the Taliban’s estimation, are most human activities,
but it’s the ban on drugs that catches this administration’s attention.

Finally,
a recent United Nations report indicated that 83% of the current
opium crop in Afghanistan, significantly curtailed under the Taliban,
is now under the control of our erstwhile allies, the Northern Alliance.

Anybody
see a pattern here? Now we are studiously courting the Northern
Alliance, a group with an exceedingly spotty record on humanitarian
issues, particularly toward women, as well as bringing into coalition
some of the most corrupt and dictatorial regimes on the planet,
all in the name of a "war on terrorism". As one member
of Congress related to me recently, "Our weapons always seem
to outlast our relationships."

Background
of the Attack

For
a moment, let us look as dispassionately as possible at the carnage
of September 11. First, it is clear that it was a diabolically brilliant
plan, executed with an enormous degree of professional skill. It
appears to be the most prominent in a series of attacks on US military
and economic targets, and I believe that it would be extremely dangerous
and irresponsible for us to ignore what seems to me to be a very
clear message; namely, that there are serious and competent people
who are upset enough with US military and economic aggression that
they are willing to take some despicable steps to make their point.
The recent anthrax attacks upon media and political officials suggest
that these groups may also be seen as complicit in terrorists' perceived
grievances. It should clearly be noted that to make these points
in no way excuses the crimes against humanity perpetrated on September
11.

Is
this anger at the US understandable? Consider the following quote,
made shortly after WW II: u2018We have about 60% of the world's wealth
but only 6.3% of its' population. In this situation we cannot fail
to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming
period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit
us to maintain this position of disparity. We need not deceive ourselves
that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction.
We should cease to talk about such vague and unreal objectives as
human rights, the raising of living standards and democratization.
The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight
power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans,
the better.” – George Kennan, former Head of the US State Department
Policy Planning Staff, Document PPS23, 24th February 1948. I consider
this statement to be the first and worst of a long series of similar
sentiments by government officials:

  1. Henry
    Kissinger was asked about the morality of a policy that encouraged
    the people to revolt against their central government in order
    to obtain a minor political gain for us – and then when
    we achieved other goals, we would betray the people and allowed
    them to be slaughtered. And Kissinger replied that covert
    military activity is not to be confused with missionary work.

  2. On
    September 11 1973, exactly 28 years before the fires of 9/11,
    the Presidential Palace in Chile was stormed. Kissinger had
    written the epitaph of Allende and Chilean democracy long
    before when he commented on the results of the elections:
    “I don’t see why we have to stand by and watch a country go
    communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”

  3. Leslie
    Stahl: “We have heard that a half million children have died
    (as a result of economic sanctions against Iraq) – more
    children than died in Hiroshima. …Is the price worth it?

  4. Madeleine
    Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price,
    we think the price is worth it.” ~ CBS
    60 Minutes Interview, May, 1996

  5. “If
    we have to use force, it is because we are America! We are
    the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into
    the future.” – Madeleine Albright (3/9/99)

  6. ”What
    we say, goes.” – President George Bush, in describing the
    New World Order during the Gulf War.

Two
brief quotes on the creation of terrorists:

  1. “We
    are creating an entire [Iraqi] generation learning to hate and
    that have experienced so much pain and suffering [under sanctions]
    that some of them may feel no other choice than to carry out
    terrorism and suicide bombings. We must heal [the humanitarian
    suffering in Iraq]. Everything we are doing is moving away from
    that healing process…We should consider a Marshall Plan for
    Iraq to end the suffering of sanctions and bring Iraq back into
    the family of nations.” (Scott Ritter, former UNSCOM weapons
    inspector – the United Nations arms inspection team –
    2/18/99)

  2. Former President Jimmy Carter stated, “We have only to go to
    Lebanon, to Syria, to Jordan, to witness firsthand the intense
    hatred among many people for the United States, because we bombed
    and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers,
    women and children and farmers and housewives, in those villages
    around Beirut…as a result, we have become a kind of Satan
    in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That is what
    precipitated the taking of hostages and that is what has precipitated
    some terrorist attacks.” (New York Times – 3/26/89)

Since
1890 the United States has been involved in 133 military interventions;
73 since WW II (courtesy of Zoltan
Grossman
).
Many of these interventions have been against our own American citizens,
but the vast majority have been inflicted upon people elsewhere
in the world. In addition, our government has been the primary sponsor
of other brutal dictatorships (and occasional "democracies")
in systematic "murder by proxy" for which we can be held
no less responsible. As Martin Luther King said in 1967, at the
height of the war in Vietnam, "’My government is the world’s
leading purveyor of violence." A detailed examination of our
country's activities may be found in the 8-part series, "Why
America is Hated", available upon request.

It
is conservatively estimated that the United States has been responsible
for at least eight million deaths across the world since the end
of WW II, so there would certainly be no shortage of potential terrorist
candidates. In particular we could consider Asia (Korea, Vietnam,
Cambodia, Indonesia, East Timor, Afghanistan), Africa (Algeria,
Congo, Sudan, Angola, Libya, Somalia), Central America (Cuba, Nicaragua,
Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Panama, Grenada, El Salvador, Haiti),
South America (Chile, Brazil, Argentina), the Balkans (Yugoslavia,
Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia) as potential harboring
grounds for those who wish us harm. However, if government reports
are to be believed, the focus today is on the Middle East as the
terrorist breeding ground of choice. Here again there is no shortage
of candidates – the installation of the Shah of Iran and the
resulting 70,000 deaths over the three decades of the Shah's rule;
the direct and proxy killing of tens of thousands in Lebanon, culminating
in the massacres at Sabra and Shatila by Israeli proxies in 1982
– but clearly the two most festering wounds are to be found
in Palestine and Iraq.

Israel/Palestine

Five
days before September 11th's tragedy I returned from
two weeks of training Palestinian mental health professionals in
techniques of treatment of psychological trauma. In the course of
our work, I had the opportunity to visit several refugee camps and
towns that had been the recent recipients of Israeli military action.
In Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem, we visited a Palestinian man
who had been involved for several years in joint Palestinian/Israeli
Boy Scout activities, at no little risk to himself as potentially
being seen as a collaborator. His house has been repeatedly shelled
and attacked by settlers and the Israeli Defense Forces, and while
we were there, we dug a piece of shrapnel out of his living room
wall which had American markings (I found similar markings on spent
weaponry in Iraq.). He is a kind and gentle man, and he said, “I
have worked for years for reconciliation, and is this how they repay
me?” In Ramallah, a female physician approached me at a break in
training to discuss more fully the possibilities of nonviolent direct
action, which I had mentioned in passing. Again, we have a highly
educated, compassionate Palestinian physician here. I was stunned
when she said, “When I pass the checkpoints, sometimes I think that
if I had a bomb, I would use it.” If highly trained and humanitarian
individuals such as these harbor such thoughts, one wonders what
individuals who have lived their lives with their family in a 15×15
concrete block room, with marginal food and only occasional running
water, with raw sewage running in the streets, with close friends
and relatives having been killed by American weaponry – one
wonders what must go through their minds. In Iraq I saw similar
devastation – thousands of children dying for the want of simple
antibiotics, with full knowledge that the cause of their distress
was my own government. I would submit that we could destroy every
marginal government in the world, and we still would have a major
problem on our hands.

A
recent report of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
provides details: "In the past year [9/29/00-9/28/01], 692
Palestinians were killed [recently updated to 898, including 698
Palestinians and 178 Israelis] and 15,833 injured by Israeli security
forces and 52 were assassinated (assassinations are considered to
be war crimes under the Hague Treaty of 1907). 166 of those killed
and 6000 of those injured were under the age of 18. According to
reports, 809 Palestinian homes were demolished, including 25 in
Jerusalem. At last count, 112,900 olive trees [a primary source
of income for many Palestinian families] were uprooted from Palestinian
land. 1,026 people were arrested or detained, among them 170 children,
ten women, and two doctors. Israel has attacked defenseless Palestinian
towns with [American-made] F-16 jets and used heavy equipment, including
tanks, against civilians. The daily loss to the Palestinian economy
is estimated at $12.7 million. The unemployment rate is now 50-60%.
Two million Palestinians (two-thirds of the total population) are
now living below the poverty line [less than $3 per day]. The total
economic loss is $6 billion. The Beit Jala Government Hospital,
the Dibs Hospital, the Malta Hospital, and the Yamama Hospital in
Bethlehem; the Beit Sahour Medical Center in Beit Sahour; the Alia
Hospital in Hebron all received direct hits. In Ramallah, rockets
hit the Early Childhood Center and a school for the blind. Several
private clinics were fired at with live ammunition. Israeli settlers,
using automatic weapons, attacked the Augusta Victoria Hospital
in Jerusalem, wounding the hospital security guard. The West Bank
and Gaza have been cut off from the outside world. The so-called
safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank has been closed for
the year. Almost all cities and villages are separated from each
other. Twenty-nine towns and villages are completely isolated."

Atrocities
have been committed by each side, as seen in the televised deaths
of 12-year-old Mohammed Al-Durah, and the murder if Israeli soldiers
in Ramallah. According to former Israeli parliamentarian Uri Avnery,
Israeli sharpshooters are being used to target the participants
in the uprisings, particularly the upper body (especially the eyes).

With
the issuance of the Balfour Declaration by Britain in November of
1917, Jews were promised British support for the establishment of
a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Little is said today of the second
part of the famous sentence promising a Jewish homeland, but it
goes on to say "…it being clearly understood that nothing shall
be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of
existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…." Since that
time, the Palestinian residents, through wars and other actions
not of their making, have been reduced to refugee and third-class
citizens on their own land. For example, within Israel itself there
is a 20% minority of Palestinians. These Israeli citizens must carry
identity cards listing their religion; they are barred from service
in the military (a prerequisite for advancement in Israeli society);
they are forbidden to reside in the 92% of Israel that is reserved
for Israeli Jews. They hold 8% of the seats in the Israeli Knesset
(Parliament), 6% of government jobs, one-half percent of the senior
jobs in government companies, and less than 1% of all professorships
in Israeli universities. There has never been an Israeli-Arab politician
in the cabinet, nor has there ever been a government ruling coalition
that contained an Israeli-Arab political party.

Many
Palestinians still live in refugee camps, with water available two
days a week, in full view of Israeli settlements with swimming pools
and irrigated lawns and gardens. Since the signing of the Oslo accords
in 1993, gross national product in the West Bank and Gaza has dropped
by 35%, with income per capita having dropped a thousand dollars
to $1500. While the economy is bad, the personal humiliation that
Palestinians suffer is even worse. I have witnessed myself severe
harassment of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers and settlers, harassment
which is generally suffered in silence, a silence which covers an
overpowering rage and anger. The West Bank is carved up by a series
of Israeli-only expressways, making travel within the West Bank
extraordinarily difficult, and army checkpoints are frequent. It
is impossible for a Palestinian Christian living in Bethlehem to
travel the seven miles to Jerusalem to worship at the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre, or for a Muslim in El Bireh to travel the ten
miles to Jerusalem to worship at al-Aqsa mosque.

As
Robert Fisk reported (10/9/01): "But when the terrifying details
of the hijacker Mohamed Atta’s will were published last week, dated
April 1996, no one could think of any event that month that might
have propelled Atta to his murderous behaviour. Not the Israeli
bombardment of southern Lebanon, nor the Qana massacre by Israeli
artillery of 106 Lebanese civilians in a UN base, more than half
of them children. For that’s what happened in April, 1996. No, of
course that slaughter is not excuse for the crimes against humanity
in the United States last month. But isn’t it worth just a little
mention, just a tiny observation, that an Egyptian mass-murderer
-to-be wrote a will of chilling suicidal finality in the month when
the massacre in Lebanon enraged Arabs across the Middle East?"

Without
a timely solution to this situation – Palestinians, Israelis
and Americans alike are in increased danger of mutual destruction
of massive proportions.

Iraq

Reliable
UN agencies put the figure for children's deaths in Iraq due to
the US/UK sanctions policy (do not be mislead by the fact that it
masquerades as "UN" policy) at 500,000 (additional unofficial
estimates go as high as 1,000,000). (For comparison purposes, the
total number of American battle deaths in the Civil War, the Spanish-American
War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnamese War were 566,000.)
A child dies from malnutrition, diarrhea, leukemia or curable infectious
disease every ten minutes. Thirteen percent of Iraqi infants do
not live to see their first birthday. The 160% increase in mortality
rate for children in just ten years exceeds that of any disease
in human history in so short a time. Iraqi physicians, once the
medical leaders of the Arab world, have not been able to access
medical texts and journals since 1990.

The
sanctions against Iraq, prior to the Gulf War one of the most advanced
societies in the Middle East, have reduced the economic output of
Iraq, a country of twenty-four million people, to less than one-half
of the economic output of metropolitan Ann Arbor, MI, my home town
of less than 1/100 the population of Iraq. In 1989 the Iraqi education
budget was $2.1 billion (supporting free education through graduate
school for any Iraqi citizen); ten years later it had been reduced
to $229 million. Literacy has gone from 90% to 66%. Of the $20 billion
(over three years) that has been provided through the Oil-for-Food
Program, $7 billion has gone for UN expenses and reparations, leaving
$13 billion for use by the Iraqi public. This figures out to about
$190 per person annually, or about 50c a day. Even in Iraq, it is
impossible to live on that sum.

The
"smart sanctions" proposed by the Bush administration
will have minimal positive effect, and according to former UN Humanitarian
Coordinator to Iraq Denis Halliday, may even do harm. The basic
problem is that Iraq has no access to their own oil reserves, and
"smart sanctions" are designed to reduce what little revenue
Iraq receives from minimal outside trade. It should be noted that
Iraq receives NO direct funds from the current Oil-for-Food program.
All funds are held in escrow by the UN and released for purchases
approved by the UN "661 committee", in which, as it does
in the Security Council, the US has a frequently-exercised veto.

We
are bombing Iraq about every third day, at a cost of approximately
one billion dollars per year. (For that figure we could put an additional
teacher or social worker in every middle and high school in the
United States.) The "no-fly zones", originally a US/UK/France
invention (France has since withdrawn), have NO standing with the
UN or in international law. Over 300 civilians have been killed
by these "routine" bombings, with countless others injured.

It
is clear that the United States, from the outset of the Gulf War,
planned the ultimate sanctions policy which has resulted in such
devastation for the Iraqi people. Col. John Warden explained our
Gulf War bombing of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure. “Saddam Hussein
cannot restore his own electricity. … It gives us long-term leverage.”
A Pentagon officer added, “People say, ‘You didn’t recognize that
it was going to have an effect on water or sewage.’ Well, what were
we trying to do with sanctions – – help out the Iraqi
people? No. What we were doing with the attacks on infrastructure
was to accelerate the effect of sanctions.” – Washington
Post (6/23/91)

The
above information, readily available from UN sources, is virtually
unknown to the American public because of media disinterest or incompetence,
but is common knowledge in the Arab world. There is no more succinct
summary of sanctions than that given by Rep. David Bonior (MI),
"[Sanctions constitute] infanticide raised to the level of
policy.”

Nature
of Future Attacks

I
do not wish to be pessimistic, but I have had some chilling thoughts
on the potential for future disaster. First, I think it important
that we recognize what did NOT happen on 9/11. The loss of life,
while in the thousands, could easily have been in the hundreds of
thousands, even millions.

Any
group capable of Tuesday’s attack must have access to chemical and
biological weapons, and probably nuclear as well. Though certainly
not an expert, I believe that such weapons would, in fact, be much
easier to use, and require fewer conspirators, than Tuesday’s attack.
They would also be virtually unstoppable. For example, a nuclear
physicist here at the University of Michigan told me in 1996 that
two ping-pong ball-sized pieces of refined plutonium, if touched
together, would cause an explosion equivalent to two Hiroshima bombs.
This could easily be done by a single individual. Such materials
appeared on the black market after the collapse of the Soviet Union,
and have already been intercepted in Germany. No one knows where
these materials might be now. I believe this to be a very real threat,
and if current trends in US policies continue, I would be surprised
if we were not the victims of such an attack within the next few
years.

With
respect to biological/chemical weaponry, it is estimated that more
than ten nations have current capability to produce weapons-grade
material. Some 46 labs worldwide offer anthrax for sale. In fact,
Saddam Hussein purchased his initial stock of biological agents,
including anthrax, from the American Type Culture Collection in
Rockville, MD. There are approximately 1500 germ banks throughout
the world, providing cultures to tens of thousands of researchers.
It would be extraordinarily naïve for us to assume that the
security in each of these labs is sufficient to prevent potential
terrorist incursion.

Origin
of Future Attacks

As
indicated above, terrorist possibilities may at least be found in
some twenty nine countries on four continents. However, it would
also be wise to remember that prior to 9/11, the most devastating
terrorist attack in our history was committed by American citizens,
in fact, American veterans who learned their trade during the Gulf
War. There are many among us who harbor resentments, real or imagined,
due to the fact that the United States leads the industrialized
world (in term of rates per capita) in billionaires, children living
in poverty, wealth, income inequality, population without health
care, infant mortality, death of children under 5 years old, highest
paid athletes, lowest paid teachers, homelessness, shortest life
expectancy, executive salaries, pay inequality between executives
and average workers, percentage of population who have been victim
of a crime, murder rate, murder of children, firearm deaths, reported
rapes, percent of population incarcerated and capital punishment.
Many of these individuals might be capable of extreme violence,
but in order to understand the underlying rage, it is important
to understand the nature of violence in general.

The
Nature of Violence

Violence
consists of actions which are designed to cause physical, mental,
economic or other harm to others, and/or to benefit the self at
the EXPENSE OF OTHERS. It always contains an element of "I
am better / more deserving / more needy / etc." than the victim
of the violence. It usually

    1. involves
      a power differential, with most (but not all) of the violence
      going from the more powerful toward the less powerful,
    2. violates
      the common religious/ethical concept of "treating others
      as you wish to be treated yourself", and
    3. ends
      with feelings of "righteous justification" on the
      part of the perpetrator and "anger/frustration/helplessness/hopelessness"
      on the part of the victim.

It
is critical to note that violence is not just physical, in fact,
I would suggest that violence is not even primarily physical. Neil
Wollman and Bradley Yoder have recently constructed a violence index
for the United States in which violence is subdivided into "Personal"
and "Societal" categories, where Personal contains most
of the actions normally thought of as violent, such as physically
violent crimes, but also containing crimes that are not physically
violent, such as burglary, embezzlement, etc. Societal violence
is a much broader category, and contains items such as social negligence/poverty,
misapplications of criminal justice, as well as environmental, economic,
racial*, gender* and medical coercion. (*Not included by Wollman/Yoder).
Note that, by and large, personal violence is illegal, whereas societal
violence is legal. (For a classic example of societal economic violence
see the NY Times front page article "Bailout for Airlines
Showed the Weight of a Mighty Lobby" – 10/10/01.)

This
leads to a speculation about hierarchies of violence, with types
of physical violence at the bottom, and types of societal violence
at the top. The lower in the hierarchy (e.g. physical), the more
widely available is the form of violence. That is, physical violence
is potentially available to almost everyone, and from numerous studies
(e.g., Stanley Milgram's obedience to authority studies) we must
reluctantly conclude that almost everyone is capable of physical
violence under appropriate circumstances. Higher forms of violence
(e.g., economic) are reserved for those with the resources to implement
them, and usually higher forms of violence are more likely to be
successful over lower forms of violence. In general, people will
use the highest form of violence available to them, because

    1. it is less physically (and otherwise) dangerous,
    2. the power differentials (and likelihood of success) are greater,
      and
    3. it
      is more likely to be legal.

Violence
of any type tends to evoke a violent response. Again, people will
tend to respond with the highest form of violence available to them,
which would sometimes be a form of societal violence, but would
always include as an option some form of physical violence. Thus,
for example, the Palestinian children who throw stones are responding
not just to Israeli military actions (physical violence), but also
(even more so) to social negligence, misapplications of criminal
justice, harassment, and grinding poverty (societal violence). They
are responding to societal violence with physical violence, the
only form of violence available to them.

One
other important concept is that of humiliation (Lindner, 2001).
Basically Lindner has found that when humiliation is added to the
violence matrix, the resulting violent response is intensified.
It can certainly be argued that humiliation is present in spades
through past actions of the United States and its surrogates, so
the intensity of the violent reaction is hardly surprising.

Back
in the early 70's, Abraham Maslow defined a basic hierarchy of needs,
ranging from the most basic (physiological – hunger, thirst),
to safety, to belongingness/love, to esteem, to self-actualization
(the highest). When lower needs are unsatisfied, higher needs cannot
be met. And when lower needs are unsatisfied, violence is almost
certain to have occurred, and a violent reaction may be anticipated.
In other words, when Maslow’s needs are not met, it provides a fertile
ground for despair to grow, supplemented by religious fanaticism.
Our task then, is to see that these lower-hierarchy needs are satisfied
throughout the world, both as part of a moral and ethical duty,
and as a means of protecting ourselves.

Immediate
Future Actions

1.
What do we do now? Certainly the perpetrators of Tuesday’s act must
be brought to justice. The following are a combination of suggestions
of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Australian Nicholas
Abbey.

a.
Convene a meeting of the Security Council.

b.
Request that the perpetrators of September 11 be tried in absentia
in an ad hoc international court pending the establishment of
the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC could be a powerful
institution to bring to justice those who commit crimes against
humanity. This international court should have authority to seek
out, extradite or arrest and try those responsible for the September
11 attack and those who commit or are conspiring to commit future
attacks.

c.
Establish an international military or police force under the
control of UN which can effectuate the arrests of those responsible
for the September 11 attacks and those who commit or are conspiring
to commit future attacks. It is crucial that such force should
be under control of the UN and not a mere fig leaf for the United
States as was the case in the war against Iraq.

However,
there is no short-term solution to terrorism. I’m convinced that
the only reasonable road to take involves a close and painful examination
of our role in the world. People do hate us, and even though we
might disagree with the reasons, it is crucial that we understand
and respond to them if we want to avoid even greater disaster in
the time to come.

2.
Stop the bombing of Afghanistan and start serious relief work immediately
to avert a human catastrophe as winter approaches. Arundhati Roy
(10/23/01) states, "Reports have begun to trickle in about
civilian casualties, about cities emptying out as Afghan civilians
flock to the borders which have been closed. Main arterial roads
have been blown up or sealed off. Those who have experience of working
in Afghanistan say that by early November, food convoys will not
be able to reach the millions of Afghans (7.5m, according to the
UN) who run the very real risk of starving to death during the course
of this winter. They say that in the days that are left before winter
sets in, there can either be a war, or an attempt to reach food
to the hungry. Not both. As a gesture of humanitarian support, the
US government air-dropped 37,000 packets of emergency rations into
Afghanistan. It says it plans to drop a total of 500,000 packets.
That will still only add up to a single meal for half a million
people out of the several million in dire need of food. Aid workers
have condemned it as a cynical, dangerous, public-relations exercise….After
three years of unremitting drought, an air-dropped airline meal
in Jalalabad! The level of cultural ineptitude, the failure to understand
what months of relentless hunger and grinding poverty really mean,
the US governments attempt to use even this abject misery to boost
its self-image, beggars description."

Recently
Barbara Kingsolver wrote, "The word u2018intelligence' keeps cropping
up, but I feel like I’m standing on a playground where the little
boys are all screaming at each other, u2018He started it!' and throwing
rocks that keep taking out another eye, another tooth. I keep looking
around for somebody’s mother to come on the scene saying, u2018Boys!
Boys! Who started it cannot possibly be the issue here. People are
getting hurt.' I am somebody’s mother, so I will say that now: The
issue is, people are getting hurt. We need to take a moment’s time
out to review the monstrous waste of an endless cycle of retaliation.
The biggest weapons don’t win this one, guys. When there are people
on Earth willing to give up their lives in hatred and use our own
domestic airplanes as bombs, it’s clear that we can’t out-technologize
them. You can’t beat cancer by killing every cell in the body –
or you could, I guess, but the point would be lost. This is a war
of who can hate the most. There is no limit to that escalation.
It will only end when we have the guts to say it really doesn’t
matter who started it, and begin to try and understand, then alter
the forces that generate hatred."

3. End aid to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority

Lets
not pretend here; realistically this means ending aid to Israel
(the PA "only" receives aid in the millions). Derrick
Jackson reports in the Boston Globe (9/21/01) that "Since World
War II, and despite some ups and downs in our relationship, Israel
has been the largest total recipient of American aid, between $81
billion, according to the Congressional Research Service, and $92
billion, according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,
a think
tank founded by former American foreign service officers. The beginning
of large-scale sales to Israel began with the selling of Hawk missiles
by President John F. Kennedy. Today, Israel has 320 American-made
F-16 fighter planes, more than any other nation in the world except
for the United States. Israel has ordered 100 more, which will be
delivered through 2009. While Palestinian children are criminalized
for throwing rocks, Israel has not been seriously criticized for
using its 50 American-made Apache helicopters (with orders for 29
more) to attack Palestinians with laser-guided missiles. According
to Newsweek last month, US-made helicopters have been involved in
nine of 29 assassination attempts by Israel. u2018We spend a lot of
money buying arms in the United States,' Shlomo Dror, an Israeli
defense spokesman, told Newsweek. u2018I’m sure US companies
would not want that to change.'”

Jimmy
Carter, in a Washington Post article just less than a year
ago (11/26/00) wrote, "An underlying reason that years of U.S.
diplomacy have failed and violence in the Middle East persists is
that some Israeli leaders continue to “create facts” by building
settlements in occupied territory. Their deliberate placement as
islands or fortresses within Palestinian areas makes the settlers
vulnerable to attack without massive military protection, frustrates
Israelis who seek peace and at the same time prevents any Palestinian
government from enjoying effective territorial integrity. At Camp
David in September 1978, President Anwar Sadat, Prime Minister Menachem
Begin and I spent most of our time debating this issue before we
finally agreed on terms for peace between Egypt and Israel and for
the resolution of issues concerning the Palestinian people. The
bilateral provisions led to a comprehensive and lasting treaty between
Egypt and Israel, made possible at the last minute by Israel’s agreement
to remove its settlers from the Sinai. But similar constraints concerning
the status of the West Bank and Gaza have not been honored, and
have led to continuing confrontation and violence."

I
am personally convinced that Israeli intransigence, and unquestioning
American support, on the settlement issue (as well as others) has
now cost significant loss of American life. While I hold American
lives to be no more valuable than those of Israelis, Palestinians,
or other citizens of the world, I believe that as the facts of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict come more to the forefront of American
consciousness, our continuing blind support of Israeli policies
(and the resulting loss of American life) will not be acceptable
to American voters.

It
is clear that both Israelis and Palestinians have committed atrocities
against each other for more than a half century. However, there
is a vast disproportionality in the responsibility for these acts.
B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, reports fatalities
prior to the start of the al Aqsa intifada in an approximate eight
to one ratio, Palestinian to Israeli (a ratio which I assume most
Americans and many Israelis would think to be the reverse). I believe
that this eight to one ratio is also a useful number to keep in
mind in terms of assigning responsibility for the current situation,
and also for assigning responsibility for compromise to achieve
a just and lasting peace in the area. Let me speak plainly –
if Israel continues its current intransigence with respect to Palestinians,
there will soon be a terrible price to pay for both Israelis and
the rest of the world.

I
am sorry if I have offended my Israeli and Palestinian friends with
the above analysis, but good friends speak the truth to each other.
I am convinced that only a full understanding of the facts of the
situation will lead to productive resolution. I am also painfully
aware of the culpability of my own government, myself and my fellow
citizens for not acting earlier to prevent the deaths that have
occurred within both the Palestinian and Israeli communities, and
now on American soil.

4.
End the Economic Sanctions Against Iraq.

Richard
Butler, the controversial former head of UNSCOM (the United Nations
arms inspection team), has publicly criticized the sanctions imposed
on Baghdad after the Gulf War. “I deeply believe that sanctions
as now applied to Iraq have been utterly counterproductive for this
disarmament purpose.” (6/4/00)

“One
of the things we’ve used as a weapon, which I think is counterproductive,
are sanctions. I think in every instance where we have sustained
sanctions, they are counterproductive. In Iraq, Iran, Libya, Cuba,
North Korea – we demonize those nations in their entirety.
And the only demon in those countries, if there is one, would be
the leader. But if we impose a sanction against the people who are
already suffering under a despot, we tend to make a despot popular.
And we give him an opportunity to say, ‘All of the economic woes
that you suffer are not because of my misrule, they’re because of
the American sanctions.’ In addition to that, we hurt the people
severely…And if we had full diplomatic relations with the countries
that I have mentioned, there would be some restraint from that,
but it’s really shocking to look at the World Health Organization
and the United Nation’s statistics of the instance of disease and
the shortened life expectancy of the children in Iraq. It’s hard
to talk about this because some people are afraid you’re defending
Saddam Hussein. I think the best way to change the government of
Iraq and Cuba and others, is to abandon our sanctions and let there
be free trade, free visitation, then give them the food and medicine
they need and let them see the advantages of trading with us and
then maybe we can open their eyes to what freedom and democracy
really mean.” – Former President Jimmy Carter

"But
I think that the targeting of innocent civilians is the worst thing
about modern conflicts today. And the extent to which more and more
people seem to believe it is legitimate to target innocent civilians
to reach their larger political goals, I think that’s something
that has to be resisted at every turn…And when people take on
others, they ought to be those that have the responsibility for
defending – – if somebody wants to fight, at least they ought
to leave the civilians alone." President Bill Clinton (3/21/00)

Again,
let me speak plainly. Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark has claimed
that we are committing genocide against the Iraqi people. Not only
is he correct, but that view is widely held in the Arab world. Would
this not make the terrorist options described above plausible to
individuals and organizations living under conditions for which
the United States is primarily responsible? Make no mistake, I condemn
genocide and killing in all forms, but we ignore the actions of
our government only at the risk of additional horrible acts against
innocent American citizens.

Long
Term Future Actions

As
Pogo said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." I believe
that American citizens are at a critical choice point. One choice
is to continue the status quo, which means exporting "the new
world order" to the rest of the world, which I believe will
inevitably led to the fall of the "American empire". It
is hubris in the extreme to assume that the American empire will
somehow last forever, ignoring the fate of all other empires throughout
thousands of years of recorded history. Hopefully the memory of
fall of the Soviet empire just over a decade ago will sound an alarm.

The
second choice is to seize the opportunity to recapture our democracy
and build a culture in which the valuable and productive parts of
the American experience would bring benefits to ourselves and to
the entire world. In order to do this, I believe there are several
specific long term steps that we need to consider at this time,
both political and personal.

Political
Changes

1.
We must do something about the arrogance of the United States. At
the turn of the last century, US Senator Albert Beveridge (1/9/1900)
said, “We are the ruling race of the world . . . We will not renounce
our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the
civilization of the world . . . He has marked us as his chosen people
. . . He has made us adept in government that we may administer
government among savage and senile peoples.” While no politician
today could get away with such an outrageous statement, we have
failed to approve the Convention on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms,
the Verification Protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention,
the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Land Mines Treaty,
and the Kyoto Climate Protocol. In addition, we are apparently going
to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and we effectively left the recent
Durban Conference on Racism. For many years we have been in arrears
on our dues to the United Nations. What kind of message does this
send to the rest of the world? Perhaps one clue is that we were
voted off UN Human-Rights panel (5/01). September 11 may have been
another.

2.
If we really want to reduce the terrorist threat and promote democracy
in other parts of the world, we must move immediately to address
worldwide the roots of terrorism – poverty, lack of education,
inadequate food and water, and insufficient medical care. Hans Sponeck,
former United Nations Coordinator for Iraq, wrote in a Geneva newspaper
(9/13/01), "Hard and uncompromising questions about the causes
of hate and terrorism, its extremest manifestation, will have to
be asked with a sense of urgency, particularly among the leaders
of the G8. There can be no room for excuses. Nor will high-spirited
rhetoric suffice. The world has heard enough about good intentions
and seen so pitifully little action in addressing poverty, improving
education and providing basic health services for all. The resources
are there and political commitment must make them available. "

3.
Establish a true American Democracy. Politicians know that to refer
to America as a democracy is a guaranteed applause line. And yet,
time and time again, when there are attempts to actually increase
democratic participation in our government, they suddenly come up
with reasons why it won’t work – "the system will be abused",
"people won't make informed choices", etc. Here's my proposal:
REQUIRE ALL CITIZENS TO VOTE – every election, every time.
Reward them if they do; fine them if they don't. Make getting a
driver's license, registering for school, buying Blizzards at Dairy
Queen – well, you get the idea – make every privilege
in the country conditional on a proven voting record. If people
are going to live here and reap the benefits of our country, then
they can sure take enough ownership in the system to vote.

4.
While everybody is voting, I have a suggestion: Vote only women
and minorities into office. Let's face it, European-heritage white
males (like me) have had their way for several centuries, and look
where we've taken us. Thirty years of psychological clinical experience
and fifty years of political observation suggest strongly to me
that the particular skills that women and minorities have in the
areas of cooperation and empathy would serve us well in the centuries
ahead. Certainly there are exceptions (Margaret Thatcher, Madeline
Albright and Clarence Thomas come to mind), but can you imagine
that there would be starving children or indentured servitude in
the United States if women and minorities were in control? Would
they be discussing a missile defense shield?…or making real changes
in the education of our children. I believe that women and minorities
should set as a goal occupying a majority of local offices by 2006,
a majority of state governments by 2010, a majority of federal offices
(including the Presidency) by 2016, and a majority of the Supreme
Court by 2020.

It's
really just a numbers game. There are 52,770 local governments (county-3,043,
municipal-19,372, township-16,629, school district-13,726), containing
some 400,000 seats. Clearly there are this many qualified women
and minorities. And there are lots more women and minorities than
there are white men. The math is simple – it only requires
effort. I would further suggest that successful political movements
never build from the top (President, House, Senate) down, but rather
from the bottom up. As former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said,
“All politics is local.” The key to a hopeful future lies in the
number of school board and council seats women and minorities are
able to contest and capture.

5.
Cut the defense budget by at least 50%. Consider the following facts:

  1. a.
    The US is responsible
    for 36% of the world’s military expenditures, more that the next
    12 countries combined.
  2. b.
    The US military budget
    is 22 times that of the 7 “rogue states” (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya,
    N. Korea, Sudan, Syria).
  3. c.
    The combined military
    budgets of the 9 potential enemies of the US (rogue states + China
    and Russia) are 35% of the US military budget.
  4. d.
    We are the number one arms dealer in the world, and number one
    in nuclear weapons. Many would consider this as it should be,
    since there is an impression that the military establishment is
    financed out of a bottomless pit of money, but consider….
  5. e.
    For the cost of a Stealth bomber (about 1 billion), we could put
    an additional teacher/social worker into EACH middle and high
    school in the country.
  6. f.
    In my home town, Ann Arbor, MI, the residents and businesses through
    income tax payments contribute over $380,000,000 annually to the
    cost of present and past military-related activities (over $3500
    per capita), an amount 25% GREATER THAN THE ANNUAL CITY AND SCHOOL
    BUDGETS COMBINED. There are priorities at work here, and I would
    submit, a powerful political argument to be made. It cannot be
    the case that Ann Arbor is unique in this respect. This argument
    must be made, and made at the local level!

The
danger of a bloated military is that reasonable options to solving
international disputes are never considered – reminiscent of
the adage "if you give a man a hammer, everything begins to
look like a nail". Or as Madeline Albright said to Gen. Colin
Powell prior to the Gulf war: “What good is this marvelous military
force, if we can never use it?”

Remember
that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket
fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger
and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world
in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of
its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud
of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
– President Dwight Eisenhower, from the Chance for Peace address
delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April
16, 1953.

6.
Over the last several decades there has been a frightening concentration
of power in the hands of a limited number of individuals. In particular,
economic, political and media power has been thusly concentrated.
In 1812, Jefferson warned us, “We must crush in its birth the
aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to
bid defiance to the laws of our country.” While I don't have a
rapid solution for this one, it seems clear that we need to extend
democracy into economic, political and media realms. Here are
a couple of ideas for doing so:

  1. Have
    a seriously progressive income tax (95% or so upper marginal
    rate). Now I have nothing against Bill Gates or Warren Buffet
    – I assume they are very nice men – but does it
    really make sense for single individuals to control more wealth
    than many of the nations of the world? On a trip to the Soviet
    Union in 1974, at the height of the Cold War, I was experiencing
    a great deal of distress at the oppressive conditions under
    which the average Soviet citizen was attempting to live. However,
    I was delighted to learn that the highest-paid individual
    under that system was the head clown at the Moscow Circus.
    What kind of country would we have if the highest paid individual
    was the best teacher, the best firefighter, the best nurse,
    or the best mechanic?

  2. Get serious about campaign finance reform: When people in this
    country pay money, they expect something in return. u2018Nuff said.

  3. Does anybody but me miss the competition between newspapers? I
    don't know how to go back to the past (maybe by having the internet
    replace current media sources), but the dearth of divergent views
    in the media is most disconcerting to me.

7.
We are seriously shortchanging our children by plunking them in
front of TVs while we go about the business of making money. By
the time they are 13 children in America have witnessed on television
100,000 acts of violence, including 20,000 murders. They spend more
time watching television than performing any other activity (including
school and play) except for sleeping. A quarter century of scientific
evidence closely establishes the link between violent TV and violent
behavior – interestingly, information which has not been reported
to the general public. We also know that active, participatory learning
is much more powerful than passive (e.g., watching TV) learning,
so what will we find in the next decade from a generation of children
weaned on violent video/computer games, and not long after that,
a generation weaned on violent virtual reality games? In addition
to increasing violence, we are destroying the ability to think critically,
a commodity who's short supply should be obvious to all of us in
the current crisis.

I
don't have a particular solution for TV except media responsibility
and more parental involvement, but I do have a proposal for increasing
the experience of our youth and sharpening their critical faculties.
I am convinced that an optimal way to do this is through the requirement
of one or two years of national service for all citizens upon graduating/leaving
high school. This service would be composed of activities based
on those carried out in the past by the Work Project Administration
and presently engaged in by Vista, the Peace Corps, and similar
organizations. Youth would earn credits to pay for later occupational
training, college, etc., and ideally all youth would be required
to perform a variety of tasks (manual labor, clerical work, teaching,
and so on). Some part of the obligation would require work and travel
outside the United States, so that the insular attitude so endemic
among many Americans today could be addressed.

Certainly
there are many other excellent possibilities for political and legislative
change, but I'm certain that the adoption of the above ideas would
lead to a sea change for the betterment of both Americans and citizens
of the world at large.

Personal
Changes

My
friend and colleague Helen Fox (9/21/01) wrote the following in
response to the 9/11 tragedy: "Politicians and military brass
make a strong show of their religious convictions in times like
these. They call for a moment of silence. They show up at the National
Cathedral. They have visited Mosques in New York and Washington,
along with the news media. Yet major tenets of all the great religions
are: the
love of life, and
the restraint from violence.

The
Talmud states, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow
man. That is the entire law, all the rest is commentary." Hinduism
and Buddhism offer similar expressions of the Golden Rule: “This
is the sum of duty; do naught to others which if done to thee would
cause thee pain.” says the Hindu Mahabharata. Buddhism teaches,
“Hurt not others with that which pains yourself." The Koran
tells Muslims that they are not allowed to kill women or children
or unarmed men. It is prohibited to destroy buildings. It is prohibited
to destroy a tree that has a green leaf. Christianity teaches: Love
your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to those that hate
you. When someone strikes you, present to him other cheek. Resist
not evil. What happens to these teachings when our emotions tell
us to attack and seek revenge? Isn't this exactly the moment those
teachings were designed for?"

So
let us be nonviolent and kind toward one another. For me (and most
other white males) in particular, this is a difficult task, and
I'm certain that my struggles with kindness are evident in various
parts of this essay. If I was overly harsh toward my colleagues
in politics and the media, I apologize, but I have been extraordinarily
distressed by many of your actions over the last decade.

We
must remember, however, that nonviolence is not passivity, as Gandhi
clearly indicated when he said, "Without a direct active expression
of it, nonviolence, to my mind, in meaningless." To espouse
this great religious/ethical principle of nonviolence and kindness
toward one another requires commitment and active participation.

In
another era, Dr. Martin Luther King, in his famous “Letter from
Birmingham Jail”, admonished the “white moderates” who are “more
devoted to `order’ than to justice” on their lack of active participation
in the cause of human rights. To that list I would add Black, Asian,
Hispanic, Christian, Muslim and Jewish “moderates”, who may recognize
problems in our own country and worldwide challenges to human rights,
but have not taken action. Dr. King said, “Shallow understanding
from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding
from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering
than outright rejection.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu states, “If you
are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side
of the oppressor.” Also remember Dante's warning that "the
hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a moment of
moral crisis seek to maintain their neutrality."

Can
we be effective? Again, let's look for guidance from Dr. King, who
said, "…it does not require a majority to prevail,
but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in
people’s minds." And of course remember Margaret Mead's guiding
principle – "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing
that ever has."

TAKE
ACTION IMMEDIATELY – TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY – TAKE ACTION
IMMEDIATELY –

TAKE
ACTION IMMEDIATELY – TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY – TAKE ACTION
IMMEDIATELY –

Please
contact your political representatives immediately and request that
they

  1. Stop
    the bombing of Afghanistan,
  2. Pressure
    Israel to cease its current attack upon Palestinians, and
  3. Work
    to eliminate the crippling economic sanctions against Iraq.

And
don't forget, most of all, to keep up the pressure. The changes
that are needed will require continuing efforts of all of us. Perhaps
Gandhi's admonition says it best: "Recall the face of the poorest
and most helpless person you have seen and ask yourself if the next
step you contemplate is going to be of any use to that person."

You
can easily find how to contact for your own U.S. Senators and Congresspeople
at http://government.aol.com.

To
begin, here are four important people to address:

President
George W. Bush
The
White House
1600
Pennsylvanian Avenue
Washington,
DC 20500
Phone:
(202) 456-1414
Fax: (202) 456-2461
E-mail: president@whitehouse.gov

Vice
President Dick Cheney
(The
White House, as above)

Condoleezza
Rice
National
Security Advisor
(The
White House, as above)

Secretary
of State Colin Powell

U.S.
Department of State
2201
C Street, NW
Washington,
DC 20520
Phone:
(202) 647-4000
Fax: (202) 261-8577
E-mail: secretary@state.gov

CHOOSING
HOW YOU WISH TO COMMUNICATE

Not
all contacts get the same attention. Opinions vary about what kind
of communication makes the biggest difference.

The
following scale of effectiveness, although not true science, is
said to generally apply:

E-mail
or petition: Least effective (and sometimes disregarded, due to
government mailboxes filled with “spam.”)

Faxed
message: 10 times more effective

Personal
phone call: 100 times more effective

Personal
letter: 1000 times more effective

Personal
visit: Most effective

TAKE
ACTION IMMEDIATELY – TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY – TAKE ACTION
IMMEDIATELY –

TAKE
ACTION IMMEDIATELY – TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY – TAKE ACTION
IMMEDIATELY –

October
27, 2001

Bill
Thompson (send him mail)
is on the faculty of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where
he teaches in the areas of clinical psychology and nonviolence/violence.
He is also a clinical psychologist in private practice, with specific
expertise in the treatment of psychological trauma. He first became
intimately acquainted with the Middle East in 1992, and since that
time has made five trips to Israel/Palestine, three to Jordan, and
two to Iraq. In August-September 2001 he organized a group of international
trauma experts for two weeks of training of Palestinian mental health
professionals in the West Bank and Gaza. He has been involved in
anti-war and nonviolence activities since the Vietnam era.

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