It’s that time of year again – the anniversary of the attack on the twin trade towers of New York City on September 11th 2001. Regardless of what theories you may have about the facts behind the shocking assault, there’s no disputing the fact that it happened: the buildings collapsed and nearly 3000 lives were lost.
This week, after a year-long period of silence, the self-confessed perpetrator of the attack, Al Quiada leader Osama Bin Laden spoke, ending speculation that he may have died. On a blurry video tape first shown on Al Jazeera Television, the soft-spoken icon delivered an address to the American people.
Predictably, the media dismissed the tape as threats and propaganda, focusing instead on appearance (‘the face of evil’, ‘he’s put on weight!’, ‘he’s dyed his beard!’) and sensationalism (‘He tells America to embrace Islam!’). The meat of the matter of his message was ignored. Perhaps unsurprisingly, for as Bin Laden points out during the opening of his speech:
“Your information media during the first years of the war lost its credibility and manifested itself as a tool of the colonialist empires, and its condition has often been worse than the condition of the media of the dictatorial regimes which march in the caravan of the single leader.”
And it’s unlikely that many, if any, American TV channels or popular newspapers will present their listeners and readers with the most urgent part of Bin Laden’s message. God forbid! It might make sense to them. It might make even them think.
After examining the transcribed text of Osama’s address, I found much of what he said made sense to me. After condensing and editing, this following version of the speech might make sense to you too –
“Why are the leaders of the White House keen to start wars and wage them around the world, and make use of every possible opportunity through which they can reach this purpose, occasionally even creating justifications based on deception and blatant lies, as you saw in Iraq?
In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. When Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation.
And so Kennedy was killed, and those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing. The war continued after that for approximately one decade. But after it became clear to you that it was an unjust and unnecessary war, you made one of your greatest mistakes, in that you neither brought to account nor punished those who waged this war, not even the most violent of its murderers, Rumsfeld. Even more incredible is that Bush picked him as Secretary of Defense in his first term after picking Cheney as his vice president, Powell as secretary of state and Armitage as Powell’s deputy, despite their horrific and blood history of murdering humans. It was a clear signal that his administration – the administration of the generals- didn’t have as its main concern the serving of humanity, but rather, was interested in bringing about new massacres. Yet in spite of that, you permitted Bush to complete his first term, and stranger still, chose him for a second term, which gave him a clear mandate from you – with your full knowledge and consent – to continue to murder our people in Iraq and Afghanistan.
History shows the genocide and holocausts which took place at your hands: only a few specimens of Red Indians were spared, and just a few days ago, the Japanese observed the 62nd anniversary of the annihilation of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by your nuclear weapons.
Then you claim to be innocent! It is impossible to humor any of you in the arrogance and indifference you show for the lives of humans outside America, or to humor your leaders in their lying, as the entire world knows they have the lion’s share of that. Not taking past war criminals to account led to them repeating that crime of killing humanity without right and waging this unjust war in Mesopotamia.
“This war was entirely unnecessary, as testified to by your own reports. Among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn’t like those who give advice. The entire world came out in unprecedented demonstrations to warn against waging the war and describe its true nature in eloquent terms like “no to spilling red blood for black oil,” yet he paid them no heed.
It is time for humankind to know that talk of ‘the rights of man’ and ‘freedom’ are lies produced by the White House and its allies in Europe to deceive humans, take control of their destinies and subjugate them.
Among the things which catch the eye of the repercussions of your unjust war against Iraq is the failure of your democratic system, despite it raising of the slogans of ‘justice, liberty, equality and humanitarianism’. It has not only failed to achieve these things, it has actually destroyed these and other concepts with its weapons – especially in Iraq and Afghanistan- in a brazen fashion, to replace them with fear, destruction, killing, hunger, illness, displacement and more than a million orphans in Baghdad alone, not to mention hundreds of thousands of widows. Americans statistics speak of the killing of more than 650,000 of the people of Iraq as a result of the war and its repercussions.
People of America: the people of the world have recently come to know that, after several years of the tragedies of this war, the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven’t made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there, which has led to your disappointment.
And here is the gist of the matter, so one should pause, think and reflect: why have the Democrats failed to stop this war, despite them being the majority?
The answer to this question is: they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war. Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital. And since the democratic system permits major corporations to back candidates, be they presidential or congressional, there shouldn’t be any cause for astonishment in the Democrats’ failure to stop the war.
You’re the ones who have the saying which goes, “Money talks.” After the failure of your representatives in the Democratic Party to implement your desire to stop the war, you can still carry anti-war placards and spread out in the streets of major cities, then go back to your homes, but that will be of no use and will lead to the prolonging of the war.
It has now become clear to you and the entire world the impotence of your ‘democratic’ system and how it plays with the interests of the peoples and their blood by sacrificing soldiers and populations to achieve the interests of the major corporations.
It has become clear to all that they are the real tyrannical terrorists. In fact, the life of all of mankind is in danger because of the global warming resulting to a large degree from the emissions of the factories of the major corporations. Despite that, the representative of these corporations in the White House insists on not observing the Kyoto accord, with the knowledge that the statistic speaks of the resulting death and displacement of millions of human beings, especially in Africa. This greatest of plagues and most dangerous of threats to the lives of humans is taking place in an accelerating fashion as the world is being dominated by the ‘democratic’ capitalist system, which confirms its massive failure to protect humans and their interests from the greed and avarice of the major corporations and their representatives.
And despite this brazen attack on the people, the leaders of the West – especially Bush, Blair, Sarkozy and Brown- still talk about ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’ with a flagrant disregard for the intellects of human beings. So is there a form of terrorism stronger, clearer and more dangerous? This is why I tell you: as you liberated yourselves before from the slavery of monks, kings, and feudalism, you should liberate yourselves from the deception, shackles and attrition of the capitalist system.
If you were to ponder it well, you would find that in the end, it is a system harsher and fiercer than your systems in the Middle Ages. The capitalist system seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of “globalization” in order to protect ‘democracy’.
Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa – all of this is but one side of the grim face of this global system.
So it is imperative that you free yourselves from all of that and search for an alternative, upright methodology in which it is not the business of any class of humanity to lay down its own laws to its own advantage at the expense of the other classes as is the case with you, since the essence of the laws under which you live is that they serve the interests of those with the capital and thus make the rich richer and the poor poorer.”
Bin Laden ends his address by suggesting that Americans choose Islam as the ‘alternative ‘upright methodology’ he mentioned, but I can hardly imagine the average citizen of America bowing down five times a day in the local mosque to pray in the direction of Mecca, stoning adulterers, and cutting off the hands of shoplifters.
The capitalist system is rotten and unfair, and choosing to be governed by corporation-grovelling millionaires like Bush, Clinton or Obama will only prolong the agony, but the alternative need not be an authoritarian God-fearing Theocracy. The opposite of Corporation Capitalism is Humanitarian Socialism – a system based on true justice, equality and harmony, a world where religion is irrelevant, but where the basic law of all faiths (acceptable even to atheists) is the rule: “Don’t treat other people in a way you would not like them to treat you.”
Or, for those with an inclination for the Divine, what better words than those of Benjamin Franklin, who believed in a benevolent Deity: “The most acceptable service to God is doing good to his other children.”
And Benjamin Franklin was an American!
MICHAEL DICKINSON, whose artwork graces the covers of Dime’s Worth of Difference, Serpents in the Garden and Grand Theft Pentagon, lives in Istanbul. He can be contacted via his website http://yabanji.tripod.com/ or at: firstname.lastname@example.org