Can we win the war on terror with the terror of war? Each time we declare we will win the war on terror, we dig ourselves a deeper hole. Each time we kill an innocent child on a city street and call it collateral damage, each time we torture and lie that we don’t- we add to the anger and hatred directed against us. Might as well be pointing the gun at our own temple. Way back when, we routed the Taliban in Afghanistan, the war lords regained control and heroin production shot through the roofsoon we’ll be needin’ another, bigger and better war on drugs- this war will have to be fought in the homeland the collateral damage will be our very own kids. Not to worry, Blackwater is growing, and looking to diversify. And now the Taliban are resurgent and vowing a new fight. Hamid Karzai (our puppet from Unocal), bunkered down in Kabul, offers them a place in the government if only they refrain from killing. A Taliban spokesperson refused the offer- as long as America interferes in their homeland, they will not negotiate, though i am sure they were tempted by a Ministry of Agriculture position.
In Iraq we routed the Republican guard, shocked and awed ’em to kingdom come, along with thousands of innocents- tens times the innocents lost on Sept 11th (at least), and still, we’re counting the multitudes of dead, (apparently they can’t build coffins quick enough), and hey, one had absolutely nothing to do with the other, c’est la vie, or better yet, Macht Nichts, it doesn’t matter, we kill ’em there so we don’t need to kill ’em here- we certainly don’t like the stench of death on our city streets, unless it’s self inflicted, oh Katrina!
We haven’t won the peace and democracy is impossible- carnage reigns in the cradle of civilization and our leaders continually parrot “ProgressProgressProgress”. But progress is elusive- we still haven’t gotten the Iraqi’s to sign away their oil. Now even the Democratic frontrunners for President refuse to say they will bring the troops home.
And what rough beast slouches toward Babylon revisited.
… Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…
…And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
(Yeats; The Second Coming)
War, War, War- talk of endless war- has there ever been anything else? Cluster bombs litter Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon. Depleted uranium litters Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq (and the lungs and bodies of men, women, and children- “ours” as well as “theirs”). Now onto Iran! Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the new Saddam Hussein is the new Osama bin Laden is the new Hitler is that old devil incarnate. But who are the children of Iran? Who are the children of Iraq? Who are the children of Afghanistan? Our smart bombs have pin point accuracy, yet always the children die. Have you seen the pictures? Oh, Smart Bombs!
(Aside: While we denounce Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear power, we sign a new contract with India promising delivery of nuclear material regardless of their efforts to further develop their nuclear arsenal. Oh, Hypocrisy! Oh, Mushroom Clouds on the Horizon!)
Ironically, the term “war on terror” was first coined in 1947 by newspapers describing efforts by the British colonial government to reign in terrorist attacks by Israeli gangs against Palestinians. The reign of terror continues. While the attacks against Israeli citizens get the media coverage, the Israeli military rains humiliation, violence, and terror on the Palestinian civilian population with impunity. And Ahmadinejad is the new Nasrallah is the new Arafat is the new Hitler, you get the picture. Over 20 children dead since June in the prison camp that is Gaza. And Israel threatens to cut off the water and electricity next.
(Aside: Did you know that Hitler originally planned to put the Jews on reservations in the Lubin area where their numbers would be reduced by starvation and disease? He got the idea from reading American history. In 1910 the US Department of Indian Affairs Superintendent wrote about “The Final Solution to our Indian Problem”. Apparently Hitler appreciated how efficiently we dispatched our “problem”.)
So Gaza is the West Bank is South Lebanon is Kabul is Baghdad is the new Warsaw Ghetto is the new Wounded Knee. It has been one endless Trail of Tears. Blast walls, check points, night raids and assassination. When will state terror = terror?
Yesterday our President denied a holocaust (for political expediency). Yet he implies the President of Iran is an international threat because he denies a holocaust (for political expediency?). Our democratic Congress, so concerned with a genocide from 1915 in Armenia, will perhaps one day have the courage to recognize the genocide that occurred right here, from sea to shining sea. In September the United States was one of four countries that voted no on the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the UN (which has been debated for over 20 years). Why? Because it went too far in giving indigenous peoples ownership of their traditional lands. Representative Sherman, a Democrat of California and a sponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution said, “For if we hope to stop future genocides we need to admit to those horrific acts of the past.” Forget about stopping future genocides, what about the one were are executing right now? (Please recall: the year was 1996, the program 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl (on U.S. sanctions against Iraq): We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it? Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.) Five hundred thousand Iraqi children are dead due to sanctions. One million Iraqis are dead, and there are four million displaced people due to our illegal invasion. Perhaps we should examine the blood on our own hands, before we pick up historical stones. Oh, Repentance! Oh, Truth!
But hold on, here it comes, what we’ve all been waiting for: Yes, our President has called for a Peace Summit to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What foresight, what compassion. Usually when our president talks of peace, more bombs fall. You know, to insure the peace. Not this time. Our very own self described “war president” deems it necessary that the Israelis and our puppet of the PA, “Abu Mazen” sit and talk peace, along with other undisclosed middle-east puppets. After all, haven’t the Palestinians been pushed about as far as they can go? What’s next, starvation? Oh, Hunger! After all, isn’t Abu Mazen prepared to sell the Palestinian people down the river, or in this case across the river? Oh, Treachery!
Did you see in the NY Times, (All the news that’s fit to print) Israeli Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon has asserted that his government will support a partition of Jerusalem? (oh, and yes 2 Palestinians were killed in Nablus today). Maybe so, but the NY Times didn’t see it fit to print that on the same day they quoted Ramon, the Israeli Army authorized the confiscation of 1100 additional dunams (nearly 300 acres) of Palestinian land- you guessed it- in East Jerusalem, and yes, you guessed it, to expand a settlement. Up is down, freedom is occupation, war is peace. Oh, Mendacity!
Back in the summer, when President Bush originally called for this summit, former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “I think a lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It’s not.” Of course it’s not. If people are not yet clear on the matter, President Bush is not at all concerned with Peace, nor are the Israelis. Peace would require justice, would require de-colonizing the West Bank, would require returning stolen resources, would require self-determination for the Palestinian people, peace would require an equitable solution to the refugee question. None of this is forthcoming, none of this is “on the table”. President Bush is only interested in acquiesce to American power. Israel is only interested in acquiesce to Israeli power.
(Aside: And where is the next Mandela who is the new M.L.King who is the new Gandhi who is the new Jesus who is the new Buddha? And what of the women, why are their names forgotten or left unsaid? The smart bombs do not neglect them…and Hilary, i know you have the cojones to be king, and that is exactly why you will never win my vote. Where is the Mother’s embrace this world so desperately needs? Blessed are the peacemakers. Oh, Love!)
So where do we go, and what do we do? Go where you can and do what you must for justice. We must do what we can and not waiver. The townspeople of Bi’lin are a model- they have had over one thousand non-violent demonstrations to save their land and have been met by ongoing Israeli army violence, yet they reject violence and persevere. The monks and the student dissidents in Burma provide a model as well. Though brought down by violence they have not surrendered.
I read there is a document circulating inside Burma that reads as follows:
Afflicted by military dictator and lackeys
Shootings and beatings
My head is bloody
For Seven Generations.
JOHNNY BARBER is a member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. He has travelled to Iraq, Israel, Occupied Palestine and Lebanon to bear witness and document the suffering of people who are affected by war. He advocates for reconciliation and nonviolent strategies in the face of violence and oppression. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.