• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Defeating Terrorism – Theirs and Ours

France and Russia’s military responses to mass murders in Paris and Egypt echo the U.S. response to mass murders in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania in 2001. Islamic State (IS) has welcomed this warlike response to its latest atrocities.

Al Qaeda similarly counted on an aggressive response to September 11th. The US invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and the concentration camp at Guantanamo became the most valuable assets in its propaganda and recruiting campaigns, now complemented by the terror of drone strikes and bombing campaigns in Syria and Iraq.

By contrast, former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz insisted in the aftermath of September 11th that we must respond to terrorism as a heinous crime and not dignify it as an act of war. Those responsible must be identified, pursued, arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, with only as much military support as is strictly needed to bring them to justice.  But their crimes must not be allowed to become a pretext for wreaking misdirected vengeance on other countries and innocent lives.  As Representative Barbara Lee told her colleagues before casting her brave and lonely dissenting vote, “Let us not become the evil we deplore.”

But Ferencz’s and Lee’s wise counsel fell on deaf ears. After 14 years of war, which our leaders launched and continue to justify as a response to terrorism:

– The U.S. and its allies have conducted over 120,000 air strikes against seven countries, exploding fundamentalist jihadism from its original base in Afghanistan to an active presence in all seven countries and beyond.

– U.S. invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and “lead from behind” wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen have left swathes of each country in chaos and under militia rule, exactly the safe havens that the “war on terror” was supposed to eliminate.

– Since 2001, U.S.-led wars have killed about 1.6 million people, or 500 times the number of people killed by the original crimes of September 11th. Disproportionate use of force and geographic expansion of the conflict by our side has led to a proliferation of violence on all sides.

– War, occupation and chaos have driven 59.5 million people from their homes, more than at any time since the Second World War.

– Since 2001, the U.S. has borrowed and spent $3.3 trillion in additional military spending to pay for the largest unilateral military build-up in history, although less than half the extra funding has been spent on our current wars.

Only a decade after U.S. support for fundamentalist jihadis in Afghanistan led to the worst mass murders in U.S. history, our leaders once again began recruiting, training and arming jihadis to fight in Libya and Syria.  Only after IS invaded Iraq in force in 2014 did our government begin to rethink its covert support for such groups in Syria, and we remain closely allied with all their state sponsors: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other Arab monarchies.

Declaring an open-ended war on “terror,” “Muslim extremism” or “associated forces” forecloses many of the ways that wars are usually brought to an end. We cannot meet “terror” at the negotiating table. The international military competition to destroy IS will leave more cities in ruins, like Fallujah, Sirte and Kobane, but it will not end the “war on terror.”  Even a successful military campaign against IS, if such a thing is possible, will only hasten the next mutation of jihadism and draw more young Muslims into its ranks.

President Obama acknowledges that there is no military way out of this trap. Yet he soldiers on blindly as if there are no non-military alternatives either.  But there are specific policies that our government can pursue if it is serious about ending this horrible cycle of violence:

– Prioritize the Vienna negotiations for a political transition in Syria.

– Repeal the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, which have served as blank checks for endless war.

– Halt air and drone strikes.

– Treat terrorism as a crime, not as an act of war.

– Close Guantanamo.

– Stop fomenting chaos in other countries, from Syria to Venezuela.

– Enforce U.S. laws prohibiting arms sales to countries who commit war crimes, abuse human rights or sponsor terrorism.

– Enforce the command responsibility of senior U.S. military and civilian officials for torture and other war crimes.

– Publicly recommit to full compliance with the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the rule of law.

– Redirect a portion of U.S. military spending to sustainable development in war-torn countries.

If these steps seem “politically impossible,” that is a measure of how far we have strayed from basic standards of international behavior that we and other countries are committed to. If we fail to take such steps and choose instead to keep fighting an endless war, we must accept our share of responsibility for the slaughter of innocent civilians and widespread chaos that are its defining features.

As the late historian and former US Air Force bombardier Howard Zinn wrote in a letter to the New York Times in 2007, “The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent. To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time.”

If, on the other hand, we can restore legitimacy and reason to our own country’s international behavior, then we can begin to regain the moral and legal ground from which to defeat terrorism – theirs and ours.

More articles by:

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq and of the chapter on “Obama At War” in Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail