Transforming Terrorism

Glen T. Martin

(Published in the Roanoke Times Newspaper, 8 September 2002)

Images of those horrible events of September 11 still linger in our minds. But the tremendous concern about “Why?” and the focus on “terrorism” over the past year has placed us in a better position to understand ourselves and our world. All over our country commercial signs and bumper stickers still read “God bless America.” But I believe that God is Truth and that God will not bless an attitude of “my country right or wrong” but only a country that stands for truth, freedom and justice for all of God’s children on this planet.

Since last year we have found out the details of how the US secretly created the Taliban, armed them and encouraged their fanaticism, in order to fight against the Russians who were controlling Afghanistan during the 1980s. We have also found out that after the Russians left the US was engaging in secret negotiations with the Taliban to build an oil pipeline through their country and that they refused. (Now that we have invaded their country and installed our own puppet government, with death and destruction of many innocent people, the development of the oil pipeline is proceeding as planned.)

We have found out that among the stated reasons for these terrible attacks were our support of the terrible repression of the Palestinian people by the Israelis and the unspeakable death of one and a half million Iraqi citizens since we destroyed the infrastructure of their country in 1991.

We have seen the guilty parties grow from an estimated 23 people to an estimated “hundreds” of co-conspirators to an entire nation (Afghanistan) to a network of terrorist nations to “a world-wide terror network” many of whom are living in the United States and are even US citizens. We have seen the US declare a global “war on terrorism” that was eagerly joined by brutal and repressive nations all over the world who began labeling their dissidents and freedom fighters “terrorists” and increasing the level of repression. At the same time, the US has vigorously opposed the establishment of a UN International Criminal Court and has been pressuring nations all over the world where US military personnel are operating to grant exemptions for our military personnel. Thoughtful people naturally ask why American military should not be subject to international laws against murder, torture and human rights violations.

At home, we have seen from the Bush Administration the attempt to establish an overt propaganda system in the US. We have seen the arrest and secret detention of thousands of peaceful non-citizens living in the US and the attempt to create a network of informers where Americans spy on one another. We have seen the attempt to create detention camps for suspected American citizens with a complete suspension of their constitutional rights as well as a tremendous increase in the level of government spying and monitoring of US citizens. The “war on “terrorism” has become even more destructive of American freedom than the “war on communism” of the 1950s and 60s with its terrible, benighted McCarthy period in American history. For like all wars, it requires the destruction of democracy and freedom both at home and abroad.

Six months after these terrible attacks, the Roanoke Times had a March 21st front page article stating that “some scholars believe America now an empire, like Rome was.” This admission is a sign that the realities of the U.S. world empire, the quest for which began as early as 1827 with the Monroe Doctrine, cannot be effectively hidden from the average citizen any longer.

The systematic quest for empire and world domination that was formulated by the State Department in top secret “Policy Planning Study 23” in 1948 required that Americans be misled by the rhetoric that our government stands for human rights and democracy world-wide while in reality we were using “straight power concepts” to crush opposition to our global empire. That is why the existence of the Soviet Union was the perfect excuse. For 50 years we heard the constant drum beat that we were under attack by a world wide Communist conspiracy while the helpless giant of the U.S. attempted to defend democracy and human rights for all the world’s citizens. This big lie about this planetary attack by evil communists allowed the U.S. in 1953 to overthrow the popular government of Iran and install the brutal Shaw who tortured his people while selling oil freely to U.S. corporations. It allowed the U.S. to overthrow the elected government of Guatemala in 1954 leading to a U.S. supported nightmare state with 200,000 tortured, murdered and disappeared during the next 40 years, and it allowed dozens more horrific repressions down to the present moment.

From Korea and to Vietnam to the secret bombings of Laos and Cambodia in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the US wreaked unspeakable carnage, death and terror on helpless civilian populations who resisted the demand that they serve as client states supplying cheap labor and natural resources to its greedy corporations. It overthrew the elected government of Chile in 1973, installing a vicious dictator. During the 1980s, the US prosecuted horrific wars against the people of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala who were struggling for freedom. In 1991 we destroyed Iraq, in 1998 Yugoslavia, in the past year Afghanistan. During the last decade we have waged a terrible war against the people of Columbia, our Congress having appropriated 3.2 billion dollars for military aid to this most repressive government in our hemisphere.

What has become clear to thoughtful Americans in the past year is that these terrible terrorist attacks were the reaction of desperate and impotent people to our world-wide system of repression and domination. But like all violence, they had the opposite effect from what may have been intended. For the corporate and political rulers of the American empire have used these attacks to solidify and strengthen the empire and the world-wide destruction of freedom and democracy that this entails. We are no longer being attacked by a global communist conspiracy but by a “global terrorist network” located in more than 60 countries worldwide and full of hatred toward our freedoms and prosperity.

Military interventions around the world again receive a cart blanche from the American people, and our huge military budget is expanded by 149 more billion. It is never mentioned that these countries “harboring terrorists” just happen to be the ones still somewhat independent of our global empire. The torture, murder, devastation and starvation caused by our attacks are never shown on mainstream TV. The starvation, misery and exploitation of those under the thumb of our empire are never mentioned in our mass media. And voices of reason and freedom from informed people within America are squelched with the new tool of political fear and conformity: “Are you, or have you ever been, associated with Communists or terrorists?”

I believe very much in God. I believe that God is the God of truth, justice, freedom and democracy for all citizens on our planet. I believe that Jesus gave us the mission and the hope of bringing “the kingdom of God to Earth” a kingdom of justice, peace, non-violence and love. In the past year of agony and reflection, many Americans have understood that there can be no blessing for America unless we courageously and honestly face the truth about ourselves and do something to change it.

It is not too late yet, although the destruction of our freedom is proceeding rapidly. Currently, the Pentagon is working around the clock on military control of the world from space, and the United States has proposed to the UN that it be the “police force” for the oceans of the world. If these things happen, there may be little hope. To a certain extent, freedom still exists at home and in some places abroad. But unless we Americans courageously face the truth about ourselves and act to create freedom, justice and democracy for our entire precious planet, our children may well inherit a nightmare world of totalitarianism and death. We can redeem those horrible deaths that occurred on September 11, 2001 only by clinging to the truth, and creating a world where the roots of terrorism (injustice, poverty and repression) have been transformed into freedom and prosperity for all.