September 11 and the American Empire

The attacks on September 11 were not terrorist attacks unless one believes that all war is terrorism. The attacks did reveal America’s vulnerability to the loss of mass casualties planned by an adversary. America has not understood that these attacks were not a bolt out of the blue but a skirmish in a long-running war between the U.S. and the civilisation of Islam. Mr Bush and company merely want to emphasise the innocence of America and the need to wage the “first war of the 21st Century.” How proud is our government that this century, will be like so many others, whereby the idealism of America’s exaggerated virtue and rhetoric can deploy the monstrosity of realism and the pursuit of the national interest and kill or capture the forces of “evil.” Many American innocents did perish in the attacks but the blame, in part, should lay at the doorstep of American foreign policy as developed over decades.

The term “War on Terrorism” is quite misleading. It suggests that America is justified in waging wars due to September 11. It creates the impression that we are just and our opponents are evil. No, that is terrible and typical of a hyperpower that refuses to engage in self-evaluation. America does not need to wage a war on terror but to remove itself significantly from global imperial overstretch. It needs to evacuate Iraq; it need to remove all military personnel from Saudi Arabia; it needs to compel Israel to accept a two-state solution with the abandonment of the West Bank and the Golan; it needs to terminate all base relationships with Central Asian nations. It needs to reduce the Pentagon’s draconian power and sadistic waste of our limited resources, and not only close bases but also reduce its emphasis on new weaponry, new integrated commands, new nuclear bunker-busting weapons, new ballistic missile defence and shortened lead times for nuclear-test resumption. It needs to abolish its space-invasion programme, in which N.A.S.A. is simply a figleaf for military penetration of the “heavens.” It needs to return to a modest, more insular role in the world emphasising health, labour, environmental and family planning initiatives. This would create a more favourable image for the U.S. which I think overtime would attenuate significantly the hostility, as manifested so dramatically on September 11, that is quite widespread.

I believe that September 11 has been perverted by the Bush administration. It has used this event to justify more military spending and greater power maximizing for the American empire, and to wage war which is a basic tenet and desire of the American ruling elites. Once we recognise that war is an option that our leaders enjoy and believe enhances their power and prestige, then we can have a reasonable chance of reducing the incidence of attacks such as the one on September 11, 2001. If we continue to persist in the notion that the attacks were NOT part of a continuum of conflict between the U.S. and Islam, and did not emerge from several legitimate complaints—but never excusing violence—more Americans, who cannot be whisked to “undisclosed locations” will die. The War on Terrorism, which is sheer propaganda in that it eschews diplomacy, a reassessment of our egregious conduct in the international community, will be fought by soldiers, sailors, marines, civilians in office towers, captives on hijacked aircraft who are merely pawns in the game of ruthless Empire.

Also it will take decades of a concerted effort to reduce the militarism that is so pervasive in American life. That must be addressed in a comprehensive manner which will take some very honest and direct analysis in the months and years ahead. How do we purge American patriotism of its militant nature? That is the challenge of September 11 and the challenge of our era.

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