War, What War?

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October 6, 1976 — A bomb exploded aboard a civilian airliner just after take-off from Barbados. All seventy-three persons aboard the aircraft were killed. It was a terrorist attack. The suspects in the attack are well-known, one has even said that he approved of the bombing.

His name is Orlando Bosch. He is suspected of numerous terrorist acts. He has been convicted of attacking a freighter in Miami harbour with a bazooka, and for sending death threats to heads of state. He has been described in the United States by former attorney general Dick Thornburgh as an “unreformed terrorist.” Some thirty countries have refused him entry because of his terrorist record. In a legitimate war against terrorism one would think that he is a prime target to apprehend and bring to justice. So where is he?

According to reports, Bosch is living in Florida and walking the streets freely, a member of the Cuban terrorist community in Miami. Bosch — who is said to have entered the U.S. illegally in 1988 — was set free by former president George Bush (senior) without deportation in 1990. Perhaps one would be considered a cynic to suppose that, rather than justice, this had something to do with winning votes for son Jeb Bush among the right-wing Cubans in that state.

The point of all this is that, as bad as the Taliban are, and as much as the world would be a better place without them, what we are seeing today as the bombs rain down in Afghanistan is not a real war against terrorism. Some have said it is a war for access to oil and part of a bigger plan that involves policy in the Balkans and other areas along the fortieth parallel. Some have said that it is an example of irrational U.S. machismo, and others that it is part of a plan to create a climate to roll back civil rights. The list of possible motivations is extensive. Who knows?

What anyone who has examined history does know for sure is that it is not simply a war against terrorism.

If it were a real war against terrorism, then Orlando Bosch would be on his way to Cuba to answer for his crimes, including the murder of those seventy-three people on the Cuban airliner, And, if it were, then the U.S. itself would be examining its own history over the past fifty years and accepting responsibility for the terror that it has caused and its role in bringing us into an era where many people in the world are willing to support madmen who fly planes into buildings.

And who are these madmen? Why, at least some are former agents of the very same United States that is now attacking them. They were just as evil when they were being armed and financed by the U.S. as they are now, so who is to blame for their rise to power?

The current President Bush likes to spout platitudes about freedom and liberty and American values, and about the oppressed people of Afghanistan, but it is all merely propaganda. Even the dropping of supplies over Afghanistan is not done out of compassion, but as a military and political operation to gain an advantage.

The actions of the Bushes, Clinton, Reagan and many before them all belie the sincerity of Dubya’s pronouncements. They gave money and arms to people who have no respect for human rights, to people like the Taliban, the Saudis, the contras, Chilean fascists and others. In their compassion and concern for oppressed peoples, American leaders sat by and watched the Taliban brutalize women. They still sit by and watch women being oppressed in the societies of many of their so-called allies, including Pakistan. They are currently backing a faction in Afghanistan that also has a less-than-stellar reputation, being noted by some as thieves and thugs.

President Bush may have his reasons for this war, but combating all terrorism isn’t one of them, nor is concern for oppressed peoples. He should spare us the hypocritical rhetoric and level with us for once.

Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada’s West Coast. This column originally appeared in his paper, and is posted on rabble with permission. West is a former Sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps and a Vietnam-era anti-war activist.

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