America is the terrorist, said Bileh, twenty-five, a street vendor.
This statement, from a Globe and Mail story filed from Indonesia, seems to me to sum up the future of global politics. It is the response and counterpart to the Bush doctrine and Cheney plan (or Plan, as it is now referred to), with their grandiosity and bluster. It is the fertile ground onto which the latest Osama bin Laden tape falls. It is not a sentiment Osama bin Laden creates, but he profits from it. The sentiment is neither new nor confined to street vendors. At Saturdays enormous anti-war protest in Florence, a banner read, The real terrorist is the West. But that has the used sound of rhetoric; Bileh is more chilling.
The point is that U.S. policy is widely seen as unjust and hypocritical. Leave aside whether the perception is correct; it is a force in itself. The new bin Laden tape is based almost wholly on that perception. It stresses aggression against the Muslim world and, above all, the cases of Palestine and Iraq. It says nothing of Islamic values or their imposition on the rest of the world; it is a screed against U.S. foreign policy. Whether Osama bin Laden is sincere or hiding his real motives is secondary; its clear where he thinks his appeal to others lies.
The widespread obtuseness on this point in the official West its governments and mainstream media is striking. Take The Globe and Mail. Yesterdays editorial said it was inevitable for Canada to become a target since it stands for a host of values an open society, democracy, religious tolerance and respect for diversity that are inimical to al-Qaeda issues totally absent from the tape. Shouldnt one at least deal with what they present as their selling points.
But why castigate The Globe? The same point applies to the U.S. government that it never deals with the actual specifics of the terror threat. Instead of trying to defuse the main sources of terrors appeal Palestine and Iraq it has exacerbated precisely those, thus reinforcing the bin Laden position. The U.S., meanwhile, has shifted focus off Osama, ignoring him for almost a year while moving attention to its preferred foe, Saddam Hussein, who is more tyrant than terrorist.
This evidence suggests that the U.S. is not serious about ending the threat of future September 11ths. Otherwise, it would behave differently. Instead, it has used that threat to further other policy goals and thats no mere guess on my part. Almost instantly, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld saw the attacks as opening a door to a more hard-line U.S. policy worldwide. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice says she asked her staff to think seriously about how do you capitalize on these opportunities to fundamentally change American doctrine, and the shape of the world, in the wake of September 11th. What kind of change did she mean?
The Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powell axis now running things under Bush II dusted off a plan they prepared under Bush I, for U.S. policy in the post-Cold War, but had no chance to execute. It meant shifting from a goal of defeating the Soviet Union to one of ruling the entire world so that no rival could ever rise again. It sounds absurd, but you can read it in official jargon in last months Harpers. Colin Powell told Congress in 1992, I want to be the bully on the block, so all others will know there is no future in trying to challenge the armed forces of the U.S. This has been hailed on the right as a welcome rebirth of imperial thinking. Actually, its more like post-imperialism, since it assumes no rival empires. It was their dream for a decade; September 11th seemed to finally make it possible.
But what of the street vendor? Ah, theres the rub. Theres no doubt the U.S. can, and is, implementing its Plan. But people will react because human beings react to attempts at dominating them. Not just the street vendor. Even in pliant, feudal Saudi Arabia, polls show more than fifty per cent resent U.S. policy. And what of China at some point? A billion and a half people. Are they going to put up with being dominated forever?
At bottom, the Plan is really a bizarre construct that reveals more about Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Powell et al. than it does about the world they assume they can control. It presupposes a notion of the others being dominated as an essentially non-existent fantasy; only our side is active, everyone else is cowed. Eventually, in the process, you create an intense reaction and, finally, a massively insecure world spun out of your own fantastic daydream of total power.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.