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  • U.S. govts role in Sept. 11 attacks.

    New Statesman
    December 17, 2001

    The real story behind America's war

    by John Pilger

    Since 11 September, the 'war on terrorism' has provided a pretext forthe rich countries, led by the United States, to further theirdominance over world affairs. By spreading 'fear and respect', as aWashington Post commentator put it, America intends to see off
    challenges to its uncertain ability to control and manage the 'global economy', the euphemism for the progressive seizure of resources and markets by the G8 rich nations.

    This, not the hunt for a man in a cave in Afghanistan, is the aimbehind US Vice-President Dick Cheney's threats to '40 to 50 countries'. It has little to do with terrorism and much to do withmaintaining the divisions that underpin 'globalisation'. Today,
    international trade is worth more than GBP11.5bn a day. A tinyfraction of this, 0.4 per cent, is shared with the poorest countries.American and G8 capital controls 70 per cent of world markets; andbecause of rules demanding the end of tariff barriers and subsidies in
    poor countries while ignoring protectionism in the west, the poorcountries lose GBP1.3bn a day in trade. By any measure, this is a war of the rich against the poor. Look at the casualty figures. The toll, says the World Resources Institute, is more than 13 million children
    every year; or 12 million under the age of five, according to United Nations estimates. 'If 100 million have been killed in the formal wars of the 20th century,' wrote Michael McKinley, 'why are they to be
    privileged in comprehension over the annual death toll of children from structural adjustment programmes since 1982?'

    McKinley's paper 'Triage: a survey of the new inequality as combat zone' was presented to a conference in Chicago this year, and deserves wider reading (he teaches at the Australian National University: It vividly describes the acceleration of western economic power in the Clinton years, which, since 11 September, has passed a threshold of danger for millions of people.

    Last month's World Trade Organisation meeting, in Doha in the Gulfstate of Qatar, was disastrous for the majority of humanity. The richnations demanded and got a new 'round' of 'trade liberalisation',
    which is the power to intervene in the economies of poor countries, to demand privatisation and the destruction of public services. Only they are permitted to protect their home industries and agriculture; only
    they have the right to subsidise exports of meat, grain and sugar,then to dump them in poor countries at artificially low prices,thereby destroying the livelihoods of millions. In India, says the environmentalist Vandana Shiva, suicides among poor farmers are 'anepidemic'.

    Even before the WTO met, the American trade representative RobertZoelliek invoked the 'war on terrorism' to warn the developing worldthat no serious opposition to the American trade agenda would betolerated. He said: 'The United States is committed to global leadership of openness and understands that the staying power of our new coalition against terrorism depends on economic growth . . .' The
    code is that 'economic growth' (rich elite, poor majority) equalsanti-terrorism.
    Mark Curtis, a historian and Christian Aid's head of policy, whoattended Doha, has described 'an emerging pattern of threats andintimidation of poor countries' that amounted to 'economic gunboat diplomacy'. He said: 'It was utterly outrageous. Wealthy countries
    exploited their power to spin the agenda of big business. The issue ofmultinational corporations as a cause of poverty was not even on the agenda; it was like a conference on malaria that does not even discuss
    the mosquito.'

    Delegates from poor countries complained of being threatened with the removal of their few precious trade preferences. 'If I speak out too strongly for the rights of my people,' said an African delegate, 'the US will phone my minister. They will say that I am embarrassing the
    United States. My government will not even ask, 'What did he say?' They will just send me a ticket tomorrow . . . so I don't speak, for
    fear of upsetting the master.'

    A senior US official telephoned the Ugandan government to ask that
    its ambassador to the WTO, Nathan Irumba, be withdrawn. Irumba chairs
    the WTO's committee on trade and development and has been critical of
    the 'liberalisation' agenda. Dr Richard Bernal, a Jamaican delegate at
    Doha, said his government had come under similar pressure. 'We feel
    that this WTO meeting has no connection with the war on terrorism,' he
    said, ' yet we are made to feel that we are holding up the rescue of
    the global economy if we don't agree to a new round of liberalisation
    measures .' Haiti and the Dominican Republic were threatened that
    their special trade preferences with the United States would be
    revoked if they continued to object to 'procurement', the jargon for
    the effective takeover of a government's public spending priorities.
    India's minister for commerce and industry, Murasoli Maran, said
    angrily: 'The whole process is a mere formality and we are being
    coerced against our will . . . the WTO is not a world government and
    should not attempt to appropriate to itself what legitimately falls in
    the domain of national governments and parliaments.'

    What the conference showed was that the WTO has become a world
    government, run by the rich (principally Washington). Although it has
    142 members, only 21 governments in reality draft policy, most of
    which is written by the 'quad': the United States, Europe, Canada and
    Japan. At Doha, the British played a part similar to Tony Blair's
    promotion of the 'war on terrorism'. The Secretary of State for Trade
    and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, had already said that 'since 11
    September, the case is overwhelming for more trade liberalisation'. In
    Doha, the British delegation demonstrated, according to Christian Aid,
    'the gulf between its rhetoric about making trade work for the poor'
    and its real intentions.

    This 'rhetoric' is the speciality of Clare Short, the International
    Development Secretary, who surpassed herself by announcing GBP20m as
    'a package of new measures' to help poor countries. In fact, this was
    the third time the same money had been announced within a year. In
    December 2000, Short said the government 'will double its support for
    trade-strengthening initiatives in developing countries from GBP15m
    over the past three years to GBP30m over the next three years'. Last
    March, the same money was announced again. Short, said her press
    department, 'will announce that the UK will double its support for . .
    . developing countries' trade performance . . .' On 7 November, the
    GBP20m package was announced all over again. Moreover, a third of it
    is in effect tied to the launch of a new WTO 'round'.

    This is typical of the globalisation of poverty, the true name for
    'liberalisation'. Indeed, Short's title of International Development
    Secretary is as much an Orwellian mockery as Blair's moralising about
    the bombing. Short is worthy of special mention for the important
    supporting role she has played in the fraudulent war on terrorism.

    To the naive, she is still the rough diamond who speaks her mind in
    headlines; and this is true in one sense. In trying to justify her
    support for the lawless bombing of civilians in Yugoslavia, she
    likened its opponents to Nazi appeasers. She has since abused relief
    agency workers in Pakistan, who called for a pause in the current
    bombing, as 'emotional' and has questioned their integrity. She has
    maintained that relief is 'getting through' when, in fact, little of
    it is being distributed to where it is most needed.

    Around 750 tonnes are being trucked into Afghanistan every day, less
    than half that which the UN says is needed. Six million people remain
    at risk. Nothing is reaching those areas near Jalalabad, where the
    Americans are bombing villages, killing hundreds of civilians, between
    60 and 300 in one night, according to anti-Taliban commanders who are
    beginning to plead with Washington to stop. On these killings, as on
    the killing of civilians in Yugoslavia, the outspoken Short is silent.

    Her silence, and her support for America's $21bn homicidal campaign
    to subjugate and bribe poor countries into submission, exposes the
    sham of 'the global economy as the only way to help the poor', as she
    has said repeatedly. The militarism that is there for all but the
    intellectually and morally impaired to see is the natural extension of
    the rapacious economic policies that have divided humanity as never
    before. As Thomas Friedman wrote famously in the New York Times, 'the
    hidden hand' of the market is US military force.

    Little is said these days about the 'trickle down' that 'creates
    wealth' for the poor, because it is transparently false. Even the
    World Bank, of which Short is a governor, has admitted that the
    poorest countries are worse off, under its tutelage, than ten years
    ago: that the number of poor has increased, that people are dying
    younger. And these are countries with 'structural adjustment
    programmes' that are meant to 'create wealth' for the majority. It was
    all a lie.

    The truth lies in the figures of actual 'aid'. America gives just 0.1
    per cent of its gross national product. Last year, the US Senate
    foreign aid bill included a pittance of $75m for the poorest - a tenth
    of the cost of one B-52 - while $1.3bn went to the Colombian military,
    one of the world's worst violators of human rights.

    Giving evidence before a House of Commons select committee, Clare
    Short described the US as 'the only great power that almost turns its
    back on the world'. Her gall deserves a prize. Britain gives just 0.34
    per cent of GNP in aid, less than half the minimum laid down by the
    United Nations.

    It is time we recognised that the real terrorism is poverty, which
    kills thousands of people every day, and the source of their
    suffering, and that of innocent people bombed in dusty villages, is
    directly related.

    http://www. johnpilger. com