Saturday, January 19, 2008

What is the "war on terra" really?

Some passages that caught my eye:
The War on Terror Cover Story

The juntas of the Southern Cone made no secret of their revolutionary ambitions to remake their respective societies, but they were savvy enough to publicly deny .... using massive violence in order to achieve those economic goals, goals that, in the absence of a system of terrorizing the public and eliminating obstacles, would have certainly provoked popular revolt.

To the extent that killings by the state were acknowledged, they were justified by the juntas on the grounds that they were fighting a war against dangerous Marxist terrorists, funded and controlled by the KGB. If the juntas used "dirty" tactics, it was because their enemy was monstrous. Using language that sounds eerily familiar today, Admiral Massera called it "a war for freedom and against tyranny .... a war against those who favor death and by those of us who favor life .... We are fighting against nihilists, against agents of destruction whose only objective is destruction itself, although they disguise this with social crusades."

[snip]

The vast majority of the victims of the Southern Cone's terror apparatus were not members of armed groups but non-violent activists working in factories, farms, shantytowns and universities. They were economists, artists, psychologists and left-wing party loyalists. They were killed not because of their weapons (which most did not have) but because of their beliefs. In the Southern Cone, where contemporary capitalism was born, the "War on Terror" was a war against all obstacles to the new order.

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, pp. 96-97.
"The evil ones have roused a mighty nation, a mighty land. And for however long it takes, I am determined that we will prevail. And prevail we must, because we fight for one thing, and that is the freedom of our people, and the freedom of people everywhere."

George W. Bush, November 11, 2001
"It is clear that the future of freedom and peace depend on the actions of America. This nation is freedom's home, and freedom's defender. We welcome this charge of history, and we are keeping it. (Applause.) The war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. This country will not rest, we will not stop, we will not tire, until this danger to civilization is removed. "

George W. Bush, December 2, 2003
Furthermore, with the cooperation of the Democrats and mass media, the “war on terror” gave the “decider” and his clique the political ability to impose an unconstitutional, rightwing agenda at home, at the expense of the rule of law, economic equality, environmental and other regulation, and social solidarity. The increased military budget and militarization of U.S. society, the explosive growth in corporate "counter-terrorism" and "homeland security" enterprises, the greater centralization of power in the executive branch, the enhanced inequality, the unimpeded growth of the prison-industrial complex, the more rightwing judiciary, and the failure of the Democrats to do anything to counter these trends since the 2006 election, suggests that the shift to the right and to a more militarized society and expansionist foreign policy may have become permanent features of life in the United States. Is that not a war on terror success story, given the aims of its creators?

I recall during the fall months of 2001 making comments to friends and also on a usenet newsgroup that I then frequented that the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon would be used as an excuse to crack down on dissent and to commit any number of human rights abuses in the years ahead - not only in the US, but also by other regimes such as Israel, Russia, and potentially China. Once the Manichean "evildoers" and "you're either with us or against us" rhetoric began, the likely path seemed one of brazen authoritarianism. Not surprisingly, examples of how rightward this nation drifted in the months and years after September 2001 abound. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which I consider yet another reason to be skeptical of Democrats no matter how lofty their rhetoric, is a case in point. As was the case with the juntas running the nations in the Southern Cone of South America, the likely targets of this law (which is currently still in a Senate Committee) are going to be those whose only crime is to hold ideas different from the sort of homogenized ideas of our rulers. My guess is that the "threats" the US will go after are migrant workers (and in particular the activists who were behind the very successful mass protest of a couple years ago), as well as pacifists, radical environmentalists, indigenists and others viewed as potential nuisances in The New World Order that Bush the First was trumpeting back in the early 1990s. We have witnessed the whole mindset of a "War on Terror" normalized, made banal, made part of the background noise of our lives such that its corresponding bureaucratic (DHS, ICE come to mind), academic, and industrial (in particular the "security" industry such as Blackwater, etc.) apparatus have become firmly entrenched. As undoubtedly those in the Southern Cone have learned, once constructed, that apparatus is pretty damned difficult to dismantle.

My advice is simple: ask the question "why does our government want us to be afraid?" Who profits from your fear?

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