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War-Mongering America Terrorizes the World

By Howard Zinn, AlterNet. Posted September 9, 2006.

The USA's massive military campaigns are both strategically ineffective and morally indefensible.

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There is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and- awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

I remember John Hersey's novel, "The War Lover," in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations -- the United States in Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan -- and were forced to withdraw.

Even the "victories" of great military powers turn out to be elusive. Presumably, after attacking and invading Afghanistan, the president was able to declare that the Taliban were defeated. But more than four years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country.

The two most powerful nations after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union, with all their military might, have not been able to control events in countries that they considered to be in their sphere of influence -- the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and the United States in Latin America.

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a "suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is "inevitable."

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in "accidental" events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism.

For instance, more than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by US bombs, presumably by "accident." Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the 20th century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism, including the terrorism of war. And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, may have to reconsider their policies.

Howard Zinn is a professor emeritus at Boston University and the author of the forthcoming book, "A Power Governments

Cannot Suppress" (City Lights Books, Winter 2007).

"Collateral Damage"
Posted by: wawa on Sep 9, 2006 6:40 AM   
The euphenism 'collateral damage' masks the truth that innocent people are most definetly TERRORIZED when ever they are caught in the crossfire,

A terrorist is anyone who targets innocent people.

The Sept. 8 edition of THE INDEPENDENT, ran a Special Report on Gaza,
the headline proclaimed:


Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation...A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.

Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the international media to the war in Lebanon.

The deadly toll

* After the kidnap of Cpl Gilad Shalit by Palestinians on 25 June, Israel launched a massive offensive and blockade of Gaza under the operation name Summer Rains.

* The Gaza Strip's 1.3 million inhabitants, 33 per cent of whom live in refugee camps, have been under attack for 74 days.

* More than 260 Palestinians, including 64 children and 26 women, have been killed since 25 June. One in five is a child. One Israeli soldier has been killed and 26 have been wounded.

* 1,200 Palestinians have been injured, including up to 60 amputations. A third of victims brought to hospital are children.

* Israeli warplanes have launched more than 250 raids on Gaza, hitting the two power stations and the foreign and Information ministries.

* At least 120 Palestinian structures including houses, workshops and greenhouses have been destroyed and 160 damaged by the Israelis.

* The UN has criticised Israel's bombing, which has caused an estimated $1.8bn in damage to the electricity grid and leaving more than a million people without regular access to drinking water.

* The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says 76 Palestinians, including 19 children, were killed by Israeli forces in August alone. Evidence shows at least 53 per cent were not participating in hostilities.

* In the latest outbreak of violence, three Palestinians were killed yesterday when Israeli troops raided a West Bank town in search of a wanted militant. Two of those killed were unarmed, according to witnesses.

Complete Report on
September 9, 2006

[« Reply to this

Can our thugs succeed?
Posted by: daw13 on Sep 9, 2006 7:08 AM   
Succeed, that is, at creating a world in chaos -- an Orwellian world where Neocons claim leadership of a confederation of oligrachies dedicated to the protection of their ruling classes at the expense of the rest of us. This was a question put directly to Dr. Zinn at a recent Historians Against the War conference. He indicated that "Our Gang" probably can prevail in such a venture, if we the people of the United States don't rise up to stop them.

I felt then, and feel now that this assumption is debatable. I also feel that it needs to be debated. I fear that our citizenry may give little more than lip service to activism based on moral fervor. However, moral ferver plus full awareness that those our leaders seek to expendablize may be more than able to expendablize us back sufficiently to destroy our society, if not our military force, may constitute a powerful motive for activism. Somehow, the Progressive movement, to the extent there is one, does not wish to address this dimension of current reaility.

I wonder why?

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» Scapegoating and Blaming the "Neo-Cons" Does Not Address Current Reality Posted by: Douglas

One small issue
Posted by: johndoraemi on Sep 9, 2006 3:56 PM   
I respect Howard Zinn as the "real deal," and I accept he means exactly what he says.

That said, it is vitally important to examine the real motivations of the US and Israeli regimes, as opposed to their claims: "freedom and democracy."

"...utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq."

Bush's first "objective" was to "disarm Saddam Hussein." Well, the guy was already disarmed, as they well knew.

Democracy sounds great as a soundbite, but that's the last thing the Bush regime actually wants. To state the obvious, Bush would not be president, today, or in 2001, if the United States had an actual democracy. Bush sued in the Supreme Court to stop the recounting of votes in Florida. This is as anti-democratic as it gets.

Similarly, the 2004 election was stolen in Ohio, no question about that. It happened.

Freedom? Does anyone think that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld care one iota about the freedom of commoners in Iraq? This is laughable on its face.

Stability? That depends. Is ir more profitable to break up Iraq, continue the war indefinitely, provide political cover and newly formed ties to "terrorism" in Iraq? The answer could be in keeping Iraq's oil OFF of the market, thereby raising world prices.

Since one of their other stated goals is to attack and change the govenment of Iran, then keeping the Iraq war simmering may have some strategic value (perceived) to them.

You can find strategy papers, many with Israeli authors, that think breaking up the entire Arab world into its smaller sects is preferable. This precludes large nations from coming together, which could challenge Israel's hegemony (as Iraq and Iran have done).

Similary, the Israeli motivations need to be examined. Israel has not been interested in peace. Not since they stole the land in 1948, and have sought to expand it ever since.

"The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; "

But that is Zinn's opinion of the Israeli strategic goal.

Sixty years of evidence to the contrary, it is far more likely that Israel intends to capture Southern Lebanon, install a "settler" regime over decades, and gain access to the water from the Litani river. Israeli leaders have admitted to such plans repeatedly, over the decades.

They, of course, also want to massacre the Hezbollah resistance which seeks to thwart them.

Clearly it has been Israeli aggression against its neighbors that is the main source of conflict there.
Add to that the great historical injustice done to the Palestinian people, and Israel's refusal to abide by international law, ignoring literally hundreds of UN resolutions that it pull back to its own borders.

On these issues, I hope that Howard Zinn does some more investigating.

Crimes of the State

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