October 29, 2001
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I've been dreaming often lately, but last night's dream had an
eerie ring of truth to it and I wondered if this might not be a
dream that genuinely sees into the future.
It began with the apprehension by the police in Hoboken, New Jersey, of a suspicious looking character, whose name was Jason Foboro, a Vanuatu national, who was allegedly visiting this country on business. The police found a letter on him from his brother Fabian, dated September 11, 2001, with a P.S. notation: "We've done it! We've got the big ones!" This alerted the police to a serious possibility that this man and his brother had had something to do with the September 11th attacks. Jason Faboro explained that he was in the fish business, seeking business here, and that the P.S. referred to the capture of several large, prize-winning tuna fish.
Naturally the police found this dubious and alerted the FBI and State Department. When State officials finally located Vanuatu on the map, they discovered it to be a country of 80-odd islands in the South Pacific, with a population of 193,000 people, and a GDP of $245 million. The United States had no Embassy there and minimal contact with its people. There were, however, CIA reports hinting that bin Laden's Al-Qaeda had "Fiji island cells" and had penetrated police and military establishments in the South Pacific. With this country extremely nervous and on the alert, a message was sent to the President of Vanuatu demanding that Fabian Foboro be turned over to the United States as a possible terrorist.
The President of Vanuatu audaciously asked for information justifying this request, and also indicated that Fabian was unavailable, allegedly on a fishing boat that had no radio connection! This put U.S. officials on high alert. The Seventh fleet was dispatched to the area, including 14 destroyers, two battleships and two aircraft carriers. New Zealand and Australia were urged to join a coalition to help this antiterrorist enterprise and to allow U.S. aircraft and other military equipment and personnel use of their facilities.
While this assembled military force might seem excessive, given that Vanuatu does not have a standing army, navy, or a military airplane, and its total national budget would barely fund a B-1 bomber, the Pentagon explained to newspeople that Vanuatu does have police and a paramilitary Vanuatu Mobile Force. Also, the population is mainly Melanesians, natives noted for their ferocity and lacking in the concern for human life that characterizes our own military forces. It was also reported that they may have Stinger missiles imported from Afghanistan, although it was admitted that this was not confirmed.
With Vanuatu still not producing Fabian, U.S. forces engaged in some light bombing of the main Vanuatu islands, suffering no U.S. losses and inflicting only modest casualties on the natives, and Pentagon officials soon announced that they had achieved control of the air over this country! This was greeted with enthusiasm in the United States. But before any further bombing and the landing of U.S. troops, Vanuatu announced that Fabian Foboro's boat had returned and that Vanuatu was prepared to allow U.S. personnel to question him on the island. Vanuatu authorities showed a picture of Fabian Foboro on his arrival on the dock, a picture that showed him proudly displaying three very large tuna fish.
The United States reluctantly agreed to question Foboro on Vanuatu, having been subjected to severe global criticism and laughter for picking on a rather small opponent. But the U.S. media were for the most part thrilled at the success of this enterprise-- at U.S. reasonableness in engaging in only light bombing that killed a mere handful of natives, in agreeing to question the terrorist in Vanuatu. There was some dissent, as Bill O'Reilly and the editors of the Wall Street Journal sneered at the soft policy that failed to punish the recalcitrants as they deserved, which they blamed on the influence of the mushy Colin Powell. On the other hand, Dan Rather wept copiously at the wonderfulness of his country's bravery, generosity, and devotion to the general global welfare.
And then I woke up--to greet the not too different reality.
Edward S. Herman is a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a contributor to Z Magazine since its founding in 1988. Herman is the author of numerous books, including a number of corporate and media studies. These include Corporate Control, Corporate Power (1981), the two-volume Political Economy of Human Rights (1979) and Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), both of which he co-authored with Noam Chomsky, as well as The "Terrorism" Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror (1989), which he co-authored with Gerry O'Sullivan.
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