March 31, 2003
9/11 ushered in an unprecedented and astonishing phase in world history.
Just consider what a truly amazing exploit that dastardly terrorist attack was. American commercial airliners, high-jacked by 19 terrorists, crashed into and destroyed the twin towers, icons of the American financial and industrial system, and a portion of the Pentagon, the symbol of America's military prowess. Billions of dollars in immediate losses and more billions from perspective losses, as well as a humiliating loss of prestige by the world's only superpower resulted. In addition, about 3,000 innocent civilians were killed.
Had our military executed a similar atrocity they would have whitewashed the killings as 'collateral damage' and bragged to no end of the great victory that they had achieved at minimal cost.
During the Second World War the Allies supported commandos, rangers and underground groups to wreak havoc in enemy occupied areas. All actions resulted in only minor inconveniences to the Axis. Even Hollywood fiction fantasizing on those actions envisioned no operation with an impact comparable to 9/11.
The resulting shock and trauma led to an awesome sympathetic response from all over the world.
In a year and a half that response has been turned topsy-turvy by the ridiculous actions of this administration. Accordingly another unprecedented and astonishing phenomena is now unfolding.
In countries all over the world anti-war protests are held regularly and frequently with tremendous numbers of participants. During the world-wide protests held on January 18 these figures were tallied by the Associated Press and similar press services: one million or more -- Barcelona and Rome; five hundred thousand or more -- London, Madrid, Berlin; one hundred thousand or more -- Sydney, Seville, Damascus, Montreal, San Francisco, Melbourne, Paris, New York, Oviedo, Dublin; fifty thousand or more -- Glasgow, Oslo, Brussels; ten thousand or more -- Bern, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Vancouver, Helsinki, Vienna, Toronto, Amsterdam, Austin; five thousand or more -- Tokyo, Cape Town; and in the thousands Johannesburg, Quebec City, Dhaka, Ottawa, Kiev and others.
That the protests are indicative of world-wide public opinion has been confirmed by polls.
The citizens of the few countries whose leaders support the US oppose the war overwhelmingly. The massive protests in cities throughout Britain, Spain and Italy indicate that Blair, Aznar and Berlusconi have completely lost their people's confidence.
All of the cities listed are in countries that are allies of the US.
In the US the major media in their wholehearted support of the administration has been filtering out opposition voices and news items. To find a large opposition that is continually growing is another quite remarkable phenomenon.
As the trauma of 9/11 receded the anti-war cause did not just expand or snowball but exploded with new members. From all age groups, from all jobs and professions, from both sexes, and from all ethnic backgrounds they come. And with each passing day more and more new recruits keep joining.
Most amazing is the commitment of the people who are now part of this new coalition.
My wife Frances and I, like so many of these activists, are Johnny-Come-Latelies. But since becoming activists we regularly attend anti-war protests, rain or shine, summer or winter, hot or cold. And we are not unusual.
The protest in Washington on January 18 occurred on a bitterly cold day. Temperatures did not approach 30º. Yet people came -- from great distances and from the warm climates of Florida and other deep-south states.
I got into conversations with some of them. A young man from Maine told me that eleven buses came from that state. A man carrying a banner from a labor union in Wisconsin told me that twenty buses came from Wisconsin.
Pertinent information for the March 15 protest was posted on the internet to alert interested people of what was available. Here is an excerpt of a listing under a Minnesota headline:
"Rochester, MN . . . TRANSPORTATION: Cost: $150, bus leaves from Rochester Recreation Center 3/14 @ 11am return on 3/16 mid-afternoon."
Just imagine the commitment of individuals who shell out 150 bucks to ride from 11AM on a Friday to reach Washington the next day at noon for a rally. You are riding in a bus a full day to get there and then another full day to return. If you're employed you must take off from work and lose pay. The rally lasts all of five hours, where you are one individual among hundreds of thousands. Your presence or absence would never be noticed. Yet they came!
Compare that incredible commitment with the disinterest of Americans to their yearly citizenship right -- the precious vote. Numerous polling stations are provided and they are open for a relatively long period of time. In spite of how convenient it has been made Americans show up proportionately less than citizens of other western nations.
It's an enigma. How can it be explained? Each individual has his own unique reasons for how he reacts. But there may be some common explanation.
Could it be that the system is so corrupt that voting becomes ineffective? What's the use of choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, both of whom are in the pockets of the multinational corporations?
There are important issues that should be rightfully addressed but the government sold out some time ago. Yet when issues come up that are important, people respond. The more important, the more they will commit themselves to the issue.
If this analysis is correct it would appear that 'NO WAR' is the issue of the most paramount importance and interest for people in the US and around the world as well.
For years activist groups were continually lamenting their failure to recruit new followers to their cause. The cry was often made that they were always preaching to the choir. What appeal could attract new members? Where is the charismatic leader who can spread the message? Who will be the Eugene V. Debs or Martin Luther King of the twenty-first century?
What was the magic message and who is that charismatic leader that accomplished this astonishing metamorphosis?
Ironically, that message is the US's unjustified and cruel program for total war and that 'charismatic leader' is George W. Bush.
In spite of the distorted press reports the lies and distortions that have been spewed out to support their position are so patent that trust in Bush keeps falling.
It is quite likely that opposition numbers will continue to grow if problems interfere with the plans of the hawks. The war may be more trouble than expected. The Iraqis, after their country is occupied, may rebel against their new US-imposed leaders. Renewed terrorist attacks in the U.S. may upset domestic affairs.
But one major problem most likely to frustrate this unending war against 'terrorism' is the economy.
The U.S. not many years ago was the world's leading creditor; it is now the world's leading debtor. With each passing day the deficit grows to a new unprecedented amount. The spending spree has been able to last this long because the dollar is the reserve currency of the world. But the Euro has been gaining adherents from non-European countries and it is gaining in value against the dollar.
When Bush came into office there was a budget surplus and future prospects looked promising. There was even talk of no outstanding US government debt in ten years. But Bush's fiscal program completely destroyed that surplus budget. Reducing income with tax cuts for the rich exceeded the savings by slashing programs benefiting the people. The terrorist war has added huge ever-mounting costs putting new strains on the budget that is now in a free fall of expanding deficits. With the economy going further and further into the tank administration supporters may join the ranks of today's dissenters.
To survive, countries must have 'the consent of the governed'. While terror and force can keep people subjugated they eventually are able to overthrow the tyrants who ruled. Just look at recent history. Batista in Cuba; Samoza in Nicaragua; the Shah of Iran; Suharto in Indonesia; Marcos in the Philippines; the apartheid government of South Africa.
All of those tyrants had the support of the U.S.. And all were proclaimed by the U.S. and its media as democratic leaders. Apparently the democracy that the U.S. recognizes is not what people in each of these countries wanted.
Just as those tyrants were toppled by the overwhelming opposition of the people the superpower is finding a similar opposition in the millions of citizens of the world that are screaming against their war policies. The current anti-war confrontation is creating a unique period of history.
While there is only one superpower in the world a most formidable force has arisen to counter it.
· · · · · ·
Iraq on Swans
The 1991 Gulf War Rationale - A Swans Dossier
Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).
Do you wish to share your opinion? We invite your comments. E-mail the Editor. Please include your full name, address and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country.
Please, feel free to insert a link to this article on your Web site or to disseminate its URL on your favorite lists, quoting the first paragraph or providing a summary. However, please DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work on the Web without the expressed written authorization of Swans. This material is copyrighted, © Philip Greenspan 2003. All rights reserved.
This Week's Internal Links
Operation Iraqi Freedom - by Jan Baughman
Julien Benda: The Failure of Imagination and Thought - by Gilles d'Aymery
Excerpt from The Treason of the Intellectuals - by Julien Benda
How To Understand Language And Ideology? - by Scott Orlovsky
Decoyed Yet Again - by Milo Clark
How Raven Came To Be Black: A telling of a Macah Story - by Milo Clark
More On The Fourth Turning - by Milo Clark
Use Of Nuclear Weapons As A Crime Against Humanity - by Gerard Donnelly Smith
Zimbabwe: "The Land Has Come Back" - by Baffour Ankomah
Zimbabwe: "A Conservative Government Would Never Have Done That" - by Baffour Ankomah
Zimbabwe: The Spark ...Claire Short's letter of November 1997 - by Baffour Ankomah
Geronimo's Skull - Poem by Gerard Donnelly Smith