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More than "No War"

by Jeff Strand

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Originally appeared in in unreleased issue of M.C. newsletter

The government and corporate media persist that war is the only response to 9-11; however, before bombs were dropped on Afghanistan, people took to the streets across the globe to protest the imminent and bloody war, which the US has since delivered. Largely ignored by the press, and even criticized by those who do not support the war, protesters have been accused of being naive, offering no alternative solutions, and choosing inappropriate tactics.

There are reasons why this war should be avoided, regardless of whether or not dissenters offer other responses to the events of 9-11. The government, allegedly for 'security reasons,' has given no evidence to support their claims that Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, is behind the attacks. The suspects have been tried and convicted by the Bush administration, and the Afghanis are being executed as punishment. If the suspects are responsible for the attacks, the indiscriminate bombing of Afghanistan will not guarantee their capture or death; even if they are eliminated, what price must be paid with the blood of innocents? It is also clear that Afghanistan is only the beginning of a long war; once it has been subjugated, Bush will attack yet another country of his prejudicial choosing.

Alternatives to war have been offered and there are reasons why you may not have heard them. The government will not shed any light on possible alternatives that might threaten it's authority; and the corporate media, the device for disseminating nationalistic propaganda, will not speak out against the Bush administration. Did the media broadcast any interviews with any protesters, or report on any of the leaflets that were handed out during the street actions? Have they reported when philosophers, civil libertarians, historians and other respected intellectuals have suggested that 9-11 be treated as a crime against humanity, and not as an act of war? The people in power control the populace through the manipulation of information: every item on the news, or in the papers, has been screened, censored and selected to promote the war.

What options for voicing dissent do we have? After last November, surely no one will suggest the voting booth. Writing letters and speaking directly to people about the issues are important, and activists do these in addition to holding marches and rallies. Unless you are famous, can buy air time, or can make it through the screeners of call in talk shows, there is little chance of getting alternative views into the corporate media, unless protesters fill the streets in large numbers.

In an authoritarian culture, especially during a time of fervent nationalism, communicating ideas which challenge the establishment require more explanation than a protest sign or a short blip on the news. Were a dissenting voice to slip through, it might not be transmitted through snippets of information, especially if the idea is radically different from what people normally encounter. If we want to use the media, using simple, easily transmitted ideas would be the most effective: something like 'NO WAR.'

Many voices are speaking out against the war, from diverse backgrounds; despite some disagreement in ideology, tactics, and solutions, what brings them together is that they are all against the war. Having a unified message is important for street actions. Ending the war is tantamount in the minds of protesters; what to do afterwards is important, but only secondary.

One of the complaints put against the antiwar and anti-globalization movements is that the protesters aren't 'for' anything: only against the current system of global violence and exploitation. Often the ideals the protesters believe in mirror what the people in power claim to uphold, like freedom, democracy, and equality. However, a politician or corporate CEO may interpret them drastically different from the way a protester would; or they might place them as secondary to the accumulation of wealth and power, which is contradictory to such. The protester must rise above the double speak of the establishment and point out what they are against so as to insure that they mean what they say.

It is difficult to find viable solutions when US foreign policy is so disastrous. The causes must be fully addressed and resolved, otherwise the cycle of violence will continue. The US, via the CIA, supported the Pakistani secret service who trained militant groups of Islamic fundamentalists, including Osama bin Laden, to fight the Russians, and then later backed the Taliban's training and rise to power. The number one recipient of US foreign aid, Israel, has been supplied weapons and tactical support for their terrorist attacks against Palestinians. The third recipient of foreign aid had been Turkey, with the US supporting their ethnic cleansing of Kurds, but is now held by Columbia. The US gives money for the "Drug War" to the Columbian government and paramilitaries who control the drug trade and carry out atrocities against their own people. Post-Gulf War sanctions against Iraq have killed over one and a half million people, over half that number being children under the age of five, and thousands more continue to die every month. The US continues to bomb Iraq, a country they are not even at war with: sixteen times this past summer alone. If the cycle of terror is to end, the root of the problem, the authoritarian US government, must be removed.