jacdon at jacdon at
Fri Sep 14 17:43:40 MDT 2001


Following are two progressive news items of interest which were 
included the current issue of the biweekly Mid-Hudson (N.Y.)  Action
Newsletter/Calendar of Sept. 15, 2001--number 49.  We have eliminated
all the calendar items and other material. It is published in the town
of New Paltz, N.Y.,  by the Mid-Hudson National People's Campaign and
the local branch of the International Action Center.


By Jack A. Smith

All progressive people grieve for the dead and injured in this week’s
terrible terror attacks and sympathize with their families and loved
ones.  And we all strongly oppose the use of terror methods against
innocent civilians anywhere in the world, whether in the form of
small-group terrorism experienced in New York City and Washington, or
state terrorism against civilians as practiced with appalling frequency
in recent years.

At the same time, we totally oppose President Bush’s plans  to exploit
this moment of national trauma by launching, in his words Sept. 14, “the
first war of the 21st century.”  On the same day, the Defense Department
prepared the American people to accept a massive military retaliation in
coming days or weeks against targets not yet revealed.  “We will use all
our resources,” emphasized Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. 
“It’s not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them
accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems,
[and] ending states who sponsor terrorism.”  In other words, all-out war
against a variety of targets, probably including the blameless--a
tragedy that will without question  provoke further episodes in the U.S.
similar to those of Sept. 11.

In addition to the pain and suffering of the victims and their families,
a reprehensible byproduct of this week’s events is the eruption of
anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hostility in our country, too frequently
leading to verbal and physical abuse. We expect that all progressive
people will strongly denounce this form of  vicious racism.  We must
stand with our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters in this moment of
travail, just as we stand with innocent civilians victimized in New York
and Washington. At this writing, several incidents have also taken place
where authorities have generated headlines by arresting innocent Arab or
Muslim people, then releasing them after hours of grilling.  We must
also demand an end to such arbitrary arrests.

Although some organizations have canceled their scheduled protest events
in Washington later this month because of the World Trade Center
catastrophe, the International Action Center is not only intent upon
demonstrating against the Bush administration in the nation’s capital
Saturday, Sept. 29, as planned,  but it has refocused its protest to
concentrate on the dangers of massive retaliation and racism.  We urge
all progressives in the Mid-Hudson region to join this most timely

It was a travesty for the government and media to define the attacks in
Washington and New York as “another Pearl Harbor,” in order to convince
the American people to support a war. Pearl Harbor symbolizes an attack
by a strong imperialist power, supported by an axis of powerful
cohorts,  with the intention of destroying the U.S. in a world war. 
This week’s terrorism, despite the loss of thousands of lives, was not
an act of war by any rational interpretation of the term.  Evidently,
George Bush is out to start a war if an enemy can be located.  Out of
such a contrived perspective will issue clarion calls to increase our
already bloated defense budget, a drumbeat of demands to expand and
further project U.S.  military prowess, commands to swiftly construct a
provocative anti-missile network, myriad justifications for vastly
increasing domestic surveillance, and legislative proposals for
“anti-terrorist” laws that will significantly compromise our democratic
freedoms and civil rights.  The result of such maneuvers may well be an
endless spiral of terror and counter-terror, abroad and at home. 

Tuesday’s deplorable terror attacks did not occur in a political vacuum,
despite the mass media’s effort to depict the events as simply the
product of Middle Eastern “madmen” with “no regard for human life”
driven by fundamentalist religious beliefs to hate the United States. 
In reality, Washington’s role in the Middle East, which it has dominated
since the end of World War 2 to control the region’s vast petroleum
resources, must be carefully examined to determine the roots of our
present situation.

The award-winning  British journalist and filmmaker John Pilger wrote an
article for Znet Sept. 14 that summed up U.S.-Middle East relations.   
Arguing that the terror attacks took place only after a long history of
grievances, he wrote in part:  “An estimated 200,000 Iraqis... died
during and in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter known as the Gulf
War [where the U.S. lost a handful of soldiers]. This was never news
that touched public consciousness in the West.  At least a million
civilians, half of them children, have since died in Iraq [in the last
decade] as a result of a medieval embargo imposed by the United States
and Britain. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Mujadeen, which gave birth
to the fanatical Taliban, was largely the creation of the CIA [which
used them against the USSR]. The terrorist training camps where Osama
bin Laden, now ‘America's most wanted man,’ allegedly planned his
attacks, were built with American money and backing. In Palestine, the
enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were
it not for U.S. backing.  Far from being the terrorists of the world,
the Islamic peoples have been its victims....It is only a few years ago
that the Islamic fundamentalist groups, willing to blow themselves up in
Israel and New York, were formed, and only after Israel and the U.S. had
rejected outright the hope of a Palestinian state, and justice for a
people scarred by imperialism.”

Commenting in a similar vein, Professor Steve Breyman of New York’s
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, wrote Sept. 13 that “The best way to
prevent similarly motivated future terrorist attacks on the U.S. is to
rapidly reevaluate and strongly modify U.S. foreign policy toward the
Middle East.... The most urgent, intelligent, economical, and humane
measure to prevent terrorism is adoption of a just, fair, and balanced
policy toward Israel and Palestine. This has been the right thing to do
for many years. It is needed now more than ever.”

Another important part of the motivation for the attack stemmed from
economic, social and political frustrations that exist throughout much
of Asia, Africa and Latin America as a result of Washington’s
international policies.  The U.S. is the most powerful national security
state in history, and dominates the globe militarily (with troops in
over 50 countries), economically, politically and, in many places,
culturally as well.  Its enemies, especially since the implosion of the
Soviet Union, routinely are crushed.  Is Yugoslavia “acting up?”  Let’s
bomb ‘em for 78 days and then fix their elections till they get rid of
Milosevic.  Is Iraq’s Saddam Hussein “acting up?”  Let’s starve the
population and deprive them of medicine, clean drinking water and
everything necessary for survival until they kick him out.  Almost 1.5
million deaths later, an American secretary of state says, “it’s worth
the price.” Is Cuba remaining socialist?  Let’s blockade and subvert
them for four decades.  Is Nicaragua a problem?  Or Guatemala or El
Salvador or Grenada or Panama or Chile or Vietnam or Korea or Iran or
Angola or, or....”  The U.S., together with its subordinate allies from
the industrialized nations, are masters of all they survey.  But more
than 80% of the people of the world are not members of this exclusive
club.  They are, for the most part, the powerless former colonized
peoples whose labor and resources have been exploited for generations by
this rich man’s club.  In recent years, the globalizaiton of
capital--which has created spectacular wealth for the relative few--has
desperately impoverished billions of people.  And then Washington is
shocked, shocked to be informed of manifestations of antagonism toward
its humanitarian, democratic presence in the world.  

What should progressive people do about the current situation after
paying their respects to this week’s victims of terrorism?     

It seems to us that every effort must be made to stop the Bush
administration from exacting bloody vengeance in a war or near-war with 
missile attacks, bombardments and possibly even invasions resulting in
widespread casualties.  Those responsible for the terror attacks should
be tracked down, arrested, tried as criminals, and sentenced--but not
used as pretexts for engaging in a violent muscle-flexing catharsis
intended to demonstrate the futility  of threatening the lion in his
lair.  Suicide bombers by definition will not be impressed by massive
retaliation; it will in fact be an invitation to try again.  It is also
important to oppose providing the Pentagon and assorted policing
authorities with billions of additional dollars for new weapons systems
and the like.  And we should be especially vigilant against proposals to
exchange democratic rights for enhanced “anti-terrorist” security
measures, keeping in mind Benjamin Franklin’s 1759 warning that, “They
that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Lastly, genuine national security and freedom from terror depends
primarily on a reevaluation of America's role in the world; on taking
sincere steps to end global poverty and inequality; and on constructing
a foreign policy based on generosity, respect and fairness toward all
peoples.  This won’t happen anytime soon, but it is worth fighting for
all the same because it not only would  genuinely protect our country
against terrorism, but also serve as a splendid humanitarian memorial to
the victims of Sept. 11, who will forever remain in our hearts. 


A March on Washington and rally outside the White House will take place
on Saturday, Sept. 29, focused on opposition to the new war threatened
by the Bush administration in the aftermath of the terror attacks
earlier this week and to growing anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism.

The International Action Center (IAC) originally planned the Sept. 29
event as a rally primarily against President Bush’s foreign and domestic
policies during a week of scheduled protests by scores of groups,
largely in opposition to the policies of the International Monetary Fund
and World Bank.  The Bush administration’s war preparations plus the
need to defend Arabs and Muslims  have been pushed to the top of the
agenda.   Other aspects of Bush’s program will remain targets, of

Many of the organizations involved in the IMF/WB protests on other days
may drop their plans because the two institutions of global capital are
expected to cancel their joint meetings over the weekend of Sept.
29-30.   Washington police, anticipating massive protests and civil
disobedience, encouraged the two world bodies to postpone their
meetings.  The Latin American Solidarity Conference, a coalition of 40
groups, is meeting this weekend to determine whether or not to conduct
their own Sept. 29 protests in view of the tragedy in New York and
Washington.  There is a fair chance the LASC will go ahead with the
protest, probably joining up at some point with the IAC march and
rally.  Also being reevaluated this weekend as a result of the attacks
is the Sunday, Sept. 30, rally against globalization organized by a
number of progressive groups including the AFL-CIO.

We have no information about whether D.C. authorities will go ahead with
earlier plans to erect a 9-foot fence around some 40-square blocks of
downtown Washington, a plan devised when the IFM/WB meeting were
expected to draw tens of thousands of demonstrators, including large
contingents of people willing to offer civil disobedience.  Since the
attack on the Pentagon, however, it is expected the fence will be
erected.  The IAC has long secured march and rally permits, and the
protest is set to be legal and peaceful, but the authorities want to
shift the action to a point more distant from the White House.  This is
being worked out.

The Sept. 29 march and rally will emphasize the need for activists to
oppose plans to launch massive military retaliation in response to the
terror attacks this week, to stand with Arab and Muslim people in the
U.S., and all people of color, against racism.  In a statement Sept. 13,
the IAC declared:  “Now is the time for all people of conscience, and
all people who oppose racism and war to come together.  The government
is attempting to limit our civil liberties and to create a climate in
which it is impossible for progressive people to speak their mind.  The
Bush  administration seeks to take advantage of this crisis to
militarize U.S. society with an expansion of police powers that will
restrict basic democratic rights.   If you support civil liberties and
oppose racism and war, join us Sept. 29 in front of the White House.” 
The action also insists “that the government pay for rebuilding New York
City and compensate the victims of the Sept. 11 attack and their
families, many of whom have lost not only loved ones but also jobs and
healthcare benefits.”

In addition, of course, the protest will condemn the Bush
administration’s general program because “It’s been eight months since
George W. Bush assumed the presidency and it feels like eight years. 
Good-bye Kyoto global warming accords.  Good-bye arms control treaties. 
Good-bye surpluses.  Good-bye Alaska wildlife preserve.  Good-bye
affirmative action programs.  And if the White House gets its way,
good-bye abortion rights and Social Security as we know it.  It doesn’t
have to be ‘good-bye to all that.’  We have choices:  We can do nothing
but nurse our political grievances and hope to get a better deal in the
next presidential election (lots of luck!).  Or we can take action now
to create sufficient mass political pressure to forestall further
“good-byes” to social programs that the working people of our country
fought for decades to attain. We’re for taking action now, in Washington
on Saturday, Sept. 29.”

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