What will happen to our movement if there's another 9-11?

M. Junaid Alam redjaguar at attbi.com
Wed Feb 26 09:32:03 MST 2003

After falling ill for several months I'm now fully involved again at my
university in anti-war work, and after speaking last night at a teach-in
I began thinking and discussing a couple critical questions that pose
major tactical and theoretical issues.

What will happen if there's another 9-11 type attack, in terms of
people's attitudes in the movement? Will it be shattered and demoralized
on a gut level, and then kept shut up by state repression and media
propaganda? Clearly the Israeli example shows that a society being
attacked, even if it is delivering 9/10ths of the violence, is going to
harden its heart and move significantly to the right.

Is there a way to resist this logic in America? The attacks could be
viewed in several ways - arguments could have it that Bush's policies
have failed to provide security because a. the Iraq war is a distraction
from al-Qaeda, or b. the revenge-eradication tactic of the war on terror
itself isn't working. Another argument would posit that the attacks
should reinforce the belief in the clash of civilizations and support
the 'total war' philosophy.

Then I think there are also theoretical weaknesses in our understanding
of terrorist attacks being classified and understood which could become
important to reckon with now. For instance, on 9-11, there is the
blowback theory, which says the CIA created mujahideen monsters whom
they can no longer control and have gone mad. But there is a tension
between 9-11 as a result of American foreign policy in choosing proxies,
and 9-11 as a result of American foreign policy in oppressing people.
Chomsky, for instance, says 9-11 was a case where after 500 years the
guns were pointed in the other direction, at the West. But are they?

So consider, for instance, that even though over a million Iraqis have
died from sanctions, including 500,000 children, there are no Iraqi
terrorist groups going around blowing up Americans. And despite all our
funding of Israel, none of the Palestinian militants have launched
attacks in America. Is there any usefulness, politically or
theoretically, in distinguishing al-Qaeda or analyzing it separately
from the anger felt by these two national groups? Because if we argue
that 9-11 is a case of revenge for actual oppression in these areas,
then are we attributing to the victims of imperialism crimes of revenge
that they never actually carried out?

Assuming there is another terrorist attack on American soil, this might
matter because the mass media will generalize on a wide scale and anyone
who is Arab/Muslim domestically and internationally can become a target.

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