Most Americans remember where they were when airplanes slammed into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Most remember the alarm, anger and sadness they felt when they realized that this was a massive terrorist attack that would change the course of human events.
Yet many also remember that in the days following Sept 11, 2001, virtually the entire world, including Palestinians living under occupation, and socialist Cuba, joined in expressing solidarity with the victims of terrorism.
It was then that an opportunity arose for a global coalition, in some ways similar to the World War II anti-fascist coalition, to combat terrorism and its causes, and to find and arrest the perpetrators of this crime that destroyed nearly 3,000 innocent lives. Among families who lost the most, there was a rejection of war and anti-Islamic bigotry as the answer to terrorism.
But what did the Bush-Cheney administration do? Using the invasion of Afghanistan as a dress rehearsal, it unleashed a torrent of lies to justify a unilateral, pre-emptive war on Iraq, a nation that had no connection to 9/11. This administration began its quest to dismantle constitutional guarantees of individual rights, including hard-won civil and labor rights. It launched mass sweeps and deportations, torture gulags and spy programs.
Bush and Cheney arrogantly dismissed the world community’s warning that an invasion of Iraq was a diversion from the war on terrorism. They ignored warnings that it would destabilize not only Iraq but the entire Middle East. Now the U.S. stands alone as violence in Iraq spirals out of control, while this reckless administration pours fuel on the Israel-Palestine crisis and rattles sabers against Iran.
This strategy has bred more terrorism and made the world a far more dangerous place.
A worldwide coalition of many nations united to defeat Hitler fascism in World War II. But let’s be clear. No nation sacrificed more than the Soviet Union. More than 20 million Soviets, many of them communists, died saving humanity from Nazi racist extermination and enslavement. Victory over fascism triggered a worldwide wave of democratic struggles in which many oppressed, colonial nations and peoples won their freedom. Some took a socialist path of development.
Even before the war was over, right-wing corporate interests were preparing for a Cold War to roll back these democratic advances, stamp out the rising labor, progressive and socialist movements, and entrench the global dominance of U.S. capitalism.
That history was stood on its head by President Bush in his dishonest speech to military officers Sept. 5. After equating the democratic struggle against Nazism with the anti-democratic aims of Cold War anticommunism, Bush portrayed the “war against terrorism” as their 21st century equivalent. He depicted the U.S. as the bulwark against what he termed a rising tide of Islamic fanaticism.
Bush’s speech kicked off a drive to convince voters, once again, that he and his Republican-controlled Congress are protecting us from terrorism. His attack on Democrats and other critics as fellow travelers of al-Qaeda is a desperate attempt to stave off a Republican defeat in the fall election.
The name Osama bin Laden (a former CIA ally) has not crossed Bush’s lips for a long time. Now, with defeat looming Nov. 7, Bush has suddenly rediscovered bin Laden, mentioning him 18 times in 40 minutes. But didn’t we learn, just recently, that the Bush CIA closed up its unit assigned to find bin Laden?
Bush’s determination to “stay the course” with permanent occupation of Iraq gives rise to questions about his real motives. Is it securing stability and democracy, or is it securing control of Iraqi oil? More and more Americans see the occupation of Iraq as a disaster and say the only solution is a clear “exit strategy” that gets the troops home.
It will take a mighty all-people’s voter turnout to reject these fear tactics and wrest control of the House and Senate from the Republican right Nov. 7. Consider that your patriotic act.