There have been many, many tragedies in the world in our time. Of course, the latest tragedy is the terrorist act which took place in New York and Washington, D.C. This tragedy shook the American people up to what the horrible loss of life can mean to our people and the nation as a whole.

The television, radio and newspapers have been repeating over and over pictures and descriptions of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Now American flags are being sold by the millions. Slogans of solidarity fly on all TV stations, billboards, schools, churches and places of business: ‘United We Stand,’ ‘America Is One’ and similar slogans.

President Bush, just a month before the Sept. 11 tragedy, had a very low popularity rating but after the tragedy, polls rated his popularity at 90 percent. We, as average Americans, must take a step or two back and begin evaluating the whys and wherefores without all of the hoopla and jingoism.

With the terrorist strike, the entire Congress, with the exception of one person, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), voted to give Bush and Company $40 billion of our tax money to do what he wants with it. Lee’s position, and rightly so, is to thoroughly investigate who the criminals are, apprehend them, bring them to trial and punish them for these dastardly acts.

Beating the drums for war is an excuse by the Bush administration to rob the American people by using tax money for war, missiles and new profits to benefit Big Business.

One such big business is oil. Journalist Karen Talbot, in an article for The People’s Weekly World, stated, ‘The main motive of the transnational oil companies is profits.’ She referred to Frank Viviano’s ‘Energy future rides on U.S. war: conflict centered in world’s oil patch,’ in which he stated ‘the hidden stakes in the war against terrorism can be summed up in a single word: oil.’

Talbot further points out, ‘This region will account for more than 80 percent of the world’s oil and natural gas according to the Statistical Review of World Energy.’ Vakhtang Kolbaya, deputy chairman of the parliament in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, stated, ‘You cannot discuss the violence in this region outside the context of oil … It’s at the heart of the problem.’

Talbot concludes that many have pointed out the fact that the CIA trained, equipped and funded the Mujahedin and Osama bin Laden to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan and into the Soviet Union itself – the largest covert action in the history of the CIA. This included supplying them with stinger missiles. The intelligence service of both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were heavily involved in this. Peter Schweizer, from the Hoover Institute, details this in his book: ‘Victory: The Reagan Administration’s Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union.’

The call to war by the Bush administration can still be stopped. We do not need more violence in some foreign land. Let us use our tax money for humanitarian projects. War will escalate into terrorism in all parts of the world.

Let us not curtail our civil liberties. Let us not return to that era of McCarthyism where wiretaps were prevalent and search and seizure was unrestricted. We must protect the rights of immigrants.

Let us lift the embargoes from all countries and work through the United Nations General Assembly to solve the world’s problems.

John Gilman is active in the Wisconsin Committee for Peace and Justice and a recipient of a 2001 People’s Weekly World Courage Award.