Terrorist Wars
The 3rd article in the series "Miscellaneous"

This article was published in TM-magazine, an Australian e-zine.

Maybe this is a new kind of war.
In classical wars states fight each other. In guerrilla wars a population fights an oppressive regime. The fighting parties are well organised, have some national identity and strive for state power. In a terrorist war governments are fighting a loose collection of groups. A part of the Bin Laden group is associated with a government but it does not strive for state power. The many terrorist groups outside Afghanistan have no connection to the Taleban and are not harboured by other countries. Never before a nation has battled a loose association of terrorist cells. All the former wars were localised, now terrorist groups roam the world. The globalisation makes them nearly untraceable. I do not understand why any state should side with the USA that bombs citizens in poor countries. These citizens do not attack the USA and even the Taleban do not attack, they only defend their country.

A war between nations knows many (often self-imposed) restrictions. The Vietnam War was restricted to Indo-China. 50.000 American soldiers died and a million Vietnamese, mostly citizens. There were hardly any attacks on Americans outside Vietnam. In the Israeli-Palestinian War citizens are also hurt but mostly inside the territory of Palestine. And the Taleban invites the USA to come to their country to be defeated. It is a military struggle and the political powerful, who live far away, remain untouched. The classical war knows many restrictions. In 1949 the Geneva Conventions stipulated rules for a war but even before 1949 there were restricting rules as I may believe the TV-series about English prisoners of war in German camps. Do never attack leaders (even Saddam was spared), do not kill too much citizens, do not attack (too much) infrastructure, hospitals, schools, temples. Do not even kill spies. Do not use too much personnel-mines, cluster bombs or ABC-weapons. These rules are only valid for organised groups and the population in a warring country that wants to resist the invader must be organised and controlled by the government in exile. Individual resistance is not appreciated and autonomous groups are harshly punished. Classic wars as well as guerrilla wars are conflicts between different parts of the world elite in which after the war the defeated part of the elite is allowed to take care of their own country. (Even parts of the Taleban are invited to join a new government). The population is used as cannon fodder.

The present war against terrorism differs somewhat and the old rules seem not to be valid. The West tries to unsettle a foreign government, which did not attack other countries and openly says it aims to kill people they only suspect of terrorism (without any trial). It is unbelievable that the Americans are surprised of the tenacity of the Taleban after several weeks of bombings. Of course Taleban leaders will not trust a belligerent side, which has stated that they will destroy all opponents. And the Americans do not understand either that the Taleban inspires new opponents, the loose coalition of terrorist groups. Though these groups are in contact with each other and with different governments they have a great amount of autonomy and are not lead by one mastermind. It is quite probable that the WTC-catastrophe was not controlled nor ordered by Osmana bin Laden.

What is terrorism, what are terrorists?
6000 citizens were killed in the WTC-attack (By the way, official figures now put the number of deaths just over 4000).
Many, let say 6000 citizens were killed in Panama when the Americans arrested the president, ex-CIA agent Noriega, who had to be replaced by a more trusted president though the drugs trade is still flourishing in that country.
Many, let say 6000 citizens were killed in Bosnia when troops under the leadership of Mladic and Karadzic killed all the men in Srebenica. An action to arrest these criminals (comparable to the Afghan war) is never undertaken in this tiny country.
Many, let say three times 6000 citizens were killed in Lebanon when the Israeli army invaded that country. The perpetrators of this massacre are also still at liberty.

When I define terrorism as a deadly attack on not-involved citizens you can rightly say that all the above-mentioned acts are terrorist acts. Colonel Gaddafi said that terrorism is "the threat of fleets, sanctions and embargoes and that now the largest terrorist organization is the UN Security Council." And with good reason you can also say that selling of drugs, pollution of the environment or conscious refusal to take safety measures for workers in a factory, etceteras all hurt the not-involved citizen and are thus terrorists acts. I do not want to define terrorism. Many activities by individuals, groups, organisations and governments are wrong. But there are political reasons for these acts and you cannot eradicate this wrongful behaviour by using the force of the police or the army. When the causes are not taken away, the problem will arise again and again.

In the fifties the Netherlands knew many violent youth gangs that fought each other and that sometimes attacked innocent citizens. The police tried to correct these gangs but did not succeed. Most of the members came from the working classes and had low wages, bad work and no future. Then the sixties arrived and people got some hope that the old hierarchical society could be replaced by something else. The Provo Movement attacked the authoritarian attitude of the leading classes and many citizens became enthusiastic. Something was going to change! The rules by which the leading classes kept their grip on the masses were indeed somewhat loosened and people had the idea they got more grip on their life. The gangs vanished suddenly because the situation changed, not because the police got more control over the gangs. The wages rose, the situation in the factories ameliorated and the future became somewhat brighter. The deeper causes for the existence of the gangs faded away and this caused the disappearance of this nuisance. But the optimistic atmosphere lasted only about ten years and the gangs reappeared in a different form as football hooligans. The hooligans are still there because the reasons for their discontent are not looked at. Still later another part of the lower echelons of society started to revolt, the second and third generation of the children of foreign workers who in the sixties were imported from Morocco and Turkey to do the heavy and dirty work original Dutchmen did not want to do anymore. Their dissatisfaction is even strengthened by the growing antipathy for Islamic coloured Dutchmen. Neither the police nor the army can ever solve such problems.

In Iran is just proved that hooliganism has a political background. Three separate nights in a row there were disturbances in Teheran and other cities after Iran lost to Bahrain in a qualification match for the World Football Championship. Hooligans attacked banks and other targets that were related to the establishment while they shouted slogans against the Islamic regime. It was a manifestation of pent-up frustration. Although elections showed that the Iranian people want change because 85 % voted in favour of the reformist opposition, change has largely been blocked by entrenched hard-liners of the leading fundamentalist elite. A few thousand hooligans on rampage will not change the system, therefore other actions are needed including a direct attack on the elite. Political problems have to be solved by political means not by even more suppressing the people.

It is not sure that Osmana Bin Laden was the evil genius behind the terrorist attack on the WTC because other parties want also very much to get control over the region. Read the articles of George Monbiot and draw your own conclusions. "On the Morass" and "The American Pipedream" can be found on http://www.monbiot.com. Economic factors are one of the causes of terrorism and they are strengthened by the situation in Palestine, Iraq and Saudi-Arabia and by the Arrogance of the West, which imposes its ideas on the rest of the world through the IMF, the World Bank, the workers in NGO’s and help organisations, the Western tourists, the Western orientated press and the superior weapons. By the way, weapons never solved any social problem. Therefore the question if terrorism should go unpunished is the wrong question. It has to be replaced by the question why terrorism came forward and how it can be avoided.

Do we not have to do something against terrorism? Yes indeed because I do not want to be hurt by attacks on wrong people in wrong places. But measures will only succeed when the sauce for the goose is also used for the gander, when the same method used against Osmana bin Laden and his companions are also used against Sharon, father Bush, Mladic and many other top-leaders who are suppressing and killing innocent citizens and obstructing the free development of the masses. The 6000 WTC-deaths should have the same weight as the 50.000.000 people who die every year because they cannot get enough food and as all the other citizens from the Third World that died in wars for which the deeper causes can be found in the West, the Western policies and the Western domination. The vast amount of material, money, high-tech and well-educated people that are mobilised to revenge the WTC-6000 should be employed to improve the wretched life of the many millions of poor people in the not-Western part of the world. I am convinced that then the Osmanas of our world will be deprived of people who want to fight with him. And I do say Osmanas because when the present Osmana is gone the next Osmana has already been born in the same swamp that covers most of the Third World. The many dead Afghani but also the present summary executions of suspected Palestinian citizens by the Israeli army or the foreign military planes that fly above Iraq and Saudi-Arabia will certainly increase the number of people who rally behind Osmana and thus increase the possibility of a new catastrophe.

Lincoln said that you cannot deceive all the people all of the time. The West is just trying to do that. But many small and big disgusting events have intruded the minds of the people and suddenly a catastrophe can happen. A small and seemingly unimportant event can have a huge effect. The murder of archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 triggered WWI. The birth of Osmana bin Laden and his subsequent development could have played a similar role. He was born in the morass, could look around in the rest of the world and then decided to do something (thereby bought and inspired by the American CIA). When you have ever observed how a demonstration can turn violent you can understand what is happening. Many dissatisfied people come together to express their concern. Then something ignites the masses. It can be the exiting speech of one of the organisers but mostly it is the arrogant presence of police-troops or the insulting presence of a power symbol. Many demonstrations against the Vietnam War were peaceful but sometimes some people started to throw stones at the American embassy and afterwards some people fought with the police. But not all demonstrations are violent and not always hooligans fight each other. Only sometimes the situation erupts and strange things happen that cannot be predicted. It was not premeditated that squatters burned down a tram during a demonstration in Amsterdam in the eighties, it was not premeditated that 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death during a football match in 1989. It just happened. And it depends on the reaction if the catastrophe will have further consequences. The ruling class tries to avoid catastrophes, but I think catastrophes are needed to make progress in a world that is slowly petrifying. For more information I refer to my series about catastrophes and to a simple mathematical background article in the appendix of my book "The Scarists".

A catastrophe (and the WTC-event is a catastrophe) is slowly building up. Several factors increase and then suddenly a special point will be reached and something unexpected happens. Nobody knows when that will happen and what will be the result. I doubt that the perpetrators of the WTC-event have ever thought of the possibility that the towers should totally collapse and I doubt also if they anticipated the American reaction. Just as Americans did not foresee that their policy, which goes back to WWII and the Western arrogance, which goes back to the first colonial travels of the Portuguese and the building of vast colonial empires, could in the end cause the WTC-catastrophe. In this realisation lies the solution of the present problem. Several factors – I named a few before – have increased in the course of time and the growth of these factors has to be reversed. Otherwise we only have to wait for the next catastrophe. The present American policy is foolish, you cannot fight a catastrophe by increasing one of the factors that caused the last catastrophe, the prominent presence of the American Army in the world outside the USA.

I can be short about another solution. The United Nations is the only place where all countries can talk with each other. But only leaders are present, masspeople nor terrorists are not allowed to participate. Decisions are taken over the head of involved parties. Moreover, the United States is so influential that the UN is often seen as a US-dependent institution. This is confirmed when the USA sometimes refuses to implement UN-resolutions (f.e. around Palestine), withdraws from UN-conferences on race or environment and pays its dues only when that is needed for other purposes. And not in the least, pressures and even buys other governments to participate in the crusade against the Taleban, which is (and proven by the use of the word crusade by Bush) in fact an action against a religion. When the political factors are not changed, the next catastrophe is looming around the corner. The prospect of a better world is now destroyed by the attack of Western troops on a very poor country. The next ten years people will remember this Afghan War. Because better communications have made the world smaller, this will have a profound influence on their minds. The West has to prepare for many surprises. It will be difficult to dispose of new Mossadeqs, Lumumbas or Allendes. Refusing to deliver oil and other raw materials will become a new weapon against the usurping West. The only solution I have for this conflict that can even destroy our world is to change the political environment that is now for a great deal determined by the (Western) elite. I propose to break the power of this elite and to replace it by a more democratic government. In this process the masses will change also. How that can be accomplished I make elsewhere clear on my site. 

PS. We do not know how long this war Afghan will drag on. We do know that in the meantime the sub-human position of the Afghan women will not change. And will it change after the war? I doubt it because the war was not started to ameliorate the position of the female half of the Afghan population. The elite has never had any objection to earn money by trading with very cruel suppressors.

Joost van Steenis (November 11 2001)


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