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To a Solidarian Globalization

"Radical Islamism surfs on the unhappiness of the Arabian masses as bolshevism once surfed on the unhappiness of the proletariat... It is up to us to transform the shock over such a barbarity into a productive political catharsis."
For a Solidarian Globalization

A military coalition against terror must join a coalition of civil societies against totalitarianism

By Daniel Cohn-Bendit

[This article originally published in: die tageszeitung, September 22, 2001 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.taz.de.]

The Greens and Joschka Fischer should not be envied these days. If they were superstitious, they would have to ask how they deserved the anger of Zeus and the vengeance of Athena. As since pacifists, they must now cope with a militant time once again in their first three years of government. Consider their voters. Green supporters are struck with paralyzing nightmares.

A diabolical trap threatens the Greens in their existence. While the majority of the German population appreciate the sincerity of the German foreign minister in New York, more and more Green voters grieve over their pacifist Joschka. Is he on George W. Bush's side in an archaic crusade against evil? Most Green voters did not imagine the phase of social-ecological reform.

While followers of the large national parties expect virtues like level-headedness, determination, steadfastness and strong leadership from responsible politicians, the Green pacifist intellectual milieu longs for discursiveness allowing doubts, questions and reflections. Pictures and events should be worked out, not simply repressed.

Some days we were all New Yorkers, in solidarity with the multicultural way of life which was destroyed so suddenly. For me this city is a symbol of a diverse world where whites, black, yellow, and red, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and atheists love, hate and need one another. However the war machine dominates the picture screen. Alive or dead, they want Ossama Bin Laden. After a few days of paralyzing fear and mourning, CNN offers us pictures which need the latent anti-Americanism to feel confirmed.

Children in New York and Washington ask their parents and teachers what they, the Americans, have done to the world that they are so hated. The New York Times recently answered vicariously for self-reflecting America: "We often embody the self-confident arrogance of a complacent nation that doesn't need anyone's help in opposing evil." Yes, America despises international cooperation since this would contradict its claim of leadership. Sad examples from the immediate past could be listed. International conventions are revoked at will, new conventions for climate protection, proscription of land mines and biological weapons are not ratified and - above all - the International Criminal Court is not recognized. The US leads, knows, determines and defines the moments of happiness, mourning and revenge.

All this is both true and untrue. The American nation shows its fiber in these days: the ability to stand together in view of the threat and the horror and find the dynamic and energies from itself to wage the battle for freedom and against terror. Many ideologists have run aground in this American contradiction.

Many of us are disoriented, nervous and paralyzed. Our naivity of being good persons overcomes us. We would prefer dropping a host of social workers and development workers over Afghanistan by parachute to teach the Taliban and reeducate Bin Laden's terror group. In this situation, the Greens, we and Joschka Fischer, must face the need for orientation and discourse. Clausewitz once said: the battle against a real or imaginary enemy will be lost or won on the home front. Whoever swings like Joschka Fischer between Brussels, Washington, London, Moscow and Tel Aviv no longer knows about life in Frankfurt. Whoever can bridle the Palestinian and Israeli columns racing to one another as brilliantly and skillfully as Fischer must for reasons of self-preservation and political survival leave his own self-assurance and face the no less self-righteous opposition in his own camp.

Neither Bush, Fischer nor Schroder wage a war against evil. An invisible army trained in Afghanistan and elsewhere is ready for crimes against humanity in their barbaric dimensions. This invisible army could drop mini-nuclear bombs on cities or guide airplanes to nuclear power plants. This army has clearly defined goals. For them we in Europe are part of the civilized order which they deeply hate. With their actions against our world, they conquer the minds and hearts of millions of insulted and degraded persons in the Arab world. With video-cassettes, Chomeni gained power in 1979, freed the land from the western devil and then led the country into the abyss.

A militant racist ideology underlies this terrorism. A faschistoid, woman-hostile ideology like the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is the result of unhappiness in the world, an unjust world order or the deadly actions of Israel in Palestine. Radical Islamism surfs on the unhappiness of the Arab masses as bolschevism once surfed on the unhappiness of the proletariat.

We are experiencing a battle of cultures if not the Christian-Jewish civilization against the Islamic. This is a battle of a religious fundamentalism in a whole region destroying all lay-republican order.

At this point the political coordinates get mixed up. The coalition against terror that arose in the last days tolerates terror. The Russians practice it in Chechnya, the Chinese in Tibet. The Arab states instrumentalize Islamic fundamentalism for their goals. Israeli-Jewish fundamentalists enforce their settlements with terror and put the Palestinian state in question.

Whoever seeks a military coalition against terror must forge an international coalition of civil societies and civil organizations against totalitarianism and intolerance and for human rights and social justice.

One point may not be concealed. For the West, the Taliban and Ossama Bin Laden's terror group were welcome fanatical fighters against the Russians to weaken the evil empire at that time. They contributed to the implosion of the Soviet power and thus accelerated the fall of the Berlin wall. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor of former US president Jimmy Carter, asked: "What is more important given world history? The Taliban or the overthrow of the Soviet empire? Some overexcited Muslims or Eastern Europe's liberation and the end of the Cold War?" Robert Cooper, personal adviser of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair admits very openly: "We must accustom ourselves to judge things with different standards." This is the cold logic of accepted realpolitik which frightens many people.

It is up to us, to Europe and the German government, to transform the shock and bewilderment over such a barbarity into a productive political catharsis. The military cooperation now gaining acceptance offers the chance that Americans may finally understand that the allies are in no way mere receivers of commands. If the military goal should ultimat4ely be the overthrow of the Taliban regime - which is covered by many UN resolutions - then the political goal must be the reinstatement of Afghanistan's exile government acknowledged by the UN. To that end, the liberation struggle of the Afghan opposition must be supported with aircraft, weapons and soldiers.

This catharsis will only be productive when our foreign policy is questioned radically and self-critically. If nothing is the same as before after September 11, that must be converted globally. When the market spreads over the whole world, rules are needed just as rules were previously necessary in the nation state. The idea of a solidarian globalization is against a natural globalization oriented only in the market. If globalization develops anarchistically and without state regulation, then our civilized values will be trampled on. We should use this catastrophe as an opportunity to change our policy in this direction. Only then will we have the possibility of positively coming out of the present horror scenario.

In danger and extreme distress, the middle course brings death. Because we stand at the abyss, we must form and communicate this strategy of justice, not revenge or vengeance. The victims of New York accuse us. The starving and humiliated in the world also indict us. Honoring the victims means handing over the murderers and their instigators to the administrations of justice - to an international tribunal - not living or dead but living. We are against the death penalty for anyone, for the anarchists executed by Franco, for Hans Martin Schleyer hung by members of the RAF, for Eichmann and also for Ossama Bin Laden. The conflicts that are queued up are also a necessary struggle around civilizing our world.

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