portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

imperialism & war

Cycle of Stupidity

This book review of Wolfgang Haug' `Attack on Freedom?' is translated from the German in graswurzelrevolution.
"Cycle of Stupidity"

Attack on Freedom? The Attacks in the US and the "New World Order"

By Bernd Drucke

[This book review of: Wolfgang Haug, Attack on Freedom?. The Attacks in the US and the "New World Order", December 2001 first published in graswurzelrevolution 266, february 2002 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.graswurzel.net/266/angriff.shtml.]

"The television pictures were heart-rending, burning people leaping to their death from the hundredth floor. (... ) Afterwards we saw our politicians on television. I was shocked and paralyzed. The politicians spoke of retribution, revenge and punishment. We are at war, they said. I thought they learned nothing from the history of the twentieth century, from the hundred years of vengeance, war and revenge, absolutely nothing - the hundred years of terrorism and anti-terrorism, the hundred years of violence and counter-violence and the endless cycle of stupidity" (Howard Zinn in: Attack on Freedom?, p.32).

"Can evil be eliminated? What would the good be without the evil? Not only religious fanatics need enemies to justify their madness. The arms industry and the gigantic military machine of the United States also need enemies to justify their existence. The actors change their masks, good and evil and evil and good. Heroes become monsters and monsters become heroes according to the demands of the script editors" (Eduardo Galeano).

In the last months, many publishers have released books connected with September 11 and the war against Afghanistan. The shelves in bookstores are full of Bin-Laden biographies and other dubious works that smack of fast money. Now we don't have to wait for a truly readable book on September 11 and the "Crusade against Terror"...

During the middle of December 2001, US pilots dropped "Daisy Cutter" bombs over Afghanistan destroying all life in a radius of 600 meters while Afghan children were torn to shreds by cluster bombs hardly distinguishable from the daily ration packages...

Articles from internationally known intellectuals from Asia, Latin America and the US were chosen in "Attack on Freedom?" "The Algebra of Infinite Justice" by Arundhati Roy is an excellent text. This article by India's best-known author ("The God of Little Things") was discussed internationally and caused quite a stir in Germany. Moderator Ulrich Wickert quoted the following sentence in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung newspaper article on September 28, 2001: "Osama bin Laden is the American family secret, the dark look-alike of the American president." Wickert added: "Bush is not a murderer or terrorist. However the thought structures are the same."

Campaign for Eliminating Critical Thinking from the Media

A media campaign against the deviationist was initiated. Under pressure, the TV moderator retracted the comparison and made a public apology. What a farce and burlesque since the dichtomous world view of the battle between good and evil is shared by bin Laden and the US president and Roy's thesis of the "dark look-alike" is plausible!...

In searching for differentiated answers, the authors explore reasons for the attacks and the meaning, nonsense or legitimacy of the war of an international alliance against Afghanistan. The simple logic of retribution and revenge is rejected. The role of the US as the only "superpower" and the situation in many countries of the Southern hemisphere is analyzed. The widespread theories interpreting the attacks as a faith- or culture conflict are opposed. Possible answers to the current situation in politics are proposed.

"If the spiral of violence should be stopped, the reactions to the attacks may no longer be military. They must be based on the West's capacity for self-reflection and correction of malformations and misguided actions" (Haug, p.3).

With their questions and the search for solutions, the authors distinguish themselves from Chancellor Schroder who wrote a blank check and propagated "unconditional solidarity".

The texts are also captivating through the detailed background information on the situation in Afghanistan, the Taliban, Bin-Laden, al-Qaida, the Northern alliance and its leaders, the Israel-Palestine conflict, the goals of US foreign policy and the pre-history of the attacks.

"Whoever raises the question about backgrounds is inevitably confronted with the different crimes of the US all over the world. Still all these crimes in no way justify the strikes on September 11" (p.7).

This choice doesn't relativize the events but illuminates the breeding ground from which the present situation developed, according to Haug.

From the history of Lebanon and Israel/Palestine, the Islamists learned that "torpedoing every dialogue with continuous terror, provoking retaliation, seducing the enemy to new injustice and escalating the so-called `holy war' can succeed." (p.15)

When Bush announced the "war on terror", he declared everyone an enemy who plans, carries out or defends terrorist attacks, who knowingly grants refuge to terrorists or promotes them. Terrorism is understood as an attack on innocent civilians. The concrete war reality reveals the unintentional cynicism in such definitions, Haug argues. The "war against terrorism" represents a substitute for the loss of the Cold War, "a means for `selling' rearmament at any time and `more inner security' to their own electoral clientel." (p.16)

The book "Attack on Freedom?" offers material to counter one-dimensional arguments. As the writer Susan Sontag wrote, "what occurred was an attack on the United States as a consequence of the policy, interests and actions of the only remaining superpower, not an `attack on freedom'. These texts create a public consciousness and enable political decision-makers in `unconditional solidarity' to see and include another view of things" (p.30).

... As everybody knows, only few people have access to alternative media. Therefore I am privileged in a certain way.

Contradictory passages are also found as when the sociologist Saskia Sassan makes the state-friendly statement that "governments must govern more". The conclusion of her article on "Inescapable Traps for the Rich Countries" upset me. "After the oppressed and persecuted sought to convey their message in many languages, they seized their last available language with their attacks" (p.81).

The well-educated mass murderers of New York were inspired by a misanthropic ideology. Transfiguring them as "oppressed and persecuted" or as avengers of the "oppressed and persecuted" is absurd and alarming...

How many civilian victims were killed from the US air strikes that began on October 7 is unknown. US economist Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire estimated at least 4,050 deaths by January 3. Many indirect victims of the attacks must be added. How many millions of Afghan refugees died of hunger (and will starve to death this winter) is unknown.

"The starving will die silently on the forgotten paths leading through the mountains, huddled together behind rocks, searching for roots buried on empty fields.

The satellites can see every single bullet piled up behind a howitzer. They cannot look in the faces of the starving" (George Montbiot, p.106).


The libertarian Trotzdem publisher published the most important book on the themes that have dominated everywhere since September 11.

"When President Bush issued the ultimatum to the whole world `Either you are for us or you are for the terrorists', he only demonstrated his arrogant conceitedness. People may not be confronted with this choice." (Arundhati Roy, p.68).

"Attack on Freedom?" is an outstanding contribution providing good arguments to counter the just war zealots who urge re-militarization and dismantling democratic freedoms. Hopefully this book will have many readers.

homepage: homepage: http://www,mbtranslations.com
address: address: mbatko@lycos.com

Amen 23.Jun.2002 21:47


Another thing that Howard Zinn pointed out was that if you are fighting a bad guy, that does not make you a good guy.