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Jean-Paul Sartre's letter "Why I Don't Travel to America" from 1965 is worth re-reading: "The war today is a clear, cynical and unequivocal aggression that has no justification at all, not even a serious alibi. Apart from that, America cannot be regarded as the center of the world.. America is far removed from being the hub of the world.. The world hasn't chosen America as the center of gravity.."

By Karl-Heinz Hansen

[This article originally published in: Ossietzky 18/2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://sopos.org/aufsaetze/3f6b68dfb85f8/1.phtml.]

The highest stage of US imperialism confronts us.

When the US and its "willing" allies attacked a peasant army of 280,000 men and women with 1.3 million soldiers and saturation or carpet bombing after the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin manufactured by the CIA, they justified the genocide as the defense of western values against world-threatening communism. They plundered villages and cities, dumped poison from airplanes on the jungle forests and burned men, women and children in the fire of their napalm bombs. The battles commanded by president Johnson cost the lives of 2.5 million Vietnamese and 58,000 American soldiers. Nevertheless the determined resistance of the Vietnamese people ultimately forced the invaders to a humiliating capitulation. The global protest of workers, students and American veterans was crucial. Jean-Paul Sartre was always in the first row. His public declaration "Why I don't travel to the United States" in the journal "Voltaire 2" was translated from Le Nouvel Observateur, April 1, 1965 (several weeks after the Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to Sartre and he refused the award). This text is worth re-reading:

"... What is crucial is whether we fall for the best trick ever devised by propaganda or not. What do the Americans say? That they only initiate negotiations to intensify the war in Vietnam, bombard the North and use gas in the South. This is impressive in its monstrousness. War is always waged to gain peace, a peace that one defines oneself... The problem is only whether peace is sought according to a rule acceptable to the adversary or whether this adversary should be destroyed... The government in Washington declares: We wait for a sign of good will from North Vietnam. Lies: We wait for North Vietnam to admit defeat, implore us to stop the bombing attacks and promise not to support the Vietcong again. In other words, the Americans are for expansion of the war. This must be understood. The necessary steps must be taken.

... No discussion is possible if one is not ready to challenge the whole imperialist policy of the United States in Vietnam, South America, Korea and the whole Third World, which one cannot say about most of the American left. This policy can only change with a complete revolution of the structures of American society...

The war today is a clear, cynical and unequivocal aggression that has no justification at all, not even a serious alibi. Apart from that, America cannot be regarded as the center of the world. Does America represent the greatest superpower? Certainly. However America is far from being the focus of the world. As a European, one even has an obligation not to view it as the hub of the world. One must turn one's view to the Vietnamese, Cubans, Africans and all friends in the Third World that work toward freedom and demonstrate every day that the greatest superpower cannot force its laws on them, that it is the most vulnerable power and that the world hasn't chosen them as the center of gravity. Obviously development in the United States also goes forward very slowly. Resisting is more effective than moral sermons...

At a certain point, quantity turns into a quality. The bombardments of the North represent a qualitative leap that make clear in all brutality that the structures of American society are based on imperialism."

That was 1965. Since then, many qualitative leaps have occurred - in the media warfare, in manufacturing reasons for "humanitarian preventive interventions" and especially in the continuous development of genocidal weapons from the miniaturized hydrogen bombs whose neutron assaults spare concrete and steel but efficiently destroy all living creatures, napalm bombs tested in Vietnam up to their advanced version Mk77 that quickly transforms people into smoke. This last-named "environment-friendly" weapon withstood its acid test in Iraq.

Progress knows no limits.

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