by Stephen Gowans
There is a mix of deception and
truth in what Vice-President Dick Cheney has to say about the prospect of
future terrorist attacks.
"Another attack is a matter not of if,
"The President and I believe that one
of our most important responsibilities is to do all that we can to ensure
that an attack like 9/11 never happens again."
If anything, Cheney and his boss have
gone out of their way to ensure that "another attack is a matter not of
if, but when."
By exacerbating every grievance Osama
bin Laden and his network of al-Qaeda terrorists ever had against the
George W. Bush wonders why anyone would
harbor a grievance against the United States, but Osama bin Ladenís beefs
are not difficult to uncover, for anyone who wants to.
Admitting that there may be concrete --
though unjustifiable -- reasons al-Qaeda has struck American targets, is
not something Bush, whose understanding of the world seems based on comic
books, is going to do. But bin Ladenís terrorism didnít spring fully
formed from a void. There were triggers.
For one, the al-Qaeda kingpin isnít too
pleased by Washington overstaying its welcome in Saudi Arabia. The
Pentagon has announced it will quit the oil rich kingdom when itís good
and ready. In other words, not in the foreseeable future, if ever.
Nor is the United States likely to
vacate its newly established military bases in Central Asia, home to a
large Muslim population, anytime soon, if ever.
Secondly, al-Qaeda is justifiably upset
over the way Washington has treated the people of Iraq. The UN estimates
over a million Iraqis have died as a result of a decade-long sanctions
regime the US insists on enforcing. And thatís on top of the thousands who
died in the Gulf War.
And Washingtonís complicity in allowing
Israel to occupy the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in defiance of
international law, has hardly enamoured Islamic terrorists, or much of the
rest of the world, to the United States.
So what has the Bush administration --
which claims to be doing all it can to protect Americans from future
terrorist attacks -- done since Sept. 11?
It has attacked Afghanistan, killing
thousands of innocent civilians, and setting countless more against the
It has cast about for a casus belli to
launch a full scale war against Iraq.
It has stood by while Israel launched a
new offensive against Palestinians, running interference at the UN, and
refusing to cut off arm shipments to Tel Aviv.
Itís as if Bush has singled out every
grievance al-Qaeda ever had against the United States, and has done his
best to inflame the terrorist organization further. And in the process, he
has ensured that tens of thousands more people have a reason to hate the
United States and Americans.
No wonder Dick Cheney says future
terrorist attacks are inevitable.
Bush and Cheney should learn from
Israelís Prime Minister Ariel Sharonís failures.
Sharon promised Israelis he would stop
Palestinian terrorist attacks. But rather than trying to resolve
Palestinian grievances, the former general chose a military crackdown. His
policy has been an abject failure. If anything, the terrorist attacks have
become more frequent. And whoís paying the price? Palestinians are. And so
too are ordinary Israelis, with their lives, and sense of security.
Were Sharon a doctor, he would surely
be sued for malpractice.
People donít become terrorists unless
pushed. Refusing to deal with the root causes of terrorism -- worse,
exacerbating the irritants -- is guaranteed to produce more terrorism.
Sharon knows that. And so does Cheney.
So why do they persist in pursuing
courses of action guaranteed to put their own citizens at risk?
Because the prizes are too tempting.
For Sharon, thereís another step taken
on the road to the completion of the Zionist project -- all of historical
Palestine for the Jews.
For Washington, thereís the vast
natural resources of the Caspian basin, control of the Middle East and its
strategically vital reserves of oil, and the biggest prize of all --
American primacy in the world.
Whatís a few thousand lives, and
Americansí loss of their sense of security, against control of the world?
To Cheney, the man who says heís doing everything to prevent future
terrorist attacks, the cost must seem picayune.
To the rest of us, who will bear the
cost in growing insecurity, abridgement of our rights, and lost lives,
whatís Washingtonís pursuit of suzerainty over the world, but a recipe for
Mr. Steve Gowans is a
writer and political activist who lives in Ottawa, Canada.