America’s New Crusade
the continuation of that same old war

September 19th, 2001

By Leila and sasha
The Alarm! Newspaper collective & contributor

Behind the sadness and exhaustion, there is a desire by the American people to not only seek revenge, but to win a war against barbaric behavior, people that hate freedom and hate what we stand for. —G.W. Bush

This is a second Pearl Harbor. The series of attacks on the United States is a fundamental assault on the principles and values of Western civilization. —Steve Forbes

It puts the basic rules of our civilization in question. Together, we will not allow these values to be destroyed, be it in America, in Europe or wherever in the world. —Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder of Germany

A war between civilizations has begun. A war of Allah against Jesus, the poor against the rich, barbarians against the civilized world. —Izvestia, a liberal Russian paper

In bold letters, the bottom of TV screens everywhere say “America’s new war”. Who is this new war against? They don’t know who rammed those planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, but does it matter? We can simply wage war against barbarians that hate freedom wherever they are. This is a war of values they say, a war between civilization and barbarism. “Values” is a powerful yet totally vague concept. They leave it open to interpretation both what our values are and the nature of the values of our supposed enemies, this is suspiciously convenient. The United States—the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world— is supposed to stand for freedom; involved in more wars than any other country, Bush calls it a “peaceful” country. The unknown others stand for militant Islam, barbarism, and anti-freedom. Cultural differences between the US and Islamic countries are being distorted to the point where the media presents Islam itself as if it leads to Terrorism and America as if it were the great source of Freedom and these two pairs as fundamentally opposed: a clash of civilizations. Conservative thinker William Bennett stated, “We have to declare war on militant Islam.” This is the new racism, where race is defined by culture and values. In the end, we are left with the simplicity that Dubya is so famous for: “This will be a monumental struggle of good against evil. But good will prevail.” A simple ideology, but it does its work: the real causes of such terror are hidden, as is the terror the US inflicts upon the world. Colin Powell said clearly, “I think every civilized nation in the world recognizes that this was an assault not just against the United States, but against civilization.” Oh no, it’s nothing to do with US actions around the world; it’s just barbarism with no political content or reason.

The Taliban’s treatment of women has been brought up as an example of Islamic fanaticism, to tarnish Islam’s image in general, in spite of the fact that it cannot conceivably have anything to do with these attacks. Videos of children being trained by Osama bin Laden’s troops are shown repeatedly on TV. Last year there was a BBC special on fundamentalist Christianity in the US that looked very similar. It showed children shooting guns and people talking at length about the apocalypse. One wonders how people who live in Muslim countries would view that. But sadly, here attacks on Moslems and people who look Middle Eastern are beginning; it’s a crusade, you know, a clash of values.

James Lindsay, a foreign policy analyst at the Brookings Institution said that American values and culture are “profoundly threatening” in parts of the world. If those who attacked the Pentagon and World trade center were motivated by anger at cultural and religious differences why didn’t they attack Sweden? We don’t know who attacked or even why but we do know what they attacked, the center of US political power and the center of US economic power, in fact one of the great centers of Capitalism itself. The US is now the world superpower; its hegemony is almost complete. Any group or any country which operates against US interests is marginalized economically, bullied, then attacked if they go too far. The list of US atrocities is long and well documented. Directly or indirectly, US foreign policy’s complete disregard for the lives of civilians in other countries brought this on, and further attacks on civilians in other countries would only incite more violence on American civilians in return. If this is going to be a war between civilization and the barbarians it is only so in the sense that it will be a war between the world superpower (the great Spartan global city-state) and those who dare defy it.

Just because we disdain the US government and its foreign policy doesn’t mean that we look positively upon the Taliban or Osama bin Laden or the hijackers; that would be absurd. Just as absurd though is the logic of unity—that all Americans need to rally behind the flag or that all those who are opposed to Tuesday’s attacks should support whatever retaliation the government is planning and surrender what rights we have left by supporting anti-terrorist legislation. Anyone who was saddened by the images of office workers falling one hundred stories to their death—that is, nearly everyone—is supposed to now support retaliation against a nameless headless entity, but really against many similarly innocent people. As some Polish comrades put it, “We are sad. We have been sad for years.” As we were when they wasted the lives of 200,000 Iraqis.

As usual, the new “crusade” appears to be aimed at expanding US hegemony both internally and externally. Those who stand against it have reason to be fearful this week, and in the weeks to follow. “America’s new war” will be a pretense to destroy opposition to America’s grand geopolitical plan whether it comes out of the mountains of Afghanistan or a local Santa Cruz activist group. Already counter-terrorism bills are passing without a thought—the FBI’s ability to use infiltrators and wire taps are expanding. Bush says this is a new war, the first of the 21st century, but really it is the same old racist war to maintain power and hegemony over the world and to cut off dissent here at home.

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