Only at the beginning of this week, Associated Press out of New York was reporting the latest protective techno-fix:
"To help soldiers survive, the U.S. Army is developing a new generation of combat uniforms using tiny, doctored fibers that let air through while blocking toxins from chemical and biological weapons.
The "chemical protective overgarment," expected to ship in as little as two years, is one of the early uses of nanotechnology..." http://edition.cnn.com/2001/TECH/ptech/09/10/nanotech.ap/index.html
Nanotech gets in your pants, and soon, your plane
The day after the attacks on New York and Washington, with stock markets falling around the world, the shares of arms manufacturers and exporters were rising.
By the end of the week, Adam Porter, Year Zero magazine was asking:
"What is the alternative? More bombs? More security? More cameras in the streets? More phone taps? More subsidy to the arms industry? ... Is that where we're going? On a race to the bottom trapped between GW Bush and the CIA-created Osama Bin Laden? Because it seems that's what is wanted."
The loss of innocent lives is more disgusting than words can express. The office workers, the cleaners, the lift repair men, the people who jumped to their deaths perhaps hoping against hope that they would somehow survive ... those incinerated in the building by thousands of gallons of aircraft fuel ... ordinary US citizens ... just like ordinary people in Paris, Amsterdam, Bangkok, Tripoli and Baghdad. But look, and look hard, this is what men of violence do to cities, what British and American planes did to Basra in Iraq, what British and American planes did to parts of Belgrade."
At last words are being found that match the enormity of the situation. The following commentary, and forward from the Agribiz examiner, comes from nlpwessex. It notes:
"The choice is not between humiliation and retribution. The route to world peace and global reconciliation does, however, require vision and the hardest courage of all. The courage to adopt new thinking - especially by our leaders."
"Massive Western retaliation against Muslim targets unaccompanied by attempts to conciliate Arab and Muslim governments and populations will risk spreading support for terrorism in all directions." Anatol Lieven, Carnegie Edowment for International Peace Washington DC, London Times, 13 September 2001
14 September 2001
The fate of thousands more innocent people - and in extremis, perhaps millions - hangs in the balance depending on the ensuing reaction of the 'civilised' world to the events in America on Tuesday. Below are some considered reflections on the causes of terrorism from the American newsletter 'Agribuisiness Examiner', September 12. They are worth contemplating.
In the current situation the global capacity for self-multiplying retaliation in all directions is immense. The United States itself has exported more than 152 billion dollars worth of weaponry to states around the world since the end of the cold war.The Center for International Policy estimates that around 80% of U.S. arms exports to the developing world go to non-democratic regimes.
A significant portion of the $6 billion in covert U.S. arms and training sent to Afghan rebel groups in the 1980s was funnelled to factions that now use these resources to attack U.S. citizens and its allies. During the same period the US was arming Iraq.
Other countries like the United Kingdom have been following a similar path, but the chickens of such primitive tactics aimed at opportunistic division in the family of nations are now coming home to roost at a global level as last week's allies become next week's enemies. To revisit a simple phrase from the Christian world of which the US and the United Kingdom profess to be the Anglo-Saxon standard bearers: "As you sow, so shall you reap".
However, there is now an acute danger that the preference of the 'civilised' world at the start of the third millennium will be for a return to pre-Christian "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" type thinking. That, of course, is likely to be a process without identifiable end. The same primitive thinking that the 'civilised' world claims to condemn it is now on the brink of further copying and legitimising. There is little else that could give the perpetrators of this week's crimes greater satisfaction. Do we wish to give them that satisfaction?
The temptations to strike out are immense, but there is a third way. The choice is not between humiliation and retribution. The route to world peace and global reconciliation does, however, require vision and the hardest courage of all. The courage to adopt new thinking - especially by our leaders.
What example are we about to set to the rest of the world at this defining moment? Do we have the courage to adopt new thinking? Do the leaders of NATO have the mental capacity to 'think outside the box' or will they stand shoulder to shoulder with more misfortune? The future of genuinely civilised life on this planet depends on the answer to this question.
Mahatma Gandhi - whose simple non-violent, yet defiant, action liberated an entire subcontinent from the tight grip of malign foreign influences - was once asked what he thought about western civilisation. His response was: 'I think it would be a good idea'.
"...if you define the problem as 'a struggle against terrorism' you have already admitted defeat because the guerilla will always have the upper hand against a centralized, technology-dependent society such as ours. There is one way to deal with guerilla warfare and that is to resolve the problems that allow it to thrive." Sam Smith
The AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness From a Public Interest Perspective
A.V. Krebs Editor\Publisher
September 12, 2001
PRAYERS & THOUGHTS:
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Yesterday, September 11, 2001, a day that began, where I live, under a bright sunny blue sky, similar to that same one that greeted people arriving for work in New York City and Washington D.C. , was going to be the day that I finally after innumerable delays was to be about the business of posting Issue #125 of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER.
I was ready to report on the specious changing of the guard at Archer Daniels Midland; the allegations by a federal official of rape and intimidation of women workers at a DeCoster Farms of Iowa egg farm being among "the most horrendous and egregious" that he had ever seen; a sad farewell to two dedicated friends of the nation's farmworkers --- former United Farm Worker organizer Rev. Jim Drake and Protestant theologian Robert McAfee Brown; an unclean ConAgra poultry processing plant being shut down, and a jury finding DuPont, makers of the fungicide Benlate liable for racketeering, negligence, fraud and a defective product.
But just as I still see in my mind's eye exactly where I was standing and who I was with when on those other days of infamy ---- December 7, 1941 and November 22, 1963 --- so to will I remember my disbelief when first I began making my check of the several online major daily newspapers that I puruse each day for relevant news items, and the first paper I examined left me stunned with the news of the unspeakable terror that had been visited upon the Big Apple and our nation's capital.
For the next 36 hours, just as I listened to the radio continuously for 24 hours in those dark days of December, 1941 and those four disbelieving days in November, 1963, I listened and watched the news on TV unfold from lower Manhattan and the Pentagon.
Watching speechless as those twin 110-story monuments to capitalism imploded and became the burial grounds for thousands of innocent men and women, I could not help but think of the time that I worked for the National Sharecroppers Fund, with offices in lower Manhattan and each morning about that same time, commuting from Central New Jersey, I would emerge from the “tubes” below the Trade Center and transfer to the subway line that would take me to my office.
And as I continued watching the news and listening to the commentary in the hours that followed that horrendous event I found myself, maybe even perhaps as an emotional defense mechanism, becoming more and more of the journalist than just an idle television viewer, impatient at times with the incompleteness of the news and the inane comments by many of the nation's so-called experts on international "terrorism" and military affairs.
The most frustrating aspect, however, of the reporting that I was witnessing during that time was due to the fact that I still think of myself as an ol' school journalist ---- principally I still believe any good news stories should contain the "5W's and H!!!!" --- who? what? when? where? why? and how?
Throughout the agonizing hours of the "attack on America" most every story and commentary that I saw fulfilled to varying degrees only four of the five W's . . . and, of course, by simply viewing the unbelievable pictures and film television provided us throughout the day and night the public ---- saw the how?
The fact though that for the most part TV made little effort to answer that all-important fifth W --- why? ---- called into serious question in my mind whether we as a nation were actually learning anything from the events of September 11, 2001????
For to truly understand what happened on that day it is essential that we deal with the question --- why? --- why this carnage took place? For we need as a nation, as a self-proclaimed "global power," to ask what have we done to inspire such hatred, .such anger, such contempt, to motivate fellow human beings to be so cold-blooded and unrepentant killers?
Make no mistake about it, the perpetrators of the World Trade Center and Pentagon carnage should stand condemned and brought to justice before the world, but at the same time the words of the Washington Post's outstanding sports columnist Thomas Boswell rings true. He writes:
"For many Americans, including me, our lives have been conducted in a society where nearly all forces are benign. Our tragedies, of health or accident, are the inescapable sort that no society can prevent. The rest of the world looks at our wealth, our distance from their problems, even our self-absorption, with a wide range of responses. One of those responses is hatred.
Hate begets hate. Killing begets killing. And the totality of the accumulated pain makes rationality almost impossible. The agony that Americans feel right now is relatively small compared with the pain and fury for revenge that entire regions of the world drink by the gallon each day like mother's milk."
We decry, just as we did yesterday, when hate takes innocent lives. We voice our collective national puzzlement and condemnation when our fellow human beings in the world community say that to achieve their own narrow self-serving interests that taking the lives of innocent civilians is simply the end justifying the means.
But does by simply waving our K-Mart American flags and lighting candles in the window, as this out take of a May, 1996 interview with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright , somehow give us the right to consider ourselves the Great Exception in international relations ???
LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTES: "We have heard that a half million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima and you know, is the price worth it?"
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."
Television reporters, political and national defense pundits, and newspaper headline writers have had a field day with the use of the word "terror" and "terrorism" to describe the events of yesterday, but as my respected colleague Sam Smith points out in his PROGRESSIVE REVIEW UNDERNEWS:
"The media and politicians call what happened terrorism. This is a propagandistic rather than a descriptive term and replaces the more useful traditional phrases, guerilla action or guerilla warfare. The former places a mythical shroud around the event while the latter depicts its true nature. Guerillas do not play by the rules of state organization or military tactics. This does not make them cowardly, as some have suggested, but can make them fiendishly clever. The essence of guerilla warfare is to attack at times and places unsuspected and return to places unknown. You can not invade the land of guerillas, you can not bomb them out of existence, you can not overwhelm them with your technological wonders.
"This was a lesson we were supposed to have learned in Vietnam but appear to have forgotten. . . . Our war against `terrorism' has been in many ways a domestic version of our Vietnam strategy. We keep making the same mistakes over and over because, until now, we could afford to. One of these has been to define the problem by its manifestations rather than its causes. This turns a resolvable political problem into a irresolvable technical problem, because while, for example, there are clearly solutions to the Middle East crisis, there are no solutions to the guerilla violence that grows from the failure to end it," Smith continues.
"In other words, if you define the problem as `a struggle against `terrorism' you have already admitted defeat because the guerilla will always have the upper hand against a centralized, technology-dependent society such as ours. . . . There is one way to deal with guerilla warfare and that is to resolve the problems that allow it to thrive. As we have shown in the Middle East, one need not even reach a final solution as long as incremental progress is being made. But once that ceases, as happened in the past year, the case for freelance violence is quickly strengthened and people simply forget that peace is possible."
If we as a justifiable angry nation now allow ourselves to not learn from history, realizing that violence only begets violence, then we are destined to continue to make the same mistakes that leads only to more violence.
The words of novelist Ken Kesey might well provide us with not only thoughtful commentary on what happened on an unforgettable late summer day in New York and Washington, D.C. that has left a whole nation and world in shock, sorrow, and prayer but his words might also give us some context and a sad but true perspective on the events of that tragic day.
“When God wants to really wake up a nation,
He has to use somebody that counts.
When God wants to get your attention,
He always has to use blood.”
THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER