We Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!
The REAL Potential for 'Terrorism' is Still Brewing
by Jerre Skog
June 10, 2003
Unlike the US/UK allegations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, this article is not based on the odd Iraqi exile, paid to say what their American masters want to hear, trumped up or fabricated 'intelligence' or falsified documents planted by unknown parties. It is based on logical and reasonable assumptions, resting on established and demonstrated patterns, historical facts and normal human reactions to conditions forced on them. It is a scenario that might not come to be. Or it might unfold in the next five, ten or twenty years unless we are aware of it and use available resources to avoid it. These resources are not guns, bombs, armies or the introduction of more fascist police states! What is needed is the money that was not ours to begin with, equally applied justice, fair trade-agreements and international solidarity and empathy! It is late but, for the sake of our children, hopefully not too late to make a change!
The main reason for terrorist activities is not religion, “they hate our freedoms” (as Bush likes to say), nor is it limited to certain races or beliefs. The reason is colonialism (and its modern version), oppression and injustices. And in the future the targets may not only be the US and Britain, responsible for most of the Middle East meddling, but virtually all European countries whose companies are involved in neocolonial robbery.
Robbery of foreign resources has been going on since the time when enough soldiers could be transported into foreign lands to overcome a settlement and the first ships were built that could carry a few men with spears across a bit of sea. It went on, on a small scale and often haphazardly and disorganized, into the middle of the second millennium. With the first settlements and colonies it took on speed. By the end of the 19th century large parts of the world were under French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Belgian, German and mainly British rule. Many of those areas that weren't formally ruled by Europeans still had to suffer regular raiding and looting for whatever valuable resources, slaves, gold or tea, that somebody thought it was worth to spend a few bullets on. Even little Sweden had a colony for some time, St. Barthelemy in the Caribbean, bought from the French in 1784 in exchange for trading rights in Gothenburg, and returned to France in 1878 after a referendum. (Deciding the fate of poor people over their heads for the sake of trade advantages for the wealthy is obviously not an invention of the World Trade Organization!)
The British empire was ruling the world in those days. It was largely run by the British South Africa Company, the East India Company and other commercial enterprises, and those corporations took the main loot, leaving enough to be taxed away by the British Viceroy. Little Netherlands ruled over more than 100 million in Indonesia. The white man sent out missionaries to preach about the Christian god of tolerance and compassion while he, backed by cannons and Maxim-machineguns, took what he wanted and used the people as cheap workers and lowly servants. He preached western justice and principles while putting himself above that justice and applying violence as the ultimate principle. Daily papers, communications, education and knowledge of the world was nonexistent in the conquered countries and people soon submitted to the occupation. Sometimes even the British burra sahib was preferable to an evil rajah. Still, some took to weapons when they had enough. The Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 in India and the Zulu, Matabele and other wars in South Africa took a terrible toll on both the British and the other side. But the robbery went on and more fortunes were made for Europe. Cecil John Rhodes became the richest man in the world, not from his own hard work, but from the slave work of thousands of black men in the stolen gold and diamond mines. Diamonds might not 'be forever' as Rhodes' De Beers like to claim, but the deaths they caused and still cause are surely forever.
This brief picture of colonialism is very simplified but be sure that a few decades into the 20th century European countries were ruling large parts of the world and took an outrageous toll in blood and riches for it.
And, yes, there were some positive things that came out of the colonial aggressions. Some railways and telegraphs were built and people learned some words in the ruler’s language (and how to grovel). In some cases and thanks to decent individuals some schools and hospitals were built, with money from the loot perhaps, but well, you can't have it all. Still, as an exercise in democracy, colonialism was a miserable failure. After ruling India almost 200 years, the caste system still hadn't been done away with. It was utilized by the British! The East India Company had more important things to attend to. The few individuals positive to foreign rule turned out in most cases to be those who made a good living out of helping the colonialists to rule.
For some years, few colonies remain in formal terms. Britain rules the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Bermuda and some other small islands. The US runs Guam and some other islands in the Pacific. In practice the US also rules Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea and Britain! France runs a few small places far away from the Elysee Palace in Paris. The normal use for these colonies is mainly as air or naval bases or as test sites for nuclear weapons. The Diego Garcia Archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean is governed by the UK, leased to the US and used as a major military base in order to control and dominate the whole of the Middle East and Central Asia and useful for fueling the bombers on the way to drop their loads on Afghanistan, Iraq or any other country that happens to be the monthly enemy of the US. Since this base is considered to be of "critical importance" for the defence of the Western World, according to the British, they still refuse to give it back to the rightful owner, Mauritius. Though the ruled populations in today's colonies don't have much say, or are simply removed from the area, this is not where most of today's robberies go on!
New, more refined and efficient, ways have been found to steal the riches belonging to the black, yellow and brown peoples in Asia and Africa. Nowadays we do it, maybe, according to the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and with the help of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who use money from western taxpayers to force privatization (the easier to grab the assets), the profits to be reaped by western corporations. It is as neat a scheme of internal and external fraud as can be found anywhere! When WTO and IMF rules limit profits too much or when they are not even applied (who cares out in the jungle!) there are always private armies, mercenaries, warlords and dissenting factions whose services can be retained for a small share of the loot. These new forms of colonialism, through enforced, often unjust trade rules, with the help of mercenaries like Executive Outcome, or with assistance of local dictators and warlords as proxies, still rob people in poorer countries and keep them oppressed. The old and the new colonialism is the natural cradle of what we call terrorism and what the victims of the colonialism call a 'struggle for freedom and justice'. The neocolonialist robbery is in many ways more aggressive than the old version. Old values have in modern society often been replaced by greed, and corporations have neither hearts nor concern about the future; when a mine is empty, they close the operations and move on, leaving whatever waste there is to others.
Let's downplay Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda may be more or less organized but it's not an almighty corporation responsible for 99% of terror attacks. Al Qaeda is rather a convenient symbol to focus blame on for political ends than the dominating perpetrator of terrorism. Now when we have seen what lengths the US/UK were prepared to go to get their much wanted war on Iraq, we ought to view their claims about terrorists' identity, whereabouts and motives with the greatest suspicion! 'One organization fits all' is just too convenient! And it's wrong!
If we are to believe Bush & Co, almost every act of political violence around the world since the 80s can be linked to Al Qaeda. Somewhere here we better watch out! Does it sound reasonable that a scattered organization that is constantly being hunted and spied on can today perpetrate acts of terrorism from Indonesia, Chechnya, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Europe and the US? Is it not more probable that individuals and smaller groups, sometimes with religion as cover and excuse for meetings, having matured politically and becoming more and more aware of the true nature of their leaders and the ongoing stealing of their countries' riches, react in the only way open to them in societies where 'freedom and democracy' are nothing but words used in speeches? Are they terrorists or freedom-fighters? Do they do it for personal gain as the colonialists or are they fighting for a fair cause with dirty weapons?
The reason why Muslim countries happen to have produced the terrorists/freedom-fighters presently in the American bomb-sights is very logical. Muslim countries have the dominating OIL-reserves! They have been invaded, manipulated, regime-changed, slaughtered and robbed more than most. These countries are often also at a stage of development where enough people get enough education to understand what has been and is now being done to them. And perhaps they don't accept it since they have heard from western mouths the word 'Democracy'! It suits some western leaders to picture all terrorists as fanatical Islamists. That way the real problem doesn't have to be addressed. Well, Israeli aggression and land-stealing in Palestine naturally leads to some pent up hate. So does the West's (now we are talking mainly about US and UK) toppling more or less democratic leaders and installing dictators in Iraq and Iran (Saddam Hussein and the Shah). And propping up and selling weapons to the undemocratic Saudi rulers to keep the people oppressed is another cause for Arabs to build up anger as was the mainly US/UK aggressions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Still, fanatical Islamism may be not be the main motivating force but rather a common belief that just happens to unite people who had enough of foreign meddling in their land. It is also a good cover for organizing dissent and a way to recruit new fighters. In countries where political organizations are forbidden, one of the few places people are allowed to congregate is the mosque. When the police-spies are absent, the imam may talk of revolt and invoke Allah.
This is not much different from George Bush Sr. in 1991 telling the aircrews of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group, which conducted bombing missions on Iraq, "I'm delighted that I've been invited out here today to salute you, who, in my view, are doing the Lord's work."
Let's, just for the sake of argument, assume that Al Qaeda is largely a convenient scapegoat for violent crimes directed against “western interests.” Let's assume that most terrorism around the world is really a response to the West's past and ongoing violent colonial rape of the world and that those who are involved in it are politically aware individuals whose choice of weapons and targets might be deplorable, but may be the only ones left to them in a militarized world. Let's simply assume that there are many people who refuse to be stepped upon and have the resources of their countries divided between their own corrupt rulers and Wall Street investors!
If we allow ourselves to see that people all over the world don't differ from us in that they want freedom and justice, we may start to understand much of the violence that goes on instead of being duped by our own leaders.
The number of countries from which those we call terrorists so far have emanated is very limited. Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, Indonesia, Pakistan, Chechnya and a few more. Countries with populations totaling perhaps 3-400 million*. What happens when other oppressed populations around the world reach the stage of development and maturity where the young people realize that their countries' riches for centuries took the fast lane to London to lay the ground to fabulous wealth and to buy knighthoods and castles? What happens when people without clean water and living in poverty come to understand that the proceeds from the natural resources of their country went 10% to the dictator installed by the US and 90% to his owners in American boardrooms earning $100 millions a year? What happens when the Angolan kid who lost a leg after stepping on a landmine matures enough to see the connections between his suffering, savage and greedy warlords, the copper mine in the area and a mining corporation in Canada or US? There is a potential out there. A potential for freedom fights (or terrorism if you get hit by it) that is terrible, but we don't see it for it is neither Muslim nor Arab. But it is created by us! Us in the West: our present and past corporations and our power-seeking, manipulating leaders. We allowed them to come to power and take over the world while we watched TV and enjoyed the small part of the loot that trickled down to us. Now they blame a few fanatics and are willing to let the dirty game go on! A child, crippled from an American mine in Angola because of the greed of an American company, has been hit by the worst violence there is: Corporate terrorism, accepted by a rich state! Do we expect them to take it forever?
*(Ireland, Spain and some other places are not covered here, but the arguments apply there too.)
There's no shortage of local dictators and warlords. There is no lack of internal fighting between tribes and clans in many places. Without western meddling, people in Asia and Africa still manage to kill each other. But western corporate interests encourage the bloodshed and often fund it, directly or via mercenaries. Continents, especially Africa are saturated with guns, mines and grenades after the meddling of the US and Russia. The indiscriminate selling and giving of deadly weapons is as despicable as other western ways of destroying the world.
Every now and then it happens that a certain country manages to bury the differences between tribes and groups and somehow elect a leader who wants the best for his countrymen. A man who is honest and has integrity - like Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, after Belgium awarded (what a hypocritical word!) it independence. Too often does such a man meet his destiny in the form of a bullet paid for by America. Too often is such a man replaced by a dictator whose main objective is to rob his country while obeying American dictates -- as Mobutu did in the Congo for the next thirty years. Other countries produced other men who united people to fight the foreign rulers, Nkrumah, Gandhi, Mandela, Kenyatta, all were given the honorary title JB (Jailed by the British).
There is probably not one country in Africa where western interests have not resulted in the stealing of loot, mines, raw materials, oil, rubber and other riches including slaves. Africa is still a playground for greedy capitalists and the examples are endless as is the suffering and the hate that is slowly brewing. Here lives 600 millions ripe to join the fight for freedom and justice.
To get a good picture of the terrible looting in Africa, read:
Ore Funds Congo's War, by by Karl Vick
* Canadian Predation in Africa, by Kim Petersen
* Congo in the Crosshairs, by Paul Harris
* The Africa Centre, Unfinished Business
* The Really Great Evil, by my humble self
Then imagine the same sort of robbery going on in many other parts of the world, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, Iraq and so on.
When it comes to minerals and oil, take a close look at Mines & Communities Country, and learn about business practices in the globalized world, (note, btw, that those people don't hesitate to ruin the lives of people and the environment in their own countries!). And, just as Mr. Bush doesn't have to send emissaries to ask Israel to stop its aggression on Palestinians -- he could easily order it, threatening to withhold all the billions in aid and military hardware, he doesn't have to send an envoy to seek the release of democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, jailed by the Burmese (Myanmar) generals. He could order it, threatening to end Unocal's and other US companies profitable ventures there, no doubt financing most of the generals. If Tony Blair was earnest about human rights he might join in, threatening a withdrawal of Rio Tinto and, not to be outdone, Chretien of Canada could order mining giant Ivanhoe to leave until democracy rules in Myanmar. When it comes to mining, Canada, US, Britain and Australia are the biggest robbers, though some of their companies may be registered in Singapore, Thailand or elsewhere.
India and China are not robbed quite so openly these days (the worst is already done), but still our companies take their toll. Just one example: Union Carbide killed 5,000 Indians and thousands more had their lives destroyed after an accident in Bhopal. The responsible American CEO is still at large, harbored by the US. Anyone who wants to hear about reasons for hate can find out how Nike and others produce their wares in sweatshops in slave-like conditions, how Swedish Bofors corrupted Indians in order to sell a howitzer system, how Enron (with the help of the US government) pressed the Indian government for concessions. Yes, it still goes on, often under a smoke-screen of legality.
You think that those people are not prepared to fight for their rights and dignity? You believe the stupid ignorant tales spun by some 'Christian' leaders that the Muslims are the dangerous ones as they believe they get a lot of virgins when they die for Allah? Then learn how vicious the Hindu Tamil Tigers have fought in Sri Lanka! Or read about the partition of India when the British left. If the cruelty or savagery was any less from the Hindu side than the Muslim it was just not noticeable. The remains of MauMau in Kenya might want to say a word or two about what's going on even if they formally have an independent country now. Any man who fights for his freedom and dignity, whipped forward by the right words can be more savage than a tigress defending her young.
Now don't get me wrong! There ARE corporations who play by halfway decent rules if they must. The problem is that they are few in this world of international piracy. And the lack of clear, just and strong rules and sanctions encourages pirates as do the enormous profits. There are few TV-cameras in the African and Indonesian jungles!
Maybe the countries where the new terrorists/freedom-fighters are brewing can contain them, maybe not, but for the sake of the values most of us confess to, let's make sure we and they will never have to come to that test. Stop the looting of foreign land!
Don't be afraid of Al Qaeda! Those guys are just the indicators and forerunners of the uprising of 3 billion people demanding their freedom and the right not to have their countries' wealth stolen by western corporations with blessings from hypocritical western leaders backed by complacent and ignorant voters.