War, Politics, Culture
We need a common enemy to unite us.
- Condoleeza Rice
by Patricia Williams (compiled by Gerald Rellick)
Condoleezza Rice haunts most of us middle-class black women of a certain age. All those gold stars from the time she was 3, the churchy good-girlness, those closely guarded borders. The day after her nomination was announced, the front page of the New York Times carried a photo of Rice gazing adoringly at Bush. It was quite a kittenish pose; she looked so young and coy one was compelled to imagine that her toes were pointed inward, like Minnie Mouse. All that was missing was a big bow in her hair.
Indeed, no one seemed to know what to make of that conspicuously odd goof, when she said, "My husb----I mean the President." There was genuine pathos in the moment, like she'd been drawing little hearts in her notebook, the silly thing, dreaming of the day she could grow up and marry her homeroom teacher. Or maybe she was more like the smartest kid in the class who slips the captain of the football team the answers to the test because it's her only route to recognition if not popularity. He's still going to marry the cheerleader; but she'll be shielded from the torment of loneliness that can sometimes follow the bookish and the brightest.
Source: interventionmag.com Intervention Magazine originally from The Nation
We Must Address the Root Causes of This Terror
by Imran Khan
The terrorist attacks have nothing to do with religious faith and everything to do with genuine injustices. Until the US addresses the root causes and its own double standards, the bombings will increase.
As a Pakistani, it has been a bad week to be in London. Not only could one's relations or friends have been blown up, but those who committed those hideous crimes justified them in the name of Islam. Even worse for me was the news that 3 of the 4 terrorists had been to Pakistan. But neither Islam nor Pakistan has anything to do with these atrocities. Nowhere does the Koran justify attacks on innocent people. Pakistan is being blamed for fostering terrorists, yet Pakistan has been a victim for the past 15 years.
Some history is in order. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the US used Islam to counter the occupation. It sponsored an international jihad in the Muslim world and encouraged volunteers from Muslim countries to join in it. Thousands, including Osama bin Laden, flocked to Pakistan, where US-funded training camps were set up under CIA supervision. These plucky mujahedin were glorified in the West. But once the Soviets were defeated, both Afghanistan and the mujahedin were abandoned by the US. Afghanistan descended into chaos, from which the Taliban emerged.
Pakistan paid a heavy price, being left with sectarian militant groups trained in terrorism and four million Afghan refugees. We were swamped with drugs and Kalashnikovs. Meanwhile, those Muslims glorified as heroes for dislodging the Soviets now turned their attention to other countries where Muslims were being oppressed. As this brought them up against the US, they went from being heroic jihadis to "Islamic terrorists". The culmination of this was 9/11.
But rather than trying to understand why 9/11 had happened, Bush and his colleagues took refuge in such inane expressions as "they hate our freedom, our way of life, our democracy" and, even more ridiculously, "they love killing". The main stakeholders used 9/11 to pursue their own agendas for which it was convenient to conflate Islam and terrorism. Hence wherever Muslims were involved in a freedom struggle, they would become "Islamic terrorists". This is no mere semantic point. Ariel Sharon used the excuse of terrorism to use his formidable military might against the civilian Palestinian population. Similarly Russia would use the magic word al-Qa'ida to squash all accusations of genocide and human rights abuse in Chechnya. But the chief grievances were political, not religious.
Then India claimed that "Islamic terrorists" were operating in Kashmir when that freedom struggle dated back almost 150 years. George Bush would use the term to attack Afghanistan weeks after 9/11, making war a first option rather than a last resort. And later he would use the same pretext to invade Iraq.
Yet the perception in the West remained that somehow Islam was connected to militarism and terrorism, that all Muslims believe that all suicide bombers go straight to heaven. No one mentioned that before 9/11, 70%t of suicide bombings in the world were committed by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, who were Hindus. No one blames Hinduism, nor do they blame Shintoism for the Japanese Kamikaze pilots. Where religion is particularly strong, political martyrdom gets cloaked in religious terminology.
Thus Islam was put on the defensive. Heads of all Muslim countries went hoarse giving statements that suicide bombings were not allowed in Islam. General Musharraf went further, making Pakistan a frontline state against Islamic extremism and terrorism. He invented the term "enlightened moderation" in the hope of encouraging Muslims to avoid militancy. Now there is deafening clamour for him to close madrassas (religious schools) given that it has emerged that three of the four 7/7 bombers had visited one. But there are almost a million madrassa students in Pakistan. Are they all terrorists? Of course not. And why did the madrassas not produce any militants before the Afghan jihad when they have existed in the subcontinent for centuries?
The state school structure in Pakistan is in a mess. Madrassas are the only means through which poor families can educate their children. In my constituency in Mianwali, 70% of the state schools are closed, mainly because there are no teachers. What are the people supposed to do there if they do not send their children to the charity-run religious schools? Certainly some madrassas do preach hate against other sects, and they should have been closed a long time ago. And there needs to be modernisation of the syllabus of Pakistan's entire education system, madrassas included. Unfortunately, General Musharraf's hands are tied. He is seen as a stooge of the anti-Islamic Americans. He lacks the moral authority to reform the madrassas or take on the sectarian militants. Sadly, he is more likely to exacerbate both militancy in our society and anti-American feelings.
In Muslim countries where the government is perceived to be a US puppet, there is a rise in both anti-Americanism and terrorism (for example, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Afghanistan). Suicide bombings in Pakistan started only after the Iraq invasion when both the Prime Minster and President were targeted. And where the government is thought to derive its power from its own people (and not from the US), like Iran and Malaysia, there is no terrorism. Mahatir Mohammad was able to clamp down on extremism in Malaysia with great success because he had popular backing.
The war on terror will never be won as long as we do not address the root causes - as long, for example, as the leadership in the US and UK denies that the horrific London bombing had anything at all to do with Iraq. The great danger is that sooner or later some suicide attacker will get hold of chemical or biological weapons and cause far greater damage in the US or UK than we have seen to date. When episodes such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are broadcast widely, the Muslim perception grows that it is not a war against terror but a war against Islam. The risk is then that the terrorists become "defenders of the faith". For that cause they will have no shortage of recruits.
By not addressing the issues that give a perception in the world of unjust US policies (like Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir) and by using the pretext of democracy to invade Iraq, while backing a military dictator in Pakistan or a tyrant in Uzbekistan, the US double standards cause further Muslim alienation. The US and Israel are leaning on Mahmoud Abbas to curb Palestinian militancy, but this will achieve nothing unless the root cause is addressed. Similarly, they can lean on Musharraf as much as they like to close the madrassas which preach militancy and stop infiltration of insurgents in Afghanistan, but he will be equally ineffective. In short, the Americans are impotent in this war on terror.
Imran Khan is Pakistan's former cricket captain, an MP and chairman of the country's Movement for Justice.
Source: commondreams.org 28 July 2005 from The Independent (UK) 24 July 2005 © The Independent
-------- Original Message --------
On 7/28/05, Ruth Hatch <email@example.com> wrote:
I'm not really up to writing a full and coherent reply, but a few points:
Opening sentences are supposed to catch the eye and be provocative. The author succeeds too well, since I think is opening point in simply wrong. To argue that the terrorist attacks have "nothing" to do with religious faith is to either indicate a grave failure to grasp the situation, or to insult my intelligence in thinking that I have so failed. I will accept that there were, perhaps, many factors. But only one?
He continues that "Islam [... ] has [nothing] to do with these atrocities. Nowhere does the Koran justify attacks on innocent people." Strong words; and I certainly appreciate that he's willing to step up and call them atrocities. But many people - almost exclusively Muslim - do NOT call them atrocities, and claim that the Koran does not merely justify such attacks, it requires them. Khan seems to be giving us a precis of why HE isn't a terrorist - but nothing on why people who are actually terrorists are terrorists.
Even if Khan simply expects us to take his word on the true meaning of Islam over that of, oh, the Mufti of Australia (the highest ranking Muslim cleric in the country), this doesn't really help his argument. Even if he's correct (and I happen to think he is), we're discussing not what is objectively true, nor what I think to be true - but what the terrorists themselves think to be true. So, either Khan is simply blissfully unaware of the subject of his article, or he thinks his readers are ignorant or stupid. Neither recommends him to me.
It gets worse. He refers to the argument that the terrorist attacks were motivated in part because they "they hate our freedom, our way of life, our democracy" as "inane". Well, were it the word of the Bush administration versus Imran Khan's, this would be tricky. But again, there's much more compelling arguments available - because the terrorists, their leaders, and their supporters in Western society have spoken as well, and many of them harp upon the evils of Western freedoms, the Western way of life, and Western democracy. Are these lies? Perhaps - but just as I'm willing to take Khan's arguments at face value, I'm willing to take those of militant Islamic extremists - at least until given a reason why I should distrust them. Khan's article would be the perfect place to give some of these reasons, but he ignores the subject.
Equally, he claims without evidence that after 9/11 all Muslims who were involved in a "freedom struggle" were called "Islamic terrorists". He mentions the Israeli/Palestine conflict - but the many of those on the Palestinian side are unarguably both Islamic and terrorists. He mentions Russia - but many of the Chechen's are unarguably both Islamic and terrorists. He mentions Kashmir and notes that they cannot be Islamic terrorists because the conflict in the regions dates back over a century. But TODAY they are inarguably both Islamic and terrorists. He can't really be arguing that there are no Islamic terrorists in the world...can he?
His points about the Tamil Tigers are valid. I can't confirm his figure of 70%, but it sounds plausible. Of course, I don't think there's anything inherently Islamic about terrorism or suicide bombers - and were I to meet someone that did, I'd happily call them a fool to their face. But he then uses this to imply that terrorists and suicide bombers are inherently un-Islamic, and that's a pretty radical assertion which I'd be interested in seeing some arguments to support. Khan does not.
He is correct that calls to close the madrassas are probably too broad, but again - he is denying that some ARE dangerous and preach a militant and intolerant thread of Islam - of course, since he earlier seemed to argue that this thread didn't exist, perhaps this isn't surprising. I would also take objection with the comment that there are "almost a million madrassa students in Pakistan". If he means current students, which is what I interpret that sentence to mean, he is simply wrong - it's about 1/5th as much, or 200,000 - or roughly 0.7% of all enrolled children. Closing them would hardly be the disaster he paints, particularly if Pakistan were a functioning country.
Finally, in his conclusion... well, he doesn't really have a conclusion. He notes that some Muslim countries seem to be seeing greater amounts of terror, and others less, and argues that this is explainable by whether they are seen as US puppets. Um, well, maybe. But there are a lot of other threads tying his example countries together. Malaysia is a more-or-less functioning democracy, and has been for many years - and has little involvement in terror. Every other country he lists (including Khan's Pakistan) is not a functioning democracy, and has an involvement in terror. You might argue that the key here is democracy, and that perhaps the correct way to reduce terror is to encourage more democracy. This isn't necessarily a very good argument, but it is at least as valid an argument as Khan's. He however either misunderstands it or chooses to ignore it.
As scathing condemnations of the US and Musharraf go, it's a bit confused, but no doubt plays well for Khan's constituents. As deep and meaningful political analysis goes, it is neither deep, meaningful, nor analysis.
How To Survive A Terrorist Attack
Gas, Germs, and Nukes
Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography.
- Paul Rodriguez
by Red Thomas
Since the media have decided to scare everyone with predictions of chemical, biological, or nuclear warfare on our turf I decided to write a paper and keep things in their proper perspective. I am a retired military weapons, munitions, and training expert.
In the mid 1990s there was a series of nerve gas attacks on crowded Japanese subway stations. Given perfect conditions for an attack, less than 10% of the people there were injured (the injured were better in a few hours) and only 1% of the injured died. CBS-Television's 60 Minutes once had a fellow telling us that one drop of nerve gas could kill a thousand people. He didn't tell you the thousand dead people per drop was theoretical. Drill Sergeants exaggerate how terrible this stuff is to keep the recruits awake in class (I know this because I was a Drill Sergeant too).
Forget everything you've ever seen on tv, in the movies, or read in a novel about this stuff - it was all a lie (read this sentence again out loud!). These weapons are about terror, if you remain calm, you will probably not die.
This is far less scary than the media and their "experts" make it sound. Chemical weapons are categorised as Nerve, Blood, Blister, and Incapacitating agents. Contrary to the hype of reporters and politicians, they are not weapons of mass destruction. They are means of "Area Denial," effective to keep an enemy out of a particular zone for a limited period of time: terror weapons that don't destroy anything. When you leave the area you almost always leave the risk.
That's the difference; you can leave the area and the risk. Soldiers may have to stay put and sit through it and that's why they need all that spiffy gear.
These are not gasses; they are vapours and/or airborne particles. Any such agent must be delivered in sufficient quantity to kill or injure, and that defines when and how it's used. Every day we have a morning and evening atmospheric inversion where "stuff," suspended in the air gets pushed down. This inversion is why allergies (pollen) and air pollution are worst at these times of the day. So, a chemical attack will have its best effect an hour of so either side of sunrise or sunset. Also, being vapours and airborne particles, the agents are heavier than air, so they will seek low places like ditches, basements and underground garages. This stuff won't work when it's freezing, it doesn't last when it's hot, and wind spreads it too thin too fast.
Attackers have to get this stuff on you, or, get you to inhale it, for it to work. They also have to get the concentration of chemicals high enough to kill or injure you: too little and it's nothing, too much and it's wasted. What I hope you've gathered by this point is that a chemical weapons attack that kills a lot of people is incredibly hard to achieve with military grade agents and equipment. So you can imagine how hard it would be for terrorists. The more you know about this stuff, the more you realise how hard it is to use.
A Case of Nerves
We'll start by talking about nerve agents. You have these in your house: plain old bug killer (like Raid) is nerve agent. All nerve agents work the same way; they are cholinesterase inhibitors that mess up the signals your nervous system uses to make your body function. It can harm you if you get it on your skin but it works best if you to inhale it. If you don't die in the first minute and you can leave the area, you're probably going to live.
The military's antidotes for all nerve agents are atropine and pralidoxime chloride. Neither one of these does anything to cure the nerve agent. They send your body into overdrive to keep you alive for 5 minutes. After that the nerve agent is used up. Your best protection is fresh air and staying calm. The symptoms for nerve agent poisoning include sudden headache, dimness of vision (someone you're looking at will have pinpointed pupils), runny nose, excessive saliva or drooling, difficulty breathing, tightness in chest, nausea, stomach cramps, twitching of exposed skin where liquid touched. If you are in public and you start experiencing these symptoms, first ask yourself, did anything out of the ordinary just happen, a loud pop, did someone spray something on the crowd? Are other people getting sick too? Is there an odour of new mown hay, green corn, something fruity, or camphor where it shouldn't be?
If the answer is yes, then calmly (if you panic you breathe faster and inhale more air/poison) leave the area and head upwind, or outside. Fresh air is the best "right now antidote." If you have a blob of liquid that looks like molasses or Karo syrup on you; blot it or scrape it off and away from yourself with anything disposable. This stuff works based on your body weight: What a crop duster uses to kill bugs won't hurt you unless you stand there and breathe it in real deep, then lick the residue off the ground for while. Remember, the attackers have to do all the work, they have to get the concentration up and keep it up for several minutes, while all you have to do is quit getting it on you and quit breathing it by putting space between yourself and the attack.
Bad Blood and Blisters
Blood agents are cyanide or arsine. They affect your blood's ability to provide oxygen to your tissues. The scenario for attack would be the same as nerve agent. Look for a pop or someone splashing or spraying something and folks around there getting woozy or falling down. The telltale smells are bitter almonds or garlic where it shouldn't be. The symptoms are blue lips, blue under the fingernails rapid breathing. The military's antidote is amyl nitride and, just like nerve agent antidote, it just keeps your body working for 5 minutes till the toxins are used up. Fresh air is the your best individual chance.
Blister agents (distilled mustard) are so nasty that nobody wants to even handle them, let alone use them. Blister agents are just as likely to harm the user as the target. They're almost impossible to handle safely and may have delayed effects of up to 12 hours. The attack scenario is also limited to the things you'd see from other chemicals. If you do get large, painful blisters for no apparent reason, don't pop them. If you must, don't let the liquid from the blister get on any other area: the stuff just keeps on spreading. Soap, water, sunshine, and fresh air are its enemy.
Bottom line on chemical weapons (and it's the same if they use industrial chemical spills): they are intended to make you panic, to terrorise you, to herd you like sheep to the wolves. If there is an attack, leave the area and go upwind, or to the sides of the wind stream. You're more likely to be hurt by a drunk driver on any given day than be hurt by one of these attacks. Your odds get better if you leave the area. Soap, water, time, and fresh air really deal this stuff a knock-out-punch. Don't let fear of an isolated attack rule your life. The odds are really on your side.
Up and Atom
Nuclear bombs: These are the weapons of mass destruction on earth. The effects of a nuclear bomb are heat, blast, EMP, and radiation. If you see a bright flash of light like the sun, where the sun isn't, fall to the ground! The heat will be over a second. Then there will be two blast waves, one outgoing, and one on its way back. Don't stand up to see what happened after the first wave. Wait. Everything that's going to happen will have happened in 2 full minutes.
Any nuclear weapons used by terrorists will be low yield devices and will not level whole cities. If you live through the heat, blast, and initial burst of radiation, you'll probably live for a long time. Radiation will not create 50-foot tall women, or giant ants and grasshoppers the size of tanks. These will be at the most 1 kiloton bombs; that's the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT. Here's the real hazard: Flying debris and radiation will kill a lot (not all!) of exposed people within 1/2-mile of the blast. Under perfect conditions this is about a one-mile circle of death and destruction, but when it's done it's done.
EMP stands for Electro Magnetic Pulse and it will fry every electronic device for a good distance. It's impossible to say what and how far, but probably not over a couple of miles from ground zero is a good guess. Cars, cell phones, computers, ATMs, you name it, all will be out of order. There are lots of kinds of radiation, but physically you only need to worry about three: alpha, beta, and gamma. The others you have lived with for years.
You need to worry about "Ionizing radiation," little subatomic particles that go whizzing along at the speed of light. They hit individual cells in your body, kill the nucleus and keep on going. That's how you get radiation poisoning: you have so many dead cells in your body that the decaying cells poison you. It's the same as people getting radiation treatments for cancer, only a bigger area gets irradiated. The good news is you don't have to just sit there and take it, and there are lots you can do rather than panic. First, your skin will stop alpha particles, a page of a newspaper or your clothing will stop beta particles. Then you just have to try and avoid inhaling dust that's contaminated with atoms that are emitting these things and you'll be generally safe from them.
Gamma rays are particles that travel like rays (quantum physics makes my brain hurt) and they create the same damage as alpha and beta particles only they keep going and kill lots of cells as they go all the way through your body. It takes a lot to stop these things, lots of dense material. On the other hand it takes a lot of this to kill you.
Your defense is as always to not panic. Basic hygiene and normal preparation are your friends. All canned or frozen food is safe to eat. The radiation poisoning will not affect plants, so fruits and vegetables are OK if there's no dust on them (rinse them off if there is). If you don't have running water and you need to collect rain water or use water from wherever, just let it sit for 30 minutes and skim off the water gently from the top. The dust with the bad stuff in it will settle and the remaining water can be used for the toilet which will still work if you have a bucket of water to pour in the tank.
The Germs' Terms
Finally there's biological warfare. There's not much to cover here. Basic personal hygiene and sanitation will take you further than a million doctors. Wash your hands often, don't share drinks, food, sloppy kisses, et cetera with strangers. Keep your garbage can with a tight lid on it, don't have standing water (like old buckets, ditches, or kiddy pools) laying around to allow mosquitoes breeding room. This stuff is carried by vectors, that is bugs, rodents, and contaminated material. If biological warfare is as easy as the tv makes it sound, why has Saddam Hussein spent 20 years, millions, and millions of dollars trying to get it right? If you're clean of person and home, eat well and are active, you're going to live.
Overall preparation for any terrorist attack is the same as you'd take for a big storm. If you want a gas mask, fine, go get one. I know this stuff and I'm not getting one and I told my Mom not to bother with one either (how's that for confidence?). We have a week's worth of cash, several days worth of canned goods and plenty of soap and water. We don't leave stuff out to attract bugs or rodents so we don't have them. These terrorist people can't conceive of a nation this big with as much resources as it has. These weapons are made to cause panic, terror, and to demoralise. If we don't run around like sheep, they won't use this stuff after they find out it's no fun and does them little good. The government is going nuts over this stuff because they have to protect every inch of America. You only have to protect yourself, and by doing that, you help the country.
Finally, there are millions of caveats to everything I wrote here and you can think up specific scenarios in which my advice wouldn't be the best. This article is supposed to help the greatest number of people under the greatest number of situations. If you don't like my work, don't nitpick, just sit down and explain chemical, nuclear, and biological warfare in a document around 3 pages long yourself. This is how we the people of the US can rob these people of their most desired goal, your terror.
SFC Red Thomas (Ret)
Unlimited reproduction and distribution is authorised. Just give me credit for my work and keep in context.
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