four hijacked US airliners became terrorist cruise missiles
Tuesday morning, ravaging Manhattan and hitting the Pentagon,
Americans joined the family of nations that have experienced
terror at home.
nearly a decade, those who dwelt in what had once been Yugoslavia
would wake up (or not) to explosions, bombings, sabotage,
assassinations, war, expulsions and other forms of terror.
The people of Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia can relate and
understand. That is why their condolences, issued honestly
and immediately, ring with heartfelt sorrow and pain.
are also familiar with the feeling of anger and helpless rage
that follows the initial shock. There, however, this bond
of understanding begins to break. It is one thing to demand
a response, quite another to howl for an all-out, endless
war." It is one thing to vow vengeance against a
perfidious enemy, quite another to consider an attack on one's
own people an attack
on humanity itself.
struck the United States on Tuesday morning, for whatever
purpose, must indeed be gloating over such pronouncements,
for they paint the picture of the United States as seen by
its enemies: a belligerent, militant empire, brimming
with arrogance and aggression, convinced of its own superiority
and absolute self-righteousness, a menace to all and a friend
a crime of such horrendous proportions, a call to vengeance
is justified, understandable and expected. Is it not always?
PLACE LIKE HOME
to many of those very same American leaders, no. Here is where
bitter irony sets in. When bombs ripped through several apartment
complexes in Russia, killing hundreds of clearly innocent
media reported that Chechen militants "were blamed"
by the aggressive Russian regime, even though this clearly
fit the operational pattern of Maskhadov's
bandits. US government and media have squarely condemned Russia's
counter-terrorist operations in Chechnya ever since, despite
the continued Chechen attacks on Russian security forces and
years ago, the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (UCK) began
its campaign of terror against farmers, policemen and government
officials in Kosovo. Its Macedonian branch embarked on an
identical campaign this year. Did the US condemn these terrorists,
who in addition to massacres and ethnic cleansing also trafficked
in hard drugs, sold women into sexual slavery and routinely
dynamited religious institutions?
to the contrary, the United States swung its entire military
might behind the UCK. For 78 days, two years ago, US planes
and missiles rained
death on Serbia. Hundreds, thousands of civilians died.
Bombing enthusiasts dismissed them as "collateral damage,"
and were rewarded with titles
a month ago, an American envoy took part in forcing
Macedonia to sign a document accepting all the demands
of UCK terrorists, at the price of its own nationhood and
independence. This was hailed as "peace."
TERRORISTS AND THEIRS
CNN, former authority on Balkans diplomacy, Richard Holbrooke,
championed a declaration of war against not just the terrorists
responsible for the mayhem, but against the countries in which
they were based, and by extension against the people,
civilians, in those countries. This certainly sounds
like targeting innocent civilians simply because of who they
are and where they live. This is the same Richard Holbrooke
who championed "remedial" ethnic cleansing in Bosnia
in 1995, coined the phrase and ideology
of "bombs for peace" and enjoyed a champagne
toast at a reporters' banquet the night US bombs killed 16
staff members of Serbian state TV.
Americans by now believe that Black Tuesday was an act of
Osama bin Laden's Islamic fanatics. Yet in Bosnia, Holbrooke
had acted in support and on behalf of a government which actively
recruited these mujahiddeen, and, according to never-refuted
allegations, even issued
bin Laden a passport. That government is no longer in
power, and its successors have expressed condolences to the
U.S. and condemned the barbaric acts. But American troops
in Bosnia still pass by villages inhabited by the "naturalized"
May of 1999, as the bombing of Serbia was in full force, the
Washington Times ran a story alleging that bin
Laden was connected to the UCK and the Albanian drug traffickers.
Because the beleaguered Yugoslav government of Slobodan Milosevic
was making the same claims at the time, NATO and the US chose
not to listen.
year before, in 1998, just after the US embassies in Tanzania
and Kenya were bombed, an MSNBC editor explored the origins
of bin Laden's organization in CIA's backing of the Afghan
mujahiddeen in their struggle against the Soviet Union.
Zbigniew Brzezinsky, National Security Advisor to President
Carter, boasted about engineering the Afghan conflict to exhaust
the Soviet Union. US lawmakers who were in on the project
had said they would do it again.
this aside, America's involvement in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia
alone broadcast a loud and clear message to the world's militants:
terrorism does pay, as long as it serves American interests.
It seems someone forgot to explain this latter part to the
terrorists responsible for this week's carnage.
is now emerging from the shock of Black Tuesday with an understandable
desire to avenge its dead. Many suggestions on how to do that
are outlandish, and some border
on insanity. If the most vocal warmongers get their way,
this country would become embroiled in an endless war against
the entire world, destroying entire cities at a whim. Any
effort to make the world safe for America while making the
world less safe for everyone else is ultimately both futile
all terrorism as a principle is a truly noble endeavor,
one which the author of these lines would eagerly join. Experiences
in the Balkans point to a different reality, though. One cannot
fight terrorism and use it at the same time. Understanding
this would be a giant leap forward in the struggle against
all those who treat human beings as "collateral
damage," and who see nothing wrong with mass murder,
as long as it serves their purpose.
then will justice for all the victims of Black Tuesday
but also those of Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia be both
possible and within reach.