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 The War in Context
   alternative perspectives on the "war on terrorism"

Has the US lost its way?
Paul Kennedy, The Observer, March 3, 2002

'By what right,' an angry environmentalist demanded at a recent conference I attended, 'do Americans place such a heavy footprint upon God's Earth?' Ouch. That was a tough one because, alas, it's largely true. We comprise slightly less than 5 per cent of the world's population; but we imbibe 27 per cent of the world's annual oil production, create and consume nearly 30 per cent of its Gross World Product and - get this - spend a full 40 per cent of all the world's defence expenditures.
[The complete article]

Bush view of secrecy is stirring frustration: disclosure battle unites conservatives and liberals
Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, March 3, 2002

"The cumulative message from the White House and from Ashcroft is: Stall. Don't release," said Tom Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, an access advocacy group that collects and publishes declassified documents. "They believe that the trend for 30 years has been to make the White House too open."
[The complete article]

"I can tell them that this will be worse than Vietnam"
Rebels keep eye out for U.S. as Colombian conflict flares

Karl Penhaul, San Francisco Chronicle, March 2, 2002

After three years of relative calm in the southern corner of this conflict- torn nation, guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are back on a combat footing -- and they say they are ready to take on the United States as well as the Colombian government.
[The complete article]

Let us not talk falsely now
Ron Jacobs, Colombia Report, February 25, 2002

The suspension of peace talks by the Colombian government has the potential to involve U.S. forces directly in a conflict that can only truly be resolved when the rich no longer rob the poor. This recent turn of events seems closely linked not only to a renewed confidence in the ranks of the Colombian military, thanks to the funding provided it by Plan Colombia, but also to increased warmongering in Washington. For years, the Colombian military, its paramilitary allies and certain sectors of the U.S. national security apparatus have wanted to destroy Colombia's revolutionary groups. They now believe their time has come.
[The complete article]

Ecuadorian farmers fight DynCorp's chemwar on the Amazon
Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch, February 27, 2002

The International Labor Rights Fund has filed suit in U.S. federal court on behalf of 10,000 Ecuadorian peasant farmers and Amazonian Indians charging DynCorp, the U.S. defense contractor, with torture, infanticide and wrongful death for its role in the aerial spraying of highly toxic pesticides in the Amazonian jungle, along the border of Ecuador and Colombia.
[The complete article]

Why terrorism is unbeatable
John Gray, New Statesman, February 25, 2002

Revolutionary nihilism of the kind embodied by al-Qaeda is not a throwback to the past but part of what it means to be modern. John Gray, professor of European thought at the London School of Economics, reviews the reaction to September 11 and argues that Americans, like the rest of us, must learn to live with such shocks.
[The complete article]

Congress not advised of shadow government
Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, March 2, 2002

Key congressional leaders said yesterday the White House did not tell them that President Bush has moved a cadre of senior civilian managers to secret underground sites outside Washington to ensure that the federal government could survive a devastating terrorist attack on the nation's capital.
[The complete article]

Thoughts about America
Edward Said, Al-Ahram Weekly, February 28, 2002

I don't know a single Arab or Muslim American who does not now feel that he or she belongs to the enemy camp, and that being in the United States at this moment provides us with an especially unpleasant experience of alienation and widespread, quite specifically targeted hostility.
[The complete article]

Shadow government is at work in secret
Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt, Washington Post, March 1, 2002

President Bush has dispatched a shadow government of about 100 senior civilian managers to live and work secretly outside Washington, activating for the first time long-standing plans to ensure survival of federal rule after catastrophic attack on the nation's capital.
[The complete article]

Pentagon's silver lining may be bigger than cloud
Norman Solomon, Media Beat, February 28, 2002

The Office of Strategic Influence went from obscurity to infamy to oblivion during a spin cycle that lasted just seven days in late February. Coming to terms with a week of negative coverage after news broke that the Pentagon office might purposely deceive foreign media, a somber defense secretary announced: "It is being closed down." But for Donald Rumsfeld and his colleagues along the Potomac, the inky cloud of bad publicity has a big silver lining.
[The complete article]

A cloak of righteousness - The White House's most defining feature
John Rieger, TomPaine.com, February 26, 2002

Was there ever an American presidency better prepared to wage a war of Good Against Evil? With a born-again president and a seasoned team of political infighters, the Bush administration has donned its soaring poll numbers like a cloak of righteousness that miraculously conceals even the most sordid motivations and questionable policy choices.
[The complete article]

U.S. reliance on Iraqi oil grows despite "evil" tag
Bernie Woodall, Reuters, February 27, 2002

As U.S. President George W. Bush singles out Iraq as the keystone of a global "axis of evil," the U.S. oil industry last year deepened its dependence on Baghdad's supplies, U.S. Energy Department figures show.
[The complete article]

Washington broods over X-Ray prognosis
Matthew Engel, The Guardian, February 28, 2002

As the prisoners while away the weeks in their flyblown cages at Camp X-Ray, Washington's government lawyers are in a state of confusion and embarrassment, having so far failed to come up with a coherent plan for the captives' future.
[The complete article]

OK, George, make with the friendly bombs
Terry Jones, The Observer, February 17, 2002

To prevent terrorism by dropping bombs on Iraq is such an obvious idea that I can't think why no one has thought of it before. It's so simple. If only the UK had done something similar in Northern Ireland, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today.
[The complete article]

Pentagon outlines plans to take war on terror to Georgia
Julian Borger, The Guardian, February 28, 2002

The Pentagon yesterday revealed details of plans to expand the war on terrorism to Georgia, including the proposed deployment of up to 200 military advisers to help combat suspected terrorists hiding with Chechen guerrillas in the Pankisi Gorge region.
[The complete article]

Big John wants your reading list. Has the Attorney General been reading Franz Kafka?
Nat Hentoff, Village Voice, February 22, 2002

During the congressional debate on John Ashcroft's USA Patriot Act, an American Civil Liberties Union fact sheet on the bill's assaults on the Bill of Rights revealed that Section 215 of the act "would grant FBI agents across the country breathtaking authority to obtain an order from the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court . . . requiring any person or business to produce any books, records, documents, or items."
[The complete article]

Interrogation at the US border
John Clarke, Counterpunch, February 25, 2002

As soon as my ID was run through the computer, there was a marked change in the situation. An officer asked me more questions about my intentions in the US, what anti-globalization protests I had attended and whether I opposed the 'ideology of the United States'.
[The complete article]

The future of war and peace
Eric Hobsbawm, Counterpunch, February 27, 2002

The 20th century was the most murderous in recorded history. The total number of deaths caused by or associated with its wars has been estimated at 187m, the equivalent of more than 10% of the world's population in 1913. Taken as having begun in 1914, it was a century of almost unbroken war, with few and brief periods without organised armed conflict somewhere. It was dominated by world wars: that is to say, by wars between territorial states or alliances of states.
[The complete article]

Muslims at odds with the US, survey shows
Miranda Green, Financial Times, February 26, 2002

Muslims feel sympathy for the US after the terrorist attacks of September 11 but feel even more strongly that the West's military action in Afghanistan was wrong, according to a Gallup poll of the Islamic world published on Tuesday.
[The complete article]

Resisting Bush's war
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, AlterNet, February 25, 2002

The following is a speech that Dennis Kucinich, U.S. Congressman from Cleveland, Ohio, gave this past weekend at the University of Southern California. Rep. Kucinich is the leader of the Progressive Caucus and a longtime defender of free speech, civil liberties and international peace. This speech makes him the first member of the United States Congress to openly repudiate President Bush's war rationale.
[The complete article]

A new war is brewing in Afghanistan
Luke Harding, The Guardian, February 27, 2002

Two weeks ago Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, accused three members of his own government of murdering aviation minister, Abdul Rahman when he was besieged by angry pilgrims whose plane to Mecca had failed to turn up. What, then, does this tale of post-Taliban assassination mean for Afghanistan? The answer is depressing: that Afghanistan is now in real danger of sliding back into civil war.
[The complete article]

How American Dream faded in downtown Mogadishu
Janine di Giovanni, The Times (via Common Dreams), February 26, 2002

It was the stuff American dreams are made on. A few weeks ago, Yussuf Hussein, a Somali who came to the United States in his teens, was living in Boston with his wife and two children, earning $70,000 (£43,000) working for a computer software company. Now, he and more than 30 other American-Somali men are holed up in a squalid hotel costing $2 per night in downtown south Mogadishu, without either money or passport, determined to return home.
[The complete article]

The disappeared
Andrew Gumbel, The Independent, February 26, 2002

Since 11 September last year, up to 2,000 people in the United States have been detained without trial, or charge, or even legal rights. The fate of most is unknown. Andrew Gumbel investigates a scandal that shames the land of the free.
[The complete article]

For Algerian writer, the lonely side of fame
Alan Riding, The New York Times (via IHT), February 26, 2002

"The war is lost if the West plays the game of the fundamentalists, which is violence, because you cannot frighten someone who accepts death with devotion."
[The complete article]

Brothers in Islam, but not in politics
Celia W. Dugger, The New York Times (via IHT), February 26, 2002

The orthodox Islamic school of thought that came to find its most virulent expression in the Taliban originated in this placid north Indian town, where Hindus and Muslims peaceably coexist to the eternal rhythms of sowing and harvesting.
[The complete article]

Patriotic dissent
Jordan Moss, The Nation, February 24, 2002

It just got a little harder to ignore the dissenters in America's War on Terrorism. Family members of victims, about seventeen so far, have joined under the banner "Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows" to encourage discussion of alternatives to war and to bring aid to families affected by the US bombing campaign in Afghanistan.
[The complete article]

Ashcroft's and other US officials' religious remarks raise fears of intolerance
Naftali Bendavid, Chicago Tribune, February 24, 2002

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft sounded like the preacher's son he is during an impassioned speech Tuesday to a group of religious broadcasters, quoting the Book of Isaiah, invoking the serpent in the Garden of Eden and declaring unequivocally that God is on America's side in the war on terrorism.
[The complete article]

Outspoken rabbi feels the heat - Jewish backlash over stance on Palestinians
Chip Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, February 25, 2002

For more than 30 years, Berkeley Rabbi Michael Lerner has been a thorn in the side of conservative Jews, but the backlash has never been so furious. Whether he is calling for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli settlers and soldiers from the West Bank and Gaza Strip or promoting his own humanitarian- based political formulas, some hard-line Jews describe him as one of the most self-loathing Jews on the planet. Now, his critics have launched a campaign to kill off Tikkun, the magazine Lerner co-founded 15 years ago as an organ for liberal intellectuals, Jewish and otherwise. Lerner calls Tikkun the nation's only multi-issue Jewish magazine.
[The complete article]


September 11 and the declaration of a "war on terrorism," has forced Americans to look at the World in a new light. No one can afford any longer to define the limits of their concerns by refusing to look beyond this nation's borders. If the freedom that every American cherishes, is not to become a freedom bound within a fortress, then every American will need to understand and respect the needs and concerns of the rest of the World. To this end, The War in Context invites anyone with interest and an open mind to listen to the critical discourse in which the policies and actions of the Bush administration are now being questioned. This debate, which is engaging inquiring minds inside and outside America, will hopefully inform the development of a sustainable new world order - a world order in which America is as much shaped by the World as is the World shaped by America.