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

Operation enduring war
Howard Zinn, The Progressive, March, 2002

No light is visible in this war on terrorism, for, as the President says, "These enemies view the entire world as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are." It seems necessary for the nation to remain frightened. The enemy is everywhere. "The campaign may not be finished on our watch," Bush says. He will pass on the job to the next President, and perhaps the next and the next.
[The complete article]

Iraq and the Bush doctrine
Toby Dodge, The Observer, March 24, 2002

Hardliners in the US administration around Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and their ideological godfather Richard Pearle, are using the fall-out from the New York and Washington attacks to rework the United States understanding of state sovereignty in the developing world. The concerns with democracy and human rights that dominated foreign policy in the Clinton era never sat comfortably with right-wing Republican promotion of US interests to the exclusion of all else. Instead, as the present attitude towards Egypt highlights, states in the developing world will be allowed to treat their populations as they please, as long as they conform to certain rules. These concern the suppression of all terrorist activity on their territory, the transparency of banking and trade arrangements, and the disavowal of weapons of mass destruction.
[The complete article]

News Flash!
U.S. not center of the world, radicals claim

Norman Solomon, Utne Reader, March 2002

There were unconfirmed reports yesterday that the United States is not the center of the world. The White House had no immediate comment on the reports, which set off a firestorm of controversy in the nation’s capital.
[The complete article]

No end in sight
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy, March 20, 2002

The intense fighting near Gardez portends a deeper, lengthier war in Afghanistan than early claims of US ‘victory’ implied. If three putative ‘last stands’ have not eclipsed even Taliban resistance, where is the ‘war on terror’ going?
[The complete article]

From U.S., the ABC's of Jihad
Violent Soviet-era textbooks complicate Afghan education efforts

Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway, Washington Post, March 23, 2002

In the twilight of the Cold War, the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.
[The complete article]

The unbearable lightness of being American
The nation is still at war, but the public may be moving on

Richard Blow, Tom Paine.com, March 20, 2002

Six months after September 11th, the Bush administration has a little problem. It wants to marshall public support to attack Iraq. But it also wants to control what Americans know about the war in Afghanistan. President Bush can't have things both ways -- especially amidst a growing number of signs that Americans are losing interest in events overseas.
[The complete article]

Could an attack on Saddam fuel British unrest?

Patricia Zengerle, Tom Paine.com, March 18, 2002

Experts on international terrorism say the heartland of violent Islamic extremism is now none of the official fronts of the war on terror. They say its center is Western Europe -- mainly, but not exclusively, Britain, which granted asylum to a stream of Muslim militants during the 1990s and where the tradition of freedom of expression that once sheltered Karl Marx has now extended to the widespread, and very open, cause of jihad.
[The complete article]

Destruction wrought by Israel tallied in millions
Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service, March 21, 2002

Israeli military attacks in the West Bank and Gaza are estimated to have destroyed some 22 million dollars worth of Palestinian infrastructure financed by the United Nations and European Union (EU).
[The complete article]

The Taliban fish have swum away
Isabel Hilton, The Guardian, March 21, 2002

So you think you know what's happening in Afghanistan? Try this: Operation Anaconda - the 11-day battle for the Shah-i-Kot valley - was described by General Tommy Franks as an "unqualified and absolute success". But the only thing we know for certain was that eight US soldiers died and 50 were wounded. The rest is concealed less by the fog of war than the smokescreen of US military secrecy.
[The complete article]

Al Qaeda's ploy: parry and run
Ilene R. Prusher, Christian Science Monitor, March 22, 2002

No one said winning this war would be easy. But the toppling of the Taliban last October may have given an inappropriately optimistic view of the US military's ability to quickly squelch its assailants. Now, pro-government Afghan forces cite several reasons why the US-run campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban has not been effective: American military intelligence is weak, often comes from sources who work for both sides, and is sometimes too slow to be effective.
[The complete article]

'Intended' U.S. target mystifies villagers - Dec. 1 bombing of tractor killed 8
John Ward Anderson, Washington Post, March 22, 2002

"America says it has the technology to see tiny things on the ground [from fighter planes]. Why did they drop a bomb on an open tractor with no weapons, just women and children, in the middle of the desert in broad daylight?"
[The complete article]

General Wesley Clark warns of unwinnable guerrilla war
Ben Fenton, Telegraph, March 23, 2002

The former commander of Nato forces in Europe fears that America, Britain and their allies could become embroiled in an unwinnable guerrilla war in Afghanistan.
[The complete article]

Cluster bombs and political action
The politics of pain and pleasure

Robert Jensen, Counterpunch, March 20, 2002

It is long past the time for all of us to start to see, to identify, to articulate the pain of systematized brutality. It is time to recognize that much of that pain is the result of a system designed to ensure our pleasures.
[The complete article]

Denis Halliday: Interview with the former head of the U.N.'s humanitarian program in Iraq
Hadani Ditmars, Salon, March 20, 2002

Although it's been four years since Denis Halliday resigned from his post as head of the United Nations humanitarian program in Iraq in protest over what he called the West's "genocidal" sanctions, he is still very much a man with a mission. After running the "oil-for-food" program, which uses Iraqi oil revenues to distribute basic food rations and medical aid to Iraqi civilians, Halliday turned his attention to spreading the word about sanctions-related suffering.
[The complete article]

Why won't Tommy talk?
Homeland security chief Tom Ridge continues to rebuff congressional efforts to have him testify about post-9-11 America

Arianna Huffington, Salon, March 20, 2002

Let me get this straight: While Tom Ridge and his Office of Homeland Security were spending months looking at swatches before unveiling their colorful terror alerts, their partners in safety over at the INS were routinely approving student visas for Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi?
[The complete article]

The madness of occupation
Lori Allen, Counterpunch, March 19, 2002

A friend in the US recently remarked, "How can we hear about what's happening to people in refugee camps and not be shocked? We're taught to feel sorry for refugees." But it seems that Israeli propaganda has been singularly successful, so much so that the Palestinians are denied even the world's pity. American policy seems content to follow the belief, as Israeli propaganda implies and its policy assumes, that every Palestinian is a potential or actual gunman or terrorist or suicide bomber.
[The complete article]

Arab-Afghan fighter reveals al Qaeda's inner workings
Franz Shurmann, Pacific News Service, March 18, 2002

Though the war in Afghanistan has been front-page news for weeks, little has been revealed in Western media about life in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, and what has happened to Arab-Afghan fighters after al Qaeda's collapse. A citizen of the United Arab Emirates who spent two years in bin Laden's camp revealed his own personal experiences to Muhammad Ash-Shafi'i, a reporter with the prestigious, London-based As-Sharq al-Ausat on March 8.
[The complete article]

Message from young Israeli soldiers and vets -- withdraw from Occupied Lands
Ian Urbina And Peretz Kidron, Pacific News Service, March 19, 2002

As Washington becomes more involved in trying to bring peace to the Middle East, envoys should listen to increasingly dissident voices among honored Israeli veteran officers and young soldiers. They view occupation as repression and many see it as an obstacle to any discussion at all.
[The complete article]

Does Blair know what he's getting into?
Christopher Hitchens, The Guardian, March 20, 2002

The term "poodle" has now become so universal, as an easy description of Tony Blair's relationship with George Bush, that it has begun to lose both bite and bark. The truth of the matter is that, by speaking plainly and with intelligence, the British government could make an actual difference not just to the way that Washington decides what to do about Iraq, but also to what Washington decides to do.
[The complete article]

Kurds oppose US attack on Saddam
George Baghdadi, Dawn, March 20, 2002

The Kurdish opposition to US strikes against Saddam Hussein is significant, analysts say. Among possible opposition players, they are the only people with a fighting force.
[The complete article]

Human Rights Watch documents warlord brutality in Northern Afghanistan
Peter Bouckaert and Saman Zia-Zarifi, Washington Post, March 20, 2002

America helped put these abusive warlords back in power: They provided the Afghan troops the United States needed to get rid of the Taliban and al Qaeda. Now America and its allies need to act fast to ensure that these same warlords do not destroy what has been accomplished so far.
[The complete article]

Georgia: US opens new front in war on terror
Bush sends in 200 crack troops at a cost of $64m to tackle a few dozen militants

Ian Traynor, The Guardian, March 20, 2002

In the isolated highland village of Duisi, the young Muslim men dress in camouflage fatigues and carry guns. Some sport Taliban-style crewcuts and bushy beards. The crackle of two-way radios is common. Outsiders are extremely unwelcome. The air of suspicion and tension is palpable. They are braced for war.
[The complete article]

Letters exchanged between Edward W Said and Nobel laureate, Kenzaburo Oe
Asahi.com, March 2002

Correspondence between Palestinean commentator, Professor Edward W Said and the Japanese author and recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature, Kenzaburo Oe:
"Japan's youth should avoid assimilation into cultural imperialism"
"Indiscriminate hostility makes Muslims enemies of the state"
"Islamic society misunderstood, concern over idea of 'axis of evil' "
"Education, not war, in hand with understanding instead of hostility"
(When following these links, you may be given the option of downloading a Japanese character display file. This is not required for viewing the articles.)
Part One
Part Two

America's bioterror
George Monbiot, The Guardian, March 19, 2002

Bush has pledged to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. He should start at home.
[The complete article]

Exactly what is terrorism?
Perspectives on Terrorism: Christian Science Monitor

Can one man be both hero and terrorist? Consider Ireland's Michael Collins. In the fall of 1920, Collins' band of "Twelve Apostles" assassinated 14 British officers in an effort to win independence. Many say Collins was a patriot. But was he a terrorist? Telling the difference between violent struggle for freedom and terrorist activity can be difficult. But the Bush Doctrine - the "with us or with the terrorists" foreign policy that followed Sept. 11 - requires that it be done. So what is terrorism?
[The complete article]

Taking tea with the dissident
Exiled in London, like so many of his compatriots, Saad Badr feels he can do little to bring about change in Iraq

Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, March 19, 2002

There are 310,000 Iraqis in Britain, most of whom arrived after the 1991 Gulf war. London, by a quirk of history, is also the political hub of the Arab world, or at least the dissenting elements within it. Washington may have the might and the money, but London is where the conspiracies are hatched.
[The complete article]

Terror war and oil expand US sphere of influence
Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, March 19, 2002

As the Roman Empire spread two millenniums ago, maps had to be redrawn to reflect new realities. In similar fashion, the expansion of the British Empire kept cartographers at their drawing boards, reshaping territories from Southern Africa to India to Hong Kong. Now, as the United States wages its war on terrorism in Afghanistan – and deploys troops for the first time in the energy-rich regions of Central Asia and the Caucasus – the borders of a new American empire appear to be forming.
[The complete article]

'Hostile' US blamed as human rights chief quits UN post
Martha Kearns, Irish Independent, March 19, 2002

The US Government is being blamed for Mary Robinson's decision to step down as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Washington officials had been critical of the former Irish President's position on its bombing of Afghanistan and the treatment of Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners at Quantanamo Bay. And human rights activists are blaming those officials for her decision, announced yesterday, saying it showed that the will of the US had prevailed against Mrs Robinson's supporters.
[The complete article]

Yemeni sheikhs threaten revolt over US build-up
Nick Pelham, Daily Telegraph, March 16, 2002

Yemen paid heavily for its verbal support for Iraq in the 1991 Gulf war but, since September 11, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has warned tribesmen and Islamist groups not to jeopardise his burgeoning ties with Washington. Now, amid signs of an anti-American backlash, the government has sought to play down the relationship.
[The complete article]

Nuclear fears abound
World Press, Los Angeles Times, March 17 2002

The Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review, disclosed recently in The Times, raised a fierce outcry in the international press. The nations targeted for possible preemptive nuclear strikes--Russia, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya--were predictably outraged. But U.S. allies--from South Korea to tiny Papua New Guinea--were also concerned, warning that U.S. nuclear brinkmanship would put the world at risk. What follows is a sampling of opinion from foreign newspapers.
[The complete article]

We mustn't be panicked into a war with Saddam
Robert Harris, Daily Telegraph, March 19, 2002

We are in danger, at the instigation of an understandably vengeful America, of being panicked into a war with Iraq, which may well not be justified by past experience of terrorism and which may lead to massive casualties.
[The complete article]

Bush's war:
Where is it going and what should we do about it?

Joseph Gerson, ZNet, March 18, 2002

Last spring, our elusive National CEO, Dick Cheney , told the New Yorker that "the arrangement [for] the twenty-first century is most assuredly being shaped right now...the United States will continue to be the dominant political, economic and military power in the world." Even then, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others were modeling themselves after Captain Alfred T. Mahan and Teddy Roosevelt who charted the way to global empire at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, with the aim of reinforcing the Pentagon's commitment to "Full Spectrum Dominance" with new generations of high-tech and nuclear weapons and by monopolizing the militarization of space. Their goal, as Space Command's Vision for 2020 Report states is to "control" space to "dominate" earth.
[The complete article]

This war is farcical, but it is easier to cry than to laugh
The campaign increasingly lacks credibility, from Afghanistan to Iraq

Peter Preston, The Guardian, March 18, 2002

"Do you call me a fool, boy?" "All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with." We're talking about King Lear and President George W - about the thin grey line between tragedy and comedy, between pathos and bathos. And we are walking the line. This war on terror, for the moment, is still a Ridley Scott sort of movie: all clenched jaws and derring-do. Not many laughs. But Robert Altman is waiting in the wings, ready to take over as black hawks go down and black farces begin.
[The complete article]

The Betrayal of Basra
Saddam Hussein's Iraqi opponents learn that the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend

Chuck Sudetic, Mother Jones (via Utne Reader)

For 10 years, the United States has been the staunchest advocate of maintaining a tight blockade on Iraq’s access to foreign goods and its oil revenues. These restrictions have failed to loosen Saddam’s grip on power. They have failed to force him to give up what is left of Iraq’s chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. What the sanctions have done, however, is kill. And they have killed more civilians than all the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons used in human history.
[The complete article]

Smaller, deeper, hotter – the new nukes
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy, March 14, 2002

The hegemony of the Republican right in Washington has combined with advancing military strategy to make the use of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons by the U.S. conceivable. Is this a new way of thinking, or the culmination of a long-term dream?
[The complete article]

Arab states united in rejecting attack on Saddam
Robert Fisk, The Independent, March 18, 2002

Rarely can an American vice-president have met such a rebuff from America's Arab allies. Not a single Arab king, prince or president has been prepared to endorse a US attack on Iraq.
[The complete article]


The new empire loyalists
Former leftists turned US military cheerleaders are helping snuff out its traditions of dissent

Tariq Ali, The Guardian, March 16, 2002

Exactly one year before the hijackers hit the Pentagon, Chalmers Johnson, a distinguished American academic, staunch supporter of the US during the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and one-time senior analyst for the CIA, tried to alert his fellow-citizens to the dangers that lay ahead. He offered a trenchant critique of his country's post-cold war imperial policies: "Blowback," he prophesied, "is shorthand for saying that a nation reaps what it sows, even if it does not fully know or understand what it has sown.
[The complete article]

How anti-Americanism betrays the left
John Lloyd, The Observer, March 17, 2002

War, or its prospect, forces decisions and divisions which are deeper than those of peacetime. The decisions which must be made concern lives: not, now, just those of the military who are commanded to risk them, but of the many more civilians who are at risk from modern wars, and who are the prime targets of modern terror.
[The complete article]

Fear of Them, fear of Us
Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe, March 13, 2002

I'm not a particularly fearful fellow. But I haven't been this frightened since, say, October 1962. And I have two opposite but reinforcing fears. One is fear of Them. The other is fear of Us.
[The complete article]

Dubious Iraqi link
David Ignatius, Washington Post, March 15, 2002

How can the United States sell a war against Iraq to skeptical Arabs and Europeans? A good start would be to level with them and admit there is no solid evidence linking Baghdad to Osama bin Laden's terrorist attacks against America.
[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.