"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Monday, October 04, 2004

Samarra Burning...

Samarra Burning...
The last few days have been tense and stressful. Watching the military attacks on Samarra and hearing the stories from displaced families or people from around the area is like reliving the frustration and anger of the war. It's like a nightmare within a nightmare, seeing the corpses pile up and watching people drag their loved ones from under the bricks and steel of what was once a home.

To top it off, we have to watch American military spokespersons and our new Iraqi politicians justify the attacks and talk about 'insurgents' and 'terrorists' like they actually believe what they are saying... like hundreds of civilians aren't being massacred on a daily basis by the worlds most advanced military technology.

As if Allawi's gloating and Bush's inane debates aren't enough, we have to listen to people like Powell and Rumsfeld talk about "precision attacks". What exactly are precision attacks?! How can you be precise in a city like Samarra or in the slums of Sadir City on the outskirts of Baghdad? Many of the areas under attack are small, heavily populated, with shabby homes several decades old. In Sadir City, many of the houses are close together and the streets are narrow. Just how precise can you be with missiles and tanks? We got a first-hand view of America's "smart weapons". They were smart enough to kill over 10,000 Iraqis in the first few months of the occupation.

The explosions in Baghdad aren't any better. A few days ago, some 40 children were blown to pieces while they were gathering candy from American soldiers at the opening of a sewage treatment plant. (Side note: That's how bad things have gotten- we have to celebrate the reconstruction of our sewage treatment plants). I don't know who to be more angry with- the idiots and PR people who thought it would be a good idea to have children running around during a celebration involving troops or the parents for letting their children attend. I the people who arranged the explosions burn within the far-reaches of hell.

One wonders who is behind the explosions and the car bombs. Bin Laden? Zarqawi? Possibly... but it's just too easy. It's too perfect. Bin Laden hit the WTC and Afghanistan was attacked. Iraq was occupied. At first, any explosion or attack on troops was quickly blamed on "loyalists" and "Baathists" and EVERYTHING was being coordinated by Saddam. As soon as he was caught, it became the work of "Islamic extremists" and Al-Qaida and Zarqawi suddenly made his debut. One wonders who it will be after it is discovered that Zarqawi has been dead for several months or that he never even existed. Whoever it is, you can bet his name will three syllables or less because that is Bush's limit.

A week ago, four men were caught by Iraqi security in the area of A'adhamiya in Baghdad. No one covered this on television or on the internet, as far as I know- we heard it from a friend involved in the whole thing. The four men were caught trying to set up some explosives in a residential area by some of the residents themselves. One of the four men got away, one of them was killed on the spot and two were detained and interrogated. They turned out to be a part of Badir's Brigade (Faylaq Badir), the militia belonging to the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Should the culprits never have been caught, and should the explosives have gone off, would Zarqawi have been blamed? Of course.

I'm very relieved the Italian hostages have been set free... and I hope the other innocent people are also freed. Thousands of Iraqis are being abducted and some are killed, while others are returned... but it is distressing to see so many foreigners being abducted. It's like having a guest attacked in your own home by the neighbor's pit bull- you feel a sense of responsibility even though you know there was no way you could have prevented it.

I wasn't very sympathetic though, when that Islamic group came down from London to negotiate releasing Kenneth Bigley. I do hope he is returned alive, but where are all these Islamic groups while Falluja, Samarra, Sadir City and other places are being bombed? Why are they so concerned with a single British citizen when hundreds of Iraqis are dying by the month? Why is it 'terrorism' when foreigners set off bombs in London or Washington or New York and it's a 'liberation' or 'operation' when foreigners bomb whole cities in Iraq? Are we that much less important?

- posted by river @ 8:03 PM

The Doctor Said He Cannot Treat Sadness

Paradise Cleansed

Our deportation of the people of Diego Garcia is a crime that cannot stand

There are times when one tragedy, one crime tells us how a whole system works behind its democratic facade and helps us to understand how much of the world is run for the benefit of the powerful and how governments lie. To understand the catastrophe of Iraq, and all the other Iraqs along imperial history's trail of blood and tears, one need look no further than Diego Garcia.
The story of Diego Garcia is shocking, almost incredible. A British colony lying midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean, the island is one of 64 unique coral islands that form the Chagos Archipelago, a phenomenon of natural beauty, and once of peace. Newsreaders refer to it in passing: "American B-52 and Stealth bombers last night took off from the uninhabited British island of Diego Garcia to bomb Iraq (or Afghanistan)." It is the word "uninhabited" that turns the key on the horror of what was done there. In the 1970s, the Ministry of Defence in London produced this epic lie: "There is nothing in our files about a population and an evacuation."

Diego Garcia was first settled in the late 18th century. At least 2,000 people lived there: a gentle creole nation with thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a prison, a railway, docks, a copra plantation. Watching a film shot by missionaries in the 1960s, I can understand why every Chagos islander I have met calls it paradise; there is a grainy sequence where the islanders' beloved dogs are swimming in the sheltered, palm-fringed lagoon, catching fish.

All this began to end when an American rear-admiral stepped ashore in 1961 and Diego Garcia was marked as the site of what is today one of the biggest American bases in the world. There are now more than 2,000 troops, anchorage for 30 warships, a nuclear dump, a satellite spy station, shopping malls, bars and a golf course. "Camp Justice" the Americans call it.
During the 1960s, in high secrecy, the Labour government of Harold Wilson conspired with two American administrations to "sweep" and "sanitise" the islands: the words used in American documents. Files found in the National Archives in Washington and the Public Record Office in London provide an astonishing narrative of official lying all too familiar to those who have chronicled the lies over Iraq.

To get rid of the population, the Foreign Office invented the fiction that the islanders were merely transient contract workers who could be "returned" to Mauritius, 1,000 miles away. In fact, many islanders traced their ancestry back five generations, as their cemeteries bore witness. The aim, wrote a Foreign Office official in January 1966, "is to convert all the existing residents ... into short-term, temporary residents."

What the files also reveal is an imperious attitude of brutality. In August 1966, Sir Paul Gore-Booth, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, wrote: "We must surely be very tough about this. The object of the exercise was to get some rocks that will remain ours. There will be no indigenous population except seagulls." At the end of this is a handwritten note by DH Greenhill, later Baron Greenhill: "Along with the Birds go some Tarzans or Men Fridays ..." Under the heading, "Maintaining the fiction", another official urges his colleagues to reclassify the islanders as "a floating population" and to "make up the rules as we go along".

There is not a word of concern for their victims. Only one official appeared to worry about being caught, writing that it was "fairly unsatisfactory" that "we propose to certify the people, more or less fraudulently, as belonging somewhere else". The documents leave no doubt that the cover-up was approved by the prime minister and at least three cabinet ministers.

At first, the islanders were tricked and intimidated into leaving; those who had gone to Mauritius for urgent medical treatment were prevented from returning. As the Americans began to arrive and build the base, Sir Bruce Greatbatch, the governor of the Seychelles, who had been put in charge of the "sanitising", ordered all the pet dogs on Diego Garcia to be killed. Almost 1,000 pets were rounded up and gassed, using the exhaust fumes from American military vehicles. "They put the dogs in a furnace where the people worked," says Lizette Tallatte, now in her 60s," ... and when their dogs were taken away in front of them, our children screamed and cried."

The islanders took this as a warning; and the remaining population were loaded on to ships, allowed to take only one suitcase. They left behind their homes and furniture, and their lives. On one journey in rough seas, the copra company's horses occupied the deck, while women and children were forced to sleep on a cargo of bird fertiliser. Arriving in the Seychelles, they were marched up the hill to a prison where they were held until they were transported to Mauritius. There, they were dumped on the docks.

In the first months of their exile, as they fought to survive, suicides and child deaths were common. Lizette lost two children. "The doctor said he cannot treat sadness," she recalls. Rita Bancoult, now 79, lost two daughters and a son; she told me that when her husband was told the family could never return home, he suffered a stroke and died. Unemployment, drugs and prostitution, all of which had been alien to their society, ravaged them. Only after more than a decade did they receive any compensation from the British government: less than £3,000 each, which did not cover their debts.

The behaviour of the Blair government is, in many respects, the worst. In 2000, the islanders won a historic victory in the high court, which ruled their expulsion illegal. Within hours of the judgment, the Foreign Office announced that it would not be possible for them to return to Diego Garcia because of a "treaty" with Washington - in truth, a deal concealed from parliament and the US Congress. As for the other islands in the group, a "feasibility study" would determine whether these could be resettled. This has been described by Professor David Stoddart, a world authority on the Chagos, as "worthless" and "an elaborate charade". The "study" consulted not a single islander; it found that the islands were "sinking", which was news to the Americans who are building more and more base facilities; the US navy describes the living conditions as so outstanding that they are "unbelievable".

In 2003, in a now notorious follow-up high court case, the islanders were denied compensation, with government counsel allowed by the judge to attack and humiliate them in the witness box, and with Justice Ousley referring to "we" as if the court and the Foreign Office were on the same side. Last June, the government invoked the archaic royal prerogative in order to crush the 2000 judgment. A decree was issued that the islanders were banned forever from returning home. These were the same totalitarian powers used to expel them in secret 40 years ago; Blair used them to authorise his illegal attack on Iraq.

Led by a remarkable man, Olivier Bancoult, an electrician, and supported by a tenacious and valiant London lawyer, Richard Gifford, the islanders are going to the European court of human rights, and perhaps beyond. Article 7 of the statute of the international criminal court describes the "deportation or forcible transfer of population ... by expulsion or other coercive acts" as a crime against humanity. As Bush's bombers take off from their paradise, the Chagos islanders, says Bancoult, "will not let this great crime stand. The world is changing; we will win."

· Stealing a Nation, John Pilger's documentary investigating the expulsion of the Chagos islanders will be shown on ITV on Wednesday at 11 pm; his new book, Tell Me No Lies: Investigative journalism and its triumphs, is published by Jonathan Cape


Boundless and Winless Wars

Disrupting America's Fateful Non-Debate on the Roots of Terrorism

On September 11th, nineteen hijackers commandeered four airliners and guided three of them into important symbols of American power with lethal precision. An unsuspecting citizenry, quite unaware of events outside the national purview, suddenly found 3,000 of its countrymen killed at the hands of a few fanatics from a far off part of the world. One would expect that, in a democratic country which prides itself on freedom of speech and press, wide-ranging diversity of opinions, and quality of intellectual debate and scholarship, one of the responses to the horrific attacks would be a rigorous and reflective discussion of why they happened. Three years on, what we have instead is the ceaseless, unchallenged mass production--and consumption--of a core set of noxious lies about September 11th that form the foundation of a perpetual, bloody, boundless, and winless war.

The right-wing answer as to why the attacks happened was unequivocal: the problem is inherently within Islam and Muslim society, which is warped and defected in various ways. Thus one prominent conservative commentator, Ann Coulter, called for invading all Muslim countries, murdering their leaders, and converting the people to Christianity. The notorious Bill O'Reilly brushed off civilian deaths resulting from American bombs in Afghanistan by offering that they deserved to die anyway since they failed to overthrow the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime. The prestigious rightist journal National Review mused that in the event of a "dirty bomb" attack, America should drop the atomic bomb on Islam's holiest site, Mecca. Upon further contemplation, they reconsidered and offered up the more tasty idea of depositing a nuclear bomb on the capital of every Arab country.

The other reason America was targeted, the right argued, was its greatness. We were attacked because we support freedom and democracy, because we are the greatest nation in the world, all of which apparently inspired jealous hatred among the attackers. Crazed and irrational, the terrorists wanted to destroy modern civilization by striking at its vanguard--the United States. The president intoned that America was purely good and that the enemy was purely evil; he further warned that anyone who diverged from this line was in league with the terrorists: "You're either with us or you're against us."

But what about the liberals? What about their putative representative, to which they cling so dearly, the Democratic Party? What was their stance in the aftermath of September 11th? Their most salient action was to fully and unconditionally support the administration's attacks on Muslims wherever possible. Many white liberals and their party supported the unconstitutional "PATRIOT" act, under which thousands of Muslims were rounded up, detained, and deported without any proper legal procedure; they also enthusiastically backed the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, the reign of terror unleashed upon Iraq, and the subsequent military occupations of both countries. Insofar as concrete action is a crucial index of one's position, the mainstream "left" hardly distinguished itself from the right.

And what was the liberal position on the level of political discourse; on the level of theory, analysis, and ideas? Their purported position has consistently been that Islam itself is not the enemy, but rather that there is a radical strain of Islam which is the source of the problem. This much Bush himself has asserted, if only to placate certain Arab leaders. Precisely how radical Islam must be eradicated, however, has never been elaborated upon by the Democrats, beyond the usual bravado about killing terrorists shared by the right. On the foreign policy front, the mainstream liberals do not dare hint that any American policies bear any connection to what happened on September 11th, except at the most rudimentary level of criticizing inadequate security or surveillance. At best, they may assert that America, while undoubtedly harboring only the best of intentions, is "not perfect", and is liable to make mistakes here and there out of bumbling generosity or good-natured naiveté.

And that's it. The level of explanation and analysis from the "opposition" party and its intellectual coterie about the crucial events of September 11th--why the attacks happened, what the social context was, what grievances motivated it, what history preceded it--is shallower than a child's sandbox.

Small wonder, then, that many Americans, mostly ignorant of their own country's past and even present actions, have become entranced by the cowboy-crusader stance of George Bush and the Republicans. Their right-wing vision projects confidence, aggressiveness, and provides a satisfyingly simple, self-righteous, and complete rationalization for the war program: America is supremely good, uses its might to liberate others, and is therefore hated only by evildoers. The liberals, who cannot bring themselves to spout such nonsense quite as fervently, nonetheless fail to fully repudiate it, and therefore fail to present a coherent counter-argument to the right.

This point was pressed upon me last year during the first session of a political science class. The liberal professor prefaced his lecture by commenting on the need for tolerance and respect for others during discussion, warning against making ignorant and racist remarks about Arabs and Muslims due to the "war on terror." He declared that "Islam is not the enemy" that "Muslims were basically good people"--fair enough, as far as all that goes. But then, clearly much impressed with himself, he intoned that we did in fact face an enemy: that enemy was Islamic fundamentalism, and it needed to be fought and defeated. And then, with nothing further, he moved on.

But is that all? Is there only one enemy, one force of evil to be confronted? Does the "we" who are supposed to fight against this singular enemy include, then, our generals, our war planners, our corporate profiteers, and our political leaders--all of whom are apparently mere innocents having nothing to do with our present predicament? The end logic of this framework is unmistakable: "Not all Muslims are bad--just some." It confines discussion about the status quo strictly to what happened on September 11th, which apparently exists outside and above history and politics. This allows one to posit only Muslims, and no one else, as culprits, since there is only one crime worth mentioning. Stepping out of this intellectual jail cell and looking at our own crimes, we would be forced to note that the vast majority of people who have been killed by political violence have been victims not of Islamist terror, but American terror. This would place our professor in the rather uncomfortable position of having to ask foreign students in the class to recall that "Americans are basically good people," and keep in mind that "Christianity is not the enemy."

The crux of the matter is that the liberal alternative to the conservative narrative of September 11th is no alternative at all. In this miserable bipartisan production, the Muslim is always featured as the eternal evildoer, and finds himself, his history, his grievances, and his aspirations all caricatured, ridiculed, and ripped apart by a crushing combination of cruise missiles and callous arrogance. The difference between the liberal and conservative views of the Muslim, then, is no greater than the difference between the gallows and the guillotine. When the Muslim tries to plead his case to America by citing the injustices, the hypocrisy, and the brutality he has suffered at its hands, he finds not executors, but only executioners.

This is a dangerous reality. Whatever the comforts brought about by self-righteous denial and delusion in regards to the real root causes of September 11th, they are transient and totally unsustainable. We have sent teenagers and twenty-year olds into war in Iraq based on these delusions: on the false and fantastic premise that Iraqis, as infantile natives, would welcome us with open arms, because we are virtuous liberators. And we have seen with what results. Frustrated, frightened, and furious that many Iraqis resent their presence - not to mention the death and mayhem caused by the weapons accompanying their presence--not a few of these soldiers have resorted to sadistic, cruel acts against their captives, some of them children, including rape, torture, and humiliation. Most of these captives were innocent; others were guilty only of defending their country. This is merely a microcosm of a tragedy that will intensify and envelop us on a much broader scale if we continue to embrace the same self-serving eulogies we have been singing about ourselves not only after but long before September 11th.

Demolishing the prevailing dogma about the causes of September 11th is not a difficult task. The organization that carried out the attacks and its various offshoots have expressed time and time again what it is they are avenging: America's bombing and sanctions imposed on Iraq, which killed millions of women and children through disease and starvation; unconditional support for Israel in its past efforts to crush Arab nationalism and its present campaign to expropriate, torture, and ethnically cleanse millions of Palestinian natives; and backing of despotic puppet regimes that place oil resources in foreign hands. It is impossible to deny that all these things have happened: in each case, the evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable.

When these root causes are mentioned however, conservatives immediately begin foaming at the mouth. First, they will exclaim that the terrorists are crazed and nihilistic, rendering any discussion of root causes ridiculous. This is both nonsensical and dishonest. Nonsensical, because no one pretends that the problem of Islamist terrorism is one of psychology on the individual level of the attackers; no one has sent out an army of professional medical experts and psychiatrists in response to the terrorist problem, nor have any alleged terrorists appeared for counseling on Dr. Phil. Dishonest, because the right does have its own idea of root causes, namely that Arab society and the Islamic religion are intrinsically flawed and must be destroyed and replaced with a new order. Such half-baked hate speech masquerading as analysis is not a serious explanation of anything. That the attackers are in fact responding out of vengeance and in response to the humiliation, occupation, and destruction of their own people is obviously far more plausible.

Vengeance is not a particularly difficult motive to understand, yet our American rightists seem to struggle with this explanation even though they now make a posh living off promoting vengeance for September 11th. This is because their understanding of vengeance is entirely one-sided: advocating "retaliation" via the use of massively disproportionate force - full-scale bombardment and invasion with the most lethal weaponry--against people and countries bearing no connection to September 11th requires them to assign zero value to Muslim life, and as a result of this racist value judgment they cannot fathom that anyone would be motivated to lash out in revenge for Muslims, ie. non-entities, being killed.

The second, fallback, position of the warmongers is that highlighting and criticizing American foreign policy in the Middle East amounts to appeasing and justifying terrorism. Insofar as the foreign policy in question has included the use of missiles, bombs, bullets, shelling, starvation, extirpation, beating, and torture against civilians, the truth of the matter is that confronting it is the most principled stand against terrorism possible. This is not a matter of mere polemics or rhetoric: "terrorism", if it is to have any meaning at all, cannot be allowed to become codeword for "any and all violence committed by 'ragheads'."

We must also emphasize that pointing out why were attacked is not a means of justifying the attack, it is a means of learning how to prevent attacks in the future. If a man runs up ten flights of stairs and drops a vase from the top of a building, it is only rational to point out that the vase broke because someone climbed up to the roof and flung it down; it is decidedly less useful to mouth cheap slogans against gravity and declare war upon it.

Yet this is precisely America's present course: it rails in anger and strikes tough-man poses against what is essentially a traditional tactic of the weak against a stronger enemy. Aside from completely locking America down and turning it into a police state, there is no way to eliminate individual terror while maintaining an unjust foreign policy that is based on massively terrorizing others.

To demand a state of affairs in which the weak do not resort to terror is to demand a state of affairs in which people are not terrorized into the position of weakness. If we can make this message clear to the rest of America, then we will have obtained for ourselves and others a far brighter future than the dark, gloomy one offered by internecine war.


Iraq: Sanatized Slaughter:

Considering the abundance of horror photos on the Internet showing our military’s success in terms of air strike attacks upon civilian targets causing a staggering loss of life, and showing small children who have lost arms and legs, and the endless photos of dead babies who never had a chance at life thanks to America’s selfless zeal to bring democracy to the Iraqis, one needs to demand: Where are the mainstream media accounts of these atrocities?

If it weren’t for these tragedies that could so easily have been avoided, the irony of mass murder to invoke democracy and self rule smacks of the Vietnam era’s call to arms: Kill for peace! And most tragically comedic, is the absurdity of describing patriotic Iraqi freedom fighters and patriots as "insurgents."

What started out as a "cakewalk" foreign policy statement utilizing military might against a mouse that never roared, the Pentagon foreign cabal that now controls every aspect of this once-great nation and former international role model miscalculated on a scale that surpasses any metric recognizable by those capable of truly and honestly measuring the magnitude of this humongous blunder and military misadventure.

Winning is everything for the administration, even if it means blasting villages, cities, mosques, schools and hospitals off the face of the Earth. And that’s just fine with the broadcast simpletons of swat, such as Bill O’Reilly. The Los Angeles Times points out in an article by Tyler Marshall, "Heady US Goals for Iraq Fall by Wayside," and carried on Antiwar.com, "Despite continuing violence and instability, President Bush has stuck doggedly to his central message on Iraq: There is no need to change course because the administration’s plan for planting democracy in the Middle East is working."

It is obvious that a clean and clear victory in Iraq would be an immense boost to President George Bush’s campaign. Marshall points out, "Yet behind the unwavering public posture, there is evidence that the Bush administration has altered its approach. It has lowered its hopes for the type of democracy that can be achieved, changed course on its plans to privatize Iraq's economy and reordered its priorities by devoting more money to improving security as fast as possible. Gone – at least for now – is the lofty ideal of Iraq serving as a free-market democratic model that would ignite the forces of change throughout the Middle East and lay the seeds of a settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict."

And along with the easily imaginable pressure for a meaningful victory that is being brought to bear on field commanders in Iraq by the administration, this "time-is-of-the-essence" desperation is escalating both the need and the number of deadly air strikes to bring an end to the deadly quagmire. As more innocent unarmed men, women and children are being slaughtered, surviving Iraqis are motivated all the more to join the growing "insurgency." This is the present situation in Iraq.

It is frightening to see the world’s most powerful politician in such complete denial. And it wouldn’t be at all surprising, and has in fact already been strongly alluded to, that the Iraqi resistance is being aided and abetted by neighboring Arab states that are increasingly recognizing the dangers posed to the region by the United States, Israel and Great Britain in advancing their bloody quest of nation-destruction and empire-building.

Sergeant Al Lorentz has pointed out the truth as previously presented in this space that the unnecessary, unjust and unconstitutional war in Iraq cannot be won. Lorentz, in his piece, "Why We Cannot Win," posted on LewRockwell.com September 20th, offers: "Here are the specific reasons why we cannot win in Iraq. First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as ‘terrorists, criminals and dead-enders.’"

Lorentz points out what the great Sun Tzu pointed out centuries ago: Keep politicians and rulers out of the conduct of war. In fact, it was the very first rule in the prior piece I wrote comparing the Bush folly of Iraq to Tzu’s admonitions relative to the bumbling incompetence of politicians. Lorentz emphasizes this more clearly: "Second, our assessment of what motivates the average Iraqi was skewed, again by politically motivated ‘experts.’"

Al Lorentz may now face disciplinary action for having posted his article on the Internet. In the meantime, the carnage continues, and we continue to lose lives, credibility, and friends.

Ted Lang is a freelance writer and political analyst.

Copyright: Ted Lang

Time to Recognize State Terror

The world is dividing into two hostile camps: Islam and "us." That is the unerring message from Western governments, press, radio and television. For Islam, read terrorists. It is reminiscent of the cold war, when the world was divided between "Reds" and us, and even a strategy of annihilation was permissible in our defense. We now know, or we ought to know, that so much of that was a charade; released official files make clear the Soviet threat was for public consumption only.

Every day now, as during the cold war, a one-way moral mirror is held up to us as a true reflection of events. The new threat is given impetus with every terrorist outrage, be it at Beslan or Jakarta. Seen in the one-way mirror, our leaders make grievous mistakes, but their good intentions are not in question. Tony Blair's "idealism" and "decency" are promoted by his accredited mainstream detractors, as the concocted Greek tragedy of his political demise opens on the media stage. Having taken part in the killing of as many as 37,000 Iraqi civilians, Blair's distractions, not his victims, are news: from his arcane rivalry with treasurer Gordon Brown, his Tweedledee, to his damascene conversion to the perils of global warming. On the atrocity at Beslan, Blair is allowed to say, without irony or challenge, that "this international terrorism will not prevail." These are the same words spoken by Mussolini soon after he had bombed civilians in Abyssinia.

Heretics who look behind the one-way mirror and see the utter dishonesty of all this, who identify Blair and his collaborators as war criminals in the literal and legal sense and present evidence of his cynicism and immorality, are few; but they have wide support among the public, whose awareness has never been higher, in my experience. It is the British public's passionate indifference, if not contempt for the political games of Blair/Brown and their courts and its accelerating interest in the way the world really is, that unnerves those with power.

Let's look at a few examples of the way the world is presented and the way it really is. The occupation of Iraq is presented as "a mess": a blundering, incompetent American military up against Islamic fanatics. In truth, the occupation is a systematic, murderous assault on a civilian population by a corrupt American officer class, given license by its superiors in Washington. Last May, the US Marines used battle tanks and helicopter gunships to attack the slums of Fallujah. They admitted killing 600 people, a figure far greater than the total number of civilians killed by the "insurgents" during the past year. The generals were candid; this futile slaughter was an act of revenge for the killing of three American mercenaries. Sixty years earlier, the SS Das Reich division killed 600 French civilians at Oradour-sur-Glane as revenge for the kidnapping of a German officer by the resistance. Is there a difference?

These days, the Americans routinely fire missiles into Fallujah and other dense urban areas; they murder whole families. If the word terrorism has any modern application, it is this industrial state terrorism. The British have a different style. There are more than 40 known cases of Iraqis having died at the hands of British soldiers; just one soldier has been charged. In the current issue of the magazine The Journalist, Lee Gordon, a freelance reporter, wrote, "Working as a Brit in Iraq is hazardous, particularly in the south where our troops have a reputation (unreported at home) for brutality." Neither is the growing disaffection among British troops reported at home. This is so worrying the Ministry of Defense that it has moved to placate the family of 17-year-old soldier David McBride by taking him off the AWOL list after he refused to fight in Iraq. Almost all the families of soldiers killed in Iraq have denounced the occupation and Blair, all of which is unprecedented.

Only by recognizing the terrorism of states is it possible to understand, and deal with, acts of terrorism by groups and individuals which, however horrific, are tiny by comparison. Moreover, their source is inevitably the official terrorism for which there is no media language. Thus, the State of Israel has been able to convince many outsiders that it is merely a victim of terrorism when, in fact, its own unrelenting, planned terrorism is the cause of the infamous retaliation by Palestinian suicide bombers. For all of Israel's perverse rage against the BBC ­ a successful form of intimidation ­ BBC reporters never report Israelis as terrorists: that term belongs exclusively to Palestinians imprisoned in their own land. It is not surprising, as the recent Glasgow University study concluded, that many television viewers in Britain believe that the Palestinians are the invaders and occupiers.

On September 7, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 16 Israelis in the town of Beersheba. Every television news report allowed the Israeli government spokesman to use this tragedy to justify the building of an apartheid wall ­ when the wall is pivotal to the causes of Palestinian violence. Almost every news report marked the end of a five-month period of "relative peace and calm" and "a lull in the violence." During those five months of relative peace and calm, almost 400 Palestinians were killed, 71 of them in assassinations. During the lull in the violence, more than 73 Palestinian children were killed. A 13-year-old was murdered with a bullet through the heart, a 5-year-old was shot in her face as she walked arm in arm with her 2-year-old sister. The body of Mazen Majid, aged 14, was riddled with 18 Israeli bullets as he and his family fled their bulldozed home.

None of this was reported in Britain as terrorism. Most of it was not reported at all. After all, this was a period of peace and calm, a lull in the violence. On May 19, Israeli tanks and helicopters fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing eight of them. This atrocity had a certain significance; the demonstration was part of a growing nonviolent Palestinian movement, which has seen peaceful protest gatherings, often with prayers, along the apartheid wall. The rise of this Gandhian movement is barely noted in the outside world.

The truth about Chechnya is similarly suppressed. On February 4, 2000, Russian aircraft attacked the Chechen village of Katyr Yurt. They used "vacuum bombs," which release petrol vapor and suck people's lungs out, and are banned under the Geneva Convention. The Russians bombed a convoy of survivors under a white flag. They murdered 363 men, women and children. It was one of countless, little-known acts of terrorism in Chechnya perpetrated by the Russian state, whose leader, Vladimir Putin, has the "complete solidarity" of Tony Blair.

"Few of us", wrote the playwright Arthur Miller, "can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied."

It is time we stopped denying it.

John Pilger

Fact Sheet on Stem-Cell Research

Why adult cells are superior to embryonic cells.

What are stem-cells?
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that continually renew themselves through cell division. Unlike other cells, stem cells begin as "blanks" without a dedicated task, but with an ability to become specialized. Scientists hope to use this capability to replace cells damaged by a broad spectrum of diseases.

Why is there a fight involving stem-cell research?
There are two different kinds of stem cells: adult stem cells (ASC) and embryonic stem cells (ESC). Adult stem cells can be found in the blood, bone marrow, skin, brain, liver, pancreas, fat, hair follicle, placenta, umbilical cord and amniotic fluid. The retrieval of these stem cells is relatively easy and does not harm the patient.

However, embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) requires the destruction of an embryo, which is a human being at the beginning of life. The fight is not over whether to legalize embryonic research--it is already legal--but over the source of funding. Because it kills a human being, opponents of ESCR do not want taxpayers to fund it.

Does embryonic stem-cell research really kill a life?
An embryo is the earliest stage of human development, from a single cell up to about eight weeks. It contains 46 chromosomes, which hold all the genes necessary for development. Ward Kischer, a human embryologist, says, "Virtually every human embryologist and every major textbook of human embryology states that fertilization marks the beginning of the life of the new individual human being." [Emphasis in the original.]

Five to seven days after an egg has been fertilized, "the embryo forms a structure called a blastocyst. Consisting of merely 140 cells, this hollow, fluid-filled sphere is made up of two types of cells: those that form the 'shell' of the sphere and those located within the 'shell.'" The cells in the "inner" part are the embryonic stem cells that are removed in order to do research, effectively destroying the embryo.

Why do some claim there are advantages to ESCR?ESCs originally were thought to have an advantage because they have unlimited growth and potential for forming all tissues. Yet disastrous effects have occurred.

Increasing evidence proves embryonic stem cells are difficult to control and preserve. According to Dr. Peter Andrews of the University of Sheffield, England, "Simply keeping human embryonic stem cells alive can be a challenge." And Dr. David Prentice, professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University, says, "The supposed advantages of ESCs are hindrances when it comes to transplants to repair damaged tissue. When transplanted into experimental animals, these cells generally continue this untamed behavior, with a tendency to form tumors or various unwanted tissues."

Indeed, rats with diabetes and Parkinson's disease were treated with embryonic stem cells and while some received benefits, many developed tumors.

Are adult stem cells beneficial?Yes. Patients are already being treated with ASCs. Studies using ASCs include diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell anemia, acute myeloid leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and Crohn's disease.

ASCs have also successfully fought brain tumors, retinoblastoma, multiple myeloma, ovarian, testicular, and breast cancers. More than 30 anti-cancer uses for stem cells have been tested on humans, and many are already in routine therapeutic use.

Remarking on a fellow colleague's discovery that certain kinds of ASCs can convert into other tissue (the supposed advantage of ESCs), Dr. David Hess, a neurologist at the Medical College of Georgia, says, "I think Verfaillie's work is most exciting and translatable into the clinical arena. She seems to have a subpopulation with basically all the benefits of ESCs and none of the drawbacks."

Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Michael Fumento asserts the advantage of adult stem cells: "Embryonic stem cell research is so far behind it's like a joke. … We're getting everything we need out of nonembryonic stem cells, and what we're getting is incredible."

Then why is there controversy?
"There's a huge ESC industry out there, with countless labs packed with innumerable scientists desperately seeking research funds," Fumento says. "Private investors avoid them because they don't want to wait perhaps 10 years for commercial products that very well may not materialize and because they're spooked by the ethical concerns. That leaves essentially only Uncle Sam's piggy bank."

Could stem cells treat Alzheimer's disease?
Not likely. According to stem-cell researcher Michael Shelanski, co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center, the "chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer's brains by putting in stem cells is small."

U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Florida), a practicing physician, agrees: "Whether embryonic or adult stem cells, Alzheimer's disease is one of the least likely where stem cells could be useful."

When asked why ESC proponents claim it could treat Alzheimer's, one ESC researcher said, "People need a fairy tale."

What about the 400,000 embryos that will be discarded if not used for research?According to the 2002 RAND Corporation Survey, 400,000 frozen embryos are stored in fertility clinics. Advocates of ESCR argue that if they are not used for research, then they will be discarded. However, the same survey found that 88.2 percent of the embryos are reserved for future attempts at pregnancy. Only 2.2 percent are to be discarded and 2.8 percent have been slated for research. Overwhelmingly, parents don't want their embryos treated like research material or trash.

Did President George W. Bush ban stem-cell research?
President Bush did not ban stem-cell research. In August of 2001, the president designated $250 million toward adult stem-cell research. He announced that the government would not support the destruction of embryos with federal funds, but that he will permit funding of research on already existing stem-cell lines taken from embryos.

If we do not research ESCs, then will we have a brain drain?
Advocates argue that without an increase federal funding for ESCR our top scientists will leave the country to work abroad. However, European Union Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin says that the main aim in loosening the existing laws on ESCR in Europe "was to stop a brain drain of the brightest scientists leaving Europe to work in countries like the U.S." The BBC released a report showing that "the USA continues to dominate the biotechnology industry." Countries and U.S. states that limit or ban embryo research or cloning have thriving biotech industries.

Adult stem-cells are both effective and ethical. Embryonic stem-cells are obtained by killing embryos, and are too unstable to even begin human trials. We do not have to choose between curing lives or preserving lives of embryos; we can do both.

Policy decisions should be based on facts and morality. The temptation to spend tax dollars on ESCR will lead to the same horrific outcome as other unethical scientific endeavors that put the pursuit of knowledge above respect for human life.

Elaine McGinnis is an intern with Concerned Women for America. She recently graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas

Is Stem-Cell Research Moral?

What is the Catholic Church's position on stem-cell research? How did the Church arrive at that position?

The current debate over federal funding for stem-cell research involves in vitro fertilization (in a petri dish) to create embryos from which stem cells can be extracted. This debate includes research on "leftover" embryos, those created in a petri dish but not used for implantation in a woman's uterus.

The Catholic Church's objection is to creating life this way—whether the embryo is successfully implanted or used only for research. In either case, a human life is created but deliberately prevented from reaching its full potential.

In his 1995 encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II wrote: "Human embryos obtained in vitro are human beings and are subjects with rights; their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence. It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable 'biological material'" (1,5).

In vitro fertilization is not the only way to obtain stem cells. They can be extracted from adults (not as usable for research) or from an umbilical cord after a child is born. The Catholic Church has no objection to research using stem cells in those ways. The use of that research is a separate, but related, moral issue.

A moral theologian whom I consulted said that opposition to federal funding on stem cells from embryos created expressly for this purpose also reflects fear that such approval may lead to direct federal funding for abortion (currently not allowed) because this authorization could be used as an argument that embryos are not human persons. Aborted fetuses are also a source of stem cells. That, of course, emphasizes that these are human lives.

On June 29, 2001, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote on behalf of the nation's Catholic bishops to President George W. Bush, urging him not to authorize federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. "Government must not treat any living human being as research material, as a mere means for benefit to others," wrote Bishop Fiorenza. Pope John Paul II made the same request during a private meeting with President Bush on July 23, 2001.

On August 23, 2000, the National Institutes of Health issued guidelines on stem-cell research. That same day, Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (headquartered in Washington, D.C.), issued a strong critique of those guidelines. Both documents can be found in the September 7, 2000, issue of Origins, a newsletter published by Catholic News Service. Your parish or local library may have a subscription.

The theologian whom I consulted wrote, "While much good may come from the proposed research, we must not lose sight of the fact that the means used to reach that good end must also be moral. The end does not justify the means. In this case, curing even thousands of persons does not justify the destruction of others, even though they are still in the embryonic state of development."

Patrick McCloskey, O.F.M.

The Neglected Home Front

Summary: The Bush administration has waged an aggressive war against terrorists abroad, but it has neglected to protect the homeland, even though Americans in the United States are the ones most vulnerable to future attacks. The government must do more to safeguard critical U.S. infrastructure and mobilize the American public to help. For starters, it should create a semi-independent federal agency tapping into private resources that would develop and enforce security standards.


The United States is living on borrowed time -- and squandering it. The attacks of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon highlighted just how open the United States is to unconventional attacks. The widespread economic and social disruption that flowed from the suicidal acts of just 19 terrorists also exposed the Achilles' heel of the world's sole superpower. The transportation, energy, information, financial, chemical, food, and logistical networks that underpin U.S. economic power and the American way of life offer the United States' enemies a rich menu of irresistible targets. And most of these remain virtually unprotected.

It does not have to be this way. Choosing to invest in offensive and defensive capabilities should not be an either-or proposition. In war, nations need both. Given the wealth of the United States, it can clearly afford to protect its most valued assets along with fielding a second-to-none military. But it cannot strike the right balance as long as it persists with treating homeland security as wholly separate from national security. Nor can muscular efforts to combat terrorism at its source be a substitute for the systematic engagement of civil society and the private sector in a collective effort to confront the threat of catastrophic acts of terror at home. The United States must do more than transform its armed forces and repair its broken intelligence services. It must also provide a new institutional framework to construct a more resilient society that has the capacity to take a blow as well as to strike one.

Washington has demonstrated an extraordinary degree of hardheadedness when it comes to acknowledging the limits of its military and intelligence capabilities to combat the terrorist threat. The premise behind the Bush administration's strategy of preemptive use of force is that as long as the United States is willing to show sufficient grit, it can successfully hold its enemies at bay. Vice President Dick Cheney made this case recently in an address to a class of newly commissioned Coast Guard officers. He asserted, "Wars are not won on the defensive. To fully and finally remove this danger [of terrorism], we have only one option -- and that's to take the fight to the enemy." On July 4, 2004, President George W. Bush made the point this way: "We will engage these enemies in these countries [Iraq and Afghanistan] and around the world so we do not have to face them here at home."

Targeting terrorism at its source is an appealing notion. Unfortunately, the enemy is not cooperating. There is no central front on which al Qaeda and its radical jihadist imitators can be cornered and destroyed. The commuter train bombings in Madrid in March illustrate that terrorists are living and operating within jurisdictions of U.S. allies and do not need to receive aid and comfort from rogue states. According to the U.S. Department of State's latest revised global terrorism report, the number of terrorist incidents went up in 2003, despite the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And, according to a July statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, al Qaeda remains at large inside the United States, busily planning its next attack on U.S. soil, perhaps before the November elections.


The reluctance of the White House and the national security community to adapt to the shifting nature of the terrorist threat bears a disturbing resemblance to the opening chapter of World War II. In September 1939, the German army rolled eastward into Poland and unleashed a new form of combat known as "blitzkrieg." When Poland became a victim of the Third Reich, London and Paris finally abandoned their policies of appeasement and declared war. The British and French high commands then began to execute war plans that relied on assumptions drawn from their experiences in World War I. They activated their reserves and reinforced the Maginot Line, defenses of mounted cannons stretching for 250 miles along the Franco-German border. Then they waited for Hitler's next move.

The eight-month period before the fall of Paris came to be known as "the phony war." During this relatively quiet time, France and the United Kingdom were convinced they were deterring the Germans by mobilizing their more plentiful military assets in an updated version of trench warfare. But they did not alter their tactics to respond to the new offensive warfare that the Germans had executed with such lethal results in eastern Europe. In May 1940, they paid a heavy price for their complacency: Panzer units raced into the lowlands, circumvented the Maginot Line, and conquered France shortly thereafter. The British expeditionary forces narrowly escaped by fleeing across the English Channel aboard a makeshift armada, leaving much of their armament behind on the beaches of Dunkirk.

Similarly today, the United States is fighting the war it prepared for in the twentieth century, rather than the one that is being waged upon it by al Qaeda. Instead of a Maginot Line, the Pentagon is executing its long-standing forward defense strategy, which involves leapfrogging ahead of U.S. borders and waging combat on the turf of U.S. enemies or allies. Meanwhile, protecting the rear -- the American nation itself -- remains largely outside the scope of national security even though the September 11 attacks were launched from the United States on targets within the United States.

The degree to which the Bush administration is willing to invest in conventional national security spending relative to basic domestic security measures is considerable. Although the CIA has concluded that the most likely way weapons of mass destruction (WMD) would enter the United States is by sea, the federal government is spending more every three days to finance the war in Iraq than it has provided over the past three years to prop up the security of all 361 U.S. commercial seaports. This myopic focus on conventional military forces at the expense of domestic security even extends to making the physical security at U.S. military bases a higher budget priority than protecting the nation's most critical infrastructure. In fiscal year 2005, Congress will give the Pentagon $7.6 billion to improve security at military bases. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security will receive just $2.6 billion to protect all the vital systems throughout the country that sustain a modern society.

Much of the nation's critical infrastructure is in densely populated areas, so if the country is attacked, average U.S. citizens, not uniformed military personnel, will be the most likely casualties. Yet the federal effort to promote civil defense has gone quiet after a rocky start that generated a run on plastic sheeting and duct tape and provided fodder for the late-night comedy shows. Police, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians will be the first on the scene of any attack; they will have to operate largely on their own for at least the first 12 to 24 hours. Yet on average, U.S. fire departments have only enough radios to equip half their firefighters on a shift, and breathing apparatus for only a third. Police departments in cities across the country do not have the protective gear to safely secure a site following a WMD attack. And most emergency medical technicians lack the tools to determine which chemical or biological agent may have been used.

The deadly weapons that local emergency responders are so poorly equipped to cope with do not need to be imported. But although the Bush administration has made a top priority of preventing the spread of WMD overseas, it has slashed funds to dispose of commercially held radioactive materials (such as cesium-137, cobalt-60, and americium), which could be used in constructing dirty bombs, within the United States. The release of a biological agent on U.S. soil would be even deadlier, yet there is no federal program to provide ongoing oversight of how lethal pathogens are handled. Many university research labs around the country hold highly contagious specimens, and post-September 11 inspections have documented significant lapses in control over access to the labs and the securing of dangerous materials. Meanwhile, half of the federal scientific and medical personnel that the nation would turn to in the event of a bioterrorism attack will be eligible to retire within five years, and there is no comprehensive plan to address this looming personnel crisis.

Finally, even though the most tempting targets for terrorists are those that can produce widespread economic and social disruption, the White House has declared that safeguarding the nation's critical infrastructure is not a federal responsibility. According to President Bush's 2002 National Homeland Security Strategy, "The government should only address those activities that the market does not adequately provide -- for example, national defense or border security. ... For other aspects of homeland security, sufficient incentives exist in the private market to supply protection." Unfortunately, this expression of faith has not been borne out. According to a survey commissioned by the Washington-based Council on Competitiveness just one year after September 11, 92 percent of executives did not believe that terrorists would target their companies, and only 53 percent of the respondents indicated that their companies had increased security spending between 2001 and 2002. With the passing of each week without a new attack, the reluctance of companies to invest in security has only grown.


If improving homeland security requires that the U.S. government reconsider many of its assumptions and priorities, it also requires a population that acknowledges that security must become everyone's business. The starting point for engaging civil society in this enterprise is a willingness to accept that there will never be a permanent victory in a war on terrorism by overseas military campaigns. Terrorism is simply too cheap, too available, and too tempting to ever be totally eradicated. And U.S. borders will never serve as a last line of defense for a determined terrorist. What is required is that everyday citizens develop both the maturity to live with the risk of future attacks and the willingness to invest in reasonable measures to mitigate that risk.

This is not a defeatist position. Improving the United States' protections and its resilience to withstand acts of catastrophic terrorism has both tactical value in preventing these attacks and strategic value in deterring them in the first place. Radical jihadist groups do not have unlimited resources. When they strike they want to be reasonably confident that they will be successful. They also want to inflict real damage that will generate political pressure to adopt draconian measures in response to a traumatized public.

Today's terrorist masterminds know that the main benefit of attacks on critical infrastructure is not the immediate damage they inflict, but the collateral consequences of eroding the public's trust in services on which it depends. Certainly this lesson has not been lost on Osama bin Laden, who holds a degree in economics. On October 21, 2001, in an interview with an Al Jazeera reporter, bin Laden remarked that his attacks generated billions of dollars in losses to Wall Street, in the daily income of Americans, in building costs, and to the airline industry. All this damage, he pointed out, was "due to an attack that happened with the success of Allah lasting one hour only."

What if the next terrorist strike were on the American food supply system? The attack itself might kill only a handful of people, but without measures in place to reassure the public that follow-on attacks could be prevented or at least contained, consumers at home and abroad would become distrustful of a sector that accounts for more than ten percent of U.S. GDP. Similarly, a dirty bomb smuggled in a container and set off in a seaport would likely kill only a few unfortunate longshoremen and contaminate several acres of valuable waterfront property. But if there is no credible security system to restore the public's confidence that other containers are safe, mayors and governors throughout the country, as well as the president, will come under withering political pressure to order the shutdown of the intermodal transportation system. Examining cargo in tens of thousands of trucks, trains, and ships to ensure it poses no threat would have devastating economic consequences. When containers stop moving, assembly plants go idle, retail shelves go bare, and workers end up in unemployment lines. A three-week shutdown could well spawn a global recession.

As long as catastrophic terrorism is assured of generating a huge bang for the buck, current and future U.S. adversaries will make it the first arrow they reach for in attacking the country. Their confidence in their ability to inflict real damage on the world's sole superpower will be directly proportional to the unwillingness of private and public leaders to acknowledge the risk of market failures associated with excessive reliance on unprotected networks that are sophisticated, concentrated, and interdependent. Given the futility of taking on U.S. military forces directly, attacking these networks is not irrational. In warfare, combatants always seek to exploit their adversary's weaknesses.

If terrorist attacks were likely to be detected, intercepted, contained, and managed without doing any measurable damage to the American way of life or quality of life, however, their value as a means of warfare would be depreciated. Since such acts violate widely accepted norms, they will almost certainly invite not just American, but also international, retribution. Most adversaries would probably judge this too high a price to pay if striking civilian targets holds out little chance of causing the desired mass disruption.

A focus on homeland security measures can also improve the effectiveness of more conventional counterterrorism measures. By bolstering the security of critical networks in advance of possible attacks, adversaries must put together more complex operations to target them successfully. The resultant need for terrorists to raise more money, recruit expertise, and lengthen planning cycles and rehearsals would be a boon for intelligence services and law enforcement officials. This is because such pre-execution activities elevate the opportunities for infiltration and raise the odds that terrorist groups will attract attention.

There is an added bit of good news that comes from placing greater emphasis on homeland security. The most effective measures for protecting potential targets or making them more resilient in the face of successful attacks almost always have derivative benefits for other public and private goods. For instance, bolstering the tools to detect and intercept terrorists will enhance the means that authorities have to combat criminal acts such as narcotics trafficking, migrant smuggling, cargo theft, and violations of export controls. Diseases such as SARS, AIDS, West Nile, foot-and-mouth, and mad cow have highlighted the challenges of managing deadly pathogens in a shrinking world. Public health investments to deal with biological agents or attacks on food and water supplies will provide U.S. authorities with more effective tools to manage these global diseases. Measures adopted to protect infrastructure make it more resilient not only to terrorist attacks, but also to acts of God or human and mechanical error. They also invariably reinforce U.S. values that are respected around the world, whereas reliance on aggressive military measures invariably puts those values at risk.

How much security is enough? For the foreseeable future, the threshold for success is when the American people can conclude that a future attack on U.S. soil will be an exceptional event that does not require wholesale changes in how they go about their lives. This means that they should be confident that there are adequate measures in place to confront the danger.

In other words, homeland security should strive to achieve what the aviation industry has done with safety. What sustains air travel despite the periodic horror of airplanes falling out of the sky is the extent to which the industry's long-standing and ongoing investments have convinced the public that it is safe to fly. Public confidence can never be taken for granted after a major jet crash, but private and public aviation officials start from a credible foundation built upon a cooperative effort to incorporate safety into every part of the industry. Every time passengers board a plane, they receive instructions from flight attendants on how to fasten their seatbelts and don oxygen masks -- gentle reminders of the paramount importance that the industry assigns to safety. In the immediate aftermath of airline disasters, the public is reassured by the fact that the lessons learned are quickly compiled and released and that the government and the industry seem willing to take whatever corrective actions are required.

Ongoing and credible efforts to confront risk are essential to the viability of any complex modern enterprise. Aviation safety provides helpful reference points for how to pursue security without turning the United States into a national gated community. First, it demonstrates that Americans do not expect their lives to be risk-free; they just rightfully expect that reasonable measures be in place to manage that risk. Second, managing risk works best if safeguards are integrated as an organic part of a sector's environment and if they are dynamic in adapting to changes in that environment. Third, government plays an essential role in providing incentives and disincentives for people and industry to meet minimum standards. Bluntly stated, security will not happen by itself.


Washington's hands-off approach to critical infrastructure protection has stemmed not only from an excessive and unmerited faith in U.S. military, intelligence, and law enforcement capabilities. At the heart of the problem is also its misplaced faith in the market. The invisible hand of the free market simply will not provide sufficient economic incentives for private companies to protect from acts of terrorism the global networks that they largely own and operate. This is because their executives worry that such investments would place them at a competitive disadvantage.

Security is not free. A company incurs costs when it invests in measures to protect the portion of infrastructure it controls. If a company does not believe other companies are willing or able to make a similar investment, then it faces the likelihood of losing market share while simply shifting the infrastructure's vulnerability elsewhere. If terrorists strike, the company will still suffer the disruptive consequences of an attack right alongside those who did nothing to prevent it. Those consequences are likely to include the cost of implementing new government requirements. Therefore, infrastructure security suffers from a dilemma commonly referred to as the "tragedy of the commons."

Take the case of the chemical industry. By and large, chemical manufacturers have a good safety record. But security is another matter. Operating on thin profit margins and faced with growing overseas competition, most companies have been reluctant to incur the additional costs associated with improving their security. Now let us imagine that the manager of a chemical plant looks around his facility and gets squeamish about the many security lapses he finds. After a fitful night of sleep, he wakes up and decides to invest in protective measures that raise the cost to his customers by $50 per shipment. A competitor who does not make that investment will be able to attract business away from the security-conscious plant because his handling costs will be lower. Capable terrorists and criminals will target this lower-cost operation since it is an easier target.

In the event of an incident, particularly one that is catastrophic, two consequences are likely. First, government officials will not discriminate between the more security-conscious and the less security-conscious companies. All chemical plants are likely to be shut down while the authorities try to sort things out. Second, once the dust clears, elected and regulatory officials will scramble to impose new security requirements that could nullify the proactive plant owner's earlier investments. Given this scenario, the most rational behavior of the nervous manager would appear to be to keep tossing and turning at night while focusing on short-term profitability during the day.

The only way to prevent the tragedy of the commons is to convince all the private participants to abide by the same security requirements. When standards are universal, their cost is borne equally across a sector. As taxpayers or as consumers, Americans will end up bankrolling these measures, but what they will be paying for is insurance against the loss of innocent lives and a profound disruption to their society and the economy.


When it comes to critical infrastructure protection, the issue, then, is to engage the private sector to develop standards and create effective mechanisms for their uniform enforcement. This is a task that necessitates a much different kind of institutional framework than setting up a new federal department of homeland security. What it requires is the creation of a structure that allows the private sector and civil society to participate as equal partners in the process of designing and implementing security for the U.S. homeland. Randolph Lerner, who chairs the bank holding company MBNA Corporation, has suggested that the United States needs a homeland security framework that resembles the organizational protocols and functions of the Federal Reserve System.

The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 to lessen the risks of serious disruptions to financial markets. It was organized around the notion that effective oversight of the financial sector requires drawing on the expertise of private representatives within that sector. Additionally, the Federal Reserve's charter recognized the value of taking into account the country's diversity by creating 12 regional banking districts and establishing 25 branches. This structure is not purely hierarchical. The regional banks are essential to the process of collecting information on conditions at the local level, and they provide a pool of advisers to inform national policymaking functions. Importantly, the Federal Reserve also retains a degree of independence from the executive branch. Although it regularly meets and supports the work of federal agencies with specific statutory responsibilities, the Federal Reserve Board reports directly to Congress, and its work is audited by the General Accounting Office.

The United States should roughly replicate the Federal Reserve model by creating a Federal Security Reserve System (FSRS) with a national board of governors, 10 regional Homeland Security Districts, and 92 local branches called Metropolitan Anti-Terrorism Committees. The objective of this system would be to develop self-funding mechanisms to more fully engage a broad cross-section of American society to protect the country's critical foundations from the widespread disruption that would arise from a terrorist attack.

To create the appropriate incentives for the market to invest in security, the FSRS would establish and oversee a mandatory program requiring owners and operators of critical infrastructure to carry adequate levels of insurance. The purpose of this insurance would be not just to reduce the call on public resources when acts of terrorism occur. It would also create incentives for the insurance industry to become a partner in ensuring that the owners and operators of essential systems do not neglect their security responsibilities.

The FSRS's national board of governors would play an oversight role in establishing prevention and response guidelines and monitoring compliance with security mandates within the water, food, chemical, energy, financial, information, transportation, emergency response, and public health sectors. Its responsibilities would include issuing regulations to carry out major federal laws governing the security of these sectors. Members of the board would be available to meet with the president's homeland security advisers and to testify before Congress. The board would submit an annual report to Congress on the state of security within each sector, along with a national vulnerability assessment. The board would also have a role in international bodies, such as the International Standards Organization and the World Trade Organization, in advancing universal security standards for critical networks that span international boundaries. For technical and scientific support, the board should establish a formal relationship with the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences.

Each of the ten Homeland Security Districts should be given lead responsibility for a specific critical sector, based on its relative importance within their jurisdiction. For example, the district for the northeastern region of the country might be assigned the lead on financial security. The district assigned primary responsibility for a sector would chair a committee made up of representatives from the remaining districts. In addition, the primary district would be responsible for hosting an international advisory committee that would include private-and public-sector experts from Europe, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and other allies of the United States.

The district board of directors would be made up of private-sector leaders representing each of the critical infrastructure sectors; a labor union representative; officials from the public health, public safety, and nongovernmental sectors; a designated civil liberty advocate; and media leaders. The federal regional director from the Department of Homeland Security would be a vice chair with one U.S. attorney from within the district, who would provide a formal link with the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Department of Defense's Northern Command, which has responsibility for protecting U.S. territory from armed attacks, would be allowed a nonvoting, ex officio seat on the board.

The districts would all be assigned support staffs whose composition would be divided between full-time public-sector employees and industry experts nominated by the private sector. These industry experts would be given a two-year leave of absence by their employers to support their work at the district level. As in the Federal Reserve, these private-sector appointments would be highly selective opportunities for talented midlevel executives to better understand and help inform the policy environment that will affect their respective sectors. All of the private participants would be provided with government security clearances.

At the metropolitan level, the FSRS could be tied into an expanded version of the post-September 11 Anti-Terrorism Advisory Committees and Joint Terrorism Task Forces that are run by DOJ and the FBI. Currently these groups are made up of representatives from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. They are essentially forums in which cops can talk with cops. Under the FSRS, these organizations would be set up in all states and within the major metropolitan areas and should include private-sector representatives who have received background checks and been issued the appropriate security clearances.

The Metropolitan Anti-Terrorism Committees should serve as a forum for sharing the latest threat assessment information with local and private entities that have direct operational oversight over critical sectors. They would also be charged with reviewing vulnerability assessments and security plans, including conducting exercises to evaluate prevention and protection efforts on the ground. Additionally, the teams would be given responsibility periodically to inspect compliance with security regulations in the same way that federal bank examiners are sent out periodically to assess the operations of their member banks. When serious discrepancies are found, the district board could impose sanctions.

The Federal Reserve describes itself as a system that is "independent within the government." This means it must work within the overall objectives established by Congress, but its decisions do not have to be ratified by the president or anyone else in the executive branch. This level of independence is justified as both a check on executive power and as a way to manage the risk that decisions directly affecting the operation of the marketplace might become dangerously politicized. The case for a similar approach to homeland security is compelling. In both instances, the goal is to better align commercial interests with public interests.

The overall thrust of this proposed FSRS is to create a participatory system that does not unrealistically rely on the activities of federal agencies. By using the Federal Reserve as a template for enlisting expertise beyond Washington, the United States can achieve a middle ground between placing the fate of critical networks entirely in the hands of overworked federal authorities and relying on a laissez-faire approach that provides no protection.

This, admittedly, is an ambitious proposal. But now is not a time for timidity. Nor is it a time for persisting with an outmoded national security framework, designed for a different enemy in a century gone by. Americans must demand that their government put in place the kind of structure that widens the breadth and quality of civic participation in making the United States safe. And the entire nation, not just the national security establishment, must be organized for the long, deadly struggle against terrorism.

Foreign Affairs
Stephen E. Flynn is Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This article draws from "America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us From Terrorism" (HarperCollins, 2004).

U.S. 'Hyping' Darfur Genocide Fears

American warnings that Darfur is heading for an apocalyptic humanitarian catastrophe have been widely exaggerated by administration officials, it is alleged by international aid workers in Sudan. Washington's desire for a regime change in Khartoum has biased their reports, it is claimed.

The government's aid agency, USAID, says that between 350,000 and a million people could die in Darfur by the end of the year. Other officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, have accused the Sudanese government of presiding over a 'genocide' that could rival those in Bosnia and Rwanda.

But the account has been comprehensively challenged by eyewitness reports from aid workers and by a new food survey of the region. The nutritional survey of Sudan's Darfur region, by the UN World Food Programme, says that although there are still high levels of malnutrition among under-fives in some areas, the crisis is being brought under control.

'It's not disastrous,' said one of those involved in the WFP survey, 'although it certainly was a disaster earlier this year, and if humanitarian assistance declines, this will have very serious negative consequences.'

The UN report appears to confirm food surveys conducted by other agencies in Darfur which also stand in stark contrast to the dire US descriptions of the food crisis.

The most dramatic came from Andrew Natsios, head of USAID, who told UN officials: 'We estimate right now, if we get relief in we'll lose a third of a million people and, if we don't, the death rates could be dramatically higher, approaching a million people.'

A month later, a second senior official, Roger Winter, USAID's assistant administrator, briefed foreign journalists in Washington that an estimated 30,000 people had been killed during the on-going crisis in Darfur, with another 50,000 deaths from malnutrition and disease, largely among the huge populations fleeing the violence. He described the emergency as 'humanitarian disaster of the first magnitude'.

By 9 September Powell was in front of the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee accusing Sudan of 'genocide', a charge rejected by officials of both the European and African Unions and also privately by British officials.

'I've been to a number of camps during my time here,' said one aid worker, 'and if you want to find death, you have to go looking for it. It's easy to find very sick and under-nourished children at the therapeutic feeding centres, but that's the same wherever you go in Africa.'

Another aid worker told The Observer : 'It suited various governments to talk it all up, but they don't seem to have thought about the consequences. I have no idea what Colin Powell's game is, but to call it genocide and then effectively say, "Oh, shucks, but we are not going to do anything about that genocide" undermines the very word "genocide".'

While none of the aid workers and officials interviewed by The Observer denied there was a crisis in Darfur - or that killings, rape and a large-scale displacement of population had taken place - many were puzzled that it had become the focus of such hyperbolic warnings when there were crises of similar magnitude in both northern Uganda and eastern Congo.

Concern about USAID's role as an honest broker in Darfur have been mounting for months, with diplomats as well as aid workers puzzled over its pronouncements and one European diplomat accusing it of 'plucking figures from the air'.

Under the Bush administration, the work of USAID has become increasingly politicised. But over Sudan, in particular, two of its most senior officials have long held strong personal views. Both Natsios, a former vice-president of the Christian charity World Vision, and Winter have long been hostile to the Sudanese government.

Peter Beaumont
The Observer U.K

Storm-Tossed Lessons

From Trinidad to Tallahassee, Fla., tropical storms have ravaged the Caribbean basin, exacting a multibillion-dollar toll on housing, schools, hospitals, roads and sewage systems.

Most of the casualties were in Haiti. But almost no community escaped unscathed. In Grenada, half of the population is now homeless, the famed nutmeg groves flattened, the power plants wrecked. The tourism industry that was the island's lifeblood could take years to recover. Many other islands - including Tobago, Jamaica and Grand Cayman - also suffered.

The biggest killer in natural disasters is poverty. The same hurricane tides that flood houses in Florida sweep away entire neighborhoods in places like Gonaïves, Haiti. And while survivors need places to live, simply rebuilding their tin-roofed shacks in flood plains guarantees they will suffer again. Better planning, and more focused foreign aid, can help even poor nations reduce the loss of life and property from natural disasters.

Compare the consequences of the storms in the two countries that share the island of Hispaniola. In the Dominican Republic, which has invested in hurricane shelters and emergency evacuation networks, the death toll was fewer than 10, as compared to an estimated 2,000 in Haiti. And Cuba's proven ability to survive hurricanes with few casualties - Ivan claimed no lives there because two million people were swiftly moved out of harm's way - is a testament both to the value of disaster response planning and the need for it throughout the Caribbean.

According to climatologists, vulnerable coastal communities should be prepared for greater erosion and more severe floods in the future. Poor countries need help to rebuild and to better protect themselves against future such calamities. The United Nations is now beginning appeals for emergency humanitarian aid for Grenada and Haiti to provide food, temporary shelter and basic health care.

But long-term development assistance in the Caribbean from agencies like mine, as well as from donors like the United States, must focus on reducing the destructive impact of these storms. Virtually every school, road, hospital or housing settlement destroyed in Grenada by Hurricane Ivan or in Haiti by Hurricane Jeanne was financed with foreign assistance.

Reconstruction often occurs with such haste that countries end up with even greater exposure to future hurricanes. But housing developments can be sited and designed to avoid the worst damage.

In an effort to promote better long-term planning, the United Nations Development Program early this year evaluated disaster preparedness in scores of nations. It showed Haitians were 100 times more likely to die in an equivalent storm than Dominicans. In the storms that hit last week in Gonaïves, flash floods occurred in just a few hours because upstream terrain has long since been stripped of forests and topsoil.

The magnitude of the destruction in Haiti and Grenada underscores the need for vulnerable island states to develop policies that will enable them to withstand these storms. And from the international development community, they deserve not just more aid, but smarter aid.

Julia Taft is assistant administrator of the United Nations Development Program.