The New War Against Terror

by Noam Chomksy
Transcribed from audio (recorded at The Technology & Culture Forum at MIT)

Everyone knows itís the TV people who run the world [crowd laugher]. I just got orders that Iím
supposed to be here, not there. Well the last talk I gave at this forum was on a light pleasant topic. It was
about how humans are an endangered species and given the nature of their institutions they are likely to
destroy themselves in a fairly short time. So this time there is a little relief and we have a pleasant topic
instead, the new war on terror. Unfortunately, the world keeps coming up with things that make it more
and more horrible as we proceed.

Assume 2 Conditions for this Talk

Iím going to assume 2 conditions for this talk.

The first one is just what I assume to be recognition of fact. That is that the events of September 11 were
a horrendous atrocity probably the most devastating instant human toll of any crime in history, outside
of war. The second assumption has to do with the goals. Iím assuming that our goal is that we are
interested in reducing the likelihood of such crimes whether they are against us or against someone else.
If you donít accept those two assumptions, then what I say will not be addressed to you. If we do accept
them, then a number of questions arise, closely related ones, which merit a good deal of thought.

The 5 Questions

One question, and by far the most important one is what is happening right now? Implicit in that is what
can we do about it? The 2nd has to do with the very common assumption that what happened on
September 11 is a historic event, one which will change history. I tend to agree with that. I think itís true.
It was a historic event and the question we should be asking is exactly why? The 3rd question has to do
with the title, The War Against Terrorism. Exactly what is it? And there is a related question, namely what
is terrorism? The 4th question which is narrower but important has to do with the origins of the crimes of
September 11th. And the 5th question that I want to talk a little about is what policy options there are in
fighting this war against terrorism and dealing with the situations that led to it.

Iíll say a few things about each. Glad to go beyond in discussion and donít hesitate to bring up other
questions. These are ones that come to my mind as prominent but you may easily and plausibly have
other choices.

1. Whatís Happening Right Now?

Starvation of 3 to 4 Million People

Well letís start with right now. Iíll talk about the situation in Afghanistan. Iíll just keep to uncontroversial
sources like the New York Times [crowd laughter]. According to the New York Times there are 7 to 8
million people in Afghanistan on the verge of starvation. That was true actually before September 11th.
They were surviving on international aid. On September 16th, the Times reported, Iím quoting it, that the
United States demanded from Pakistan the elimination of truck convoys that provide much of the food
and other supplies to Afghanistanís civilian population. As far as I could determine there was no
reaction in the United States or for that matter in Europe. I was on national radio all over Europe the next
day. There was no reaction in the United States or in Europe to my knowledge to the demand to impose
massive starvation on millions of people. The threat of military strikes right after SeptemberÖ..around
that time forced the removal of international aid workers that crippled the assistance programs. Actually, I
am quoting again from the New York Times. Refugees reaching Pakistan after arduous journeys from AF
are describing scenes of desperation and fear at home as the threat of American led military attacks turns
their long running misery into a potential catastrophe. The country was on a lifeline and we just cut the
line. Quoting an evacuated aid worker, in the New York Times Magazine.

The World Food Program, the UN program, which is the main one by far, were able to resume after 3
weeks in early October, they began to resume at a lower level, resume food shipments. They donít have
international aid workers within, so the distribution system is hampered. That was suspended as soon as
the bombing began. They then resumed but at a lower pace while aid agencies leveled scathing
condemnations of US airdrops, condemning them as propaganda tools which are probably doing more
harm than good. That happens to be quoting the London Financial Times but it is easy to continue. After
the first week of bombing, the New York Times reported on a back page inside a column on something
else, that by the arithmetic of the United Nations there will soon be 7.5 million Afghans in acute need of
even a loaf of bread and there are only a few weeks left before the harsh winter will make deliveries to
many areas totally impossible, continuing to quote, but with bombs falling the delivery rate is down to ½
of what is needed. Casual comment. Which tells us that Western civilization is anticipating the slaughter
of, well do the arithmetic, 3-4 million people or something like that. On the same day, the leader of
Western civilization dismissed with contempt, once again, offers of negotiation for delivery of the alleged
target, Osama bin Laden, and a request for some evidence to substantiate the demand for total
capitulation. It was dismissed. On the same day the Special Rapporteur of the UN in charge of food
pleaded with the United States to stop the bombing to try to save millions of victims. As far as Iím aware
that was unreported. That was Monday. Yesterday the major aid agencies OXFAM and Christian Aid
and others joined in that plea. You canít find a report in the New York Times. There was a line in the
Boston Globe, hidden in a story about another topic, Kashmir.

Silent Genocide

Well we could easily go onÖ.but all of thatÖ.first of all indicates to us whatís happening. Looks like
whatís happening is some sort of silent genocide. It also gives a good deal of insight into the elite
culture, the culture that we are part of. It indicates that whatever, what will happen we donít know, but
plans are being made and programs implemented on the assumption that they may lead to the death of
several million people in the next couple of weeksÖ.very casually with no comment, no particular
thought about it, thatís just kind of normal, here and in a good part of Europe. Not in the rest of the
world. In fact not even in much of Europe. So if you read the Irish press or the press in ScotlandÖthat
close, reactions are very different. Well thatís whatís happening now. Whatís happening now is very
much under our control. We can do a lot to affect whatís happening. And thatís roughly it.

2. Why was it a Historic Event?

National Territory Attacked

Alright letís turn to the slightly more abstract question, forgetting for the moment that we are in the midst
of apparently trying to murder 3 or 4 million people, not Taliban of course, their victims. Letís go
backÖturn to the question of the historic event that took place on September 11th. As I said, I think
thatís correct. It was a historic event. Not unfortunately because of its scale, unpleasant to think about,
but in terms of the scale itís not that unusual. I did say itís the worstÖprobably the worst instant human
toll of any crime. And that may be true. But there are terrorist crimes with effects a bit more drawn out
that are more extreme, unfortunately. Nevertheless, itís a historic event because there was a change. The
change was the direction in which the guns were pointed. Thatís new. Radically new. So, take US history.

The last time that the national territory of the United States was under attack, or for that matter, even
threatened was when the British burned down Washington in 1814. There have been manyÖit was
common to bring up Pearl Harbor but thatís not a good analogy. The Japanese, what ever you think
about it, the Japanese bombed military bases in 2 US colonies not the national territory; colonies which
had been taken from their inhabitants in not a very pretty way. This is the national territory thatís been
attacked on a large scale, you can find a few fringe examples but this is unique. During these close to 200
years, we, the United States expelled or mostly exterminated the indigenous population, thatís many
millions of people, conquered half of Mexico, carried out depredations all over the region, Caribbean and
Central America, sometimes beyond, conquered Hawaii and the Philippines, killing several hundred
thousand Filipinos in the process. Since the Second World War, it has extended its reach around the
world in ways I donít have to describe. But it was always killing someone else, the fighting was
somewhere else, it was others who were getting slaughtered. Not here. Not the national territory.


In the case of Europe, the change is even more dramatic because its history is even more horrendous
than ours. We are an offshoot of Europe, basically. For hundreds of years, Europe has been casually
slaughtering people all over the world. Thatís how they conquered the world, not by handing out candy
to babies. During this period, Europe did suffer murderous wars, but that was European killers murdering
one another. The main sport of Europe for hundreds of years was slaughtering one another. The only
reason that it came to an end in 1945, wasÖ.it had nothing to do with Democracy or not making war with
each other and other fashionable notions. It had to do with the fact that everyone understood that the
next time they play the game it was going to be the end for the world. Because the Europeans, including
us, had developed such massive weapons of destruction that that game just had to be over. And it goes
back hundreds of years. In the 17th century, about probably 40% of the entire population of Germany
was wiped out in one war. But during this whole bloody murderous period, it was Europeans
slaughtering each other, and Europeans slaughtering people elsewhere. The Congo didnít attack
Belgium, India didnít attack England, Algeria didnít attack France. Itís uniform. There are again small
exceptions, but pretty small in scale, certainly invisible in the scale of what Europe and us were doing to
the rest of the world. This is the first change. The first time that the guns have been pointed the other
way. And in my opinion thatís probably why you see such different reactions on the two sides of the
Irish Sea which I have noticed, incidentally, in many interviews on both sides, national radio on both
sides. The world looks very different depending on whether you are holding the leash or whether you are
being whipped by it for hundreds of years, very different. So I think the shock and surprise in Europe and
its offshoots, like here, is very understandable. It is a historic event but regrettably not in scale, in
something else and a reason why the rest of the worldÖmost of the rest of the world looks at it quite
differently. Not lacking sympathy for the victims of the atrocity or being horrified by them, thatís almost
uniform, but viewing it from a different perspective. Something we might want to understand.

3. What is the War Against Terrorism?

Well, letís go to the third question, ĎWhat is the war against terrorism?í and a side question, ĎWhatís
terrorism?í. The war against terrorism has been described in high places as a struggle against a plague, a
cancer which is spread by barbarians, by ďdepraved opponents of civilization itself.Ē Thatís a feeling that
I share. The words Iím quoting, however, happen to be from 20 years ago. Those areÖthatís President
Reagan and his Secretary of State. The Reagan administration came into office 20 years ago declaring
that the war against international terrorism would be the core of our foreign policyÖ.describing it in
terms of the kind I just mentioned and others. And it was the core of our foreign policy. The Reagan
administration responded to this plague spread by depraved opponents of civilization itself by creating
an extraordinary international terrorist network, totally unprecedented in scale, which carried out massive
atrocities all over the world, primarilyÖ.well, partly nearby, but not only there. I wonít run through the
record, youíre all educated people, so Iím sure you learned about it in High School. [crowd laughter]

Reagan-US War Against Nicaragua

But Iíll just mention one case which is totally uncontroversial, so we might as well not argue about it, by
no means the most extreme but uncontroversial. Itís uncontroversial because of the judgments of the
highest international authorities the International Court of Justice, the World Court, and the UN Security
Council. So this one is uncontroversial, at least among people who have some minimal concern for
international law, human rights, justice and other things like that. And now Iíll leave you an exercise. You
can estimate the size of that category by simply asking how often this uncontroversial case has been
mentioned in the commentary of the last month. And itís a particularly relevant one, not only because it
is uncontroversial, but because it does offer a precedent as to how a law abiding state would respond
toÖdid respond in fact to international terrorism, which is uncontroversial. And was even more extreme
than the events of September 11th. Iím talking about the Reagan-US war against Nicaragua which left
tens of thousands of people dead, the country ruined, perhaps beyond recovery.

Nicaraguaís Response

Nicaragua did respond. They didnít respond by setting off bombs in Washington. They responded by
taking it to the World Court, presenting a case, they had no problem putting together evidence. The
World Court accepted their case, ruled in their favor, condemned what they called the ďunlawful use of
force,Ē which is another word for international terrorism, by the United States, ordered the United States
to terminate the crime and to pay massive reparations. The United States, of course, dismissed the court
judgment with total contempt and announced that it would not accept the jurisdiction of the court
henceforth. Then Nicaragua went to the UN Security Council which considered a resolution calling on all
states to observe international law. No one was mentioned but everyone understood. The United States
vetoed the resolution. It now stands as the only state on record which has both been condemned by the
World Court for international terrorism and has vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on states to
observe international law. Nicaragua then went to the General Assembly where there is technically no
veto but a negative US vote amounts to a veto. It passed a similar resolution with only the United States,
Israel, and El Salvador opposed. The following year again, this time the United States could only rally
Israel to the cause, so 2 votes opposed to observing international law. At that point, Nicaragua couldnít
do anything lawful. It tried all the measures. They donít work in a world that is ruled by force.

This case is uncontroversial but itís by no means the most extreme. We gain a lot of insight into our own
culture and society and whatís happening now by asking Ďhow much we know about all this? How much
we talk about it? How much you learn about it in school? How much itís all over the front pages?í And
this is only the beginning. The United States responded to the World Court and the Security Council by
immediately escalating the war very quickly, that was a bipartisan decision incidentally. The terms of the
war were also changed. For the first time there were official orders givenÖofficial orders to the terrorist
army to attack what are called ďsoft targets,Ē meaning undefended civilian targets, and to keep away from
the Nicaraguan army. They were able to do that because the United States had total control of the air
over Nicaragua and the mercenary army was supplied with advanced communication equipment, it wasnít
a guerilla army in the normal sense and could get instructions about the disposition of the Nicaraguan
army forces so they could attack agricultural collectives, health clinics, and so onÖsoft targets with
impunity. Those were the official orders.

What was the Reaction Here?

What was the reaction? It was known. There was a reaction to it. The policy was regarded as sensible by
left liberal opinion. So Michael Kinsley who represents the left in mainstream discussion, wrote an article
in which he said that we shouldnít be too quick to criticize this policy as Human Rights Watch had just
done. He said a ďsensible policyĒ must ďmeet the test of cost benefit analysisĒ -- that is, Iím quoting now,
that is the analysis of ďthe amount of blood and misery that will be poured in, and the likelihood that
democracy will emerge at the other end.Ē Democracy as the US understands the term, which is
graphically illustrated in the surrounding countries. Notice that it is axiomatic that the United States, US
elites, have the right to conduct the analysis and to pursue the project if it passes their tests. And it did
pass their tests. It worked. When Nicaragua finally succumbed to superpower assault, commentators
openly and cheerfully lauded the success of the methods that were adopted and described them
accurately. So Iíll quote Time Magazine just to pick one. They lauded the success of the methods
adopted: ďto wreck the economy and prosecute a long and deadly proxy war until the exhausted natives
overthrow the unwanted government themselves,Ē with a cost to us that is ďminimal,Ē and leaving the
victims ďwith wrecked bridges, sabotaged power stations, and ruined farms,Ē and thus providing the US
candidate with a ďwinning issueĒ: ďending the impoverishment of the people of Nicaragua.Ē The New
York Times had a headline saying ďAmericans United in JoyĒ at this outcome.

Terrorism Works Ė Terrorism is not the Weapon of the Weak

That is the culture in which we live and it reveals several facts. One is the fact that terrorism works. It
doesnít fail. It works. Violence usually works. Thatís world history. Secondly, itís a very serious analytic
error to say, as is commonly done, that terrorism is the weapon of the weak. Like other means of violence,
itís primarily a weapon of the strong, overwhelmingly, in fact. It is held to be a weapon of the weak
because the strong also control the doctrinal systems and their terror doesnít count as terror. Now thatís
close to universal. I canít think of a historical exception, even the worst mass murderers view the world
that way. So pick the Nazis. They werenít carrying out terror in occupied Europe. They were protecting
the local population from the terrorisms of the partisans. And like other resistance movements, there was
terrorism. The Nazis were carrying out counter terror. Furthermore, the United States essentially agreed
with that. After the war, the US army did extensive studies of Nazi counter terror operations in Europe.
First I should say that the US picked them up and began carrying them out itself, often against the same
targets, the former resistance. But the military also studied the Nazi methods published interesting
studies, sometimes critical of them because they were inefficiently carried out, so a critical analysis, you
didnít do this right, you did that right, but those methods with the advice of Wermacht officers who were
brought over here became the manuals of counter insurgency, of counter terror, of low intensity conflict,
as it is called, and are the manuals, and are the procedures that are being used. So itís not just that the
Nazis did it. Itís that it was regarded as the right thing to do by the leaders of western civilization, that is
us, who then proceeded to do it themselves. Terrorism is not the weapon of the weak. It is the weapon of
those who are against Ďusí whoever Ďusí happens to be. And if you can find a historical exception to that,
Iíd be interested in seeing it.

Nature of our Culture Ė How We Regard Terrorism

Well, an interesting indication of the nature of our culture, our high culture, is the way in which all of this
is regarded. One way itís regarded is just suppressing it. So almost nobody has ever heard of it. And the
power of American propaganda and doctrine is so strong that even among the victims itís barely known.
I mean, when you talk about this to people in Argentina, you have to remind them. Oh, yeah, that
happened, we forgot about it. Itís deeply suppressed. The sheer consequences of the monopoly of
violence can be very powerful in ideological and other terms.

The Idea that Nicaragua Might Have The Right To Defend Itself

Well, one illuminating aspect of our own attitude toward terrorism is the reaction to the idea that
Nicaragua might have the right to defend itself. Actually I went through this in some detail with database
searches and that sort of thing. The idea that Nicaragua might have the right to defend itself was
considered outrageous. There is virtually nothing in mainstream commentary indicating that Nicaragua
might have that right. And that fact was exploited by the Reagan administration and its propaganda in an
interesting way. Those of you who were around in that time will remember that they periodically floated
rumors that the Nicaraguans were getting MIG jets, jets from Russia. At that point the hawks and the
doves split. The hawks said, Ďok, letís bomb Ďem.í The doves said, `wait a minute, letís see if the rumors
are true. And if the rumors are true, then letís bomb them. Because they are a threat to the United States.í
Why, incidentally were they getting MIGs? Well they tried to get jet planes from European countries but
the United States put pressure on its allies so that it wouldnít send them means of defense because they
wanted them to turn to the Russians. Thatís good for propaganda purposes. Then they become a threat
to us. Remember, they were just 2 days march from Harlingen, Texas. We actually declared a national
emergency in 1985 to protect the country from the threat of Nicaragua. And it stayed in force. So it was
much better for them to get arms from the Russians. Why would they want jet planes? Well, for the
reasons I already mentioned. The United States had total control over their airspace, and was using that
to provide instructions to the terrorist army to enable them to attack soft targets without running into the
army that might defend them. Everyone knew that that was the reason. They are not going to use their jet
planes for anything else. But the idea that Nicaragua should be permitted to defend its airspace against a
superpower attack that is directing terrorist forces to attack undefended civilian targets, that was
considered in the United States as outrageous and uniformly so. Exceptions are so slight, you know I can
practically list them. I donít suggest that you take my word for this. Have a look. That includes our own
senators, incidentally.

Honduras Ė The Appointment of John Negroponte as Ambassador to the United Nations

Another illustration of how we regard terrorism is happening right now. The US has just appointed an
ambassador to the United Nations to lead the war against terrorism a couple weeks ago. Who is he? Well,
his name is John Negroponte. He was the US ambassador in the fiefdom, which is what it is, of Honduras
in the early 1980ís. There was a little fuss made about the fact that he must have been aware, as he
certainly was, of the large-scale murders and other atrocities that were being carried out by the security
forces in Honduras that we were supporting. But thatís a small part of it. As proconsul of Honduras, as
he was called there, he was the local supervisor for the terrorist war based in Honduras, for which his
government was condemned by the world court and then the Security Council in a vetoed resolution.
And he was just appointed as the UN Ambassador to lead the war against terror. Another small
experiment you can do is check and see what the reaction was to this. Well, I will tell you what you are
going to find, but find it for yourself. Now that tells us a lot about the war against terrorism and a lot
about ourselves.

After the United States took over the country again under the conditions that were so graphically
described by the press, the country was pretty much destroyed in the 1980ís, but it has totally collapsed
since in every respect just about. Economically it has declined sharply since the US take over,
democratically and in every other respect. Itís now the second poorest country in the Hemisphere. I
should sayÖ.Iím not going to talk about it, but I mentioned that I picked up Nicaragua because it is an
uncontroversial case. If you look at the other states in the region, the state terror was far more extreme
and it again traces back to Washington and thatís by no means all.

US & UK Backed South African Attacks

It was happening elsewhere in the world too, take say Africa. During the Reagan years alone, South
African attacks, backed by the United States and Britain, US/UK-backed South African attacks against
the neighboring countries killed about a million and a half people and left 60 billion dollars in damage and
countries destroyed. And if we go around the world, we can add more examples.

Now that was the first war against terror of which Iíve given a small sample. Are we supposed to pay
attention to that? Or kind of think that that might be relevant? After all itís not exactly ancient history.
Well, evidently not as you can tell by looking at the current discussion of the war on terror which has
been the leading topic for the last month.

Haiti, Guatemala, and Nicaragua

I mentioned that Nicaragua has now become the 2nd poorest country in the hemisphere. Whatís the
poorest country? Well thatís of course Haiti which also happens to be the victim of most US intervention
in the 20th century by a long shot. We left it totally devastated. Itís the poorest country. Nicaragua is
second ranked in degree of US intervention in the 20th century. It is the 2nd poorest. Actually, it is vying
with Guatemala. They interchange every year or two as to whoís the second poorest. And they also vie
as to who is the leading target of US military intervention. Weíre supposed to think that all of this is
some sort of accident. That is has nothing to do with anything that happened in history. Maybe.

Colombia and Turkey

The worst human rights violator in the 1990ís is Colombia, by a long shot. Itís also, by far, the leading
recipient of US military aid in the 1990ís maintaining the terror and human rights violations. In 1999,
Colombia replaced Turkey as the leading recipient of US arms worldwide, that is excluding Israel and
Egypt which are a separate category. And that tells us a lot more about the war on terror right now, in

Why was Turkey getting such a huge flow of US arms? Well if you take a look at the flow of US arms to
Turkey, Turkey always got a lot of US arms. Itís strategically placed, a member of NATO, and so on. But
the arms flow to Turkey went up very sharply in 1984. It didnít have anything to do with the cold war. I
mean Russian was collapsing. And it stayed high from 1984 to 1999 when it reduced and it was replaced
in the lead by Colombia. What happened from 1984 to 1999? Well, in 1984, [Turkey] launched a major
terrorist war against Kurds in southeastern Turkey. And thatís when US aid went up, military aid. And
this was not pistols. This was jet planes, tanks, military training, and so on. And it stayed high as the
atrocities escalated through the 1990ís. Aid followed it. The peak year was 1997. In 1997, US military aid
to Turkey was more than in the entire period 1950 to 1983, that is the cold war period, which is an
indication of how much the cold war has affected policy. And the results were awesome. This led to 2-3
million refugees. Some of the worst ethnic cleansing of the late 1990ís. Tens of thousands of people
killed, 3500 towns and villages destroyed, way more than Kosovo, even under NATO bombs. And the
United States was providing 80% of the arms, increasing as the atrocities increased, peaking in 1997. It
declined in 1999 because, once again, terror worked as it usually does when carried out by its major
agents, mainly the powerful. So by 1999, Turkish terror, called of course counter-terror, but as I said,
thatís universal, it worked. Therefore Turkey was replaced by Colombia which had not yet succeeded in
its terrorist war. And therefore had to move into first place as recipient of US arms.

Self Congratulation on the Part of Western Intellectuals

Well, what makes this all particularly striking is that all of this was taking place right in the midst of a
huge flood of self-congratulation on the part of Western intellectuals which probably has no counterpart
in history. I mean you all remember it. It was just a couple years ago. Massive self-adulation about how
for the first time in history we are so magnificent; that we are standing up for principles and values;
dedicated to ending inhumanity everywhere in the new era of this-and-that, and so-on-and-so-forth. And
we certainly canít tolerate atrocities right near the borders of NATO. That was repeated over and over.
Only within the borders of NATO where we can not only can tolerate much worse atrocities but
contribute to them. Another insight into Western civilization and our own, is how often was this brought
up? Try to look. I wonít repeat it. But itís instructive. Itís a pretty impressive feat for a propaganda
system to carry this off in a free society. Itís pretty amazing. I donít think you could do this in a
totalitarian state.

Turkey is Very Grateful

And Turkey is very grateful. Just a few days ago, Prime Minister Ecevit announced that Turkey would
join the coalition against terror, very enthusiastically, even more so than others. In fact, he said they
would contribute troops which others have not willing to do. And he explained why. He said, We owe a
debt of gratitude to the United States because the United States was the only country that was willing to
contribute so massively to our own, in his words ďcounter-terroristĒ war, that is to our own massive
ethnic cleansing and atrocities and terror. Other countries helped a little, but they stayed back. The
United States, on the other hand, contributed enthusiastically and decisively and was able to do so
because of the silence, servility might be the right word, of the educated classes who could easily find
out about it. Itís a free country after all. You can read human rights reports. You can read all sorts of
stuff. But we chose to contribute to the atrocities and Turkey is very happy, they owe us a debt of
gratitude for that and therefore will contribute troops just as during the war in Serbia. Turkey was very
much praised for using its F-16ís which we supplied it to bomb Serbia exactly as it had been doing with
the same planes against its own population up until the time when it finally succeeded in crushing
internal terror as they called it. And as usual, as always, resistance does include terror. Its true of the
American Revolution. Thatís true of every case I know. Just as its true that those who have a monopoly
of violence talk about themselves as carrying out counter terror.

The Coalition Ė Including Algeria, Russia, China, Indonesia

Now thatís pretty impressive and that has to do with the coalition that is now being organized to fight
the war against terror. And itís very interesting to see how that coalition is being described. So have a
look at this morningís Christian Science Monitor. Thatís a good newspaper. One of the best international
newspapers, with real coverage of the world. The lead story, the front-page story, is about how the
United States, you know people used to dislike the United States but now they are beginning to respect
it, and they are very happy about the way that the US is leading the war against terror. And the prime
example, well in fact the only serious example, the others are a joke, is Algeria. Turns out that Algeria is
very enthusiastic about the US war against terror. The person who wrote the article is an expert on
Africa. He must know that Algeria is one of the most vicious terrorist states in the world and has been
carrying out horrendous terror against its own population in the past couple of years, in fact. For a while,
this was under wraps. But it was finally exposed in France by defectors from the Algerian army. Itís all
over the place there and in England and so on. But here, weíre very proud because one of the worst
terrorist states in the world is now enthusiastically welcoming the US war on terror and in fact is cheering
on the United States to lead the war. That shows how popular we are getting.

And if you look at the coalition that is being formed against terror it tells you a lot more. A leading
member of the coalition is Russia which is delighted to have the United States support its murderous
terrorist war in Chechnya instead of occasionally criticizing it in the background. China is joining
enthusiastically. Itís delighted to have support for the atrocities itís carrying out in western China
against, what it called, Muslim secessionists. Turkey, as I mentioned, is very happy with the war against
terror. They are experts. Algeria, Indonesia delighted to have even more US support for atrocities it is
carrying out in Ache and elsewhere. Now we can run through the list, the list of the states that have
joined the coalition against terror is quite impressive. They have a characteristic in common. They are
certainly among the leading terrorist states in the world. And they happen to be led by the world

What is Terrorism?

Well that brings us back to the question, what is terrorism? I have been assuming we understand it. Well,
what is it? Well, there happen to be some easy answers to this. There is an official definition. You can
find it in the US code or in US army manuals. A brief statement of it taken from a US army manual, is fair
enough, is that terror is the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to attain political or
religious ideological goals through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear. Thatís terrorism. Thatís a fair
enough definition. I think it is reasonable to accept that. The problem is that it canít be accepted because
if you accept that, all the wrong consequences follow. For example, all the consequences I have just been
reviewing. Now there is a major effort right now at the UN to try to develop a comprehensive treaty on
terrorism. When Kofi Annan got the Nobel prize the other day, you will notice he was reported as saying
that we should stop wasting time on this and really get down to it.

But thereís a problem. If you use the official definition of terrorism in the comprehensive treaty you are
going to get completely the wrong results. So that canít be done. In fact, it is even worse than that. If you
take a look at the definition of Low Intensity Warfare which is official US policy you find that it is a very
close paraphrase of what I just read. In fact, Low Intensity Conflict is just another name for terrorism.
Thatís why all countries, as far as I know, call whatever horrendous acts they are carrying out, counter
terrorism. We happen to call it Counter Insurgency or Low Intensity Conflict. So thatís a serious problem.
You canít use the actual definitions. Youíve got to carefully find a definition that doesnít have all the
wrong consequences.

Why did the United States and Israel Vote Against a Major Resolution Condemning Terrorism?

There are some other problems. Some of them came up in December 1987, at the peak of the first war on
terrorism, thatís when the furor over the plague was peaking. The United Nations General Assembly
passed a very strong resolution against terrorism, condemning the plague in the strongest terms, calling
on every state to fight against it in every possible way. It passed unanimously. One country, Honduras
abstained. Two votes against; the usual two, United States and Israel. Why should the United States and
Israel vote against a major resolution condemning terrorism in the strongest terms, in fact pretty much the
terms that the Reagan administration was using? Well, there is a reason. There is one paragraph in that
long resolution which says that nothing in this resolution infringes on the rights of people struggling
against racist and colonialist regimes or foreign military occupation to continue with their resistance with
the assistance of others, other states, states outside in their just cause. Well, the United States and Israel
canít accept that. The main reason that they couldnít at the time was because of South Africa. South
Africa was an ally, officially called an ally. There was a terrorist force in South Africa. It was called the
African National Congress. They were a terrorist force officially. South Africa in contrast was an ally and
we certainly couldnít support actions by a terrorist group struggling against a racist regime. That would
be impossible.

And of course there is another one. Namely the Israeli occupied territories, now going into its 35th year.
Supported primarily by the United States in blocking a diplomatic settlement for 30 years now, still is.
And you canít have that. There is another one at the time. Israel was occupying Southern Lebanon and
was being combated by what the US calls a terrorist force, Hizbullah, which in fact succeeded in driving
Israel out of Lebanon. And we canít allow anyone to struggle against a military occupation when it is one
that we support so therefore the US and Israel had to vote against the major UN resolution on terrorism.
And I mentioned before that a US vote againstÖis essentially a veto. Which is only half the story. It also
vetoes it from history. So none of this was ever reported and none of it appeared in the annals of
terrorism. If you look at the scholarly work on terrorism and so on, nothing that I just mentioned appears.
The reason is that it has got the wrong people holding the guns. You have to carefully hone the
definitions and the scholarship and so on so that you come out with the right conclusions; otherwise it is
not respectable scholarship and honorable journalism. Well, these are some of problems that are
hampering the effort to develop a comprehensive treaty against terrorism. Maybe we should have an
academic conference or something to try to see if we can figure out a way of defining terrorism so that it
comes out with just the right answers, not the wrong answers. That wonít be easy.

4. What are the Origins of the September 11 Crime?

Well, letís drop that and turn to the 4th question, What are the origins of the September 11 crimes? Here
we have to make a distinction between 2 categories which shouldnít be run together. One is the actual
agents of the crime, the other is kind of a reservoir of at least sympathy, sometimes support that they
appeal to even among people who very much oppose the criminals and the actions. And those are 2
different things.

Category 1: The Likely Perpetrators

Well, with regard to the perpetrators, in a certain sense we are not really clear. The United States either is
unable or unwilling to provide any evidence, any meaningful evidence. There was a sort of a play a week
or two ago when Tony Blair was set up to try to present it. I donít exactly know what the purpose of this
was. Maybe so that the US could look as though itís holding back on some secret evidence that it canít
reveal or that Tony Blair could strike proper Churchillian poses or something or other. Whatever the PR
[public relations] reasons were, he gave a presentation which was in serious circles considered so absurd
that it was barely even mentioned. So the Wall Street Journal, for example, one of the more serious papers
had a small story on page 12, I think, in which they pointed out that there was not much evidence and
then they quoted some high US official as saying that it didnít matter whether there was any evidence
because they were going to do it anyway. So why bother with the evidence? The more ideological press,
like the New York Times and others, they had big front-page headlines. But the Wall Street Journal
reaction was reasonable and if you look at the so-called evidence you can see why. But letís assume that
itís true. It is astonishing to me how weak the evidence was. I sort of thought you could do better than
that without any intelligence service [audience laughter]. In fact, remember this was after weeks of the
most intensive investigation in history of all the intelligence services of the western world working
overtime trying to put something together. And it was a prima facie, it was a very strong case even before
you had anything. And it ended up about where it started, with a prima facie case. So letís assume that it
is true. So letís assume that, it looked obvious the first day, still does, that the actual perpetrators come
from the radical Islamic, here called, fundamentalist networks of which the bin Laden network is
undoubtedly a significant part. Whether they were involved or not nobody knows. It doesnít really
matter much.

Where did they come from?

Thatís the background, those networks. Well, where do they come from? We know all about that.
Nobody knows about that better than the CIA because it helped organize them and it nurtured them for a
long time. They were brought together in the 1980ís actually by the CIA and its associates elsewhere:
Pakistan, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China was involved, they may have been involved a little
bit earlier, maybe by 1978. The idea was to try to harass the Russians, the common enemy. According to
President Carterís National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the US got involved in mid 1979. Do
you remember, just to put the dates right, that Russia invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Ok.
According to Brzezinski, the US support for the mujahedin fighting against the government began 6
months earlier. He is very proud of that. He says we drew the Russians into, in his words, an Afghan
trap, by supporting the mujahedin, getting them to invade, getting them into the trap. Now then we could
develop this terrific mercenary army. Not a small one, maybe 100,000 men or so bringing together the best
killers they could find, who were radical Islamist fanatics from around North Africa, Saudi
ArabiaÖ.anywhere they could find them. They were often called the Afghanis but many of them, like bin
Laden, were not Afghans. They were brought by the CIA and its friends from elsewhere. Whether
Brzezinski is telling the truth or not, I donít know. He may have been bragging, he is apparently very
proud of it, knowing the consequences incidentally. But maybe itís true. Weíll know someday if the
documents are ever released. Anyway, thatís his perception. By January 1980 it is not even in doubt that
the US was organizing the Afghanis and this massive military force to try to cause the Russians maximal
trouble. It was a legitimate thing for the Afghans to fight the Russian invasion. But the US intervention
was not helping the Afghans. In fact, it helped destroy the country and much more. The Afghanis, so
called, had their did force the Russians to withdrew, finally. Although many analysts believe that
it probably delayed their withdrawal because they were trying to get out of it. Anyway, whatever, they
did withdraw.

Meanwhile, the terrorist forces that the CIA was organizing, arming, and training were pursuing their own
agenda, right away. It was no secret. One of the first acts was in 1981 when they assassinated the
President of Egypt, who was one of the most enthusiastic of their creators. In 1983, one suicide bomber,
who may or may not have been connected, itís pretty shadowy, nobody knows. But one suicide bomber
drove the US army-military out of Lebanon. And it continued. They have their own agenda. The US was
happy to mobilize them to fight its cause but meanwhile they are doing their own thing. They were clear
very about it. After 1989, when the Russians had withdrawn, they simply turned elsewhere. Since then
they have been fighting in Chechnya, Western China, Bosnia, Kashmir, South East Asia, North Africa, all
over the place.

They Are Telling Us What They Think

They are telling us just what they think. The United States wants to silence the one free television
channel in the Arab world because itís broadcasting a whole range of things from Powell over to Osama
bin Laden. So the US is now joining the repressive regimes of the Arab world that try to shut it up. But if
you listen to it, if you listen to what bin Laden says, itís worth it. There is plenty of interviews. And there
are plenty of interviews by leading Western reporters, if you donít want to listen to his own voice,
Robert Fisk and others. And what he has been saying is pretty consistent for a long time. Heís not the
only one but maybe he is the most eloquent. Itís not only consistent over a long time, it is consistent
with their actions. So there is every reason to take it seriously. Their prime enemy is what they call the
corrupt and oppressive authoritarian brutal regimes of the Arab world and when the say that they get
quite a resonance in the region. They also want to defend and they want to replace them by properly
Islamist governments. Thatís where they lose the people of the region. But up till then, they are with
them. From their point of view, even Saudi Arabia, the most extreme fundamentalist state in the world, I
suppose, short of the Taliban, which is an offshoot, even thatís not Islamist enough for them. Ok, at that
point, they get very little support, but up until that point they get plenty of support. Also they want to
defend Muslims elsewhere. They hate the Russians like poison, but as soon as the Russians pulled out
of Afghanistan, they stopped carrying out terrorist acts in Russia as they had been doing with CIA
backing before that within Russia, not just in Afghanistan. They did move over to Chechnya. But there
they are defending Muslims against a Russian invasion. Same with all the other places I mentioned. From
their point of view, they are defending the Muslims against the infidels. And they are very clear about it
and that is what they have been doing.

Why did they turn against the United States?

Now why did they turn against the United States? Well that had to do with what they call the US
invasion of Saudi Arabia. In 1990, the US established permanent military bases in Saudi Arabia which
from their point of view is comparable to a Russian invasion of Afghanistan except that Saudi Arabia is
way more important. Thatís the home of the holiest sites of Islam. And that is when their activities turned
against the Unites States. If you recall, in 1993 they tried to blow up the World Trade Center. Got part of
the way, but not the whole way and that was only part of it. The plans were to blow up the UN building,
the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the FBI building. I think there were others on the list. Well, they sort of
got part way, but not all the way. One person who is jailed for that, finally, among the people who were
jailed, was a Egyptian cleric who had been brought into the United States over the objections of the
Immigration Service, thanks to the intervention of the CIA which wanted to help out their friend. A
couple years later he was blowing up the World Trade Center. And this has been going on all over. Iím
not going to run through the list but itís, if you want to understand it, itís consistent. Itís a consistent
picture. Itís described in words. Itís revealed in practice for 20 years. There is no reason not to take it
seriously. Thatís the first category, the likely perpetrators.

Category 2: What about the reservoir of support?

What about the reservoir of support? Well, itís not hard to find out what that is. One of the good things
that has happened since September 11 is that some of the press and some of the discussion has begun to
open up to some of these things. The best one to my knowledge is the Wall Street Journal which right
away began to run, within a couple of days, serious reports, searching serious reports, on the reasons
why the people of the region, even though they hate bin Laden and despise everything he is doing,
nevertheless support him in many ways and even regard him as the conscience of Islam, as one said.
Now the Wall Street Journal and others, they are not surveying public opinion. They are surveying the
opinion of their friends: bankers, professionals, international lawyers, businessmen tied to the United
States, people who they interview in McDonalds restaurant, which is an elegant restaurant there, wearing
fancy American clothes. Thatís the people they are interviewing because they want to find out what their
attitudes are. And their attitudes are very explicit and very clear and in many ways consonant with the
message of bin Laden and others. They are very angry at the United States because of its support of
authoritarian and brutal regimes; its intervention to block any move towards democracy; its intervention
to stop economic development; its policies of devastating the civilian societies of Iraq while
strengthening Saddam Hussein; and they remember, even if we prefer not to, that the United States and
Britain supported Saddam Hussein right through his worst atrocities, including the gassing of the Kurds,
bin Laden brings that up constantly, and they know it even if we donít want to. And of course their
support for the Israeli military occupation which is harsh and brutal. It is now in its 35th year. The US has
been providing the overwhelming economic, military, and diplomatic support for it, and still does. And
they know that and they donít like it. Especially when that is paired with US policy towards Iraq, towards
the Iraqi civilian society which is getting destroyed. Ok, those are the reasons roughly. And when bin
Laden gives those reasons, people recognize it and support it.

Now thatís not the way people here like to think about it, at least educated liberal opinion. They like the
following line which has been all over the press, mostly from left liberals, incidentally. I have not done a
real study but I think right wing opinion has generally been more honest. But if you look at say at the
New York Times at the first op-ed they ran by Ronald Steel, serious left liberal intellectual. He asks Why
do they hate us? This is the same day, I think, that the Wall Street Journal was running the survey on
why they hate us. So he says ďThey hate us because we champion a new world order of capitalism,
individualism, secularism, and democracy that should be the norm everywhere.Ē Thatís why they hate us.
The same day the Wall Street Journal is surveying the opinions of bankers, professionals, international
lawyers and saying `look, we hate you because you are blocking democracy, you are preventing
economic development, you are supporting brutal regimes, terrorist regimes and you are doing these
horrible things in the region.í A couple days later, Anthony Lewis, way out on the left, explained that the
terrorist seek only ďapocalyptic nihilism,Ē nothing more and nothing we do matters. The only
consequence of our actions, he says, that could be harmful is that it makes it harder for Arabs to join in
the coalitionís anti-terrorism effort. But beyond that, everything we do is irrelevant.

Well, you know, thatís got the advantage of being sort of comforting. It makes you feel good about
yourself, and how wonderful you are. It enables us to evade the consequences of our actions. It has a
couple of defects. One is it is at total variance with everything we know. And another defect is that it is a
perfect way to ensure that you escalate the cycle of violence. If you want to live with your head buried in
the sand and pretend they hate us because theyíre opposed to globalization, thatís why they killed Sadat
20 years ago, and fought the Russians, tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993. And these are all
people who are in the midst of Ö corporate globalization but if you want to believe that,
yehÖcomforting. And it is a great way to make sure that violence escalates. Thatís tribal violence. You
did something to me, Iíll do something worse to you. I donít care what the reasons are. We just keep
going that way. And thatís a way to do it. Pretty much straight, left-liberal opinion.

5. What are the Policy Options?

What are the policy options? Well, there are a number. A narrow policy option from the beginning was to
follow the advice of really far out radicals like the Pope [audience laughter]. The Vatican immediately said
look itís a horrible terrorist crime. In the case of crime, you try to find the perpetrators, you bring them to
justice, you try them. You donít kill innocent civilians. Like if somebody robs my house and I think the
guy who did it is probably in the neighborhood across the street, I donít go out with an assault rifle and
kill everyone in that neighborhood. Thatís not the way you deal with crime, whether itís a small crime like
this one or really massive one like the US terrorist war against Nicaragua, even worse ones and others in
between. And there are plenty of precedents for that. In fact, I mentioned a precedent, Nicaragua, a
lawful, a law abiding state, thatís why presumably we had to destroy it, which followed the right
principles. Now of course, it didnít get anywhere because it was running up against a power that
wouldnít allow lawful procedures to be followed. But if the United States tried to pursue them, nobody
would stop them. In fact, everyone would applaud. And there are plenty of other precedents.IRA Bombs
in London When the IRA set off bombs in London, which is pretty serious business, Britain could have,
apart from the fact that it was unfeasible, letís put that aside, one possible response would have been to
destroy Boston which is the source of most of the financing. And of course to wipe out West Belfast.
Well, you know, quite apart from the feasibility, it would have been criminal idiocy. The way to deal with
it was pretty much what they did. You know, find the perpetrators; bring them to trial; and look for the
reasons. Because these things donít come out of nowhere. They come from something. Whether it is a
crime in the streets or a monstrous terrorist crime or anything else. Thereís reasons. And usually if you
look at the reasons, some of them are legitimate and ought to be addressed, independently of the crime,
they ought to be addressed because they are legitimate. And thatís the way to deal with it. There are
many such examples.

But there are problems with that. One problem is that the United States does not recognize the
jurisdiction of international institutions. So it canít go to them. It has rejected the jurisdiction of the
World Court. It has refused to ratify the International Criminal Court. It is powerful enough to set up a
new court if it wants so that wouldnít stop anything. But there is a problem with any kind of a court,
mainly you need evidence. You go to any kind of court, you need some kind of evidence. Not Tony Blair
talking about it on television. And thatís very hard. It may be impossible to find.

Leaderless Resistance

You know, it could be that the people who did it, killed themselves. Nobody knows this better than the
CIA. These are decentralized, nonhierarchic networks. They follow a principle that is called Leaderless
Resistance. Thatís the principle that has been developed by the Christian Right terrorists in the United
States. Itís called Leaderless Resistance. You have small groups that do things. They donít talk to
anybody else. There is a kind of general background of assumptions and then you do it. Actually people
in the anti war movement are very familiar with it. We used to call it affinity groups. If you assume
correctly that whatever group you are in is being penetrated by the FBI, when something serious is
happening, you donít do it in a meeting. You do it with some people you know and trust, an affinity
group and then it doesnít get penetrated. Thatís one of the reasons why the FBI has never been able to
figure out whatís going on in any of the popular movements. And other intelligence agencies are the
same. They canít. Thatís leaderless resistance or affinity groups, and decentralized networks are
extremely hard to penetrate. And itís quite possible that they just donít know. When Osama bin Laden
claims he wasnít involved, thatís entirely possible. In fact, itís pretty hard to imagine how a guy in a cave
in Afghanistan, who doesnít even have a radio or a telephone could have planned a highly sophisticated
operation like that. Chances are itís part of the background. You know, like other leaderless resistance
terrorist groups. Which means itís going to be extremely difficult to find evidence.

Establishing Credibility

And the US doesnít want to present evidence because it wants to be able to do it, to act without
evidence. Thatís a crucial part of the reaction. You will notice that the US did not ask for Security Council
authorization which they probably could have gotten this time, not for pretty reasons, but because the
other permanent members of the Security Council are also terrorist states. They are happy to join a
coalition against what they call terror, namely in support of their own terror. Like Russia wasnít going to
veto, they love it. So the US probably could have gotten Security Council authorization but it didnít want
it. And it didnít want it because it follows a long-standing principle which is not George Bush, it was
explicit in the Clinton administration, articulated and goes back much further and that is that we have the
right to act unilaterally. We donít want international authorization because we act unilaterally and
therefore we donít want it. We donít care about evidence. We donít care about negotiation. We donít
care about treaties. We are the strongest guy around; the toughest thug on the block. We do what we
want. Authorization is a bad thing and therefore must be avoided. There is even a name for it in the
technical literature. Itís called establishing credibility. You have to establish credibility. Thatís an
important factor in many policies. It was the official reason given for the war in the Balkans and the most
plausible reason.

You want to know what credibility means, ask your favorite Mafia Don. Heíll explain to you what
credibility means. And itís the same in international affairs, except itís talked about in universities using
big words, and that sort of thing. But itís basically the same principle. And it makes sense. And it usually
works. The main historian who has written about this in the last couple years is Charles Tilly with a book
called Coercion, Capital, and European States. He points out that violence has been the leading principle
of Europe for hundreds of years and the reason is because it works. You know, itís very reasonable. It
almost always works. When you have an overwhelming predominance of violence and a culture of
violence behind it. So therefore it makes sense to follow it. Well, those are all problems in pursuing lawful
paths. And if you did try to follow them youíd really open some very dangerous doors. Like the US is
demanding that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden. And they are responding in a way which is
regarded as totally absurd and outlandish in the west, namely they are saying, Ok, but first give us some
evidence. In the west, that is considered ludicrous. Itís a sign of their criminality. How can they ask for
evidence? I mean if somebody asked us to hand someone over, weíd do it tomorrow. We wouldnít ask
for any evidence. [crowd laughter].


In fact it is easy to prove that. We donít have to make up cases. So for example, for the last several years,
Haiti has been requesting the United States to extradite Emmanuel Constant. He is a major killer. He is one
of the leading figures in the slaughter of maybe 4000 or 5000 people in the years in the mid 1990ís, under
the military junta, which incidentally was being, not so tacitly, supported by the Bush and the Clinton
administrations contrary to illusions. Anyway he is a leading killer. They have plenty of evidence. No
problem about evidence. He has already been brought to trial and sentenced in Haiti and they are asking
the United States to turn him over. Well, I mean do your own research. See how much discussion there
has been of that. Actually Haiti renewed the request a couple of weeks ago. It wasnít even mentioned.
Why should we turn over a convicted killer who was largely responsible for killing 4000 or 5000 people a
couple of years ago. In fact, if we do turn him over, who knows what he would say. Maybe heíll say that
he was being funded and helped by the CIA, which is probably true. We donít want to open that door.
And he is not he only one.

Costa Rica

For the last about 15 years, Costa Rica which is the democratic prize, has been trying to get the United
States to hand over a John Hull, a US land owner in Costa Rica, who they charge with terrorist crimes. He
was using his land, they claim with good evidence as a base for the US war against Nicaragua, which is
not a controversial conclusion, remember. There is the World Court and Security Council behind it. So
they have been trying to get the United States to hand him over. Hear about that one? No. They did
actually confiscate the land of another American landholder, John Hamilton. Paid compensation, offered
compensation. The US refused. Turned his land over into a national park because his land was also being
used as a base for the US attack against Nicaragua. Costa Rica was punished for that one. They were
punished by withholding aid. We donít accept that kind of insubordination from allies. And we can go
on. If you open the door to questions about extradition it leads in very unpleasant directions. So that
canít be done.

Reactions in Afghanistan

Well, what about the reactions in Afghanistan. The initial proposal, the initial rhetoric was for a massive
assault which would kill many people visibly and also an attack on other countries in the region. Well the
Bush administration wisely backed off from that. They were being told by every foreign leader, NATO,
everyone else, every specialist, I suppose, their own intelligence agencies that that would be the
stupidest thing they could possibly do. It would simply be like opening recruiting offices for bin Laden
all over the region. Thatís exactly what he wants. And it would be extremely harmful to their own
interests. So they backed off that one. And they are turning to what I described earlier which is a kind of
silent genocide. Itís aÖ. well, I already said what I think about it. I donít think anything more has to be
said. You can figure it out if you do the arithmetic.

A sensible proposal which is kind of on the verge of being considered, but it has been sensible all along,
and it is being raised, called for by expatriate Afghans and allegedly tribal leaders internally, is for a UN
initiative, which would keep the Russians and Americans out of it, totally. These are the 2 countries that
have practically wiped the country out in the last 20 years. They should be out of it. They should provide
massive reparations. But thatís their only role. A UN initiative to bring together elements within
Afghanistan that would try to construct something from the wreckage. Itís conceivable that that could
work, with plenty of support and no interference. If the US insists on running it, we might as well quit.
We have a historical record on that one.

You will notice that the name of this operationÖ.remember that at first it was going to be a Crusade but
they backed off that because PR (public relations) agents told them that that wouldnít work [audience
laughter]. And then it was going to be Infinite Justice, but the PR agents said, wait a minute, you are
sounding like you are divinity. So that wouldnít work. And then it was changed to enduring freedom. We
know what that means. But nobody has yet pointed out, fortunately, that there is an ambiguity there. To
endure means to suffer. [audience laughter]. And a there are plenty of people around the world who have
endured what we call freedom. Again, fortunately we have a very well-behaved educated class so
nobody has yet pointed out this ambiguity. But if its done there will be another problem to deal with. But
if we can back off enough so that some more or less independent agency, maybe the UN, maybe credible
NGOís (non governmental organizations) can take the lead in trying to reconstruct something from the
wreckage, with plenty of assistance and we owe it to them. Them maybe something would come out.
Beyond that, there are other problems.

An Easy Way To Reduce The Level Of Terror

We certainly want to reduce the level of terror, certainly not escalate it. There is one easy way to do that
and therefore it is never discussed. Namely stop participating in it. That would automatically reduce the
level of terror enormously. But that you canít discuss. Well we ought to make it possible to discuss it. So
thatís one easy way to reduce the level of terror. Beyond that, we should rethink the kinds of policies,
and Afghanistan is not the only one, in which we organize and train terrorist armies. That has effects.
Weíre seeing some of these effects now. September 11th is one.

Rethink it.

Rethink the policies that are creating a reservoir of support. Exactly what the bankers, lawyers and so on
are saying in places like Saudi Arabia. On the streets itís much more bitter, as you can imagine. Thatís
possible. You know, those policies arenít graven in stone.

And further more there are opportunities. Itís hard to find many rays of light in the last couple of weeks
but one of them is that there is an increased openness. Lots of issues are open for discussion, even in
elite circles, certainly among the general public, that were not a couple of weeks ago. Thatís dramatically
the case. I mean, if a newspaper like USA Today can run a very good article, a serious article, on life in
the Gaza StripÖthere has been a change. The things I mentioned in the Wall Street JournalÖthatís
change. And among the general public, I think there is much more openness and willingness to think
about things that were under the rug and so on. These are opportunities and they should be used, at
least by people who accept the goal of trying to reduce the level of violence and terror, including
potential threats that are extremely severe and could make even September 11th pale into insignificance.