by Jack Gilroy
Why do Americans tend to believe the myth that terrorists are mainly people of the Middle East — dark skinned people, mostly Muslim people who want to kill Americans?
Long before the extremist Saudi Arabian terrorists crashed planes into the Twin Towers, Americans used terror against the people of the Middle East. It took 64 years before the United States government reveled documents that showed the CIA’s major role in the fall of the democratically elected Iranian government in 1954. On July 3, 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 with 290 passengers including 66 children was shot down by the US Vincennes a guided missile cruiser in Iranian waters. Long before 9/11, American troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia, detested by many Saudis as foreign devils on their sacred lands, Our planes were dropping bombs on Iraq long before 9/11, killing people through direct fire and indirectly through sanctions. In 1997, four years before the 9/11 Twin Tower event, Madelyn Albright, Our Secretary of State under President Clinton, told CBS 60 Minutes interviewer Leslie Stahl that our responsibility for the death of over 500,000 Iraqi children “was worth it.”
Just imagine what the people of the Middle East must have thought about that terrorist comment.
Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump have ordered killing Middle Eastern people on an almost daily basis for the past 19 years. The past three years has seen an escalation of these killings with Predator and Q9 drones.
There are no Afghan or Iraqi or Somali or Libyan soldiers occupying our towns and cities. None of our neighbors’ doors have been kicked in by foreign troops. American women are not being raped by foreign troops. Americans are not being dragged into the streets for interrogation, not imprisoned and tortured by foreign troops as American soldiers did to Iraqi people in numerous prisons. Americans do not experience daily and nighttime killer drones humming over their heads as do people of the Middle East who cower 24/7 under our Predator and Q9 killer drones. American Hellfire missiles (produced by Lockheed Martin) have smashed into families, wedding parties, bus stations and funerals as well as assassinate leaders of sovereign nations. The people of the Middle East have experienced this American terror countless times.
So, who are the real terrorists?
We as a people can change but only if we break our denial of terrorism. It’s not a new addiction. It has deep roots in our genocidal treatment of Native Americans and lynching of African-Americans. We can start by encouraging our political leaders to change the ease of war making. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (2001) is far too much power for one person whether that person is stable or unstable. The AUMF must be changed.
The United States House of Representatives must regain its constitutional obligation to check the executive branch. Acting now to vote down the AUMF would not only check the recklessness of the Trump administration but it would eliminate future irresponsible actions by an administration out of control.
But, this is not all. We must go beyond the demand that the House exercise its constitutional obligation to check the executive branch and vote down the AUMF. We must be ready to oppose wars of aggression even if the House supports them. The difficult but necessary task ahead for anti-war activists is to mobilize the public to democratize US foreign policy decision-making and replace militarism, war, and sanctions abroad with a just foreign policy.
Jack Gilroy is the President of Broome County NY Veterans for Peace.