Monday, September 12, 2011

Terror Attacks for Dummies

Just after 9/11, then Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, made some remarks about how the attack on the World Trade Center might have resulted from the increasing disparity between rich and poor. This comment has been discussed repeatedly on Canadian TV in the last few days. Conservatives have argued that this was a dumb comment, while Liberals and lefties see some truth to it. It is a fact that many terrorist attackers were not poverty stricken, but it is also a fact that inequality of wealth and power can lead to sneaky acts of revenge.

So what factors might have caused 9/11? I am going to reject the assertion that our present Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper states in this CBC interview.

MANSBRIDGE, (regarding Jean Chretien's statement): "Now, he got pretty criticized for those remarks."

HARPER: "And I think he deserved it."


HARPER: "Yeah. Absolutely. Nobody who was killed on 9/11 deserved it remotely. It was a terrible thing, has nothing to do with wealth versus poverty. It has to do with, in this case, a particular hateful ideology that has attacked people around the world, not just affluent societies like our own, but some pretty poor places."

In the above CBC interview, it's obvious Stephen Harper is twisting things around. Chretien did not say the people who died deserved it. He meant that attacks like this, though random, would likely be made by people in poor countries against people in rich countries. I think that his meaning is obvious. Harper instead blames a hateful ideology, which I suppose I could assume he means Islam, not Christianity. Anyway, I am sure he does not blame Christianity, since he is a believer in Christianity himself. And finally, to make it clear Chretien is wrong, Stephen brings up the fact that attacks have taken place in poor countries, not just wealthy ones. To that I would say, from personal experience, that poor countries have many wealthy targets, either the wealthy people themselves or the police that protect them. Also, there are some violent attacks based on religion against holy places. Most of the violence against poor people has not come from Al Quaeda terrorists, but from fascist governments.

So if poverty is not the only reason for the attacks, what else might be?

There are several trends in the modern world that could be involved. Greater volumes of air travel bring millions of people to places they could only dream of before. Also, the population of the world is doubling. This increases the odds of an attack mathematically.

Weapons are getting cheaper. By that I mean that a hundred years ago, no poor person could have afforded to buy a machine gun, no poor country could have afforded an F16 or an atomic bomb. Today, relatively powerful weapons have trickled down to the point where Pakistan and India are nuclear powers. North Korea too. Even warlords in starving Somalia were able to take down Blackhawk helicopters, back in 1993.

Mass media is everywhere now, even the remotest village has a TV with a satellite dish, and now Al Jazeera to look at, not just Fox News or the BBC or the local Dictator's rantings. Lots of people are becoming radicalized by propaganda, or maybe by just plain news.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the hawks in the USA were looking for an enemy fight. This is before 9/11, and is pretty well documented. The Bush administration contained many people who were on record as supporting a massive military retaliation against any terrorist attack, when and if they could find the right one. Another case of "be careful what you wish for", because it might come true. I'm not saying that the Republicans and Neo-Cons invented 9-11, but neither were they properly motivated to prevent a terrorist attack.

I think any debate on reasons for the 9/11 attack should take these factors into account, and we should try to avoid any anti-religious sentiments as being narrow minded, because "hateful ideologies" exist everywhere all the time. It is when conditions are right that hateful ideologies grow, and it is those conditions we are looking for, not the ideologies themselves.

P.S. The title is taken from a book explaining computers in easy terms "DOS for Dummies", it is not a reflection on whether Stephen Harper is a dummy.

1 comment:

  1. The U.S. Department of Defense defines terrorism as, 'the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.' [emphasis added]

    Now, we might well have an interesting discussion on the 'lawfulness' of the violence being used in Afghanistan, Lybia, &c. but hawks like Harper, of course, consider this beyond debate.

    Anyone with even a modicum of understanding of history appreciates that increasing inequality and injustice serve to create unrest, instability and, almost inevitably, eventual violence, serve to open the door to demagogues and leaders who play on the fears and hatreds of their followers.

    But, we need not look exclusively to those 'pretty poor places' Harper refers to. His 'conservative' ideology (tax breaks for the corporations and plutocrats) is exacerbating inequality right here in Canada, to the point where 'income inequality has been rising more rapidly in Canada than in the United States.'