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MGG: America Must Accept Retaliation [WTC]
By M.G.G. Pillai

13/9/2001 1:29 am Thu

Wednesday September 12

America must accept retaliation


M.G.G. Pillai

1:47pm, Wed: Four planes hijacked by unknown terrorists yesterday crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York's financial district in Lower Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington DC; the fourth, heading for Washington, crashed in Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, apparently shot down. More serious than the deaths and injured is the brilliant organisation that went into it, taking the United States by surprise and hurt pride. Several hundreds are killed, but the death toll could eventually be in the thousands.

No one knows who is behind it, with US commentators and analysts quick to suggest a Muslim fundamentalist like the Saudi Arabian fugitive, Osama ben Laden, to be behind this most serious attack on the United States since Great Britain razed Washington in 1812. It is the automatic reaction to any terrorist attack on US soil. When the federal government building in Oklahoma was bombed, the Muslim fundamentalists were blamed before Timothy McVeigh, from a rightist group, was arrested, and executed three months ago.

The brilliant organisation behind the attacks suggest a net further afield. The United States, in its single-minded rush to establish its position as the sole global military power, acting mendaciously to spread terror at will in countries in the Middle East, Central and South America, got a dose of it yesterday. When it pulls back its forces because casualties are too high or unacceptable, its enemies, not just the Muslim fundamentalists, would create mayhem inside the United States. That is what happened.

Muslims or narco-terrorists?

If anyone wants to give the United States a black eye, it could not have been better than what happened yesterday. Besides the Muslim fundamentalist groups it targets, there are others with a similar agenda; the narco-terrorists and groups in South America and other countries with an aggrieved hatred against the United States for wrongs allegedly done to them - not all Muslim. Osama ben Laden is but one of hundreds who would be happy to claim responsibility. That most are Muslim does not mean that non-Muslims cannot be involved.

The United States is frustrated it could not yet infiltrate into the Islamic groups out to destroy its hegemonic influence on the world. It goes around the US law which forbids the US government from assassinating foreign citizens by getting the British secret service and the Special Air Services to do the wet jobs, according to an intelligence specialist on CNN early this morning. And it leaves its allies around the world to hold the smoking gun.

Whoever planned yesterday's events had decided that unless this global terrorism is brought to Washington's doorstep, nothing would change. The US routinely reacts to attacks on its installations with the deliberate attacks on civilians in targeted countries as she was subject to yesterday. When terror is part of public policy, as in the US, it must accept retaliation in kind. Nature does not operate in a vacuum, and the balancing of terror, in Henry Kissinger's expressive phrase, is an inevitable byproduct.

The residents of New York and Washington DC reacted as residents in Tripoli, Baghdad, Khartoum did when the United States attacked them as it was attacked yesterday. It is not one of democracy versus totalitarianism, but one that pits official terror with unofficial terror. In its pursuit of its national interest, the United States retaliates in kind. Since it appears to have decided it is Osama ben Laden (pix), Afghanistan and other countries linked to him could expect a planned retaliation in kind.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed, who cancelled his planned visit to Britain, did not mince his words on this fear. But it is not, as Singapore senior minister Lee Kuan Yew suggested during his recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, that Muslim groups ought to be feared and rejected for their refusal to accept democratic norms.

It is more than that. The United States is stopped in its tracks, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, by a Muslim world unprepared to accept its dominance of the world. It is, though no one says its so brutally, a continuation of the Crusades that Pope Urban II put in place in 1089. But the Judea-Christian worldview of Western civilisation is challenged by the Muslims, the only serious challenger it now has, and Islamic nations are routinely demonised. They are guilty per se until proven wrong.

Demonising Islam

This is not to suggest that the initial reports of Islamic fundamentalists behind the terrorist attacks are untrue; only that it is assumed they must be involved until investigations prove otherwise. This is not confined to the United States; Singapore and now Malaysia make that state policy.

When you demonise a civilisation as Islam is today, you must not be surprised if and when it reacts. When you attack a country you term it a 'reprisal', but when your plane is hijacked, you term it a 'terrorist' attack, you build the anger which can redound on you when you least expect it. You are then least interested in who did the attack, so long as your demon is blamed. Especially, when that battle is framed in civilisational heresies, as Samuel Huntington argues in his Clash of Civilisations.

However tragic the attacks in New York and Washington DC, the casualties of the United States' random attacks on its perceived enemies is higher. But with this difference. The 50,000 killed in Vietnam is but ten per cent of those who die every year in traffic accidents, but it was enough to force the United States to withdraw in defeat. It pulled forces from the Middle East when its soldiers were killed in random bomb attacks. It pulled out of Yugoslavia after Nato launched a 79-day bombing campaign that hit the civilians the most and destroyed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

There was no regret, nor apology. But the cry for retaliation in Congress and elsewhere yesterday is partly in response to a fear of renewed attacks in kind when civilians elsewhere are felled by American bombs to spread terror. The point is that in this faceless war that crosses boundaries, the casualties and damage are now in one's backyard. That if Washington continues to target its enemies in similar actions, it should expect retaliation in kind. And it would not necessarily be Muslim fundamentalists or rogue Muslim nations.

There is more to what happened in New York and Washington DC than we know or are told. One Indian defence analyst said yesterday's event is part of the global civil war which he says is in reality World War III. He says former US secretary of state, Mrs Madeleine Allbright, declared it in 1998 that unlike World War One, which lasted four years, and World War Two, six, the third could last a lot longer. This could be far fetched. But then it may not.

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