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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
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
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.
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
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.