Reaping the Whirlwind
(Reprinted from SOBRAN'S
October 2001, page 1)

     With the astonishing attacks on the Pentagon and 
World Trade Center, the United States has had an 
experience almost unique in its history, though common 
enough in foreign lands: it has been attacked on its own 
soil. I've expected something like this since the 1991 
Gulf War; as the phrase goes, I was shocked, but not 

     The shock has already, and inevitably, been compared 
to that of Pearl Harbor. There is one difference: on 
December 7, 1941, there was no doubt who the enemy was. 
The United States immediately declared war on Japan. This 
time, for the moment, no return address has been found. 
President Bush has been reduced to blustering that "those 
responsible" will be "hunted down," and "punished." But 
how do you retaliate for suicide attacks, when those most 
directly responsible have killed themselves with their 
victims? No doubt they had support from others, but 
identifying those others may not be possible. The simple 
and tempting response is to blame someone arbitrarily, 
strike him, and call it justice. In this case, Osama bin 
Laden, wealthy patron of Muslim guerrillas, is the 
natural target for bogus vengeance. 

     One thing is only too clear: most Americans have no 
conception of the depth of hatred harbored against this 
country in large parts of the world. This is no longer 
the ideological anti-Americanism of the Soviet era; it's 
much more personal and bitter, in large part because of 
the personal harm inflicted by U.S. bombs, sanctions, and 
"reliable allies," from the Middle East to the Balkans. 
Millions of Iraqis, Serbs, and Palestinians hold this 
country responsible for the deaths of their family 
members. We may have forgotten yesteryear's fleeting 
headlines of remote places we'd barely heard of; they 
remember living through scenes as horrible as those of 
the World Trade Center. 

     The U.S. Government takes no responsibility for a 
bullying foreign policy, including unstinting support of 
a bullying Israel, that has made this country loathed 
abroad and endangered its people, both abroad and at 
home. It has responded to the attack with pompous and 
irrelevant abstractions about "terrorism," "freedom," and 
"democracy." These are worse than useless: they show that 
our ruling elite is determined to learn nothing from this 
terrible experience. 

     No sensible man will bait a wild animal, and it is 
not to excuse or defend such awful crimes to say that the 
U.S. Government has been tormenting explosive passions 
for many years. Its attitude has been not only self-
righteous but cavalier. Few of those it antagonizes have 
the strength, means, or will to fight back; those who are 
desperate enough to use unsavory methods are dismissed as 
"terrorists." (Methods authorized by governments, such as 
bombing refugee camps, are not considered unsavory.) Just 
how are the victims of U.S. foreign policy supposed to 
get our government' attention? 

     Our rulers are already making it clear that they 
will not respond to the September 11 attack with any 
measure of introspection and self-criticism; instead, 
they will, as usual, make it an occasion of further self-
aggrandizement. They will continue making us enemies 
abroad, while "protecting" us at home by curtailing our 
remaining liberties.


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