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Some questions with the empire and the others

the WORLD News papper| 26.09.01 | 15h47
by Jean Bricmont

ALL was well. Serbia, to knees, came to sell Milosevic with the international penal Court for a handle of dollars (from which one will learn then that a part will be used to pay debts accumulated since Tito). NATO extended to the east in front of impotent Russia. One could, in all impunity, " to bombard Saddam Hussein " (i.e. Iraqi population) when it was wished. Macedonia, invaded by the UCK, was to accept the comedy of a disarmament of this same UCK by those which had armed it. The Palestinian territories were squared and their leaders assassinated by intelligent bombs. During these last years, the holders of actions had thrived as they had seldom done in the history. The political left did not exist any more, all the parties being rejoined with the neoliberalism and military interventionism " humane ". In short, even if one had not arrived yet at " the end of the history ", its course was controlled and its happy end foreseeable.

And then, the shock, the surprise, the horror : greatest power of all times touched in the centre even of its richness and its force. A sophisticated electronic spy network could not anything make to prevent the catastrophe. I do not share obviously the " values " of the former American Secretary of State, Mme Albright, which when it is asked to him whether the death of a half million Iraqi children " is worth the sorrow " responds : " It is a difficult choice, yes, it is worth while. " The massacre of civil innocent never appears desirable to me. What does not prevent that it seems necessary to me, at the time of this tragedy, to put some questions.

Pacifist American, A. J. Muste, pointed out that the problem, in all the wars, was posed by the conqueror : indeed, it had learned that violence paid. All the history of the post-war period illustrates the relevance of this remark. In the United States, the department of the War was renamed Defence Department, whereas there was actually no direct danger which threatened them. The successive American governments launched out in military intervention campaigns and political destabilizations such as one needs much goodwill to see only one attempt there to dam up Communism (what of the moderately nationalist governments, like those of Goulart in Brazil, Mossadegh in Iran or Arbenz in Guatemala had to see with the communism ?). But limit we to the topicality and try to see how this one can be perceived apart from the Occident. And that not while trying to think in the terms of another culture or another religion, but by asking us simply how we would react if we were placed vis-à-vis at certain situations.

- protocol of Kyoto. The American objections are not mainly scientists, but kind " that harms our economy " . How this reaction is perceived by people who work twelve hours per day for wages of misery ?

- the conference of Durban. The Occident refuses any idea of repairs for slavery and colonialism. But how not to see that the State of Israel functions like repair for persecutions anti-Semites, except that, there, the price is paid by the Arabs for crimes committed by of Europeans ? And how not to understand that this transfer of responsibility is perceived by the victims of colonialism like a demonstration of racism ?


- Macedonia . Here is a country that the Occident led to independence to weaken Serbia and whose government always followed the Western commands accurately. It is subjected to attacks of terrorists armed by NATO and coming from territories under control from this one. How that is it perceived in the orthodox and Slavic world, especially after expulsion, under the eyes del' NATO, of the Serb population of Kosovo and the eradication of a good part of its inheritance cultural ?

- Afghanistan. The Americans did not hesitate to train and arm Ben Laden to destabilize the USSR, according to a scenario of Z. Brzezinski, to advise of president Carter. How many people die in this play that Z. Brzezinski calls the " large chess-board "? And how much terrorists, in Asia, in Central America, in Balkans or in the Middle East are released in nature after having served the " free world "?

- Iraq. The population is strangled by an embargo which made hundreds of thousands of dead which are also, even if they do not pass to television, of the civil victims. All that because Iraq sought to recover oil wells which had been confiscated de facto by the British. Let us compare with the processing reserved with Israel, which occupies in a perfectly illegal way the territories conquered in 1967. Is it really thought that the idea generally accepted in Occident according to which all that is the fault of Saddam Hussein impresses anyone in the Arab/Muslim world ?

- China. When a plane of American espionage is cut down along the Chinese coasts and its crew briefly made captive, one become indignant : how the Chinese dare-? But how much Chinese or Indian planes venture so close to the coasts Americans ?

- is it really of very first urgency to waste the rare resources of planet, inter one from other the intelligence, to build an anti-missile shield which will not protect the United States against terrorist acts and, in the long run, even not against attacks nuclear ?

All that does not excuse terrorism, will say one. Maybe, but that makes it possible to include/understand why reaction apart from the east United States often mitigated : sympathy to the victims, yes ; for the American government which tries to exploit these feelings to legitimate its policies and which is on the point of violating the international law again, no.

By a sheer coincidence, these attacks take place the 11 September, anniversary of the inversion of Allende, which marked not only the installation of the first government neo liberal, that of Pinochet, but also the beginning of the end of the national and independent movements in the Third World - approximately, those which result from the Conference of Bandung - which all was going soon to be inclined in front of the diktats of the United States and of the IMF This coincidence recalls that the victory of the Occident against the independent political movements in the Third World was obtained by means very little democratic : Pinochet, obviously, but also Suharto, the assassination of Lumumba, armies terrorist in Central America, and, last goal not least, the support for the " goods " fundamentalist Moslems, in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

In fact, as long as the forces obscurantist and feudal could be used against the political left, they were it with profusion. If the charges launched against these forces are confirmed, then it will be convenient to meditate on this curious irony of the history.

Marx thought that a political struggle against oppression would make move back the religious obscurantism. Since a score of years, one attended the movement inverse : the more the political left lost ground, the more the obscurantism was reinforced, and not only in the world Muslim ; and that mainly because it became the only form of possible protest against this " valley of the tears " which is the Earth.

In Occident, one will applaud of course the " firm answers " when they occur. One will find quantity of intellectuals to bind these attacks to all that displeases to them in the world : Saddam Hussein, the pacifist Westerners, the Palestinian movement of release and, as long as one is there, the movement says " anti globalization ". One will build more spy networks. The citizens better will be controlled. One will tell edifying stories on the fight between the Good and the Evil and on the malicious ones which attack us because they like neither the democracy, neither Women's Liberation, nor multiculturalism. It will be explained that this cruelty is to us foreign : indeed, we prefer to bombard top or to kill with small fire by means of embargoes. But all that will not solve any basic problem. Terrorism pushes on a compost of revolt which is itself the fruit of the injustice of the world.

In the immediate future, one can fear that these attacks have at least two negative political consequences: on the one hand, the American population, which is in its large majority of a worrying nationalism, is likely to gather " around the flag ", as they say, and to support the policy of her government, therefore barbarian is it. It will want, more than ever, " to protect its way of life ", without wondering what that costs the remainder of planet. The shy persons movements of dissidence who were done day from Seattle undoubtedly will be marginalized, if not criminalized.

In addition, the million people overcome, humiliated and crushed by the United States all over the world will have temptation to see in terrorism the only weapon which can really strike the empire. This is why a political struggle - and not terrorist - against the cultural, economic domination and especially soldier of a very small minority of mankind on the immense majority are more necessary than ever.

Jean Bricmont

Professor of physics at the University of Louvain Belgium, Jean Bricmont published with Alan Sokal Impostures intellectual (Odile Jacob, 1997). A book which passed in particular to the screen the work of Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva and Jean Baudrillard