Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal: The Hunger for War

Mumia recorded a tape of the following essay, which was played at antiwar rallies nationwide on Oct. 6, 2002.


“There never was a good war, or a bad peace.” – Ben Franklin

One is always somewhat bemused when one hears the voices of those Americans (and others) who call on TV call-in shows, spouting their opinions, on issues large and small: “Whacha need ta do, see, is go in ‘ere, and just nuke the hell outta ’em there!”

“That guy Saddam (pronounced ‘SOD-om,’ as in the Biblical city of sin) is a same thing as Hitler, and we need to take him out for what he did for-er, with the Twin Towers, up in New York. What are we waitin’ for?”

From such uninformed opinions as these comes the rising swells of public opinion polls, the false gusts lifting the hopes of politicians into the winds of war. But, in truth, there is really nothing new about this “New” War on Terrorism that is claimed by the Bush administration and the economic elite behind it.

For as Lebanese political scientist, As’ad Abu-Khalil notes, in his recent book, “Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New ‘War on Terrorism'” (Seven Stories/Open Media, 2002): From a historical perspective, America’s new war against terrorism is not new at all. Didn’t the U.S. bomb Libya in 1986 under the pretext of fighting terrorism?

Didn’t the CIA plant a car bomb in the southern suburbs of Beirut in 1985 to assassinate a Shi’ite religious leader? (They missed their target-Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah-but they hit 285 other people, innocent civilians, 85 of whom died.)

Didn’t the Reagan administration bomb Lebanon in the 1980s in its fight against terrorism? Weren’t Nicaraguan harbors mined in the 1980s because Nicaragua was engaged in terrorism? Hasn’t American support for Israel been in order to defend that country from terrorism? And finally, weren’t fundamentalist fanatics in Pakistan and Afghanistan armed and financed by the CIA because their common enemy was exporting terrorism? [p. 83]

What makes this “new,” however, is the scope that is sought by the American presidency: “regime change.” One wonders, why there was never a call for “regime change” when the brutes of Afrikanerdom in apartheid South Africa were, quite literally, shooting down unarmed Black children for demonstrating against the racist excesses of the minority government?

When the Pinochet regime in Chile was executing thousands of people in football stadiums, and sending its minions to execute people on the streets of Washington, D.C., there was no call for “regime change,” was there?

In the new colonialism of today “regime change” is news-speak for a coup; removal of any leader the U.S. deems somehow “unworthy” of true sovereignty.

But who will dare call for “regime change” in Washington, D.C.? Given the underhanded and strongarm tactics of polling officials and state troopers in the controversial 2000 U.S. presidential election, where the Supreme Court interceded and imposed its will on the nation, it is indeed probable, or at least arguable, that Saddam Hussein’s election may have been demonstrably fairer than George Bush’s. (I think we can safely say that no candidate in Iraq scored over 500,000 more votes than Saddam did-and still lost!)

Yet, even in the face of the UN-directed arms inspections, the rumblings and saber-rattling of war continues. We will see if these arms inspections make any difference. This writer thinks not. For political ambition is at the root of this hunger for war.

As Bush adviser and Hawk, Richard Perle, recently told The New York Times: “The failure to take on Saddam after what the President said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the President that it would set back the war on terrorism.”

What he means, of course, is it will hurt his re-election chances! War for money is one thing, but ambition? The hunger grows.

© Copyright 2002 MAJ

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SPONSORED By THE MOBILIZATION TO FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL & THE INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL. CO-SPONSORS: Courage Foundation/Assange & Middle East Children’s Alliance, Arab Resource Organizing Center. HEAR Alice Walker, prize-winning novelist; Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers; Jamal Jr, Mumia’s grandson; Chris Hedges, prize-winning journalist