Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Those who thought that George W. Bush's administration had, in recent months, been tilted towards seeing 'war on terror' as the rhetoric of a road to ruin will be disappointed by his latest pronouncements, where he compares it uncomplicatedly to the second world war. Never mind the assymetry of modern terrorism, never mind the sacrifice of what is supposedly being defended, and never mind a one-dimensional anti-terror logic colluding with the past arming of Saddam, the state terror waged in the Caucuses, the resurgence of warlordism in Afghanistan, uncritical support for counterproductive Israeli policies, and a blind eye to corruption and cruelty in Saudi Arabia. "We" are justified because "they" are evil.

In the mid-80s I travelled in Central America. At that time, as part of its "national security doctrine", the USA was backing armed cells in Nicaragua and El Salvador. One victim of the terrorists in San Salvador was Archbishop Oscar Romero, from whom the quotation on the mural picture comes. Romero's nonviolent work for social justice involved moving the struggle of the disenfranchised away from insurgency and towards politics. But this was a threat to the vested interests with whom the US allied, and the archbishop was assassinated by death squads trained and backed by the American security operatives. As much as the contemporary context, the predominant lesson of the '80s is that to overcome terror is to struggle with the diffuse roots of political violence and injustice, not to collude with them. (Thanks to Ocavia Duran for the link to this mural by Renato Martin ... and do look at her extraordinary pictures.)

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