>Radio B92, Belgrade
>Q: Why do you think these attacks happened?
>To answer the question we must first identify the perpetrators of the crimes. It is generally assumed, plausibly, that their origin is the
>Middle East region, and that the attacks probably trace back to the Osama Bin Laden network, a widespread and complex organization, doubtless inspired by Bin Laden but not necessarily acting under his control. Let us assume that this is true. Then to answer your question a sensible person
>would try to ascertain Bin Laden's views, and the sentiments of the large
>reservoir of supporters he has throughout the region. About all of this,
>we have a great deal of information. Bin Laden has been interviewed
>extensively over the years by highly reliable Middle East specialists,
>notably the most eminent correspondent in the region, Robert Fisk (London
>_Independent_), who has intimate knowledge of the entire region and direct
>experience over decades. A Saudi Arabian millionaire, Bin Laden became a
>militant Islamic leader in the war to drive the Russians out of
>Afghanistan. He was one of the many religious fundamentalist extremists
>recruited, armed, and financed by the CIA and their allies in Pakistani
>intelligence to cause maximal harm to the Russians -- quite possibly
>delaying their withdrawal, many analysts suspect -- though whether he
>personally happened to have direct contact with the CIA is unclear, and
>not particularly important.
Not surprisingly, the CIA preferred the most
>fanatic and cruel fighters they could mobilize. The end result was to
>"destroy a moderate regime and create a fanatical one, from groups
>recklessly financed by the Americans" (_London Times_ correspondent Simon
>Jenkins, also a specialist on the region). These "Afghanis" as they are
>called (many, like Bin Laden, not from Afghanistan) carried out terror
>operations across the border in Russia, but they terminated these after
>Russia withdrew. Their war was not against Russia, which they despise, but
>against the Russian occupation and Russia's crimes against Muslims.
>The "Afghanis" did not terminate their activities, however. They joined
>Bosnian Muslim forces in the Balkan Wars; the US did not object, just as
>it tolerated Iranian support for them, for complex reasons that we need
>not pursue here, apart from noting that concern for the grim fate of the
>Bosnians was not prominent among them. The "Afghanis" are also fighting
>the Russians in Chechnya, and, quite possibly, are involved in carrying
>out terrorist attacks in Moscow and elsewhere in Russian territory. Bin
>Laden and his "Afghanis" turned against the US in 1990 when they
>established permanent bases in Saudi Arabia -- from his point of view, a
>counterpart to the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, but far more
>significant because of Saudi Arabia's special status as the guardian of
>the holiest shrines.
>Bin Laden is also bitterly opposed to the corrupt and repressive regimes
>of the region, which he regards as "un-Islamic," including the Saudi
>Arabian regime, the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime in the
>world, apart from the Taliban, and a close US ally since its origins.
>Bin Laden despises the US for its support of these regimes. Like others
>in the region, he is also outraged by long-standing US support for
>Israel's brutal military occupation, now in its 35th year: Washington's
>decisive diplomatic, military, and economic intervention in support of the
>killings, the harsh and destructive siege over many years, the daily
>humiliation to which Palestinians are subjected, the expanding settlements
>designed to break the occupied territories into Bantustan-like cantons and
>take control of the resources, the gross violation of the Geneva
>Conventions, and other actions that are recognized as crimes throughout
>most of the world, apart from the US, which has prime responsibility for
>them. And like others, he contrasts Washington's dedicated support for
>these crimes with the decade-long US-British assault against the civilian
>population of Iraq, which has devastated the society and caused hundreds
>of thousands of deaths while strengthening Saddam Hussein -- who was a
>favored friend and ally of the US and Britain right through his worst
>atrocities, including the gassing of the Kurds, as people of the region
>also remember well, even if Westerners prefer to forget the facts. These
>sentiments are very widely shared. The _Wall Street Journal_ (Sept. 14)
>published a survey of opinions of wealthy and privileged Muslims in the
>Gulf region (bankers, professionals, businessmen with close links to the
>U.S.). They expressed much the same views: resentment of the U.S.
>policies of supporting Israeli crimes and blocking the international
>consensus on a diplomatic settlement for many years while devastating
>Iraqi civilian society, supporting harsh and repressive anti-democratic
>regimes throughout the region, and imposing barriers against economic
>development by "propping up oppressive regimes." Among the great majority
>of people suffering deep poverty and oppression, similar sentiments are
>far more bitter, and are the source of the fury and despair that has led
>to suicide bombings, as commonly understood by those who are interested in
>The U.S., and much of the West, prefers a more comforting story. To quote
>the lead analysis in the _New York Times_ (Sept. 16), the perpetrators
>acted out of "hatred for the values cherished in the West as freedom,
>tolerance, prosperity, religious pluralism and universal suffrage." U.S.
>actions are irrelevant, and therefore need not even be mentioned (Serge
>Schmemann). This is a convenient picture, and the general stance is not
>unfamiliar in intellectual history; in fact, it is close to the norm. It
>happens to be completely at variance with everything we know, but has all
>the merits of self-adulation and uncritical support for power.
>It is also widely recognized that Bin Laden and others like him are
>praying for "a great assault on Muslim states," which will cause "fanatics
>to flock to his cause" (Jenkins, and many others.). That too is familiar.
>The escalating cycle of violence is typically welcomed by the harshest and
>most brutal elements on both sides, a fact evident enough from the recent
>history of the Balkans, to cite only one of many cases.
>Q: What consequences will they have on US inner policy and to the American
>US policy has already been officially announced. The world is being
>offered a "stark choice": join us, or "face the certain prospect of death
>and destruction." Congress has authorized the use of force against any
>individuals or countries the President determines to be involved in the
>attacks, a doctrine that every supporter regards as ultra-criminal. That
>is easily demonstrated. Simply ask how the same people would have reacted
>if Nicaragua had adopted this doctrine after the U.S. had rejected the
>orders of the World Court to terminate its "unlawful use of force"
>against Nicaragua and had vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on
>all states to observe international law. And that terrorist attack was far
>more severe and destructive even than this atrocity.
>As for how these matters are perceived here, that is far more complex. One
>should bear in mind that the media and the intellectual elites generally
>have their particular agendas. Furthermore, the answer to this question
>is, in significant measure, a matter of decision: as in many other cases,
>with sufficient dedication and energy, efforts to stimulate fanaticism,
>blind hatred, and submission to authority can be reversed. We all know
>that very well.
>Q: Do you expect U.S. to profoundly change their policy to the rest of the
>The initial response was to call for intensifying the policies that led to
>the fury and resentment that provides the background of support for the
>terrorist attack, and to pursue more intensively the agenda of the most
>hard line elements of the leadership: increased militarization, domestic
>regimentation, attack on social programs. That is all to be expected.
>Again, terror attacks, and the escalating cycle of violence they often
>engender, tend to reinforce the authority and prestige of the most harsh
>and repressive elements of a society. But there is nothing inevitable
>about submission to this course.
>Q: After the first shock, came fear of what the U.S. answer is going to
>be. Are you afraid, too?
>Every sane person should be afraid of the likely reaction -- the one that
>has already been announced, the one that probably answers Bin Laden's
>prayers. It is highly likely to escalate the cycle of violence, in the
>familiar way, but in this case on a far greater scale.
>The U.S. has already demanded that Pakistan terminate the food and other
>supplies that are keeping at least some of the starving and suffering
>people of Afghanistan alive. If that demand is implemented, unknown
>numbers of people who have not the remotest connection to terrorism will
>die, possibly millions. Let me repeat: the U.S. has demanded that
>Pakistan kill possibly millions of people who are themselves victims of
>the Taliban. This has nothing to do even with revenge. It is at a far
>lower moral level even than that. The significance is heightened by the
>fact that this is mentioned in passing, with no comment, and probably will
>hardly be noticed. We can learn a great deal about the moral level of the
>reigning intellectual culture of the West by observing the reaction to
>this demand. I think we can be reasonably confident that if the American
>population had the slightest idea of what is being done in their name,
>they would be utterly appalled. It would be instructive to seek historical
>If Pakistan does not agree to this and other U.S. demands, it may come
>under direct attack as well -- with unknown consequences. If Pakistan
>does submit to U.S. demands, it is not impossible that the government will
>be overthrown by forces much like the Taliban -- who in this case will
>have nuclear weapons. That could have an effect throughout the region,
>including the oil producing states. At this point we are considering the
>possibility of a war that may destroy much of human society.
>Even without pursuing such possibilities, the likelihood is that an attack
>on Afghans will have pretty much the effect that most analysts expect: it
>will enlist great numbers of others to support of Bin Laden, as he hopes.
>Even if he is killed, it will make little difference. His voice will be
>heard on cassettes that are distributed throughout the Islamic world, and
>he is likely to be revered as a martyr, inspiring others. It is worth
>bearing in mind that one suicide bombing -- a truck driven into a U.S.
>military base -- drove the world's major military force out of Lebanon 20
>years ago. The opportunities for such attacks are endless. And suicide
>attacks are very hard to prevent.
>Q: "The world will never be the same after 11.09.01". Do you think so?
>The horrendous terrorist attacks on Tuesday are something quite new in
>world affairs, not in their scale and character, but in the target. For
>the US, this is the first time since the War of 1812 that its national
>territory has been under attack, even threat. Its colonies have been
>attacked, but not the national territory itself. During these years the US
>virtually exterminated the indigenous population, conquered half of
>Mexico, intervened violently in the surrounding region, conquered Hawaii
>and the Philippines (killing hundreds of thousands of Filipinos), and in
>the past half century particularly, extended its resort to force
>throughout much of the world. The number of victims is colossal. For the
>first time, the guns have been directed the other way. The same is true,
>even more dramatically, of Europe. Europe has suffered murderous
>destruction, but from internal wars, meanwhile conquering much of the
>world with extreme brutality. It has not been under attack by its victims
>outside, with rare exceptions (the IRA in England, for example). It is
>therefore natural that NATO should rally to the support of the US;
>hundreds of years of imperial violence have an enormous impact on the
>intellectual and moral culture.
>It is correct to say that this is a novel event in world history, not
>because of the scale of the atrocity -- regrettably -- but because of the
>target. How the West chooses to react is a matter of supreme importance.
>If the rich and powerful choose to keep to their traditions of hundreds of
>years and resort to extreme violence, they will contribute to the
>escalation of a cycle of violence, in a familiar dynamic, with long-term
>consequences that could be awesome. Of course, that is by no means
>inevitable. An aroused public within the more free and democratic
>societies can direct policies towards a much more humane and honorable