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 Michael Albert
 For ZNet
 September 11 And Its Aftermath 
 By Michael Albert and Stephen R. Shalom 
     We are writing this on September 17, less than a week after the
horrific terrorist attacks against the United States.  We are still
dealing with our grief and trauma and we are still profoundly moved by
the many acts of heroism, generosity, and solidarity that have taken
place.  Some may find it inappropriate to offer political analysis
this early, but however discordant some may find it, the time for
political analysis should be before actions are taken that may make
the situation far worse.  Critics of war across the U.S.  and around
the world are working hard to communicate with people who, for the
moment, mainly seek retribution.  Below we address some of the many
questions that are being asked.  We hope the answers we offer,
developed in consultation with many other activists, will assist
people in their daily work.
     Who did it?
     The identity of the 19 individuals who hijacked the four planes
is known, but what is not yet known is who provided the coordination,
the planning, the funding, and the logistical support, both in the
United States and elsewhere.  Many indications point to the
involvement of Osama bin Laden, but if his role is confirmed, this is
the beginning, not the end, of the inquiry: Were any other
organizations involved and, if so, which ones?  Were any national
governments involved and, if so, which ones?  The danger here is that
the U.S.  government may answer these questions based on political
criteria rather than evidence.
     Who is Osama bin Laden?
     Osama bin Laden is an exiled Saudi, who inherited a fortune
estimated at $300 million, though it's not clear how much remains of
it.  Fanatically devoted to his intolerant version of Islam-a version
rejected by the vast majority of Muslims-bin Laden volunteered his
services to the Afghan Mujahideen, the religious warriors battling the
invading Soviet Union from 1979 to 1989.  The Afghan rebels were
bankrolled by Saudi Arabia and the United States and trained by
Pakistani intelligence, with help from the CIA.  The United States
provided huge amounts of arms, including Stingers- one-person
anti-aircraft missiles-despite warnings that these could end up in the
hands of terrorists.  Washington thus allied itself with bin Laden and
more than 25,000 other Islamic militants from around the world who
came to Afghanistan to join the holy war against the Russians.  As
long as they were willing to fight the Soviet Union, the U.S.
welcomed them, even though many were virulently anti-American, some
even connected to the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat of Egypt.
When Moscow finally withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, some of
these Islamic militants turned their sights on their other enemies,
including Egypt (where they hoped to establish an Islamic state),
Saudi Arabia, and the United States.  Bin Laden established an
organization of these holy war veterans-al Qaida.  In February 1998,
bin Laden issued a statement, endorsed by several extreme Islamic
groups, declaring it the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S.
citizens-civilian or military-and their allies everywhere.
     Where is Osama bin Laden?
     After some attacks on U.S.  interests in Saudi Arabia, Saudi
authorities revoked bin Laden's citizenship.  Bin Laden went to the
Sudan and then on to Afghanistan.  His precise location is unknown,
since he frequently moves or goes into hiding.  Afghanistan is led by
the Taliban, a group of extreme Islamic fundamentalists, who emerged
out of the Mujahideen.  The Taliban does not have full control over
the country-there is a civil war against dissidents who control some
10-20 percent of the country.  Afghanistan is an incredibly poor
nation-life expectancy is 46 years of age, 1 out of 7 children die in
infancy, and per capita income is about $800 per year.  Huge numbers
of people remain refugees.  Taliban rule is dictatorial and its social
policy is unusually repressive and sexist: for example, Buddhist
statues have been destroyed, Hindus have been required to wear special
identification, and girls over eight are barred from school.  Human
rights groups, the United Nations, and most governments have condemned
the policies of the Taliban.  Only Pakistan, and the two leading U.S.
allies in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,
recognize the Taliban government.
     Why did the terrorists do it?
     We don't entirely know who did it, at this writing, so we can't
say for sure at this point why they did it.  There are, however some
possibilities worth thinking about.
     One explanation points to a long list of grievances felt by
people in the Middle East-U.S.  backing for Israeli repression and
dispossession of the Palestinians, U.S.  imposition of sanctions on
Iraq, leading to the deaths of huge numbers of innocents, and U.S.
support for autocratic, undemocratic, and highly inegalitarian
regimes.  These are real grievances and U.S.  policy really does cause
tremendous suffering.  But how do these terror attacks mitigate the
suffering?  Some may believe that by inflicting pain on civilians, a
government may be overthrown or its policies will change in a
favorable direction.  This belief is by no means unique to Middle
Easterners-and has in fact been the standard belief of U.S.  and other
government officials for years.  It was the belief behind the terror
bombings of World War II by the Nazis, the U.S.  and Britain, and
behind the pulverizing of North Vietnam and the strikes on civilian
infrastructure during the Kosovo war.  It is the same rationale as
that offered for the ongoing economic sanctions against Iraq: starve
the people to pressure the leader.  In addition to the deep immorality
of targeting civilians as a means of changing policy, its efficacy is
often dubious.
     In this case, one would have a totally inaccurate view of the
United States if one thought that the events of September 11 would
cause U.S.  officials to suddenly see the injustice of their policies
toward the Palestinians, etc.  On the contrary, the likely result of
the attacks will be to allow U.S.  leaders to mobilize the population
behind a more uncompromising pursuit of their previous policies.  The
actions will set back the causes of the weak and the poor, while
empowering the most aggressive and reactionary elements around the
     There is a second possible explanation for the September 11
attacks.  Why commit a grotesquely provocative act against a power so
large and so armed as the United States?  Perhaps provoking the United
States was precisely the intent.  By provoking a massive military
assault on one or more Islamic nations, the perpetrators may hope to
set off a cycle of terror and counter-terror, precipitating a holy war
between the Islamic world and the West, a war that they may hope will
result in the overthrow of all insufficiently Islamic regimes and the
unraveling of the United States, just as the Afghan war contributed to
the demise of the Soviet Union.  Needless to say, this scenario is
insane on every count one can assess.
     But even if provocation rather than grievances is what motivated
the planners of the terror strikes against the U.S., this still
wouldn't mean grievances are irrelevant.  Whatever the planners'
motives, they still needed to attract capable, organized, and skilled
people, not only to participate, but to give their lives to a suicidal
agenda.  Deeply-felt grievances provide a social environment from
which fanatics can recruit and gain support.
     How should guilt be determined and how should the punishment be
carried out?
     The answers to these questions are all important.  In our world,
the only alternative to vigilantism is that guilt should be determined
by an amassing of evidence that is then assessed in accordance with
international law by the United Nations Security Council or other
appropriate international agencies.
     Punishment should be determined by the UN as well, and likewise
the means of implementation.  The UN may arrive at determinations that
one or another party likes or not, as with any court, and may also be
subject to political pressures that call into question its results or
not, as with any court.  But that the UN is the place for
determinations about international conflict is obvious, at least
according to solemn treaties signed by the nations of the world.  Most
governments, however, don't take seriously their obligations under
international law.  Certainly, history has shown that to U.S.  policy
makers international law is for everyone else to follow, and for
Washington to manipulate when possible or to otherwise ignore.  Thus,
when the World Court told the U.S.  to cease its contra war against
Nicaragua and pay reparations, U.S.  officials simply declared they
did not consider themselves bound by the ruling.
     Why us?  Why the U.S.?
     The terrorists wreaked their havoc on New York and Washington,
not on Mexico City or Stockholm.  Why?
     George W.  Bush has claimed that the United States was targeted
because of its commitment to freedom and democracy.  Bush says people
are jealous of our wealth.  The truth is that anti-Americanism rests
on feelings that the U.S.  obstructs freedom and democracy as well as
material well being for others.  In the Middle East, for example, the
United States supports Israeli oppression of Palestinians, providing
the military, economic, and diplomatic backing that makes that
oppression possible.  It condemns conquest when it is done by Iraq,
but not when done by Israel.  It has bolstered authoritarian regimes
(such as Saudi Arabia) that have provided U.S.  companies with mammoth
oil profits and has helped overthrow regimes (such as Iran in the
early 1950s) that challenged those profits.  When terrorist acts were
committed by U.S.  friends such as the Israeli-supervised massacres in
the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon, no U.S.  sanctions
were imposed.  But about the U.S.  imposed sanctions on Iraq, leading
to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent children, Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright could only say that she thought it was
worth it.  When the U.S.  went to war against Iraq, it targeted
civilian infrastructure.  When Iran and Iraq fought a bloody war, the
United States surreptitiously aided both sides.
     On top of specific Middle Eastern concerns, anti-Americanism is
also spawned by more general grievances.  The United States is the
leading status-quo power in the world.  It promotes a global economic
system of vast inequality and incredible poverty.  It displays its
arrogance of power when it rejects and blocks international consensus
on issues ranging from the environment, to the rights of children, to
landmines, to an international criminal court, to national missile
     Again, these grievances may have nothing to do with the motives
of those who masterminded the terror strikes of September 11.  But
they certainly help create an environment conducive to recruitment.
     Isn't it callous to talk about U.S.  crimes at a time when the
U.S.  is mourning its dead?
     It would be callous if the people talking about U.S.  crimes
weren't also horrified at the terror in New York and if the U.S.
wasn't talking about mounting a war against whole countries, removing
governments from power, engaging in massive assaults, and evidencing
no concern to discriminate terrorists from civilian bystanders.
     But since critics are feeling the pain and the U.S.  is already
formulating its notions of justice in precisely those unconstructive
terms, for critics to carefully point out the hypocrisy, and the
likely consequences even as we also mourn the dead, feel outrage at
the carnage, and help relief efforts, is essential.  It is how we help
avoid piling catastrophe on top of catastrophe.
     Suppose bin Laden is the mastermind of the recent horror.
Imagine he had gone before the Afghan population a week or two earlier
and told them of the U.S.  government's responsibility for so much
tragedy and mayhem around the world, particularly to Arab populations
as in Iraq and Palestine.  Imagine that he further told them that
Americans have different values and that they cheered when bombs were
rained on people in Libya and Iraq.  Suppose bin Laden had proposed
the bombing of U.S.  civilians to force their government to change its
ways.  In that hypothetical event, what would we want the Afghan
people to have replied?
     We would want them to have told bin Laden that he was demented
and possessed.  We would want them to have pointed out that the fact
that the U.S.  government has levied massive violence against Iraq's
civilians and others does not warrant attacks on U.S.  civilians, and
the fact of different values doesn't warrant attacks of any sort at
     So isn't this what we ought to also want the U.S.  public to say
to George Bush?  The fact of bin Laden's violence, assuming it proves
to be the case, or that of the Taliban, or whatever other government
may be implicated, does not warrant reciprocal terror attacks on
innocent civilians.
     By talking about U.S.  crimes abroad, aren't we excusing
terrorist acts?
     To express remorse and pain, and to also seek to avoid comparable
and worse pain being inflicted on further innocents (including
Americans) is not to evidence a lack of feeling for the impact of
crimes against humanity, but instead indicates feelings that extend
further than what the media or the government tells us are the limits
of permissible sympathy.  We not only feel for those innocents who
have already died, and their families, but also for those who might be
killed shortly, for those we may be able to help save.
     U.S.  crimes in no way justify or excuse the attacks of September
11.  Terror is an absolutely unacceptable response to U.S.  crimes.
But at the same time, we need to stress as well that terror-targeting
civilians-is an absolutely unacceptable response by the United States
to the genuine crimes of others.
     The reason it is relevant to bring up U.S.  crimes is not to
justify terrorism, but to understand the terrain that breeds terrorism
and terrorists.  Terrorism is a morally despicable and strategically
suicidal reaction to injustice.  But reducing injustice can certainly
help eliminate the seeds of pain and suffering that nurture terrorist
impulses and support for them.
     Bush has said that the "war on terrorism" needs to confront all
countries that aid or abet terrorism.  Which countries qualify?
     The current thinking on this topic, promulgated by Bush and
spreading rapidly beyond, is that anyone who plans, carries out, or
abets terrorism, including knowingly harboring terrorists, is culpable
for terrorist actions and their results-where terrorism is understood
as the attacking of innocent civilians in order to coerce policy
makers.  Some people might argue with some aspect of this formulation,
but from where we sit, the formulation is reasonable enough.  It is
the application that falls short.
     The U.S.  State Department has a list of states that support
terrorism, but it is-as one would expect-an extremely political
document.  The latest listing consisted of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya,
Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan-significantly omitting Afghanistan.  Cuba
is included, one suspects, less because of any actual connection to
terrorism, than because of longstanding U.S.  hostility to the Cuban
government and the long record of U.S.  terrorism against Cuba.  If we
are talking about terrorism of the sort exemplified by car and other
hand-delivered bombs, kidnappings, plane hijackings, or suicide
assaults, we can reasonably guess that most of the countries on the
State Department list, along with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some
other poor nations would qualify with varying degrees of culpability.
     On the other hand, if we are talking about terrorism of the sort
exemplified by military bombing and invasion, by food or medical
embargoes affecting civilians rather than solely or even primarily
official and military targets, by hitting "soft targets" such as
health clinics or agricultural cooperatives, or by funding and
training death squads, then we would have a rather different list of
culpable nations, including such professed opponents of terrorism as
the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and Israel.
     At times the parties engaged in either list point to the actions
perpetrated by those on the other list as justification for their
behavior.  But, of course, terror does not justify subsequent terror,
nor does reciprocal terror diminish terror from the other side.
     Do Palestinians support the attacks, and, if so, what is the
     There have been reports of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza
cheering the attacks, and similar reports regarding Palestinians in
the United States.  Fox News has played over and over the same clip of
some Palestinians in the occupied territories celebrating.  But the
media fails to explain that they are showing only a small minority of
Palestinians and that official Palestinian sentiment has expressed its
condemnation of the attacks and sympathy for the victims.  The media
have been especially remiss in not reporting such things as the
statement issued by the Palestinian village of Beit Sahour movingly
denouncing the terror, or the candlelight vigil in Arab East Jerusalem
in memory of the victims.
     There is no reason to doubt, however, that some Palestinians-both
in the U.S.  and in the Middle East-cheered the attacks.  This is
wrong, but it is also understandable.  The United States has been the
most important international backer of Israeli oppression of
Palestinians.  Politically immature Palestinians, like the Americans
who cheered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or many lesser bombings
such as that of Libya in 1986, ignore the human meaning of destroying
an "enemy" target.
     But that some Palestinians have reacted in this way, while
disappointing, should have no bearing on our understanding of their
oppression and the need to remedy it.  In fact, given that Israel
seems to be using the September 11 attacks as an excuse and a cover
for increasing assaults on Palestinians, we need to press all the more
vigorously for a just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
     What is the likely impact of the attacks within the U.S.
policy-making establishment?
     The catastrophic character of these events provides a perfect
excuse for reactionary elements to pursue every agenda item that they
can connect to "the war against terrorism" and that they can fuel by
fanning fears in the population.  This obviously includes expanding
military expenditures that have nothing whatever to do with legitimate
security concerns and everything to do with profit-seeking and
militarism.  For example, even though the events of September 11
should have shown that "national missile defense" is no defense at all
against the most likely threats we face, already the Democrats are
beginning to drop their opposition to that destabilizing boondoggle.
Amazingly, certain elements will even extrapolate to social issues.
For example, our own home grown fundamentalists-like Jerry
Falwell-have actually declared (though retracted after wide criticism)
that abortion, homosexuality, feminism, and the ACLU are at fault.
Others hope to use the attacks as a rationale for eliminating the
capital gains tax, a long-time right-wing objective.  But the main
focus will be military policy.  In coming weeks, we will see a
celebration in America of military power, of a massive arms build-up,
and perhaps assassinations, all touted as if the terror victims will
be honored rather than defiled by our preparing to entomb still more
innocent people around the world.
     So what is the likely U.S.  response?
     U.S.  policymaking regarding international relations (and
domestic relations as well) is a juggling act.  On one side, the goal
is enhancing the privilege, power, and wealth of U.S.  elites.  On the
other side, the constraint is keeping at bay less powerful and wealthy
constituencies who might have different agendas, both at home and
     Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S.  has had a problem-how to
get the public to ratify policies that don't benefit the public, but
that serve corporate and elite political interests.  The fear of a
Soviet menace, duly exaggerated, served that purpose admirably for
decades.  The ideal response to the current situation, from the elite
standpoint, will be to replace the Cold War with the Anti-Terror War.
With this accomplished, they will again have a vehicle to instill
fear, arguably more credible than the former Soviet menace.  Again
they will have an enemy, terrorists, whom they can blame for anything
and everything, trying as well to smear all dissidents as traveling a
path leading inexorably toward the horrors of terrorism.
     So their response to these recent events is to intone that we
must have a long war, a difficult struggle, against an implacable,
immense, and even ubiquitous enemy.  They will declare that we must
channel our energies to this cause, we must sacrifice butter for guns,
we must renounce liberty for security, we must succumb, in short, to
the rule of the right, and forget about pursuing the defense and
enlargement of rights.  Their preferred response will be to use the
military, particularly against countries that are defenseless, perhaps
even to occupy one and to broadly act in ways that will not so much
reduce the threat of terror and diminish its causes, as to induce
conflict that is serviceable to power regardless of the enlargement of
terror that results.
     Already Congress has been asked to give the president a blank
check for military action, which means further removing U.S.  military
action from democratic control.  Only Rep.  Barbara Lee had the
courage to vote "no" on Congress's joint resolution, authorizing the
president "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those
nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized,
committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September
11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to
prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United
States by such nations, organizations or persons."
     What response should the U.S.  take instead?
     The best way to deal with terrorism is to address its root
causes.  Perhaps some terrorism would exist even if the grievances of
the people of the Third World were dealt with-grievances that lead to
anger, despair, frustration, feelings of powerlessness, and hatred-but
certainly the ability of those who would commit terror, without
grievances to recruit others, would be tremendously reduced.  As a
second step, we might help establish a real international consensus
against terrorism by putting on trial U.S.  officials responsible for
some of the atrocities noted earlier.
     Of course, these are long-term solutions and we face the horror
of terrorism today.  So we must consider what we want the United
States government to do internationally right now.
     The U.S.  government's guiding principle ought to be to assure
the security, safety, and well-being of U.S.  citizens without
detracting from the security, safety, and well-being of others.  A
number of points follow from this principle.
     We must insist that any response refrain from targeting
civilians.  It must refrain as well from attacking so-called dual-use
targets, those that have some military purpose but substantially
impact civilians.  The United States did not adhere to this principle
in World War II (where the direct intention was often to kill
civilians) and it still does not adhere to it, as when it hit the
civilian infrastructure in Iraq or Serbia, knowing that the result
would be civilian deaths (from lack of electricity in hospitals, lack
of drinking water, sewage treatment plants, and so on), while the
military benefits would be slight.  We would obviously reject as
grotesque the claim that the World Trade Center was a legitimate
target because its destruction makes it harder for the U.S.
government to function (and hence to carry out its military policies).
We need to be as sensitive to the human costs of striking dual-use
facilities in other countries as we are of those in our own country.
     We must insist as well that any response to the terror be carried
out according to the UN Charter.  The Charter provides a clear remedy
for events like those of September 11: present the case to the
Security Council and let the Council determine the appropriate
response.  The Charter permits the Council to choose responses up to
and including the use of military force.  No military action should be
carried out without Security Council authorization.  To bypass the
Security Council is to weaken international law that provides security
to all nations, especially the weaker ones.
     Security Council approval is not always determinative.  During
the Gulf War, the U.S.  obtained such approval by exercising its
wealth and power to gain votes.  So we should insist on a freely
offered Security Council authorization.  Moreover, we should insist
that the UN retain control of any response; that is, we should oppose
the usual practice whereby the United States demands that the Council
give it a blank check to conduct a war any way it wants.  In the case
of the Gulf War, although the Council authorized the war, the war was
run out of Washington, not the UN.  To give the United States a free
hand to run a military operation as it chooses removes a crucial
     We should insist that no action and no Security Council vote be
taken without a full presentation of the evidence assigning
culpability.  We don't want Washington announcing that we should just
take its word for it-as occurred in 1998, when the U.S.  bombed a
pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, asserting that it was a chemical
warfare facility, only to acknowledge some time later that it had been
     If-and it's a big if-all these conditions are met, then we should
no more object to seizing the perpetrators than we object to having
the domestic police seize a rapist or a murderer to bring the culprit
to justice.  And what if a state is also found to be culpable or if a
state determines to use military means to protect the terrorists?  The
dangers of harm to civilians are much greater in the case of a war
against a state.  Military action would be justified only insofar as
it did not cause substantial harm to civilians.
     In addition, if the goal of a proposed military action is to
enhance U.S.  security rather than to wreak vengeance, such envisioned
benefits would have to be weighed against the prospects of driving
thousands of others in the Islamic world into the hands of terrorism.
In other words, military action needs to be the smallest part of the
international response.  More important are diplomatic pressures,
cutting off funding for terrorist organizations, reducing the
grievances that feed frustration, and so on.
     It is critically important to also note, however, that even
non-military actions can cause immense civilian suffering and that
such options too must be rejected.  Calling for Pakistan to cut off
food aid to Afghanistan, for example, as the United States has already
done, would likely lead to starvation on a huge scale.  Its
implications could be far worse than those of bombing or other
seemingly more aggressive choices.
     What should we do to protect ourselves from these sorts of
     Beyond pursuing the implementation of international law through
appropriate international channels and beyond trying to rectify unjust
conditions that breed hopelessness and despair that can become the
nurturing ground of terror, it is also necessary to reduce
vulnerability and risk.
     Some things are far easier than the media would have us believe.
If we don't want to ever see a commercial airliner turned into a
missile and used to destroy people and property, we can disconnect the
pilots' cabin and the body of the plane, making entry to the former
from the latter impossible.  Likewise, it is significant that the U.S.
airline industry has, up until now, handled airport security through
private enterprise, which means low-paid, unskilled security personnel
with high turn-over.  In Europe, on the other hand, airport security
is a government function and the workers are relatively well-paid, and
hence much more highly motivated and competent.
     Other tasks will be harder.  What we should not do, however, is
curtail basic freedoms and militarize daily life.  That response
doesn't ward off terror, but makes terror the victor.
     How do we respond to what seems like militaristic flag-waving?
     To harshly judge the way some show their feelings for the U.S.
in times of crisis can be callous and unconstructive.  The image of
firefighters running up stairs to help those above is heroic and
deserves profound respect.  The vision of hundreds and thousands of
people helping at the scene, working to save lives, donating,
supporting, is similarly worthy and positive.  Even the flag waving,
which can at times be jingoistic, should not be assumed to be such.The
important thing is to increase awareness of the relevant facts and
values at stake, the policies that may follow and their implications,
and what people of good will can do to influence all these.
     What should progressives do?
     Change depends on organized resistance that raises awareness and
commitment.  It depends on pressuring decision makers to respect the
will of a public with dissident and critical views.  Our immediate
task is to communicate accurate information, to counter misconceptions
and illogic, to empathize and be on the wavelength of the public, to
talk and listen, to offer information, analysis, and humane aims.
     The United States and Middle East: Why Do They Hate Us?
     The list below presents specific incidents of U.S.  policy.  It
minimizes the grievances against the U.S.  because it excludes
long-standing policies, such as U.S.  backing for authoritarian
regimes (arming Saudi Arabia, training the secret police in Iran under
the Shah, providing arms and aid to Turkey as it attacked Kurdish
villages, etc.).  The list also excludes actions of Israel in which
the U.S.  is indirectly implicated because Israel has been the leading
or second-ranking recipient of U.S.  aid for many years and has
received U.S.  weapons and benefitted from U.S.  vetos in the Security
     1949: CIA backs military coup deposing elected government of
     1953: CIA helps overthrow the democratically-elected Mossadeq
government in Iran (which had nationalized the British oil company)
leading to a quarter-century of dictatorial rule by the Shah, Mohammed
Reza Pahlevi.
     1956: U.S.  cuts off promised funding for Aswan Dam in Egypt
after Egypt receives Eastern bloc arms.
     1956: Israel, Britain, and France invade Egypt.  U.S.  does not
support invasion, but the involvement of NATO allies severely
diminishes Washington's reputation in the region.
     1958: U.S.  troops land in Lebanon to preserve "stability."
     1960s (early): U.S.  unsuccessfully attempts assassination of
Iraqi leader, Abdul Karim Qassim.
     1963: U.S.  reported to give Iraqi Ba'ath party (soon to be
headed by Saddam Hussein) names of communists to murder, which they do
with vigor.
     1967-: U.S.  blocks any effort in the Security Council to enforce
SC Resolution 244, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories
occupied in the 1967 war.
     1970: Civil war between Jordan and PLO.  Israel and U.S.  prepare
to intervene on side of Jordan if Syria backs PLO.
     1972: U.S.  blocks Sadat's efforts to reach a peace agreement
with Egypt.
     1973: U.S.  military aid enables Israel to turn the tide in war
with Syria and Egypt.
     1973-75: U.S.  supports Kurdish rebels in Iraq.  When Iran
reaches an agreement with Iraq in 1975 and seals the border, Iraq
slaughters Kurds and U.S.  denies them refuge.  Kissinger secretly
explains that "covert action should not be confused with missionary
     1978-79: Iranians begin demonstrations against the Shah.  U.S.
tells Shah it supports him "without reservation" and urges him to act
forcefully.  Until the last minute, U.S.  tries to organize military
coup to save the Shah, but to no avail.
     1979-88: U.S.  begins covert aid to Mujahideen in Afghanistan six
months before Soviet invasion.  Over the next decade U.S.  provides
more than $3 billion in arms and aid.
     1980-88: Iran-Iraq war.  When Iraq invades Iran, the U.S.
opposes any Security Council action to condemn the invasion.  U.S.
removes Iraq from its list of nations supporting terrorism and allows
U.S.  arms to be transferred to Iraq.  U.S.  lets Israel provide arms
to Iran and in 1985 U.S.  provides arms directly (though secretly) to
Iran.  U.S.  provides intelligence information to Iraq.  Iraq uses
chemical weapons in 1984; U.S.  restores diplomatic relations with
Iraq.  1987 U.S.  sends its navy into the Persian Gulf, taking Iraq's
side; an aggressive U.S.  ship shoots down an Iranian civilian
airliner, killing 290.
     1981, 1986: U.S.  holds military maneuvers off the coast of Libya
with the clear purpose of provoking Qaddafi.  In 1981, a Libyan plane
fires a missile and two Libyan planes were subsequently shot down.  In
1986, Libya fires missiles that land far from any target and U.S.
attacks Libyan patrol boats, killing 72, and shore installations.
When a bomb goes off in a Berlin nightclub, killing two, the U.S.
charges that Qaddafi was behind it (possibly true) and conducts major
bombing raids in Libya, killing dozens of civilians, including
Qaddafi's adopted daughter.
     1982: U.S.  gives "green light" to Israeli invasion of Lebanon,
where more than 10,000 civilians were killed.  U.S.  chooses not to
invoke its laws prohibiting Israeli use of U.S.  weapons except in
     1983: U.S.  troops sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational
peacekeeping force; intervene on one side of a civil war.  Withdraw
after suicide bombing of marine barracks.
     1984: U.S.-backed rebels in Afghanistan fire on civilian
     1988: Saddam Hussein kills many thousands of his own Kurdish
population and uses chemical weapons against them.  The U.S.
increases its economic ties to Iraq.
     1990-91: U.S.  rejects diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait (for example, rebuffing any attempt to link the two
regional occupations, of Kuwait and Palestine).  U.S.  leads
international coalition in war against Iraq.  Civilian infrastructure
targeted.  To promote "stability" U.S.  refuses to aid uprisings by
Shi'ites in the south and Kurds in the north, denying the rebels
access to captured Iraqi weapons and refusing to prohibit Iraqi
helicopter flights.
     1991-: Devastating economic sanctions are imposed on Iraq.  U.S.
and Britain block all attempts to lift them.  Hundreds of thousands
die.  Though Security Council stated sanctions were to be lifted once
Hussein's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were ended,
Washington makes it known that the sanctions would remain as long as
Saddam remains in power.  Sanctions strengthen Saddam's position.
     1993-: U.S.  launches missile attack on Iraq, claiming
self-defense against an alleged assassination attempt on former
president Bush two months earlier.
     1998: U.S.  and U.K.  bomb Iraq over weapons inspections, even
though Security Council is just then meeting to discuss the matter.
     1998: U.S.  destroys factory producing half of Sudan's
pharmaceutical supply, claiming retaliation for attacks on U.S.
embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and that factory was involved in
chemical warfare.  U.S.  later acknowledges there is no evidence for
the chemical warfare charge.

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