Actions and reactions: Why new threats aren’t surprising

Every action has a reaction. This fact of cause and effect hasbeen proven time and time again. Therefore, the steady drumbeat ofintelligence promising attacks on U.S. soil in the near futureisn’t surprising. In the wake of the Abu Ghraib images, hatred ofthe U.S. government’s atrocities and arrogance may be at an alltime high. If ever there were a time to expect retaliation, itwould be this year – not only because of an important election, butalso because of this government’s brutal actions carried outagainst the will of its citizens and the world.

It’s clear that we are in a new era of war. This era ischaracterized by new enemies and new forms of combat against them.It is no longer nation against nation grand political disputes: thenew era of war is Western capitalist ideology against allnon-conformers. The new attacks are impersonal and devastating. Theoverdeveloped world, especially the U.S., can play computer wargames and keep their hands blood free. Gone are the days of thefair fight. There is no defense against laser guided missiles andcluster bombs.

As new evidence has shown, the conflict in Iraq was beingplanned well before the spectacular, and likely preventable, horrorof 9/11, whose retaliatory reactions included first theAfghanistan, and later the more “justifiable” invasion of Iraq. Yetthe attacks on America’s most symbolic targets could be viewed indifferent ways. The dominant theory is that 9/11 was an unprovokedattack on an innocent nation. A less popular, but arguably moreaccurate, view is that 9/11 was a retaliatory attack for countlessU.S. injustices and imperialism abroad.

Whichever viewpoint is adopted, there’s no denying that theterror the U.S. subsequently unleashed on the people of Afghanistanand Iraq (over 10,000 civilian casualties in Iraq to date) was moresevere than 9/11. It appears that the reaction in this case wasmuch greater than the action. The obvious argument against thesecond view is that while the U.S. has committed acts of terror andcountless atrocities, we never actually attacked the group whoperpetrated the World Trade Center attack. Why would they want toattack us?

In this new era of war, it’s no longer nation against nation,with clear differences and agreed upon terms of engagement. Insteadof national disputes, the new ones are over ideology. We are justbeginning to understand why America is so hated around the world.The imperialist’s economic and ideological dominance will never bepopular and events like Abu Ghraib, and all of the horror in theoccupied Middle East and Palestine that go unreported, does nothelp this country’s image either.

Not surprisingly, reports of the next major attack on Americaaren’t being referred to as retaliation for our acts of war, abuseand terror abroad. Since these threats are supposed to come fromthe autonomous cells of al-Qaida, many wonder how they could be aresponse to U.S. led actions. The over simplified, old-fashionedway of looking at war – us against them – is over. It could neverbe a small Iraqi or Afghani resistance movement carrying out amajor attack on U.S. soil. Those who wanted to weren’t able todefend themselves against their occupiers. But as the tragic dailyreports of American casualties – often our friends, sons andneighbors – and the gruesome beheading of the American businessmandemonstrated, there are others who will fight back on theirbehalf.

The majority of the casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq arecivilian. Are we arrogant enough to think that there won’t be otherattacks on U.S. civilians? This is a hard question to ask, and willbe an even harder one to answer in the event of future attacks.9/11 was a response to a quiet and unpublicized ideological andeconomic war. Reasons for any future actions, which hopefully won’thappen, won’t be hard to identify.

The news of future attacks on United States soil, by whatevergroup or non-group that carries them out, is expected as the nextact in a long war of power, ideology, imperialism and greed startedby the United States long ago and furthered much too far by thisadministration. We need to think about the meaning behind these newthreats and continue to question, as the civilians in Iraq did, thekilling of innocent people and the torture of prisoners. Byrequiring resignations, enacting new policies and ending thepre-emptive strikes, the brutal cycle of this new era of war cancome to an end.