The Hidden Face of TerrorismFri Apr 29, 2005 13:2822.214.171.124The Hidden Face of Terrorism
Terrorism does not emerge by accident but is usually sponsored by the state to serve the demands of a powerful elite, as can be seen in the creation of Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida.
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 10, Number 3 (April-May 2003)
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The following is an edited extract from The Hidden Face of Terrorism: The Dark Side of Social Engineering, From Antiquity to September 11, by Paul David Collins.
In our modern world, discomforting truths are usually discarded in favour of fictions. One such fiction is the idea that terrorists are disenfranchised dissidents who independently generate the wealth and resources necessary for their heinous acts. Such is the contention of Professor Mark Juergensmeyer. In his article, "Understanding the New Terrorism", he says that modern terrorism "appears pointless since it does not lead directly to any strategic goal" (p. 158).
Juergensmeyer arrives at this conclusion because he restricts his examination to the visible perpetrators, whose motives may be, in fact, irrational. However, he does not examine the patrons of terrorism. Given the exceptional subtlety and discretion of terrorism's shadowy sponsors, Professor Juergensmeyer may just be oblivious to their existence. On the other hand, he could simply be parroting his fellow academicians in order to maintain the status quo.
Whatever the case may be, this contention seems to be the overall view held by the orthodoxy of academia. With such a view vigorously promulgated by the arbiters of the dominant national paradigm, few can recognise those shady individuals who stand to profit from terrorist acts.
To understand terrorism, one must discard the view that arbitrarily characterises it as "a resort to violence or a threat of violence on the part of a group seeking to accomplish a purpose against the opposition of constituted authority" (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, p. 309). Such an impotent notion is predicated upon the hopelessly flawed accidentalist perspective of history. It relegates terrorism, which is the product of conscious effort and design, to the realm of circumstantial spontaneity. In other words, a contrived act suddenly becomes an inexplicable social phenomenon.
In November 1989, Father Ignacio Martín-Baró, a social psychologist, delivered a speech in California on "The Psychological Consequences of Political Terror". In his speech, Martín-Baró gave a much more precise definition of terrorism, one that is ignored only at great peril. Noam Chomsky provides a synopsis of this speech (p. 386):
He [Martín-Baró] stressed several relevant points. First, the most significant form of terrorism, by a large measure, is state terrorism--that is, "terrorizing the whole population through systematic actions carried out by the forces of the state". Second, such terrorism is an essential part of a "government-imposed sociopolitical project" designed for the needs of the privileged.
Disturbing though it may be, Martín-Baró's definition is one validated by history. The majority of terrorism throughout history has found its sponsors in the hallowed halls of officialdom, in the entity known as government. Terrorism is surrogate warfare, a manufactured crisis designed to induce social change. Its combatants consciously or unconsciously wage the war on behalf of higher powers with higher agendas. Whether its adherents are aware of it or not, terrorism always serves the ambitions of another.
In his article, "Fake Terror: The Road to Dictatorship", Michael Rivero states that "It's the oldest trick in the book, dating back to Roman times: creating the enemies you need" (p. 1). The strategy is quite simple: individuals create a crisis so that they can then introduce their desired solution.
Are there recent, modern examples of state-sponsored terrorism? Unfortunately, the answer to that question seems to be "Yes".
The first example is in 1962. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lyman L. Lemnitzer, and his fellow JCS members wanted to remove Castro from Cuba. Exactly what interests Lemnitzer and his fellow warhawks represented are unclear. However, one thing is apparent: these military men considered Castro an impediment to be expunged by means of overt war.
According to James Bamford, former Washington investigative producer for ABC, the Joint Chiefs of Staff planned to engineer several terrorist acts to instigate war (p. 82):
According to secret and long-hidden documents obtained for Body of Secrets, the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the US government. In the name of anticommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.
Codenamed Operation Northwoods, the plan, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, DC, Miami and elsewhere.
People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.
Northwoods even called for the military to turn on itself (p. 84):
Among the actions recommended was "a series of well-coordinated incidents to take place in and around" the US Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This included dressing "friendly" Cubans in Cuban military uniforms and then have them "start riots near the main gate of the base. Others would pretend to be saboteurs inside the base. Ammunition would be blown up, fires started, aircraft sabotaged, mortars fired at the base with damage to installations".
Operation Northwoods would draw upon history as well, using the 1898 explosion aboard the battleship Maine in Havana harbour as inspiration (p. 84):
"We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," they proposed; "casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."
The attempt to create a Cuban terrorist threat makes it clear that the US government has no reservations about using state-sponsored terrorism to achieve its ends.
American Imperialism and the Terrorist Threat
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