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News ::
The Blood is on Our Hands
14 Sep 2001
Modified: 01:21:21 PM
A brief history of US policy leading to anti-US sentiment, and a plea for peace.
The Blood is on Our Hands
September 12, 2001

The attacks on the United States that occurred last week signal the coming home of a war that our government has been waging against others for decades. The tragedy experienced by countless people in our own country has been predicted and expected by many Americans as they witness the increase of anti-US sentiment in the face of the military, economic, and political wars fought against millions of people around the world.
I am frightened by the comments that I hear as I watch TV and as I walk around our campus. A war-like spirit of revenge has been building, as citizen and government official alike emotionally declare "we need to get those bastards," and "bomb the hell out of them." Blame shall be laid for the thousands who have been killed in the United States, but we need to look closer to home to find the real origin of the deaths that have occurred in our own country.
The US has repeatedly stood in the way of peace between Israel and Palestine, creating immense anti-US sentiment around the world. If you look at the history, we have stood behind Israel's illegal occupation, have given weapons to Israel, have turned a blind eye while they developed nuclear weapons with stolen uranium from the US, and have repeatedly voted against UN resolutions giving the Palestinians rights (one US vote is enough to kill the resolution). For years we even refused to acknowledge the Palestinians as a people, though they are the biggest refugee population since WWII with descendants of refugees numbering over 2.5 million.
We used the CIA to topple the Prime Minister of Iran in 1953 for reasons of securing oil, installing the Shah's repressive but US-friendly regime for 26 years until the Iranians finally revolted. This revolt against US hegemony led to the US' support of extreme terrorist groups within Afghanistan in order to secure an ally in the region.
Afghanistan is an interesting case as it has been pushed into the headlines of our media. The Afghanis have been terrorists for some time now, but they were our terrorists as the US supported them in order to have an ally within striking distance of the Soviet Union. US military and economic support created the powers that control that country today. It is typical of US policy to support brutal leaders and organizations as long as it serves our interest with little concern for loss of life and freedom, but when they turn against us with the power that we have given them we label them terrorists.
After supporting Saddam Hussein for more than ten years while he used chemical weapons against Iran, we shifted our policy to a systematic starvation and bombing of the country for the last ten years when it endangered US economic interests. The United Nations has declared that 5,000 innocent children die every month in Iraq as a result of sanctions sponsored by the US, a fact that has exponentially increased anti-US sentiment around the world and especially in the Middle East. At least half a million children, more than were killed at Hiroshima, have died since the end of the war for the same reasons. However, our country continues to say that the price is worth it, leading me to be wary of William Cohen's recent statement that the US is more concerned with innocent life than terrorists are.
If we are to hold those countries that harbor terrorists accountable as Bush claims, we must first start with our own government. Not only could our own presidents be tried for crimes against humanity, but our country harbors known terrorists such as certain Cuban exiles responsible for hijackings and murder, Guatemalan violators of human rights, El Salvadoran death squad leaders, Iranian torturers supported by the US during the rein of the Shah, and South Vietnamese who have admitted to torture. This list is by no means complete, and our own military must also be held responsible as it has trained others in the use of torture. However, the US has refused to support an international court to try human rights abusers for fear that charges could be brought to US personnel serving around the world.
As Amnesty International wrote in 1996, "throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or 'disappeared', at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame."
Bill Clinton, to detract attention from the Lewinsky scandal, bombed a supposed terrorist facility in Sudan in 1998, but the building turned out to be a pharmaceutical plant (leading to a major health crisis in the country) that had no connection to Bin Laden or other terrorists. Bush Sr. illegally invaded Panama killing up to 4 thousand people to capture one person, a long-time friend of the CIA, and to dismiss his image as a "wimp." We can only expect that George W. Bush will likely use the new war-like spirit in America to show that he can be a strong leader and will stand up to terrorism, while any politician that speaks for peace will be committing political suicide by seeming "unamerican." We cannot afford to fall into the trap of believing that our own government is just and noble, while we stand behind our president and support further military action. It will only lead to more loss of life, both foreign and American.
The pain that many have experienced over the last few days should not lead us into further bloodshed, but should enlighten us to the pain and suffering experienced every day by millions around the world who are directly affected by oppressive and sometimes illegal US policy. Just as the Vietnam War was ended because it influenced American life, so too must we see the tragedy in our country as a coming home of an immoral war our country has been waging for decades.
I do not stand behind Bush or my country if we choose military action. As far as I am concerned, the deaths of those in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania originated in the policies made by those in the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon. This is no justification for such an atrocious attack on civilians, and my heart goes out to those who have suffered losses. But we must realize, America, that our lives are not more valuable than those of other nations, and blood is also on our hands.

Alex Cheney
Boston College Peace Activist and Senior in the College of Arts and Sciences
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Thank you.
14 Sep 2001
This needs to be repeated by every media outlet everywhere.

All Americans need to take responsibility for the acts which our leaders commit. When a tragedy such as this occurs, it only stresses the need to renew our dedication to promoting peace, and to demand that our leaders act in a moral and rational manner.

I implore everyone reading this to engage anyone and everyone who will listen in a discussion of the fact that racism, prejudice, and greed are the prime causes of violence. And, if we as a country act as if we share no blame for Tuesday's events, then we are deluding ourselves.

Thanks again for posting your message.