Providing the fullness of truth and understanding  is vital for world peace and security

By Paul D. Boin   <pboin@home.com>

It has been said that the first casualty in war is the truth. This usually  pertains to the propensity for about-to-be warring nations to conjure up a   pretext for war that can be justified in the public mind. Often this means   that the truth is compromised prior to the shedding of blood. When   terrorists strike however, blood is drawn first, and the victim's pretext   for retaliation is determined second. In the midst of both war or terror   truth can be compromised by the selective exclusion of important   information, the elevation of hearsay or opinion to the status of fact, or   by the outright fabrication of misinformation. In this regard, our   governments and our mainstream news media have much to answer for.

While it could be argued that the terrorist act already constitutes the  pretext for a retaliatory response, any response is an exercise in   decision-making. Even our basest and seemingly automatic human responses,   still inextricably involve a series of choices. Do we, in the case of the   United States and its allies, respond immediately? Do we confirm, beyond a   reasonable doubt, who the terrorists were? Do we retaliate (punish) in a   manner that is equal to the initial terrorist act (crime)? Are we also   going to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians in our chosen response?   Who is to participate in this retaliatory action? And, what range of   repercussions may follow from our chosen response?

When deciding among these monumental choices, if we are to have any hope  of making good decisions, our elected representatives, and the citizens in   whose name they act, must have access to and demand the full range of   facts. In order to make good, or truth-based, decisions we require   complete and accurate information which is grounded in a broad context   that is appreciative of history, the present, and the future. What   happened on September 11, 2001 was unspeakably evil and insane. Before we   respond to this terrorist act however, we must first ensure that the   truth, or at least as full a truth as possible, is provided. In a world   where there are enough nuclear warheads to kill all of the world's 6   billion people dozens of times over, nothing less is acceptable.  

GETTING TO "WHY?"

In a times like these we not only need to work towards understanding  "what?", "who?", or "How?"; but if we are truly concerned for future world   peace and security, we must ask the most important question - Why? Many   pro-democracy advocates (elsewhere referred to as 'anti-globalization   protesters') have expressed fear that the new heightened sense of   security, augmented by last week's US Congressional approval of $40   billion in new emergency and security spending, will be used to roll back   civil liberties and crush out all forms of dissent. When it is these very   viewpoints that offer our best hope of eliminating terrorism.

Many critics of US foreign policy (both official and clandestine) will be,  and have been, quick to conclude that September 11th was simply a case of  " Chickens coming home to roost." By this, people will point to a litany of   examples of the US role in imposing both incidental terrorism and systemic terrorism on countries - Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, East   Timor, El Salvador, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Iran, Iraq, Panama etc.   The US Government's own documents, recently declassified and meticulously   catalogued by the nonprofit National Security Archives   (www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv), will serve as a valuable lesson on the real conduct of governments, so often kept from public knowledge. So, people   will say that September 11th was, in the minds of the terrorists, a simple   act of revenge for previous US government indiscretions. But while this   analysis, and the evidence now available, is clearly important, it is   still an analysis of a symptom. We must dig down to the roots of the   problem.

The deeper and underlying cause of systemic terrorism, and the incidental  terrorism that follows from it, is the unjust global economic system that   rich Western governments (not just the US) have imposed on the poorer   countries and, increasingly so, upon their own citizenry. This global   system - from the colonial/mercantile period to its new incarnation of   corporate-led globalization - is resulting in a world where an elite few   nations and individuals benefit at the expense of an ever increasing   number of poorer nations and people. Such an unjust and unsustainable   system can only be held together by force (systemic terrorism), and will   ceaselessly produce responses (incidental terrorism) to it.

In reacting to last weeks events Thomas Homer Dixon, Director of the  University of Toronto's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, stated "We   have to step back and reflect on what's happening in the world that is   leading to the kind of tensions that produce this kind of hatred against   the west...There are disparities in this world, there are structural   problems with the world economy that aren't being addressed. The envy,   the frustration, and the anger that arises out of those problems will   be directed against us." Homer Dixon goes on to say "We have to   remember....this is a very small planet now...they can bring weapons   everywhere. And other things like diseases, and pollution flow across   boundaries. We have to recognize that the world has changed in a   fundamental respect." {CBC Radio 2001}

In fact, the US and Canadian Government's defense departments also quietly  admit (more honestly then our politicians, who keep misleading us into   believing that this globalization tide will "raise all boats") that the   present version of unjust corporate-led globalization is, and will   continue to be, directly contributing to the escalation of terrorism. In a   document entitled Global Trends 2015, jointly researched and produced by   the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Council, the   US intelligence community states that the benefits of globalization "will   not be universal. In contrast to the Industrial Revolution, the process of   globalization is more compressed. Its evolution will be rocky, marked by   chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide...Regions,   countries, and groups feeling left behind will face deepening economic   stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation. They will   foster political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism, along with   the violence that often accompanies it." {Central Intelligence Agency &   National Intelligence Council 2001} In a 1999 document entitled Shaping   the Future of the Canadian Forces: A Strategy for 2020, Canada's   Department of National Defense concludes that "Ethnic unrest, religious   extremism and resource disputes will likely remain the main sources of   conflict, but environmental degradation and the threat to the nation-state   by globalization may arise as new sources...Disparities between the   developed and developing nations will remain." {Canadian Department of   National Defense 1999}.

In 1999, the US Intelligence Community (The Central Intelligence  Community, the National Intelligence Council, and the State Department)   conducted a workshop entitled Alternative Global Futures: 2000-2015. This   think tank-type workshop, couched within the framework of our present   version of globalization, yielded four different scenarios or alternative   futures.

Scenario 1, somehow labeled 'Inclusive Globalization', represents the  best our world could expect. Even within this rosiest of scenarios   however, the US intelligence community holds that while "A virtuous circle   develops among...a majority of the world's people.", they go onto to say   that "A minority of the world's people - in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle   East, Central and South Asia, and the Andean region - do not benefit from   these positive changes, and internal conflicts persist in and around those   countries left behind."

This workshop, and the document that followed from it, then goes on to  describe the other 3 scenarios ­ 'Pernicious Globalization' (Scenario 2),   'Regional Competition' (Scenario 3), and ' Post-Polar World' (Scenario 4)  ­ each of which contain outcomes worse than our best hope of 'Inclusive   Globalization'. {Central Intelligence Agency & National Intelligence   Council 2001} While it is refreshing to hear the candor of military   sources, it seems we must also question the intelligence of the   intelligence community (or more cynically, their lack of respect of   nonwestern people); since the regions they claim will be "left behind'   in 'Inclusive Globalization' ­ namely "Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle   East, Central and South Asia, and the Andean region" - would actually   represent a majority of the world's people. If Scenario 1 represents   the best we can derive from the present bill of goods (corporate-led   globalization) our Western politicians keep selling us, it's about   time we stopped buying it.

It would seem therefore, that retaliatory responses to incidents of  terrorism are simply Band-Aid 'solutions' at best. What is needed to truly  " root-out the problem", is to fundamentally alter our disparity-creating   and terrorism-producing model of globalization. While not given mainstream   media recognition, there are inspiring alternative visions and versions of   globalization being presented. Forums such as the International Forum on   Globalization (www.ifg.org/index.html), the annual World Social Forum   (www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/eng/index.asp), and initiatives like the   Council of Canadians' Citizens' Agenda   (www.canadians.org/actionlink/citizen_agenda.pdf) are expanding our   imaginations and our range of possibilities. Collectively these   organizations, and their initiatives, are providing blueprints for   achieving a 21st century society that is economically sustainable,   socially just, and environmentally responsible ­ a world that both   nurtures, and is based on, world peace and security.

In the McCarthy era, government officials, and much of the general public  for that matter, were jumping over themselves to pin the 'communist' label   on anyone who questioned the simplistic and faulty notion of "My country   right or wrong." After last week's attacks, there are those in authority   and in the public who are eager to usher in a new anti-terrorist era which   would see the label 'terrorist' pinned on anyone remotely critical of   government actions, or the general state of global affairs. While people   in the US, and world-wide, are experiencing incredibly intense and raw   feelings of horror, sorrow, fear and anger. This anger is directed,   understandably so, towards the perpetrators of this act, and most   shamefully and unjustly towards innocent people of colour. This irrational   and misplaced fear - towards any and all criticism and against people of   colour - must be resisted vehemently and overcome. While the immediate   impulse of governments is to put all people under surveillance and   suspicion, it is the people themselves who must conjure up the courage and   the consciousness to put our governments under the microscope. As our   governments represent us in carrying out actions over this critical   period, we must become ever vigilant and vocal.  

 INTERRUPTING THE DRUMBEAT FOR WAR

We must all realize that during times of would-be war, the full truth is  severely bottlenecked. As we all watch, read, and listen to accounts   coming from the leading media outlets in our respective countries, we must   treat every story as an unconfirmed report. Our news media is, and will   likely be for months to come, in the midst of extensive pressure and   strategic editing. This editing usually serves to provide a strategic   context that is in line with each government's 'national interest'. For   example, Canadian viewers were shown repeated video footage of Yasser

Arafat giving blood on September 12th, while American viewers were not.   Russia has taken the atrocities to justify their own brutal treatment of   Chechnya, and Israel has utilized the events to step up attacks against   Palestinians. This, while India has used it to condemn its main political   rival, Pakistan.

Earlier this year it was also revealed - and has since been confirmed by  CNN's President of News Gathering and International Networks, Eason Jordan   - that the US Military's special Psy-ops unit [Psychological Operations   Group based in North Carolina] had at least five of its personal working   at CNN during the Serbia/Kosovo conflict. The Dutch journalist who brought   this story to public attention, Abe de Vries, quoted Major Thomas Collins   of the US Army Information Service as saying, "Psy-ops personnel, soldiers   and officers, have been working in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta through   our program, 'Training with Industry'. They worked as regular employees of   CNN. Conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war.   They helped in the production of news." Devries first became aware of the   story by reading a French military newsletter, Intelligence On-line, which   detailed Colonel Christopher St. John, commander of the US Army's 4th   Psy-ops Group, speaking candidly at a military symposium this past   February in Virginia. Intelligence On-line revealed that the colonel was   discussing the use of the press in military operations and when he   stressed that the military needed even "greater cooperation between the   armed forces and media giants." While CNN's Jordan claims that the five   Psy-ops personnel did not contribute to the production of news, he was   forced to admit however, that they were indeed at CNN [2 in television, 2   in radio, and 1 in satellite operations), and had only recently been   terminated. {Cockburn 2001} One has to wonder, in the aftermath of last   week, whether Psy-ops personnel have now been re-deployed.

On Friday (September 15) thousands gathered in New York's Union Square to  mark the national day of morning for the victims of the week's terrorism   and to criticize plans to deploy massive military action, possibly   consisting of tens of thousands of ground troops, in Afghanistan and   elsewhere. {NYC Indy Media 2001} Yet when this event, and similar   gatherings throughout the US, was covered in the mainstream media, the   peaceful sentiments of thousands were conveniently edited out. Earlier   this year, Pacifica Radio and Democracy Now! journalist, Amy Goodman,   asked CNN's veteran reporter and V.P. of Political Coverage, Frank Sesno,   the following question. "If you support the practice of putting   ex-military men - generals - on the payroll to share their opinion during   a time of war, would you also support putting peace activists on the   payroll to give a different opinion during a time of war? To be sitting   there with the military generals talking about why they feel that war is   not appropriate?" Sesno's response - "We bring the generals in because of   their expertise in a particular area. We call them analysts. We don't   bring them in as advocates." {Cockburn 2001} - helps to explain why there   doesn't seem to be any interruptions to the mainstream media's drumbeat   for war.

Not only is CNN, with it's gargantuan reach into over 150 countries,  directly influential, but mainstream media outlets (with far fewer news   resources) throughout the world follow CNN's lead. Whether it be through   the re-airing of video images or the repeating of analysis, CNN's   strategic framing of world issues and events is seen, heard and   (mis)understood far and wide.

 Last week, the US Senate voted 98-0 to making $40 billion available to  President Bush, and a war resolution which states that "The president is   authorized 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 Sept. 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." It has already been reported that the $40   billion is just a start of an ever-growing war chest. According to Normon   Soloman, of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), this resolution has   given the Bush administration a "blank check" which will be "payable with   vast quantities of human corpses." {Soloman 2001}

 Since it is no secret that Republican administrations highly favour  military solutions over diplomatic ones, we can expect President Bush to   do his best to treat this war chest as one without a bottom. In fact, the   UK-based investment journal Barrons, reported in February of this year   that "Defense stocks have surged mightily in the past year, partly on   the expectation that the Bush administration would spend lavishly on   traditional defense programs." Even though the S&P Index fell by 10%,   the average share prices of the Big Five military contractors - Boeing,   General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon - "jumped   46% last year", upon news of the controversial Bush election victory.   Prior to last week, Pentagon spending for the current fiscal year was   to total $293 billion, which amounts to roughly 3% of the US economy. {Arvedlund 2001} The $40 billion allotted last week puts the total   well over $300 billion, and counting.

 In an era of mutual-fund-mania, weapons manufacturers aren't the only  companies set to profit from increased military spending and new (and   prolonged) wars. Former Reagan Administration Defense Secretary, Frank   Calucci, recently became the point man for an investment firm called the   Carlyle Group, which specializes in holding stock in the weapons industry.   According to Barrons, Carlyle, which has $12.5 billion in its investment   portfolio, "boasts in its literature that it has generated annual returns   of 34% for the past 10 years." Calucci, who's "plush Pennsylvania Avenue   offices...are just a three-buck cab ride from either Capitol Hill or the   White House", has regular working lunches with government officials,   including the present Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Carlyle,   which also has former Prime Minister of Great Britain John Major on its   advisory board, was founded by William Conway Jr. in 1987. Conway,   lamenting back in February on his firms predicament, stated "The problem   for investors is that it's impossible for President Bush to fit all   current weapons development programs into former President Bill   Clinton's defense budget". {McTague 2001} It now seems that this   problem has been solved.

While the mainstream media were quick to voice their absolute disgust at  opportunistic and small-time T-Shirt vendors in New York City (just days   after the terrorist attack), they repeatedly fail to even question the   obscene blood-profits made from the weapons industry.

In a May 2001 Congressional Statement, and plea for more funding for  counter-terrorism measures, entitled the Threat of Terrorism to the United   States, the FBI and Department of State list among its terrorism risks   what they call "state sponsors of terrorism". Afghanistan aside, this list   includes Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Cuba, and North Korea. {Federal   Bureau of Investigation 2001} Does this mean the heinous events of   September 11th will be used to carry out a "sustained war" against   all of these nations? Or perhaps, 'America's New War' effort will be used   to justify a concentrated and permanent presence in the Middle East - an   area that President Eisenhower called the most "strategically important   [i.e., Oil] area in the world." {Chomsky 1996}

If retaliation and/or war does occur, which all western governments and  their media seem to keep telling us it will "soon", we can be sure of   two things: One, is that innocent civilians will die; and two, that the   mainstream media will keep the full impact of our actions from our eyes   and ears. We need only to look back to the Gulf War travesty of   journalism, when NBC journalist John Alpert was blacklisted from US media   circles for submitting video footage of US bomb damage to civilians in   Iraq. {Hazen & Winokur 1997: 11} Not only would these truth-based images   have contradicted the US government's line that the Gulf War was an   exercise using 'smart' bombs with surgical precision (of military   targets), but it would have injected some much needed sobriety in the   popular support for the war.

The terrorists of September 11th must indeed be brought to justice. But  bringing the world to the brink of World War III, and risking a nuclear   holocaust, is not a justified response. 

TOWARDS WORLD PEACE AND SECURITY

In his book Necessary Illusions Noam Chomsky states that "Citizens of  democratic societies should undertake a course in intellectual   self-defense to protect themselves from manipulation and control and lay   the basis for more meaningful democracy." {Chomsky 1989} While this is   good advice for citizens at all times, it is especially relevant today.

In this regard, people can turn to independent media sources - Democracy  Now! (www.flashpoints.net or www.webactive.com), Free Speech Radio News   (www.freespeech.org), the Independent Media Centre (www.indymedia.org),   Common Dreams News Center (www.commondreams.org), Rabble.ca   (www.rabble.ca), The Straight Goods (www.straightgoods.com), the Media   Channel (www.mediachannel.org), Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting   (www.fair.org), the New Internationalist (www.oneworld.org/ni), ZNet   (www.zmag.org/ZNET.htm), and the media of countries that might be on the   receiving end of a US-led response.

 These news sources will help us develop a fuller context, and hence, a  fuller truth at this crucial time. My earlier warning, to take all media   reports with critical grains of salt, also applies to independent media   sites (or for that matter, this article). For example, after checking   with the original sources of recent, and widely circulating, rumors   alleging that CNN used old (1991) footage depicting celebratory   Palestinians last week, or that the hijackers on United Airlines Flight   93 were American citizens, I found both of these stories to be baseless.

Last week President Bush stated that this "war on terrorism" would be "The  First War of the 21st century". This, while NATO invoked, for the first   time in its 52 year history, Article V, which effectively means that an   act against one NATO nation is an act against all. While some NATO foreign   ministers have attempted to deflect the gravity of this resolution,   ludicrously stating that it is merely "symbolic", it is in fact a giant   step towards world war. Thankfully, there are some NATO allies that have   said that they will require solid proof before agreeing to any retaliatory   action, and that they will not support an unjustified and overbearing use   of force ­ which would only serve to create that (terrorism) which it is   trying to destroy.

 The 21st century does not belong to our government leaders, nor even to  us. This new century, which we are just beginning, belongs to the world's   children. Do we want our children, and their children, growing up in a   culture of war? Or do we want them to grow up in what former Secretary   General of UNESCO, Federico Mayor, called a culture of peace. {Goodman   Adelson 2000}

If we hope to achieve a culture of peace, we will need our mainstream  media to create a culture of truth. It's about time that our mainstream   media got with the program - the truth program.

This most important choice, is for each of us to make. We must do all that  we can (e.g., call, e-mail, fax, teach, learn, protest) to hold our   governments and our media to account. By not taking a stand for peace and   restraint today, you are refusing to participate in the most important   decision of your life.

RNN (Real News Network) 

Paul D. Boin is a Canadian investigative journalist and media educator  based in Ontario, Canada. Paul is the founder of the Real News Network   (RNN to be officially launched in October), and is presently completing   his doctoral degree in Education (within the program focus of Critical   Global and Community Issues, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in   Education of the University of Toronto), and has concentrated his   dissertation research on media and democracy issues. He is also a   co-founder of Media Democracy Day (www.MediaDemocracyDay.org) ­   1st Annual this October 19th - and is an associate with the   Transformative Learning Centre (www.tlcentre.org). Paul is presently   working on a book entitled "Reclaiming Our Minds: Towards a Democratic   News Media and Society", to be published in 2002. He can be reached at   pboin@home.com.

The Real News Network (RNN): is an independent media organization devoted  to informing the people of the world of vital issues that have bearing on   their society, environment, economy, and future. RNN conducts original   investigative journalism and news media analysis, while amplifying real   news stories as they appear in any, and all, media. If you would like to   support this type of (time and resource intensive) investigative reporting   become an RNN MEMBER, and receive 4 special in-depth RNN Investigative   Reports (20 to 30 pages each), in addition to the Real News Briefs. RNN   MEMBERSHIPS can be obtained for $20 (Price includes shipping and taxes. US   price is $20, International orders add $2). Mail, and make check payable,   to: the Real News Network, 35 Green Valley Dr., Unit #1204, Kitchener,   Ontario, Canada, N2P 2A5.  

 REFERENCES

  1. CBC Radio, This Morning, September 13 2001.
  2. Central Intelligence Agency and National Intelligence Council, "Global   Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future with Nongovernment Experts,"  < www.cia.gov/cia/publications/globaltrends2015/index.html>, 2001.  
  3. Canadian Department of National Defense, "Shaping the Future of the   Canadian Forces: A Strategy for 2020,"  < www.vcds.dnd.ca/cds/strategy2k/intro_e.asp>, June 1999.  
  4. Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch March 26 2001,  < www.counterpunch.org/cnnpsyops.html>. 
  5. NYC Indy Media, "Thousands of NYC Mourners Call For Peace," New York   City IMC September 15 2001, <www.nyc.indymedia.org>.  
  6. Cockburn, CNN and Psy-ops.  
  7. Norman Soloman, "A Unanimous Triumph for Masters of War,"  < www.fair.org>, September 15 2001.  
  8. Erin E. Arvedlund, "Starship Troopers: New Weaponry Will Shake up the   Defense Industry - and Investors," Barron's, February 12 2001, 23-26.  
  9. Jim McTague, "Ex-Pentagon Chief Targets Defense Plays," Barron's,   February 12 2001, 26.  
  10. Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Threat of Terrorism to the United   States: Congressional Statement,"  < www.fbi.gov/congress/congress01/freeh051001.htm>, May 10 2001.  
  11. Noam Chomsky, Powers and Prospects (Boston: South End Press, 1996).  
  12. Don Hazen and Julie Winokur, We the Media: A Citizen's Guide to   Fighting for Media Democracy (New York: The New Press, 1997), 11.  
  13. Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Though Control in Democratic   Societies (Boston: South End Press, 1989).  
  14. Anne Goodman Adelson, "The Culture of Peace and the Evolution of Human   Beings" (Toronto, 2000).

 © Copyright Paul D. Boin, 2001  <pboin@home.com>  

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