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Lest We Forget
. On the anniversary of the airborne terrorist attack on the US, Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group of relatives of some of the victims of the attack who are dedicated to preventing terrorism and promoting peace, issued this statement:
Families for Peaceful Tomorrows Statement on the Second Anniversary of 9/11
Two years ago today our loved ones were tragically murdered in an act of terror that shook the United States and the world. In the time since their deaths, as we continue our personal paths of grieving, we are comforted by the thoughtful and compassionate response of people all over the world who have offered sympathy and support to the victims of these terrible attacks. But much about the US government’s approach to responding to our loved ones’ deaths stands in stark contrast to the common sense words and comforting actions of ordinary people. On this two-year anniversary, we stop to reflect on the dangerous course of current policies and to call for a new approach to 9/11 that is focused on bringing about true security and justice.
Our loved ones’ deaths prompted the US government to attack Afghanistan and overthrow the repressive Taliban government with the objective of catching Osama Bin Laden and other members of Al Queda thought to be responsible for the attack. While military efforts to overthrow the Taliban were initially successful, Bin Laden is still unaccounted for, and recent reports indicate that the Taliban and Al Queda are resurging in Afghanistan even as the central government pleads for more funds for stabilization and rebuilding. Our military campaign in Afghanistan did one thing for certain: it created more bereaved families just like ours. Ordinary Afghans were killed by US bombs, injured by cluster bombs, and displaced by fighting, adding to the suffering of 23 previous years of wars. On our travels to Afghanistan we have met some of these families and hold them in our hearts today as another set of victims created by the tragedy of 9/11.
Shortly after 9/11/01, the US congress passed the USA Patriot act, ostensibly to improve security in the United States, with little time for examination of its consequences. In this climate of fear and panic, the Patriot Act and other measures have eroded basic American civil liberties and threatened our immigrant populations in particular. Today, unnamed people languish in unidentified locations on unknown charges under the guise of American justice. Yet there is no evidence that these measures have made us any safer. At the same time, the administration stalls on efforts to provide an open and honest investigation of the events of 9/11.
Last year at this time, President Bush used the occasion of the one year commemoration of our loved ones’ deaths to begin a marketing campaign to sell the war against Iraq. Despite the lack of a link between Saddam Hussein and the events of 9/11, the Bush Administration’s insinuations of a connection played upon the public’s fears of 9/11 and led the country into an unnecessary war in Iraq, invoking our loved ones’ deaths as justification. While the deceptions behind the stated reasons for going to war are coming to light, ordinary Iraqis and US soldiers in Iraq continue to suffer, with the death toll mounting every day. Today we pause to mourn the Iraqi dead and all the casualties of the war, and to call upon our leaders to bring our troops, who have put their lives on the line, safely home from this misguided mission and to turn control of Iraq’s rebuilding to the authority of the United Nations.
One of our members wrote to the New York Times on Sept 14, 2001 “I pray that this country which has been so deeply hurt not unleash forces that it does not have the power to call back.” Have we unleashed these terrible forces? After 9/11 America had the sympathy of the entire world. Since the war with Iraq, international sympathy and support has turned to hatred and despair. Anti-American sentiment is on the rise all around the world – what better recruiting tool for terrorists can we provide?
As grieving family members, we know that feelings of fear and anger are a natural part of the healing process. But we have learned that it is not healthy or constructive to act on these emotions. The government’s response to 9/11 has kept us stuck in the fear and panic that we all shared from the shocking events of 9/11. Rather than basing our policies on fear and anger, we call upon the government to act in the best interest of the American public by rejoining the community of nations to work together constructively in solving the issues of worldwide terrorism and war.
While September 11 stands as a unique tragedy in the American experience, the sad reality is that people in other countries have been experiencing their own September 11ths with much less fanfare all the time. Peaceful Tomorrows members have met with other victims of violence around the world who are a guiding light in our efforts to put our grief to work as action for peace. From Israeli and Palestinian parents who lost children to violence, to victims of the US Embassy bombing in Kenya to the mothers of the disappeared in Central and South America to the survivors of the ultimate violence – the atomic weapons dropped by the US on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – Peaceful Tomorrows members have found ourselves to be part of a worldwide family of those who have known terror and who have responded with peace. September 11 taught us that human beings have the capacity to commit terrible violence against each other. But it also taught us that the human heart is capable of overcoming fear and hatred to build a world in which there are no more September 11ths anywhere in the world. It is this hope is that we must build upon as individuals and as nations.
On February 15, 2003 a great worldwide shift was made apparent – so obvious in fact that the New York Times reported it on the front page. The millions of people in the streets around the world marching against war in Iraq demonstrated that there are now two superpowers in the world: the Bush Administration and global public opinion. We are honored to stand with our brothers and sisters around the world who know that we the people must find another way to live together on this planet.
So today as we mourn, reflect and remember, we ask that you join with us in pursuit of true peace, security, and justice. We owe it to the dead, we need it for the living and we must do it for the generations to follow. Let us move forward together to build a future of peaceful tomorrows.”
Rallies Against NZ Troops going to Iraq
. Saturday, 13 September. The first, preparatory group of New Zealand troops leave for Iraq on Sunday 14 September, the rest of the contingent leaves on Friday 26 September and it is planned that they will be operational within a few weeks of that date.
outside the US Consulate, Customs Street, City; part of the Worldwide Day of Action Against Corporate Globalisation and War. Organised by
Global Peace and Justice Auckland
in Manners Mall. Organised by Peace Action Wellington (
hotmail [dot] com
, as part of the Worldwide Day of Action Against Corporate Globalisation and War,
Ahmed Zaoui Support Meeting. Auckland
, Wednesday, 17 September,7-30pm at Western Springs Garden Complex, 990 Great North Rd. A public meeting with speakers including Paul Buchanan (Auckland University), Bishop Robin Leamy SM, Amnesty International, Umarji Mohammed and representatives of the Algerian Community. Ahmed Zaoui is a democratically elected member of the Algerian parliament who was forced to flee Algeria following a military takeover. He arrived in NZ seeking safety and justice, instead he has spent nine months in solitary confinement without being charged and despite being officially declared to be a refugee – he may yet be returned to Algeria where he faces torture and death. Organised by Friends of Ahmed Zaoui, for more info contact
yahoo [dot] co [dot] nz
“> email Friends of Zaoui
. For more info about Ahmed Zaoui, check out
PMA’s Ahmed Zaoui page
The UN’s Role In Occupied Iraq
. A debate is developing in the states who opposed the US-led attack on Iraq, and those who were lukewarm about it, about whether the UN should return to Iraq to try and establish the peace and security which the American occupation is clearly failing to provide, and under what conditions such a return would be effective and acceptable. With the US currently spending 1 billion dollars a week on the occupation, and losing American lives, it wants others to shoulder part of the burden. In ‘A Return to the UN?’, below, Phyllis Bennis discusses what is wrong with the US’s current resolution before the UN on providing UN assistance to the US occupation, and gives her views on what should be done instead. You can compare her views with those of Ian Williams, who does see a role for the UN in the near future. His article Time For A New Regime Change In Iraq is on line at
Foreign Policy in Focus
A Return to the UN?
By Phyllis Bennis, September 4, 2003
The recent Bush administration’s draft UN resolution proposing a new role for the United Nations in Iraq would be a welcome step if it was done to help improve the lives of Iraqi citizens. But the reassessment is not a reflection of any concern regarding the illegality of the occupation, the lack of legitimacy of the U.S. presence in Iraq, or the impact on Iraqis of Washington’s abject failure to provide for even the minimal humanitarian needs of the population. Instead, it reflects a growing concern regarding what the New York Times called the “high cost of occupation” for the U.S. in Iraq – costs both in U.S. soldiers’ lives and in dollars.
The high price in dollars is being paid by U.S. taxpayers as the administration is planning an emergency request of $60-70 billion to cover current fighting and reconstruction costs [Bush has since made a request for $87 billion]. This follows $79 billion that was released in April 2003. The beneficiaries are corporations close to the Bush administration, notably Halliburton and Bechtel, which are earning billions of dollars. The high price in lives is being paid by U.S. troops assigned to state-building duties for which they have no training, by Iraqi translators and other Iraqis working with and for the U.S. occupation authorities, and by UN humanitarian staff who are seen as working under or within the U.S. occupation structure. The highest price in lives is paid by Iraqi civilians, both in armed attacks and as a result of the lack of sufficient clean water, electricity, and medical care.
The current proposal under consideration calls for the creation of a UN-endorsed multilateral military force to join the U.S. occupation force in Iraq. It would function as a separate, parallel force with a separate command structure, but the commander would be an American. U.S. officials make clear their intention that the multilateral force would be accountable to the Pentagon’s strategic control. There is a history of this kind of U.S. control of UN peacekeeping operations through imposing a U.S. general or admiral as UN commander. This was U.S. practice during the Clinton administration in Somalia, Haiti, and elsewhere.
But what is unprecedented is that the plan does not envision Washington even sharing authority and decisionmaking with the UN itself or with the governments sending international contingents, let alone ending its occupation and turning over full authority to the UN to oversee a rapid return to Iraqi independence.
A number of countries, facing U.S. pressure, might be prepared to send troops with a new UN resolution providing an international imprimatur. U.S. officials have actually described a new UN resolution’s value as providing “political cover” to governments wanting to participate but restrained by public opposition. Countries under particular pressure to send troops include Pakistan, Turkey, and India. It is likely that many members of the Security Council might be willing to cave in to such pressure. Any resolution, however, would also have to win approval from Russia, Germany, and especially France–which have made positive remarks about the resolution but are likely to demand more control for the Security Council over the mission. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that “the eventual arrangements cannot just be the enlargement or adjustment of the current occupation forces. We have to install a real international force under a mandate of the United Nations Security Council.”
The new UN resolution also encourages other countries to contribute funds, as well as troops, to the U.S. occupation. A donors conference is scheduled for late October in Spain, a key U.S. ally. If a UN resolution is passed before that date with little acrimony in the Security Council, new amounts of financial support will be forthcoming.
What Should Be Done
Any new UN resolution aimed at providing more legitimacy for the U.S.-UK occupation of Iraq should be opposed. Countries should not send troops or funds to maintain or strengthen or “internationalize” Washington’s occupation.
Oppose Richard Perle’s claim that “our main mistake is that we haven’t succeeded in working closely with Iraqis before the war so that an Iraqi opposition could have been able to immediately take the matter in hand.” Instead, the over-reliance of the Bush administration on the claims of the exiled Iraqi opposition, driven by self-interest and ideological fervor rather than grounded information, is one of the main reasons for the U.S. failure to anticipate the post-war crisis in Iraq.
Only after the U.S.-UK occupation has ended should the United Nations and a multilateral peacekeeping force return to Iraq. Their mandate should be for a very short and defined period, with the goal of assisting Iraq in reconstruction and overseeing election of a governing authority.
As belligerent powers who initiated the war, and as occupying powers, the U.S. and the UK are required to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. While their military occupation should be ended immediately, Washington and London remain obligated to pay the continuing costs of Iraq’s reconstruction, including the bulk of the cost of UN humanitarian and peacekeeping deployments. The U.S. should immediately make public a realistic estimate for the cost of reconstruction in Iraq. Washington should turn over funds to UN authority, beginning with a direct grant of at least $75 billion (the initial amount spent on waging the war) for reconstruction work. These funds should be raised from an excess profits tax on corporations benefiting from the war and post-war privatization in Iraq, as well as from Pentagon budget lines initially aimed at carrying out war in Iraq.
The U.S. should use this moment to reverse its longstanding opposition to the creation of a standing UN rapid-reaction military force, beginning with reconstituting the UN Charter-mandated Military Staff Committee.
JustPeace was produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
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