America Bashing 101
It’s Time For Some Truth About Terrorism
(An Open Letter to President William Jefferson Clinton, August 23, 1998)
by Most Rev. Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
Presiding Archbishop, United Catholic Church
Tell people the truth, Mr. President … about terrorism, not about poor Monica. You and your mid-life libido and zippergate will fade from memory with your presidency. But if your lies about terrorism go unchallenged, then the terror war you have unleashed will likely continue until it destroys us.
The threat of nuclear terrorism is closing in upon us. Chemical terrorism is at hand, and biological terrorism is a future danger. None of our thousands of nuclear weapons can protect us from these threats. These idols of plutonium, titanium, and steel are impotent. Our worship of them for over five decades has not brought us security, only greater danger. No “Star Wars” system … no matter how technically advanced, no matter how many trillions of dollars was poured into it … can protect us from even a single terrorist bomb. Not one weapon in our vast arsenal can shield us from a nuclear weapon delivered in a sailboat or a Piper Cub or a suitcase or a Ryder rental truck. Not a penny of the 273 billion dollars a year we spend on so-called defense can actually defend us against a terrorist bomb. Nothing in our enormous military establishment can actually give us one whit of security. That is a military fact. It reminds me of God’s message to us in psalm 33: “A king is not saved by his mighty army. A warrior is not saved by his great strength. A war horse is a vain hope for victory, and with its might it cannot save.”
As a retired lieutenant colonel and a recognized expert on national security issues, I have often quoted that psalm. And the obvious reaction to it is, “Then what can we do? How can we be secure? Is there nothing we can do to provide security for our people?
There is. But to understand it requires that we know the truth about the threat. Mr. President, you did not tell the American people the truth about why we are the targets of terrorism. You said that we are the target because we stand for democracy, freedom, and human rights in the world. Baloney! We are the target of terrorists because we stand for dictatorship, bondage, and human exploitation in the world. We are the target of terrorists because we are hated. And we are hated because we have done hateful things.
In how many countries have we deposed popularly elected leaders and replaced them with puppet military dictators who were willing to sell out their own people to American multinational corporations?
We did it in Iran when we deposed Mossadegh because he wanted to nationalize the oil industry. We replaced him with the Shah, and trained, armed, and paid his hated Savak national guard, which enslaved and brutalized the people of Iran. All to protect the financial interests of our oil companies. Is it any wonder there are people in Iran who hate us?
We did it in Chile when we deposed Allende, democratically elected by the people to introduce socialism. We replaced him with the brutal right-wing military dictator, General Pinochet. Chile has still not recovered.
We did it in Vietnam when we thwarted democratic elections in the South which would have united the country under Ho Chi Minh. We replaced him with a series of ineffectual puppet crooks who invited us to come in and slaughter their people — and we did. (I flew 101 combat missions in that war which you properly opposed.)
We did it in Iraq, where we killed a quarter of a million civilians in a failed attempt to topple Saddam Hussein, and where we have killed a million since then with our sanctions. About half of these innocent victims have been children under the age of five.
And, of course, how many times have we done it in Nicaragua and all the other banana republics of Latin America? Time after time we have ousted popular leaders who wanted the riches of the land to be shared by the people who worked it. We replaced them with murderous tyrants who would sell out and control their own people so that the wealth of the land could be taken out by Domino Sugar, the United Fruit Company, Folgers, and Chiquita Banana.
In country after country, we have thwarted democracy, stifled freedom, and trampled human rights. That’s why we are hated around the world. And that’s why we are the target of terrorists.
People in Canada enjoy better democracy, more freedom, and greater human rights than we do. So do the people of Norway and Sweden. Have you heard of Canadian embassies being bombed? Or Norwegian embassies? Or Swedish embassies. No.
We are not hated because we practice democracy, freedom, and human rights. We are hated because we deny these things to people in third world countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. And that hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism — and in the future, nuclear terrorism.
So we return to the question: “Isn’t there anything we can do to provide security?” There is. Once the truth about why the threat exists is understood, the solution becomes obvious. We must change our ways. If psalm 33 poses the dilemma, then psalm 37 has the answer: “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and have security.”
The “Colonel Bowman” part of me now agrees with the “Bishop Bowman” part of me that psalm 37 is our best path to security. Getting rid of our nuclear weapons — unilaterally if necessary — will enhance our security. Drastically altering our foreign policy in line with psalm 37 will ensure it.
Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so we can have the oil under their sand, we send them to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, and feed starving children.
Instead of continuing to kill thousands of Iraqi children every day with our sanctions, we help them rebuild their electric powerplants, their water treatment facilities, their hospitals — all the things we destroyed in our war against them and prevented them from rebuilding with our sanctions.
Instead of seeking to be king of the hill, we become a responsible member of the family of nations. Instead of stationing hundreds of thousands of troops around the world to protect the financial interests of our multinational corporations, we bring them home and expand the Peace Corps.
Instead of training terrorists and death squads in the techniques of torture and assassination, we close the School of the Americas. Instead of supporting military dictatorships, we support true democracy — the right of the people to choose their own leaders. Instead of supporting insurrection, destabilization, assassination, and terror around the world, we abolish the CIA and give the money to relief agencies.
In short, we do good instead of evil. We become the good guys, once again.
If we abolished our armed forces and used our resources to feed the hungry, cure the sick, and care for the needy — both at home and around the world — who would try to stop us? Who would hate us? Who would want to bomb us?
The threat of terrorism would vanish. “Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and have security.”
That is the truth, Mr. President. That is what the American people need to hear. We are good people. We only need to be told the truth and given the vision. You can do it, Mr. President. The big money people from the multinational corporations and banks paid for your election. But they have given up on you. Forget them. Stop the killing. Stop the justifying. St