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What is an appropropriate response?
Political and philosophical considerations after the attack on the Word Trade Center

Truth is, we're terrorized because we're hated

Robert Bowman
for the National Catholic Reporter
October 2, 1998

Tell people the truth, Mr. President -- about terrorism. If deceptions 
about terrorism go unchallenged, then the threat will continue until it 
destroys us.

The truth is that none of our thousands of nuclear weapons can protect us 
from these threats. No Star Wars system -- no matter how technically 
advanced, no matter how many trillions of dollars are poured into it -- 
can protect us from a nuclear weapon delivered in a sailboat or a Cessna 
or a suitcase or a Ryder rental truck. Not one weapon in our vast arsenal,
not a penny of the $270 billion a year we spend on so-called defense can 
defend against a terrorist bomb. That is a military fact.

As a retired lieutenant colonel and a frequent lecturer on national 
security issues, I have often quoted Psalm 33: "A king is not saved by his
mighty army. A warrior is not saved by his great strength." The obvious 
reaction is, "Then what can we do? 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 when you explained why we bombed
Afghanistan and Sudan. You said that we are a target because we stand for 
democracy, freedom and human rights in the world. Nonsense!

We are the target of terrorists because, in much of the world, our 
government stands for dictatorship, bondage and human exploitation. We are
the target of terrorists because we are hated. And we are hated because our
government has done hateful things.

In how many countries have agents of our government deposed popularly 
elected leaders and replaced them with puppet military dictators who were 
willing to sell out their own people to American multinational 

We did it in Iran when the U.S. Marines and the CIA deposed Mossadegh 
because he wanted to nationalize the oil industry. We replaced him with 
the Shah and armed, trained 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 that there are people in 
Iran who hate us?

We did it in Chile. We did it in Vietnam. More recently, we tried to do it
in Iraq.

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 their own people so the wealth of the land could be taken out by 
the likes of Domino Sugar, the United Fruit Company, Folgers and Chiquita 

In country after country, our government has thwarted democracy, stifled 
freedom and trampled human rights. That's why it is hated around the world.
And that's why we're the target of terrorists.

People in Canada enjoy democracy, freedom and human rights. So do the 
people of Norway and Sweden. Have you heard of Canadian embassies being 
bombed? Or Norwegian, or Swedish?

We are not hated because we practice democracy, freedom and human rights. 
We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third
World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational 
corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the 
form of terrorism -- and in the future, nuclear terrorism.

Once the truth about why the threat exists is understood, the solution 
becomes obvious. We must change our ways. Getting rid of our nuclear 
weapons -- unilaterally if necessary -- will enhance our security. 
Drastically altering our foreign policy 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 should 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 should help Iraqis rebuild their electric power plants, 
their water treatment facilities, their hospitals -- all the things we 
destroyed and prevented them from rebuilding with sanctions.

Instead of training terrorists and death squads, we should close the 
School of the Americas. Instead of supporting insurrection, 
destabilization, assassination and terror around the world, we should 
abolish the CIA and give the money to relief agencies.

In short, we should do good instead of evil. Who would try to stop us? Who
would hate us? Who would want to bomb us?

That is the truth, Mr. President. That's what the American people need to 

Robert Bowman flew 101 combat missions in Vietnam. He is presently bishop 
of the United Catholic Church in Melbourne Beach, Fla.