I was reading Derrick Jensen’s interview with Ramsey Clark [“Neighborhood Bully,” August 2001] at the time the Pentagon and World Trade Center were attacked and President Bush called the nation to arms. The contrast was unsettling, to say the least.
Knowing Clark’s concerns about a U.S. foreign policy predicated on our desire to see capitalist “business as usual” conducted abroad, I couldn’t help but question the extent to which America’s war against terrorism isn’t a license to further impose our Western values on peoples and nations already in danger of being overwhelmed by McCulture.
No amount of nationalism, tribalism, or fundamentalist religious fervor can countenance the wanton attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., and the premeditated taking of thousands of innocent civilian lives. Still, in light of America’s foreign-policy track record — which, as Clark points out, has rarely put human rights ahead of industrial greed — I worry over what our nation’s newest military foray will entail, and what consequences it may have.
When Derrick Jensen asked what most Americans feel about our country’s foreign policy, Ramsey Clark said, “It’s in terms of the demonization of enemies and the exaltation of our capacity for violence. When the Gulf War started in 1991, you could almost feel a reverence come over the country. We had a forty-two-day running commercial for militarism.” History, it seems, is repeating itself.
Were the terrorists trying to say, in a violent way, the same thing Ramsey Clark is trying to tell us with words? Clark claims that America is the dominant economic and military bully to the world. What we do in the coming weeks and months will demonstrate whether he is right.
I agree with almost all of what Ramsey Clark had to say, but would like to answer the question he posed about Vietnam veterans: “How many of those pilots who bombed Vietnam . . . ever said to themselves, ‘I wonder what it was like being a Vietnamese villager when I was coming over and dropping those bombs’?”
As a former Army nurse with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, I spent five years in group therapy with Vietnam vets. Almost all of them thought about what it must have been like for the Vietnamese with American bombs dropping on their heads. Those vets thought about it day and night, year after year, decade after decade, their imaginations filling in what their eyes hadn’t seen. Some waited until their deathbed to vent their tremendous guilt, such as the World War II bomber who wailed to me about the sixty thousand people he’d killed from the sky.
Our war veterans are teachers who can tell us about the horrible consequences of our twisted ways. We just need to listen.
I purchased the August issue of The Sun just a few days before September 11, and I could not help but think and feel that what Ramsey Clark described as the true intent of U.S. foreign policy [“Neighborhood Bully,” interview by Derrick Jensen] was a crucial factor in the atrocity those terrorists committed against the U.S. government and its citizenry.
I am troubled that I cannot feel the depth of sorrow and outrage almost everyone around me is feeling. Is that because I refuse to watch the TV, with its endless portrayal of destruction, death, grief, suffering, and heroism? My ears have heard and my eyes have read enough.
The innocent always pay the price for war, declared or not. What happened is horrific. I fear the aftermath even more.