America’s deliberate bombing of water sanitation plants in Iraq is a horrific, terrorist act. Taking over the Chilean government is an act of terrorism. What we saw on a huge scale in the WTC bombing is the same kind of horror and terror that is visited upon Israelis and Palestinians every day.
We need $40 billion to eradicate world poverty, and that’s exactly the sum Bush got through Congress to help fight terrorism [and rebuild lower Manhattan]. But the people who will primarily benefit from this aren’t civilians; they’re Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and all the other technical and military corporations. If you want to get to the issues of why people become militant fanatics, a lot of it is going to involve poverty. If you changed many world policies regarding food and distribution of resources today, they would have an impact tomorrow. This wealth, this gluttony, has a price.
In almost every pre-conflict situation, women knew when conflict was going to explode. About a year before the war in Kosovo, a group of women from the region spoke informally before the U.N. Security Council. They said their boys were going into the hills to learn to fight. No one listened because women are viewed as not having access to power and valid information. One of our goals is to demand that more decision makers around the world, on all levels, are women. Only one ambassador on the Security Council is a woman. Of the 189 U.N. ambassadors in New York, only ten are women.
Think for a minute about the enormous expressions of solidarity and love that flowed into America after September 11. Then think of Rwanda and the enormous genocide that happened there. There were no declarations of solidarity, no cries of support. Can we blame some governments for thinking they can sneak certain policies past us, because who cares about “those people”? We have to show that we care about all people. I would ask people to be deliberately and methodically antiracist right now. Also question where your taxes are going. Start protesting when you see that large chunks are going for the military. And always, always question where you invest your money.
We very much condemn all violence, but we have difficulties calling ourselves a pacifist organization. How do you tell a woman to passively resist a violent husband? This is the same tension in activism. Do you want to tell activists to stand in front of guns and let the aggressor kill them? Because they will. Look at Tiananmen Square. We need armed peacekeepers.
Vesna Kesic, founder, Be Active Be Emancipated, Zagreb, Croatia
I am the last one to say “all you need is love.” Wars in the Balkans did not end because local politicians and warlords came to their senses. They ended because the international community used political pressure, diplomacy, and even military intervention to protect the civilian population. I am not unconditionally against military intervention if it can prevent ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, or vast destruction. But this is not what the U.S. attack on Afghanistan is about. If the U.S., the mightiest, cannot be patient and generous enough to allow the peaceful process of justice to develop, then who can? Should others because they are less powerful and much poorer? Didn’t we all learn that it works in exactly the opposite way?
My first encounter with “terrorism” was when I ran into a shelter when we feared an airstrike. There were a hundred of us in a dark, concrete hall. Some civilians had guns and rifles, children were crying, and adults wondered whether there were Serbs amongst us. The air was full of hate. I decided I would never go to the shelter again, despite the daily air raids that followed during the next six months. I decided that the most important—and possibly the only—thing I could do is to work on lowering mistrust among people and