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The following is excerpted from an Open Letter to President William Jefferson Clinton, on August 23, 1998. The original text can be found at http://www.rmbowman.com. See how much of this text still applies today.
[Foreword by Dr. Bowman: "A few years ago, terrorists destroyed two U.S. embassies. President Clinton retaliated against suspected facilities of Osama bin Laden. In his television address, the President told the American people that we were the targets of terrorism because we stood for democracy, freedom, and human rights in the world. On that occasion, I wrote the following."]
It's Time For Some Truth About Terrorism
Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
August 23, 1998
"Tell people the truth, Mr. President ... about terrorism. 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.
"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 our government has 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
"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, our government has 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 our government denies 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.
"Once the truth about why the threat exists is understood, the solution becomes obvious. We must change our government's ways.
"Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so the oil companies can sell the oil under their sand, we must 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 must 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 must 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 must bring them home and expand the Peace Corps.
"Instead of training terrorists and death squads in the techniques of torture and assassination, we must close the School of the Americas (no matter what name they use). Instead of supporting military dictatorships, we must 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 must 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. The threat of terrorism would vanish. 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. Stop the killing. Stop the justifying. Stop the retaliating. Put people first. Tell them the truth."
Leonel, according to Robert Bowman's web page, that Open Letter has been translated into at least 12 languages and has circled the globe. "Internet activism works!" I would say, don't mass e-mail it but do pass it along to American voters or community groups you may know that are open to reflection (too many people around us are not). The bad guys will pay it no mind (until they are forced to). Rush Limbaugh would disparage it. For instance, what he said of the torture of Iraqi prisoners was that American soldiers were entitled to have a good time, "emotional release" he called it, and that we should simply get off their backs. The reason he says that, however, is because he has figured out that it is extremely unlikely that he would ever find himself in a situation where he would be stripped naked, with a hood on his head, and electrodes attached to his genitals, and getting bitten by dogs and beaten se
nseless by crazed soldiers. Feeling assured that this would never happen to him, the Limbaughs of this world can then peddle their trash to millions of "decent" American radio listeners, who will nod approvingly: "Yeah, this guy makes sense, our soldiers need some emotional release."
Would that emotional release be visited on all the trash peddlers in this world! Would that happen before they open their mouths and continue to spread their supreme cultural arrogance to the uneducated, unsophisticated, and otherwise impressionable minds out there who will translate their hatred of those who are not like them into acts that inflict unimaginable suffering on others. Would they feel in their own flesh their own hatred, their own violence, their own prejudices!
However, negative wishing or poetic justice will not change the world. What we do want, most of us, is a better world. For that, we have to open other people's eyes, one at a time if necessary. If the letter form Dr. Bowman intuitively
makes sense to us, but we do nothing to impart this wisdom to our children and our acquaintances, then what is the use? We can just wait to hear of another Abu Ghraib, at any of a thousand other places around the world.