The question of evidence and the moral inauthenticity of jingoism
Stabroek News
October 9, 2001

Dear Editor,

Swirling winds of war have already ascended well beyond the Afghan barricades. Those of us who are discomfited by such placements and regard "democracy" as a "proximate solution to an insoluble problem" have a responsibility to enter much more than conceptual spaces, for an important purpose. It is disclosing our refusal to immerse ourselves in

"psychological illiteracy" strongly facilitated by the machinations of a "power elite." I address myself, with such a commitment in mind, to two matters: the question of evidence, and the moral inauthenticity of jingoism in calls for justice against terrorism.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Tony Blair - at the behest of President George Bush, so say some media pundits - outlined the case for justice against bin Laden and the Taliban to his parliamentary colleagues. He is widely reported in Western media as having outlined a clear case against the principals of terror. The Pakistan leader, General Musharaf, is reported by C.N.N. to be convinced about the case against Mr bin Laden. Let me say that it is the U.S.A. - not Britain - which has an obligation to offer credible first hand evidence. According to the well informed Oxford intellectual, Tariq Ali, all names of the hijacker/perpetrators released by the U.S.A. are Saudi or Egyptian. Some of them, he points out, are from the Hijaz

province of Saudi Arabia, one of the "oldest and reliable allies" of the U.S.A. I note, however, that Afghanistan is the major locus of American efforts to combat terror.

The question of credible evidence cannot be handled adequately, if the historical front is not traversed. In the aftermath of the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa, the Clinton administration alleged that a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan where bin Laden once resided was manufacturing chemical weapons. The plant was bombed, on the orders of the president but there is absolutely no evidence that chemical weapons had been produced there. In the mid nineteen-sixties, the Johnson administration alleged that a North Vietnamese gunboat had attacked a U.S. naval vessel within international waters, the Gulf of Tonkin. The report was to be used as one pretext for justifying the domino theory and intensifying the war against the aggressive South East Asian communists. The claim about communist aggression turned out to be patently false. At the time of the U.S. sponsored invasion of Cuba, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, American ambassador to the U.N. told the Security Council that aircraft with Cuban markings landing in Miami were piloted by defectors disloyal to the Castro led administration. The Steven declaration, based on a deliberate fabrication largely from the C.I.A., later became one of the defining embarassing moments for a Kennedy team committed to destabilising the Cuban revolution.

Let me now consider the blatant disrespect of international law by the Reagan administration, during the 1980's when the U.S. had mined harbours in Nicaragua, a country with which it was not at war. The Sandinista Government sought and gained redress in a World Court ruling against frontal terror. Reagan bragged that the U.S.A. would not recognise all World Court decisions for a three year period. It was also in Nicaragua that a C.I.A. operative, Richard Hasenfus, was discovered by the Sandinista Government transporting military supplies to rebels backed by the Reagan administration. At first, the administration denied

that Hasenfus was connected to its efforts at toppling the Sandinistas. What emerged was not merely a Hasenfus link, but also, a lengthy inquiry. The Iran-Contra Affair, which stretched to the Oval Office.

Two principal goals of the investigation were to determine whether the U.S. Government had been violating its own laws and the president, as well as vice-president, were participants in such illegality. The embarrassment for Reagan was that the Iranians,the very people he had once demeaned as "barbarians", with whom no negotiation should be proposed, were conducting arrangements with White House operative, Oliver North, by means of which armaments were procured for the Iranian war effort against Iraq. North used profits from the sale of the arms to help finance the anti-Sandinistas.

President Bush's call for justice against terror has not eluded his European partners, one of whom is the ultra-conservative Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. In late September, he claimed that Western civilisation was superior to Islam. Quite apart from its sordid implications, the Berlusconi remark emerges from a view which is deeply ingrained in Western epistemology. I contend that those who have been moved to contemplate the relevance of international law to application of justice in a context of humanism and do not trivialise this epistemology must see it as an arrangement of arrogance from which Berlusconi and partners have been principal beneficiaries.

Further, American Blacks haunted by the "spectre of despair" which emanates directly from century old operations of what president Bush calls "the mightiest nation on the face of the earth" have turned to Islam for comfort. The Berlusconi pitch is, thus, a serious affront to them. More significantly, it is a crass attempt to vitiate the validity of contributions to Western progress which depended on Islamic literary inventiveness, humanistic tolerance, geographical insights, and scientific advancement, the last of which, Tariq Ali rightly says set

the stage for contemporary European medical practice.

Yours faithfully,

Dr.William H. Walcott. F.R.S.A.

Ontario, Canada.