Tuesday, February 15, 2005


More On The Churchill Controversy

Compare and contrast:

I am not a "defender"of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that
if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we
cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned.

- Ward Churchill

The United States was not attacked because we are free. Bin Laden was not attacking the Bill of Rights. We were attacked because the United--over here because the United States' military and political presence is massive over there. Bin Laden in his fatwah, his statement of declaration of war on the United States, said the infidels were standing on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia. They want us out of the Middle East.

- Pat Buchanan

Who deserves to be villified, based on the above statements? Buchanan had the tact and common sense not to invoke the dreaded Nazism metaphor; beyond that, both seem to be attempting to make the same point.

Where Churchill does seem to go further is in his suggestion that the WTC was a military target, not only because of the "technocratic corps" that was working within (i.e. capitalists), but also because of the CIA office located there:

It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center. Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this placement of an element of the American "command and control infrastructure" in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a "legitimate" target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to no more than "collateral damage." If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these "standards" when the are routinely applied to other people, they should be not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them.

A valid point, it would seem. But let's go back to the first idea - that working inside of the capitalist system makes one complicit of the military's actions - take it one step further, and ask: Does the act of simply paying taxes make one complicit in the offending actions, real or perceived, of one's government? Well, that certainly makes for an interesting definition of who's "guilty" and "innocent" in a democracy or democratic republic.


Just so it's clear, I don't necessarly buy-in to Churchill's whole "technocratic corps" argument, and I certainly don't believe as he does that we'd be better off if the United Stated should cease to exist. What I'd rather see is people educating themselves about the actions the US decides to take overseas, owning-up to their role in those actions (after all, they voted in the people who are in charge of formulating and executing that policy), the effects of those actions, and hopefully closing the feedback loop in the voting booth.

Perhaps Churchill goes too far in implicating himself:

A longtime American Indian Movement activist, he said he is also culpable
because his efforts to change the system haven't succeeded. "I could do more.
I'm complicit. I'm not innocent," he said.

But if that comes off as a meladramatic exaggeration, it's still true that Americans are far too uninformed as to the actions of our government, and thus definitely guilty of something. Perhaps we don't deserve a death penalty for this crime of ignorance, but neither should anyone else in the world.

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