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by Paul D. Boin Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2001 at 9:20 AM

Providing the fullness of truth and understanding is vital for world peace and security [REAL NEWS BRIEF: #3 (SEPTEMBER 19, 2001) Real News Network, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. To receive past and future Real News Briefs, and to support this type of investigative reporting, see instructions below. Forward this e-mail onto others.]


Providing the fullness of truth and understanding is vital for world peace and security

By Paul D. Boin

It has been said that the first casualty in war is the truth. This usually pertains to the propensity for about-to-be warring nations to conjure up a pretext for war that can be justified in the public mind. Often this means that the truth is compromised prior to the shedding of blood. When terrorists strike however, blood is drawn first, and the victim's pretext for retaliation is determined second. In the midst of both war or terror truth can be compromised by the selective exclusion of important information, the elevation of hearsay or opinion to the status of fact, or by the outright fabrication of misinformation. In this regard, our governments and our mainstream news media have much to answer for.

While it could be argued that the terrorist act already constitutes the pretext for a retaliatory response, any response is an exercise in decision-making. Even our basest and seemingly automatic human responses, still inextricably involve a series of choices. Do we, in the case of the United States and its allies, respond immediately? Do we confirm, beyond a reasonable doubt, who the terrorists were? Do we retaliate (punish) in a manner that is equal to the initial terrorist act (crime)? Are we also going to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians in our chosen response? Who is to participate in this retaliatory action? And, what range of repercussions may follow from our chosen response?

When deciding among these monumental choices, if we are to have any hope of making good decisions, our elected representatives, and the citizens in whose name they act, must have access to and demand the full range of facts. In order to make good, or truth-based, decisions we require complete and accurate information which is grounded in a broad context that is appreciative of history, the present, and the future. What happened on September 11, 2001 was unspeakably evil and insane. Before we respond to this terrorist act however, we must first ensure that the truth, or at least as full a truth as possible, is provided. In a world where there are enough nuclear warheads to kill all of the world's 6 billion people dozens of times over, nothing less is acceptable.


In times like these we not only need to work towards understanding "what?", "who?", or "how?"; but if we are truly concerned for future world peace and security, we must ask the most important question - Why? Many pro-democracy advocates (elsewhere referred to as 'anti-globalization protesters') have expressed fear that the new heightened sense of security, augmented by last week's US Congressional approval of billion in new emergency and security spending, will be used to roll back civil liberties and crush out all forms of dissent. When it is these very viewpoints that offer our best hope of eliminating terrorism.

Many critics of US foreign policy (both official and clandestine) will be, and have been, quick to conclude that September 11th was simply a case of "Chickens coming home to roost." By this, people will point to a litany of examples of the US role in imposing both incidental terrorism and systemic terrorism on countries - Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, East Timor, El Salvador, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Iran, Iraq, Panama etc. The US Government's own documents, recently declassified and meticulously catalogued by the nonprofit National Security Archives (, will serve as a valuable lesson on the real conduct of governments, so often kept from public knowledge. So, people will say that September 11th was, in the minds of the terrorists, a simple act of revenge for previous US government indiscretions. But while this analysis, and the evidence now available, is clearly important, it is still an analysis of a symptom. We must dig down to the roots of the problem.

The deeper and underlying cause of systemic terrorism, and the incidental terrorism that follows from it, is the unjust global economic system that rich Western governments (not just the US) have imposed on the poorer countries and, increasingly so, upon their own citizenry. This global system - from the colonial/mercantile period to its new incarnation of corporate-led globalization - is resulting in a world where an elite few nations and individuals benefit at the expense of an ever increasing number of poorer nations and people. Such an unjust and unsustainable system can only be held together by force (systemic terrorism), and will ceaselessly produce responses (incidental terrorism) to it.

In reacting to last weeks events Thomas Homer Dixon, Director of the University of Toronto's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, stated "We have to step back and reflect on what's happening in the world that is leading to the kind of tensions that produce this kind of hatred against the west...There are disparities in this world, there are structural problems with the world economy that aren't being addressed. The envy, the frustration, and the anger that arises out of those problems will be directed against us." Homer Dixon goes on to say "We have to remember....this is a very small planet now...they can bring weapons everywhere. And other things like diseases, and pollution flow across boundaries. We have to recognize that the world has changed in a fundamental respect." {CBC Radio 2001}

In fact, the US and Canadian Government's defense departments also quietly admit (More honestly then our politicians, who keep misleading us into believing that this globalization tide will "raise all boats".) that the present version of unjust corporate-led globalization is, and will continue to be, directly contributing to the escalation of terrorism. In a document entitled Global Trends 2015, jointly researched and produced by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Council, the US intelligence community states that the benefits of globalization "will not be universal. In contrast to the Industrial Revolution, the process of globalization is more compressed. Its evolution will be rocky, marked by chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide...Regions, countries, and groups feeling left behind will face deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation. They will foster political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it." {Central Intelligence Agency & National Intelligence Council 2001} In a 1999 document entitled Shaping the Future of the Canadian Forces: A Strategy for 2020, Canada's Department of National Defense concludes that "Ethnic unrest, religious extremism and resource disputes will likely remain the main sources of conflict, but environmental degradation and the threat to the nation-state by globalization may arise as new sources...Disparities between the developed and developing nations will remain." {Canadian Department of National Defense 1999}.

In 1999, the US Intelligence Community (The Central Intelligence Community, the National Intelligence Council, and the State Department) conducted a workshop entitled Alternative Global Futures: 2000-2015. This think tank-type workshop, couched within the framework of our present version of globalization, yielded four different scenarios or alternative futures. Scenario 1, somehow labeled 'Inclusive Globalization', represents the best our world could expect. Even within this rosiest of scenarios however, the US intelligence community holds that while "A virtuous circle develops among...a majority of the world's people.", they go onto to say that "A minority of the world's people - in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the Andean region - do not benefit from these positive changes, and internal conflicts persist in and around those countries left behind." This workshop, and the document that followed from it, then goes on to describe the other 3 scenarios

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