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Terror and the Empire

by Jean Ziegler Saturday, Aug. 16, 2003 at 1:32 PM

"Globalization is daily terror. Every seven seconds a child under 10 dies of starvation. Every four minutes a person loses eyesight on account of Vitamin A deficiency. Over 100,000 die every die of hunger..(while) world agriculture could feed twelve billion."

Terror and the Empire

By Jean Ziegler

[This article originally published in: Ossietzsky 2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

The collapse of the Soviet Union in August 1991 and the disappearance of the bipolarity of the international community of states awakened realistic hopes everywhere in the civilized world. For the first time since 1945, a real chance existed for re-ordering the world according to the principles of the UN Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights.

The American empire decided differently. Instead of contributing to a system of collective security, the US refused to dismantle the gigantic military machine built during the Cold War. Against the principle of peaceful conflict resolution, the US chose the way of imperial dictation. Against arbitration and multilateral diplomacy, it opted for the autistic, unilateral world power policy. Instead of a normative economy and distribution of essential goods – above all for the third world – through multilateral conventions, it established the globalized world market totally ruled by American financial capital.

The American capital oligarchy which largely dominates the Bush administration functions according to a code called the “Washington Consensus”. Its four holy rules are¨total liberalization of capital-, goods, services- and patent-streams, privatization of the public sector, deregulation and flexibility of all relations, especially labor relations.

This “consensus” is enforced worldwide by the mercenary organizations of international finance capital which is mostly American finance capital: the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Thomas Friedman, former assistant of Secretary Madeleine Albright, writes: “So globalization functions, the United States may not hesitate acting as the invincible world superpower. The invisible hand of the market cannot function without the visible fist. McDonalds cannot prosper without McDonnell-Douglas, manufacturer of the F15 fighter jet. The visible fist assures the victory all over the world of technology products from Silicon Valley. This fist is the armed forces, the air force and the marine corps of the United States.”

On October 28, 2001, George W. Bush declared amid the congressional debate on the new “Trade Promotion Authority Act”): “The terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. We will defeat them by liberalizing world trade more forcefully.” Before the World Trade conference in Doha, November 2001, his foreign trade commissioner Robert Zoelinik said: “The deregulated capital streams are not only very efficient economically. These streams also promote the ethical values of freedom throughout the world.”

Globalization is daily terror. Every seven seconds a child under 10 dies of starvation. Every four minutes a person loses eyesight on account of Vitamin A deficiency. Over 100,000 persons die every day of hunger or its immediate consequences. 828 million men, women and children were permanently and gravely malnourished last year. The FAO calculates: World agriculture could feed twelve billion people today without problem. Every person could have 2700 calories of food every day. The earth’s present population amounts to 6.2 billion.

There is no fatalism here, only imperial destruction and arrogance. Whoever starves to death today is murdered. Whoever has money eats and lives. Whoever has no money dies of starvation, becomes an invalid and/or dies.


Over 2000 years ago Marcus Aurelius wrote: Imperium superat regnum. The empire subjugates all other powers. The oligarchy of American finance capital takes this lesson to heart most exquisitely.

The American president rejected the agreement on prohibiting the manufacture and sale of anti-personnel mines. The US rejects the Kyoto protocol on reducing air poisoning by CO2 emissions and the treaty to ban intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. The US refuses to sign the protocol against biological weapons. The US opposes the OECD-convention on combating criminal offshore markets. The US rejects the Inrternational Criminal Court (convention of Rome 1998). Every kind of military disarmament is horror to the US. The empire spent 42 percent of the world’s military spending in 2002.


Nothing and noone can explain – let alone justify – the dreadful attack on the New York civilian population on September 11, 2001. Over 3000 persons from 62 nations were killed within three hours. However even the worst crime may not annul the principles of a civilized community like the American community.

The terror bombardments of the American air force on Afghan cities and villages from October to December 2001, the humanly degrading treatment of war prisoners and the refusal to respect the Geneva convention in Afghanistan are trademarks of imperial humanly contemptuous arrogance.

Bush and his accolites from Texas autonomously define who is a terrorist and who is not a terrorist – beyond all principles of international law.

James H. Hatfield’s painstakingly researched book shows the direct influence of Texan oil billionaires on the Bush family. The worldwide war against terror has to do with the profit maximization of investments in the international oil business, especially in the Middle East and central Asia.

The ambiguity of the empire is also sinister to me. Bush claims for himself human civilization, its morality and its defense. At the same time he puts up with the horrific war crimes of the Sharon government in Palestine, particularly the massacre of hundreds of women, men and children in the refugee camp of Dschenin, in Ramallah and Nablus in April 2002. He gave Vladmir Putin a generous debt relief after Putin massacred the civilian population of Tchetchnya. He sends weapons and credits in the billions to the Turkish torturing henchmen.

The submissive lackey-mentality displayed by so many compatriots from the Socialist internationale toward the soul-destroying world ruler aspirants in Washington saddens me as a European and social democrat. Gerhard Schroder and Tony Blair are not the only ones.


On the afternoon of November 9, 2001, I presented my report on the right to food before the UN General Assembly in New York. In the morning I was invited by the editorial board of the New York Times for an exchange of ideas at the newspaper headquarters, 229 West 43rd St. I spoke and answered questions. At the end of the conversation, I asked: “How should a European understand the current strategy oif the Bush administration in central Asia?” Roger Normand from the Center for Social and Economic Rights who also sat at the round table replied: “It’s oil and the military.” All those present nodded in agreement.


I hardly know a more fascinating, diverse and creative people than the Americans. In Greenwich Village and at Columbia University, I learned more about people and the world during four years than during any other time of my life. American hospitality and warmheartedness are unforgettable to me.

The American grassroots democratic opposition against racial laws in the early sixties and the opposition against the murdeerous war in Vietnam in the early seventies are great turning points in the history of civilization. American students, unionists, priests, writers, journalists and simple citizens wrote glowing pages in the book of history. Michael Harrington, the friend of Willy Brandt, is unforgettable to me.

Hatfield and his marvelous book belong in the long line of this resistandcfe exemplary for all people of the world. He paid for this resistance with his life. We owe him admiration, gratitude and solidarity.


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