hours of the apocalyptic attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon, George W. Bush commandeered the airwaves and informed the
nation that the US was attacked “because we are a beacon of freedom and
prosperity.” Fearing that Bush’s ill-conceived “crusade” to “eradicate
terrorism” would only produce an endless proliferation of new terrorist
incidents, I dashed off a quick email to several friends expressing my
concerns. [See commentary in this edition of the EIJ, “Afghanistan: It’s about Oil.”]
The letter was posted on Earth Island’s website where it was quickly seized by Earth Island’s critics and circulated widely among conservative websites.
The National Review, and the Washington Post’s “The Loop” column quoted the statement out of context to suggest that Earth Island Institute - and, by extension, the entire environmental movement - was rife with “self-hating America-bashers.” A torrent of hate-filled emails and several telephoned death threats soon followed.
An online attack on the “American Skeptics” who refused to climb aboard the Bush war-wagon singled out five malcontents - filmmaker Michael Moore, Rev. Jessie Jackson, Judicial Watch Chair Larry Klayman, myself and white supremacist David Duke. Also targeted for criticism: Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Eventually, a growing number of columnists began making the same points that I had raised in my dissent. But there was one more shock waiting.
On September 24, US Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick addressed the Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC. According to The Observer (London), Zoellick opportunistically proposed that “the way to defeat Osama bin Laden was to grant George W. Bush extraordinary ‘fast-track’ trade treaty negotiating authority.” Then, The Observer reported, Zoellick proceeded to lay “the groundwork for a new McCarthyism aimed at anti-globalization dissidents.”
In his speech, Zoellick repeated a line first trotted out by Alaska’s Republican Senator Don Young who suggested that the September 11 attacks might have been carried out by anti-globalization “ecoterrorists…based in Seattle”.
Zoellick declared: It is inevitable that people will wonder if there are intellectual connections with others who have turned to violence to attack international finance, globalization and the US. To put the question in their own words, not mine, can people really think, as does the editor of the Earth Island Journal, that the terrorist assault “was not an ‘attack on freedom’ but instead an assault on ‘US foreign policy’ with the real targets being ‘world trade and US militarism’”?
(On November 10, Osama bin Laden admitted that the “real targets [of the attacks] were America’s icons of military and economic power.”)
Zoellick’s attempts to demonize free-trade opponents and to link the nonviolent US environmental movement to terrorists, deserve the utmost condemnation.
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