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Violence Doesn't Work
by Howard Zinn
Wednesday Sep 19th, 2001 4:47 PM
War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.
Violence Doesn\'t Work

by Howard Zinn

The images on television have been heartbreaking.

People on fire leaping to their deaths from a hundred stories up. People in panic and fear racing from the scene in clouds of dust and smoke.


We knew that there must be thousands of human beings buried alive, but soon dead under a mountain of debris. We can only imagine the terror among the passengers of the hijacked planes as they contemplated the crash, the fire, the end. Those scenes horrified and sickened me.


Then our political leaders came on television, and I was horrified and sickened again. They spoke of retaliation, of vengeance, of punishment.


We are at war, they said. And I thought: they have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the history of the twentieth century, from a hundred years of retaliation, vengeance, war, a hundred years of terrorism and counter-terrorism, of violence met with violence in an unending cycle of stupidity.


We can all feel a terrible anger at whoever, in their insane idea that this would help their cause, killed thousands of innocent people. But what do we do with that anger? Do we react with panic, strike out violently and blindly just to show how tough we are? \"We shall make no distinction,\" the President proclaimed, \"between terrorists and countries that harbor terrorists.\" Will we now bomb Afghanistan, and inevitably kill innocent people, because it is in the nature of bombing to be indiscriminate, to \"make no distinction\"? Will we then be committing terrorism in order to \"send a message\" to terrorists?


We have done that before. It is the old way of thinking, the old way of acting. It has never worked. Reagan bombed Libya, and Bush made war on Iraq, and Clinton bombed Afghanistan and also a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, to \"send a message\" to terrorists. And then comes this horror in New York and Washington. Isn\'t it clear by now that sending a message to terrorists through violence doesn\'t work, only leads to more terrorism?


Haven\'t we learned anything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Car bombs planted by Palestinians bring air attacks and tanks by the Israeli government. That has been going on for years. It doesn\'t work.


And innocent people die on both sides.


Yes, it is an old way of thinking, and we need new ways. We need to think about the resentment all over the world felt by people who have been the victims of American military action. In Vietnam, where we carried out terrorizing bombing attacks, using napalm and cluster bombs,on peasant villages. In Latin America, where we supported dictators and death squads in Chile and El Salvador and other countries. In Iraq, where a million people have died as a result of our economic sanctions, And, perhaps most important for understanding the current situation, in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, where a million and more Palestinians live under a cruel military occupation, while our government supplies Israel with high-tech weapons.


We need to imagine that the awful scenes of death and suffering we are now witnessing on our television screens have been going on in other parts of the world for a long time, and only now can we begin to know what people have gone through, often as a result of our policies. We need to understand how some of those people will go beyond quiet anger to acts of terrorism.


We need new ways of thinking. A $300 billion dollar military budget has not given us security. Military bases all over the world, our warships on every ocean, have not given us security. Land mines and a \"missile defense shield\" will not give us security. We need to rethink our position in the world. We need to stop sending weapons to countries that oppress other people or their own people. We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians of the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children. War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.


Our security can only come by using our national wealth, not for guns, planes, bombs, but for the health and welfare of our people - for free medical care for everyone, education and housing guaranteed decent wages and a clean environment for all. We can not be secure by limiting our liberties, as some of our political leaders are demanding, but only by expanding them.


We should take our example not from our military and political leaders shouting \"retaliate\" and \"war\" but from the doctors and nurses and medical students and firemen and policemen who have been saving lives in the midst of mayhem, whose first thoughts are not violence, but healing, not vengeance but compassion.
by Evan (ejwilder [at] hotmail.com)
Thursday Sep 20th, 2001 10:15 PM
This article expresses what I have been struggling with. Thank you for posting it.

I'm reminded of the slogan "peace-more than an end to war" because we have been at relative peace in the USA for the last few years. However, the peace we had clearly was not rooted in the hearts of our leaders or of the majority of people. For there to be peace on earth, peaceful policy, or even peaceful responses to terrorists, major changes must happen in the hearts & minds of people. The instant response of RETALIATE! shows far we are from a true peace...

Compare simple uninvolvement in a war to a nation that is based in harmony, negotiation, consultation, & love. This difference is a major change that I suggest needs to be made here and elsewhere.

Consider this quotation:

"We desire but the good of the world and happiness of the nations.... That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled... Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the "Most Great Peace" shall come.... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family.... Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind...." (words spoken by Baha'u'llah to Prof. E.G. Browne of Cambridge University in 1890)

Thank you.
by t. garrett
Friday Sep 21st, 2001 2:36 PM
Even though that this is a "white man's" country which has a history of war as the foundations of the flag, of God etc.,it is not too late for our country to decide not to seek revenge on the terroists who may be responsible for the recent attacks. It is also not too late to focus on the problems that we still have at home: poverty, hunger, homelessness, violence in the schools, streets etc. Man, if only this country would put all of it's energy with the money and resources into peaceful solutions for our country, instead of problems,such as the military, just think of what could be accomplished!
by t. garrett
Friday Sep 21st, 2001 2:36 PM
Even though that this is a "white man's" country which has a history of war as the foundations of the flag, of God etc.,it is not too late for our country to decide not to seek revenge on the terroists who may be responsible for the recent attacks. It is also not too late to focus on the problems that we still have at home: poverty, hunger, homelessness, violence in the schools, streets etc. Man, if only this country would put all of it's energy with the money and resources into peaceful solutions for our country, instead of problems,such as the military, just think of what could be accomplished!
by Erica (fodder520 [at] aol.com)
Saturday Sep 22nd, 2001 12:13 PM
It is unbelivable to me that people actually write articles such as these.. Especially after what just happened..War is not terrorism. War is something that must happen in this world. Whether we like it or not, the only way to prevent this from happening again is to go to War.

Do you realize if we had not gone to WWII, we would be speaking German right now? Do you realize that if we had not had the other wars we had we would not have the freedoms that we so happily take for granted? There would still be slavery, communism etc?

People please read your history books, read the newspaper, and not just the articles that talk about peace. Read the expressions on the faces of the people in the Pentagon and the WTC. Understand although war is not pleasant sometimes it must happen. Understand that unless our country has a uniformed front, what happened on September 11th can and will happen again..We have to stand together!!!
by Ian (imarvy [at] added-value.org)
Monday Sep 24th, 2001 11:17 AM
Erica,

Articles like this can be writen because the history of America is more complicated than what we learn from the newspaper, from television and from our text books. That being said I recommend one book as a place to re-examine among otherthings america's involvement in World War Two.

A People's History of The United States. Professor Howard Zinn, the author, has been participating in the process of creating a more justice, more sane, and more peaceful world for more than 35 years. His accomplishments are too numerous to list, however he did travel to north vietnam DURING america's War on Indochina to bring home American POW's. He also wrote the aforementioned article that we are discussing on this page.

here's to hoping that the united front that we show to the world is one that is committed to real justice, the implimentation of a world criminal court that could bring charges against perpetrators of crime irrespective of nationality or social position. Start with those responsible for the events of September 11th, Then quickly move onto the atrocities that are being committed in Palestine, and Iraq. Lets hold those accountable for the mining of the Nicaraguan harbor responsible for the lose of life and economic viablity there in the 80's. Or what about those who insured that the democratically elected government of Algeria was never sworn in and have since that day in 1991 helped wage a war where nearly 80,000 people have died.

Justice must equitable
Justice must be fair
Justice must never be Just-For-U.S.
by travis
Tuesday Oct 2nd, 2001 12:53 PM
thank you Mr. Zinn.
by Algorythm
Friday Oct 5th, 2001 4:03 PM
"We should take our example not from our military and political leaders shouting "retaliate" and "war" but from the doctors and nurses and medical students and firemen and policemen who have been saving lives in the midst of mayhem, whose first thoughts are not violence, but healing, not vengeance but compassion."

Brilliant finish to a well thought out article, thank you.




by Guy
Tuesday Oct 23rd, 2001 2:41 PM
I found this article not only truthful and heartfelt but refreshing in a time of such anger and violence between fellow men. I also found the arguement put forward that war is necessary a deeply offensive sentiment. War, the expression of anger between peoples, is not neccessary, by any means. What is neccessary is reastraint, diplomacy and toleration. Yes, when i saw September 11 I felt, like so many other westerners, my stomach had been ripped from me. But we cannot be blindly guided by our pathetic need not to be shown up. I think without this sort of narrow mindedness the better world out lined in the initial article could be possible
by Scott
Wednesday Oct 31st, 2001 3:22 PM
I find it very depressing that there are people in this country that hate the US so much that they would suggest that, through our own policies, we have somehow brought this evil act on ourselves. This country spends billions of dollars a year to provide humanitarian aid such as food and medicine to poorer countries and sends its own troops to hostile areas all over the world to protect defenseless nations. While reasonable people may disagree with particular policies, past or present, nobody can argue that the US systematically seeks to opress, starve, torture or otherwise hurt innocent civilians of other countries in order to pursue some "evil" egocentric agneda. To suggest somehow that sanctions against an oppressive, totalitarian and aggressive regime in Iraq can be equated with what happened on 9/11 is beyond ridiculous and is simply based on ignorance.
I love this country. I love what it stands for. I am thankful that I have been fortunate enough to spend most of my life in a place that embraces freedom and that there have been so many brave men and women throughout history that have given their lives to protect it. But it saddens me that there are people who take full advantage of all of the freedoms afforded them in this country and yet seek to undermine them through the promotion of socialist agendas. Thankfully, the vast majority of this country supports the actions being taken in response to the terrorist attacks, recognizing that our basic freedoms are worth the fight. As for the rest of you; well, maybe China, Cuba or North Korea are nice this time of year.
by A War Hater
Wednesday Oct 31st, 2001 5:42 PM
Mr. Zin speaks as what I consider a true patriot. It's clear we have built a great country and now we have an opportunity to build a better world view with a little less greed and a little more responsibility toward others who are not as fortunate as we. If we fail to do this all who perished in New York will have done so in vain!
by blah! i am irrelevant
Sunday Dec 9th, 2001 5:25 AM
Mr. Zinn:
I enjoy reading your posting. It reflects most of my views on this issue, which, we Americans have dragged by its 5 strands of hair for the past 3 months. I agree with what you say. Thank you for posting it.

Erica:
As citizens of this world, we mustn't be ignorant and listen only to what our public widespread media has to say. The way I see it, our newspapers and CNN and News Center BLAH are all turning into Grocery Store Gossip Tabloids. The media is the most dangerous weapon available to mankind and we must not swallow everything we see. If you would like the truer news and such, you need to research some underground/independent newspapers, websites, blablabla.

"Presse: ne pas avaler"
by blah! i am irrelevant
Sunday Dec 9th, 2001 5:37 AM
yes, and kill thousands more innocent people? Are you going to trust the newspaper and accept the thought that Kabul, the CAPITAL CITY of a nation hasn't any innocent people in it? If so, then are you trying to say that Washington DC hasn't any people in it either?

You have been brainwashed by the AmericanPatriotismMustBeThoughtToOurKids committee since you were little and I don't blame you, I was too until I travelled and realised the truth

don't really trust anything the government has to say. politics is a dirty game.

communism isn't a bad thing. you have been brainwashed by the above committee and that McCarthy asshole.

do you know what communism is?

the only reason United States went to war during WWII was because of Pearl Harbour. If not, the US wouldn't have even BUDGED because the war doesn't really BENEFIT the US at the end.

Before Pearl Harbor, did the US really care whether or not the Nazis prevail?

to answer that question: During WWII, the US immigration LIMITED the number of Jewish immigrants from Europe. Isn't that just as sickening as the genocide that was taking place?

Hate causes hate only. The only cure to hate is love.

we are all humans, war is genocide

Tip: Perhaps YOU should read your history, and visit those underground websites, you might learn something about the palestinian-israeli crisis and why palestinians hate us so much. or maybe you could read about how the US government wouldn't pay reparations to Nicaragua and dragged poor little 3rd world country Nicaragua to the world court thingy. or how the US government supplied the Taliban with money to overthrow the current Afghan government at that time (yes, that includes your taxes and your parents' tax money, being put to WORK! isn't that exciting?)

the end

i do not mean to offend anyone, just spread the truth

peace is patriotic

war is a conflict between two or more immature people who cannot solve things peacefully

i don't really think you would want your brothers or your father to be part of the ground troop, do you?

any spelling errors, I apologise, I wasn't in the Spelling Bee contest, you know.
§.
by Jon
Sunday Dec 9th, 2001 7:19 AM
its quite amusing how lefties say any non radical must obviously be brainwashed, as if they possess some ultimate truth and any deviant from that must be an idiot.

irregardless of your political standings, one must recognize the fact that karl marx was in fact a genius, just as milton friedman and friedreich hayek are/were

the US would have gotten involved in WWII, even w/o pearl harbor. hte fact of the matter is that roosevelt was busy trying to drag the US into the war for years. pearl harbor only made taht job substantially easier

secondly, almost every state in the world limited jewish immigration during WWII, it is completely dishonest to imply that only the US did so

also, the taliban didn't even exist in time to fight the soviets.

as for peace, not war.

yes, but time scale matters.

al-qaeda poses a clear and present danger to the US. in the long-run appeasement and accomodation may work, however to paraphrase keynes in the long run we are all dead. the threat to US citizens must first be met and then destroyed. talk for a new international order can begin after that
by george27
Wednesday Jan 16th, 2002 6:20 AM
If you do not think that by killing bin laden will do any good then I suggest you open a dialog with him and his buddies. Surely we can all get along. If there is one thing we should have learned by now it is death to tyrants,terrorists,etc. is the surest way of ending their violent tendencies. Osama is a coward who uses illiterate and uneducated-most of them-poor dumb fucks as cannon fodder for his psycotic fantansies and meglomania. Why does he not strap a bomb on? You think he knows that there are not 77 virgins wanting to give it up for him when he martyrs hisself? All he believes in is Osama! The hijackers probably figured if we can go to US on his money for years then its worth it for this is the place baby! They know it,we know it! Death to Osama and all cowards who strap bombs on to kill civilians. At least we give warning we we come and we come in style with a bomb with your name on it just for you. You people make me puke! One word for you guys. PUSSIES!!!
by aaron
Wednesday Jan 16th, 2002 8:15 AM
An American university professor last month estimated, based on a meticulous culling of foreign and domestic new sources, that US bombs had killed 3,700 Afghan civilians. This is a highly conservative estimate in that it's based only on confirmed reports and doesn't count the slaughter that has continued. It is estimated that the combined force of the threat of bombs and their actuality has produced 3 million refugees. The chaos caused by the bombs have severely disrupted food shipments, exacerbating starvation and disease. The Northern Alliance, which is now in power, presided over mass criminality, rape, and chaos when it was in control between 92-96. And recent reports have it that Bin-Laden and many of his top leutenants slipped the noose.
Wow, what a success george27.
I tend to think the US has only succeeded in making more enemies.
by aaron
Wednesday Jan 16th, 2002 8:25 AM
an account of a recent US "mistake"
http://zmag.org/carrollbloody.htm

hunger-related news
http://zmag.org/nessman.htm
http://zmag.org/Refugees.htm
by Mitch Aaron (wordsglow96 [at] yahoo.com)
Monday Feb 24th, 2003 7:54 AM
Beautiful, that was absolute harmonic literature. Sorry im late with the reply, but im a most un-punctual person. War is never an option and that is common sense to anyone who is aware at all. Simply, of course WW2 served a purpose, but that was because of everything that led up to it. Everything is a result of everything, so the predicment of war is because war began in the first place. to stop it, we just stop. simple, compassion towards human life. i doubt it will ever be seen as so simple although it is.
by pluto (pluto [at] whoever.com)
Monday Jun 2nd, 2003 1:08 PM
I have no fancy quotes, i know very few full length historical stories, i do not study political differences or ANY public statements regarding this war or any other. I honestly believe that this is not my war. I agree that there is a big problem happening globally, i think the answer is not WHO we blame but WHAT. Burn the system, ruin all status, let us LEARN how to SURVIVE!
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