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Another Pacific Avenue Parade: We can see it's 3:31pm, but I can't come close on a date or the occasion for this parade. Any car enthusiasts able to tell which year this was? You can see the Town Clock high atop the Odd Fellows building and even note a marching can of vegetables in the foreground. This is, of course, the block between Cooper Street and Soquel Avenue looking north.

Bruce Bratton

ON IT GOES. It isn't easy to give up this column space, and I've only done it once or twice. The media typically isn't reporting reactions from some key thinkers and doers in our country. I agree with what these experts are saying, and I wanted to make sure you read them too. William Mandel and Saul Landau emailed me directly--I've known them a long time. Howard Zinn's statement was forwarded by Kathy Bisbee.

HOWARD ZINN'S STATEMENT: (Historian, author and bombardier during World War II) The images on television 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. I thought: They have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the history of the 20th century, from 100 years of retaliation, vengeance, war--100 years of terrorism and counterterrorism, of violence met with violence in an unending cycle of stupidity. Will we now bomb Afghanistan and inevitably kill innocent people, because it is in the nature of bombing to be indiscriminate? Will we then be committing terrorism in order to "send a message" to terrorists? Yes, it is an old way of thinking, and we need new ways. A $300-billion 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, a "missile defense," will not give us security. We need to imagine that the awful scenes of death and suffering we are witnessing 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 decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or 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.

SAUL LANDAU'S STATEMENT: "The Questions Not Asked As the Empire Strikes Back." Five days after the assault, Americans have ingested a TV, radio and print diet of bombast, hyperbole and sheer nonsense. The messages from our elected leaders, so-called experts and actors posing as TV anchors have stressed retaliation and prevention after the perpetrators have accomplished their mission.

The bloody deed has been done. The wheel spinners may feel better locking the proverbial barn door after the horses have escaped. The war indeed began on Sept. 11, but thus far few in power or the limelight have asked about the enemy's objectives--at least not publicly. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the war had begun for the domination of the Pacific and the resources of Southeast Asia.

But what do the shadowy terrorists who struck our financial and military nerve centers really want? High officials label them as cowards, but their behavior points rather toward heroic evil. They had a mission, took risks, plotted with cool and calculating accuracy and then proved themselves more than willing to die for their cause. But what exactly is their cause? Shouldn't someone in power ask that question and have it debated before rushing madly around the world with troops, missiles and extreme belligerence?

The Senate, our supposedly deliberative body, didn't even discuss the crisis, but simply voted, as did the House, massive amounts of money for our confused president to use as he wishes. Congress will pour money into military and police operations, under the curious rubric of security--a far cry from a thumb and a blanket--while destroying the fiscal soundness of our concrete security: Social Security and Medicare.

Bin Laden and his fiendish cult have thus far successfully detoured us away from our agenda and into a world that the plotters know best. Threats abound about bombing these Taliban brutes who harbor bin Laden in Afghanistan back into the Stone Age. How do you bomb people back into the Stone Age when they already live in the Stone Age? How do you successfully threaten with death those who welcome it?

How many of us are willing to admit that the Sept. 11 events dramatize a real clash of civilizations? That the attacks on the real and symbolic nerve centers of world finance and militarism meant the real war against corporate globalization--a war that most of us anti-globalization types want no part of.

We saw in Iran in 1979 and in post-Communist Afghanistan some signs of what the purifiers of Islam want. It's not what I had in mind when I opposed corporate globalization. I don't want my daughters to grow up uneducated and trailing their husbands, nor do I want a theocracy dedicated to setting the world back five centuries. I also don't want to go to war with innocent people in the name of responding to the Sept. 11 stone-cold killers. I think the time has come to study, think, debate--then, when the public has been informed and not confused by a driven media, we should act, in concert with the rest of the civilized world.

WILLIAM MANDEL: (Author, broadcaster, Sovietologist) The attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center are the most important event in world history since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The disappearance of the USSR ended a half-century in which two powers dominated the world. The casualties in New York, in Washington and in the skies made an end to the belief that the United States could continue waging wars costing us no blood, whether in no-fly zones over Iraq, in Kosovo, or anywhere else on any continent. For 56 years Washington has successfully conducted mass murders of noncombatant civilians from the air with no fear of retaliation. In 1945, when Japan could no longer strike back, there was Hiroshima, 75,000 killed. Then Nagasaki, 40,000 killed. The Korean War cost that country, with no possible means of harming the United States, 4,000,000 dead [Encyclopedia Britannica] vs. 34,000 Americans, or more than 100 Koreans per American. Most of the Korean deaths were caused by American carpet bombing (white phosphorus, napalm, explosives) to break the will to resist, and therefore were predominantly civilian. The numbers in the Vietnam War were of the same orders of magnitude.

Desert Storm has slaughtered an average of 6,000 Iraqi children each month since the end of the fighting, due to the embargo against necessities.

Until now the vast majority of Americans have clucked their tongues over these things and gone about their business. No more. The deaths in the collapsed New York towers, the Pentagon and the plane crashed in Pennsylvania total 6,000. [Number corrected after 9/11]. The superexpensive, space- and information-age espionage technology of the National Security Agency, as well as the more conventional activities of the CIA and FBI are now the laughing stock of the world. As to the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Pentagon, I wonder if it was accidental that the plane striking that building hit exactly the section where that agency was housed.

There is simply nothing Washington can do to restore the situation existing before [Sept. 11]. Even if it decides to blame Saddam Hussein and nukes Baghdad off the face of the earth, it will accomplish nothing in a world of suicide bombers and underground organizations capable of working in complete secrecy and with perfect coordination. Undoubtedly U.S. "intelligence" (?!) operations will be multiplied. That guarantees absolutely nothing. The Korean War was accompanied by the rise of McCarthyism. It is possible that today's events may bring similar hysteria and suppression of civil liberties. Not only would that further diminish the civil liberties that are one of this country's proudest achievements, but by so doing it would reduce the ability of the citizenry to ask the necessary questions about the policies responsible for the hatred of the United States expressed in this catastrophe.

The time has come to realize that the motivation that brought about our Revolutionary War in 1776 is the strongest single force active in the world today. Peoples will be independent, no matter what Washington, Wall Street and Silicon Valley want to do with and in their countries. The United States must either adapt to that or suffer the fate of ancient Rome.

A BRIEF APOLOGY. I ran out of room, so next week I'll include some words from old friend David McReynolds, Socialist Party candidate for president in 2000. Sorry I didn't get to include the reviews, mentions and plugs for the upcoming events that I promised, but we'll get back to them soon.


Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP-FM (88.9). Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com or at 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the September 26-October 3, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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