Noam Chomsky: 9/11, as everyone agrees, was a terrible atrocity, maybe the worst single terrorist crime ever. Undoubtedly had major consequences which we are living with.
It may be useful to carry out a thought experiment and ask how bad it could’ve been. It could’ve been much worse. So for example, suppose that Al-Qaeda had bombed the White House; killed the President; instituted a military dictatorship which killed thousands of people, tortured tens of thousands; established an international terrorist center which began to carry out assassinations throughout much of the world and to help establish similar neo-Nazi-style torture states throughout the world; went on and brought in some economists who had free reign to apply economic theory under the military dictatorship and proceeded to destroy the economy, to drive it to its worst the depression for years.
That would have been worse than 9/11. A lot worse. And I didn’t make it up, it happened. In fact it happened on 9/11. It happened on what Latin Americans call the first 9/11, September 11th, 1973. It happened in Chile. I described almost exactly what happened. Actually if I’d made the comparison more exact, moving to per capita equivalents, I would’ve in this thought experiment speculated what it would be like if the military dictatorship that they’d established killed 50 to 100 thousand people and tortured 700 thousand. Other than that the representation was essentially exact.
Well that’s not in the history of terror. Because it suffered from a kind of a flaw. The flaw of wrong agency. We were responsible. Therefore it’s disappeared from history, to borrow a Latin American word. Of course it happened, but it’s not an act of terror, and no one talks about how that changed the world, initiated an age of terror, and so on. It didn’t quite initiate an age of terror, it was in the middle of an age of terror.
Now that age of terror began in 1962, when John F. Kennedy, President Kennedy, shifted the mission of the Latin American military from security, defense, to internal security; hemispheric defense was the previous mission, and changed it internal security. Hemispheric defense was a holdover from the Second World War. Internal security is a euphemism. It means war against your own population, a terrorist war against your own population. Well-understood in Latin America.
Shortly after that, the Kennedy administration initiated a military coup in Brazil, overthrew a mildly reformist government, installed…what was called a national security state, a torture/terror state run by generals. Brazil’s a big country, that set off a domino effect, spread through the hemisphere. What happened in Chile, the first 9/11, was one example of many others. In South America the worst atrocities, the worst of these states, was in Argentina; strongly supported by the Reagan administration up until the Falklands/Malvinas War when they had to shift.
The plague reached Central America in the 1980s. In 1980, an archbishop was assassinated while reading mass. The archbishop was Archbishop Romero, a conservative archbishop who’d become concerned by the murder of his priests who were working in the countryside. He was called the “voice for the voiceless.” He sent a letter to President Carter pleading with him not to send military aid to the military junta which the archbishop said is just going to be used to repress the people who are struggling to obtain their minimal human rights.
The aid was sent. A couple of days later the archbishop was assassinated. That set off…that in fact escalated a terrorist war in El Salvador the next decade. Killed about 70,000 people, mostly by essentially the same hands. That war came to an end a few days after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The last major event was atrocities carried out an elite Salvadoran unit which already had a terrible trail of blood on its hands, Atlacatl Brigade.
Now they had just come from the John F. Kennedy special warfare training school in North Carolina; upgraded their skills; returned to El Salvador; received orders from the government, the top government officials, which were in close contact with the American embassy. The orders were to break into the Jesuit university and murder the rector and five other leading Latin American intellectuals—Jesuit priests. The orders also were not to leave any witnesses, so they killed the housekeeper and her daughter. That essentially culminated the decade of horrors that began with the assassination of the archbishop. The 70,000 people killed by the Reagan-run War of Terror was small. About twice that many were killed in the rest of Latin America during the same years.
This goes back to 1962. 1962 was an important year, which played a major role in this. In 1962 the Vatican under Pope John XXIII had tried to initiate a really historic change in the nature of the Catholic Church. He tried to restore the gospels. The gospels had been pretty much suppressed since the 4th century, when the Roman Emperor Constantine took over Christianity, made it the official religion of the empire, and essentially changed the church from the church of the persecuted to the church of the persecutors. And that’s pretty much the way it remained until Vatican II, Pope John XXIII urged the bishops to return to the gospels.
In Latin America they took it seriously. The Latin American bishops adopted what they called the “preferential option for the poor.” They took the priests, nuns, lay persons, took the message of the gospels—which is radical pacifist, that’s why Christians were persecuted so harshly—took it to the peasants, the campesinos, and organized people in base communities where they read the gospels, they considered the lessons, they thought about ways to try to organize themselves to confront somehow the miserable character of life in US-run domains.
That was a heresy which was quite unacceptable. The reaction came very very fast. I’ve mentioned a few parts of it, there were more. Kennedy also sent a special warfare counterinsurgency training group to Colombia, which was a scene of terrible atrocities already. This was headed by a general, General Yarborough, and he advised the Colombian military on how they should deal with internal security, the issue at the time. He advised…his phrase was I think “sabotage, paramilitary, and/or terrorist measures against known communist proponents.” The phrase “communist proponents” I mean, is very broad. It means priests organizing, peasants, human rights workers, labor activists, others.
And that was carried out. Colombia in subsequent years had…in the 1990s the worst human rights record anywhere, where the US-backed governments in Central America— Before that it had been the US-backed dictatorships: Brazil, Argentina. But after 1990 Colombia had the worst human rights record in the hemisphere, by quite a lot in fact. And it was also the leading recipient of US military aid. That’s a correlation that goes along pretty constantly. These are essentially terrorist acts against civilians. It’s a horrible story right up to the present.
In the middle of all of this, Ronald Reagan came into office in 1981. He declared a war on terror. He said the War on Terror was going to be the major focus of the administration. It was a war against what they called the plague of international terrorism, a return to barbarism in our time…you know, on and on like this. He was not referring to the US-run plague of terrorism that had been devastating Latin America and was now turning to Central America. He certainly wasn’t referring to that. He was referring to alleged Russian-sponsored state terrorism in Latin America. The Russians have their own crimes, but nothing like this incidentally during this period. And certainly not in Latin America.
The Reagan war, on terror, immediately turned into a major terrorist war. I mentioned El Salvador, it was much worse in Guatemala. Congress imposed certain limitations on directly funding the terrorism in Guatemala, so Reagan had to turn to client states—Israel, Taiwan, I think Britain probably contributed. They carried out the worst terrorism of the period. Maybe 100 thousand people slaughtered in Guatemala. There was also a war against Nicaragua, a terrorist war that was run from Honduras. That was the main base for the terrorist war against Nicaragua. The ambassador to Honduras, John Negroponte, was kind of a proconsul, and one of his main activities was running the terrorist camps and attacking Nicaragua. He also had to provide regular reports to Washington on the human rights situation in Honduras, where plenty of state terror was going on too, not at the level of the other countries. He had to deny it and say everything’s fine, everything’s improving, so that military aid could continue. That was John Negroponte, one of the major terrorists of the 1980s, international terrorists.
Not uninterestingly, after what we call 9/11—the second one—after 9/11 he was appointed counterterrorism czar. Makes sense. He had a lot of experience with terror. And in fact, terrorism and counterterrorism are approximately the same thing. If you look at the definitions of terrorism in the official US Code and in British law (they’re pretty much the same) and the definition of counterterrorism…turns out they’re almost identical. The counterterrorism is sometimes called low-intensity war or some other name. But the definitions are about the same. The definition’s roughly calculated use of violence or threat of violence with the intention of coercing governments or intimidating populations for political, religious, or ideological ends. That’s terrorism, officially; counterterrorism’s…pretty much the same.
And starting in 1981, when Reagan announced the War on Terror… Actually a little before that, but around then, I started writing on terrorism. A couple of books, a lot of articles. What I wrote is considered total anathema, outrageous in fact. The reason is it uses the official definitions. And you can’t use the official definitions. Because if you use the official definitions, it follows…automatically, that the US is one of the leading terrorist states, Britain’s a leading terrorist state. Those are just the wrong conclusions. So therefore the definitions can’t be used. And in fact through the 1980s there was a major industry developed, an academic industry, academic conferences, UN conferences and so on, trying to define terror. And the conclusion is it’s a really hard term to define, you know. It’s very difficult, we have to put a lot of effort into it.
And that’s true. It’s very hard to craft a definition of terror in which it has exactly the right consequences. Namely the terror that they carry out against us is terror, the plague of the modern age. The terror that we carry out against them either doesn’t exist, or is self-defense—justified self defense, or maybe is unavoidable. You know, inadvertent terror at worst. And to craft a definition that’ll have those properties is quite difficult. Like trying to craft a definition of major atrocity which will take our 9/11, what we call 9/11, to be one of the major atrocities of the modern age but to take the first 9/11, which was much worse and had much worse international effects, to have that be just some sort of strange event that happened in some remote country, we’re not much concerned with it.
The War on Terror in the 1980s, Reagan’s war on terror, was not confined to Central America. It was focused on Central— I should mention incidentally with regard to the terrorist war against Nicaragua, that was actually brought to the World Court. Nicaragua brought a case to the World Court accusing the US of carrying out crimes. The Nicaraguan case was presented by a well-known international lawyer, Abe Chayes, Harvard professor of international law. Had experience in government service here.
The court threw out most of his case on interesting grounds. When the United States agreed to jurisdiction of the World Court in 1946, when it was founded, it added a reservation. The reservation was that the United States cannot be subject to any court adjudication on anything involving an international treaty. In other words the United States is free to violate all international treaties. That means the UN Charter, the Charter of the Organization of American States. Later that was extended to the Genocide Convention; the US signed it with the same reservation. That came to the court, and the court agreed that the US could not be charged on genocide. It has the right to commit genocide by self-definition.
And in the case of Nicaragua, any charge related to aggression, the primary international crime under the UN Charter, the OAS Charter, every such charge had to be eliminated. The rules of the court are that a state is subject to its jurisdiction only if the state accepts the jurisdiction. And the US had already ruled out any charge for violation of international treaties. The court was restricted to a bilateral treaty between the US and Nicaragua. And it claimed the US had violated the treaty. And it condemned the United States for what it called unlawful use of force, the judicial term for international terrorism. Ordered the US to pay billions of dollars of reparations and to desist from the crimes.
Congress reacted; a bipartisan Congress—actually Democrat-controlled at the time. Congress reacted by increasing the aid to the terrorist forces attacking Nicaragua. The press reacted by condemning the court as a hostile forum, hence irrelevant (a New York Times editorial). It was a hostile forum because it condemned the United States, so obviously it’s a hostile forum therefore irrelevant.
Nicaragua brought a resolution to the Security Council calling on all states to observe international law. Didn’t specifically mention the US but everyone understood. The US vetoed the resolution. Britain and France politely abstained. A second resolution had the same result. Everything I’ve just said is also disappeared from history. Try to find it— I mean it’s there. But you to have to…carry out a research project. You don’t learn it in school, you don’t study it in college, it’s not part of the international relations literature. It’s disappeared. Wrong agency again.
Although the primary terrorist war of the 80s was against Central America, South America had been the earlier years, it was also elsewhere as well. So, the Reagan administration strongly supported the white nationalist regime in South Africa. That was pretty tricky at the time because in 1977 the United Nations had already declared an arms embargo on South Africa. By the 1980s, corporations were pulling out; they didn’t want to be involved in Apartheid. Congress was passing sanctions. Which the Reagan administration had to evade in order to increase trade with South Africa as it did, and to increase support for them, while South Africa was carrying—quite apart from what was happening within—South Africa was carrying out depredations in the neighboring countries, Angola and Mozambique, which according to a later UN study killed a million and a half people and caused $60 billion worth of damage. That was with the backing of the United States—also England indirectly backing the regime. Went right through the 80s.
And this had to be done because under the War on Terror, the Pentagon in 1988 condemned Mandela’s African National Congress as, in their words, “one of the more notorious terrorist groups in the world.” So therefore in defense against terror it was necessary to carry out these actions. Actually Mandela just was taken off the official terrorist list about two years ago. He can now come to the United States without special dispensation.
That was Southern Africa. The same was happening in the Middle East. There was a lot of concern about terrorism in the Middle East in the 1980s. In fact in the year 1985, Middle East terrorism was selected by editors of major journals as the most important story of the year, major year for terrorism. And it was a major year for terrorism, 1985. The worst act of terror, single act of terror in 1985 was in Lebanon. It was a truck bomb, major truck bomb, placed outside a mosque. It was aimed at a Lebanese sheikh, Sheikh Fadlallah. He kind of a quietist priest in the Sistani tradition, the leading Shia cleric clerk. It missed him. But it did manage to kill eighty people leaving the mosque, mostly women and girls; injured a couple hundred; major bomb. That’s out of history too, because it was carried out by the CIA, with the cooperation of British intelligence and Saudi intelligence. So that act of terror doesn’t count. It didn’t exist.
The other major acts of terror in that year were an attack on Tunis by the Israeli Air Force. They bombed Tunis with the aid of the United States. The US pulled the Sixth Fleet out so that it wouldn’t warn Tunisia, technically an ally, that the bombers were coming. Of course it’s US planes, US munitions, and so on. The bombing in Tunis, which killed about seventy-five people—smart bombs tore them to shreds and so on—mostly Tunisians, that was in principle retaliation against an act in Cypress in which three Israelis were killed. Tunisia had absolutely nothing to do with the act. That was understood. In fact it was attributed to terrorist groups in Syria. But Syria’s hard to attack. You get into trouble that way. And a well-known principle of international affairs is you don’t do anything that’s going to be harmful to yourself, you go after soft, easy targets. And Tunis was undefended so you could attack Tunis. Libya was a favorite punching bag anyway, so you could attack them and kill seventy-five people.
The attack in Cypress— Going back a step. There was a terrorist attack in Cypress traced back to a branch of a Palestinian organization housed in Syria. That was retaliation as well. It was retaliation for Israeli regular acts of hijacking ships in international waters going between Cypress and Lebanon, kidnapping passengers, sometimes killing them, taking them back to Israel. Many of them pretty much disappeared into the Israeli prison system without charges. Some were held publicly as hostages for a long period, others were kidnapped from Lebanon for the same reasons. That’s not terrorism either. Again, the same reason: carried out by a US client, can’t be terrorism.
About a year ago I guess, the Israeli navy hijacked a ship again in the high seas in the Mediterranean. The Mavi Marmara, Turkish-flagged vessel which was aiming to break siege around Gaza—also illegal—but an Israeli navy hijacked it and sent commandos on board, killed nine people including an American citizen. And there was quite a lot of outrage about that. Now, Israel was kinda surprised at the outrage, and pretty upset by it. They regarded it as a defensive action. And in a sense they were justified since this had been going on for decades. Why the outrage all of a sudden?
Well, that’s— This is just skimming the surface. These are the terrorist acts that were going on during the War on Terror, the worst of them. This continued through the 1990s. During the 1990s some of the worst atrocities going on were in Colombia. The ones…results of the outcome of what I described before. But probably the worst ones were in Turkey. In southeastern Turkey the army was carrying out a counterinsurgency operation against Kurds which killed tens of thousands of people, according to the Turkish government destroyed about thirty-five hundred towns and villages, and destroyed forests. Every possible kind of barbaric torture you can think of.
They were able to do it because they were being strongly supported by NATO, in particular by the United States. About 80% of their arms were coming from the United States. The peak year of arms transfers from the United States was 1997. That was also the peak year of the Turkish state terror. In fact in that year Clinton sent more arms to Turkey than in the entire Cold War period combined, up till the onset of the counterinsurgency campaign. Well, this had to be disappeared too. 1997 happened to be the year in which leading intellectuals were writing in the major newspapers about how US foreign policy had entered into a noble phase with a saintly glow…so obviously this couldn’t have happened.
That was all part of the build-up— This was part of an interesting period of intellectual history that followed the end of the Cold War. Up until the Cold War ended there was always a pretext for any atrocity carried out, whatever it may be—the Russians are coming. It didn’t matter how exotic the claim was. You could also always make up some story. Okay, 1989 that ended. Which left a problem: how do we continue to carry out the same policies when the pretext is gone?
Well that was handled pretty easily, in an interesting way. This was the first Bush administration, Bush number one. As soon as the Berlin Wall fell, the Bush administration came out with a national security strategy and a new budget to declare what would happen after the end of the Cold War. And it’s interesting reading. It’s such interesting reading that it’s essentially never discussed. It’s the first thing one would look at if one wanted to learn what the Cold War was about. You know, what are the policies when it ended? Well, very specifically, the strategy and the budget say that the essentially nothing will change. That we’ll continue doing the same things but we’ll have new pretexts.
So the huge military system has to be maintained. Not to defend ourselves from the Russian hordes that’re not there, but because of what they called the “technological sophistication of Third World countries.” You’re supposed to read that and not laugh. If you’re…well educated, so nobody laughed. So we have to have this huge system to defend ourselves from the technological sophistication of Third World countries. We have to maintain what they called the Defense Industrial Base. That’s a euphemism for high-technology industry. We claim to have a free market economy but in fact the high-tech industry is based very heavily on state spending and initiative and development, a lot of it through the Pentagon. So we’ve gotta keep that going.
And it added an interesting comment about the Middle East. It said we have to maintain intervention forces directed against the Middle East. And then came this interesting phrase where “the serious threats to our interests could not be laid at the Kremlin’s door.” So in other words we’ve been lying to you for fifty years. But that game is over. So now we have to tell the truth. It’s aimed at what they call radical nationalism, meaning independent nationalism—that’s a crime everywhere. So the clouds lifted, but it really didn’t make any difference because no one paid any attention anyway.
The same thing happened with NATO. NATO was theoretically supposed to defend Western Europe from the Russians. Okay 1989…no Russians. What do you do with NATO? Well if you believed the propaganda you’d say okay, dissolve NATO. But that won’t do. NATO’s needed primarily to control Europe. That’s one of its major purposes. So NATO was not dissolved, it was expanded. Actually it was expanded in violation to pledges to Gorbachev. Gorbachev agreed to the unification of Germany, which is quite a step if you look at history. But in return, NATO was supposed to be… The President and Secretary of State James Baker promised Gorbachev that NATO would not extend “one inch to the east” (was the phrase that was used) so Gorbachev didn’t have to worry.
That was a verbal promise. They were very careful not to put it on paper. It was instantly violated. They instantly moved NATO to East Germany, then beyond. Gorbachev was pretty upset. But Bush and Baker pointed out to him that there was nothing on paper…you know…if he’s naïve enough to believe verbal promises amongst agreements from the United States, that’s his problem. So NATO expanded to the east. More under Clinton. By now it’s a global intervention force. It’s official mission now is to control the global energy infrastructure system. That means control the world, basically. It also controls Europe. Europe’s part of NATO under US command. There’s always been a concern since 1945 that Europe might strike an independent course, so…has to be controlled.
Well that’s the worst terrorism in the 1990s. It couldn’t be handled, plainly. Notice that this is terrorism within NATO. And the story at the time was we have to be appalled by atrocities in the Balkans, and how can European humanists accept the atrocities so near Europe? You know, impossible. Gotta do something about. Atrocities within NATO, that we’re implementing, that’s fine. They don’t exist.
Well going back to 1989 on the pretext problem, you couldn’t carry out atrocities, intervention and so on, because of the Russians. So we needed something new. And the intellectual community rose to the occasion. It immediately developed the notion of “humanitarian intervention.” From now on we’re dedicated to humanitarian intervention. Highly selective, so not in Turkey where we’re carrying out major atrocities, but in Bosnia where we can blame it on somebody else. That’s because we’re so noble, so we carry out humanitarian intervention.
Now, that didn’t sell so well either. The Third World, which has rather some sophistication on this matter— The South it’s now called, not the Third World—the South bitterly condemned the notion of humanitarian intervention. It condemned officially what it called the so-called right of humanitarian intervention, which is just a thin cover for traditional imperialism. That was in response to the NATO bombing of Serbia, incidentally.
So that didn’t work, you need some new notion. And a new notion came along. It’s called “responsibility to protect.” So that’s our mission now. We’re so noble we have a responsibility to protect. And that has had an interesting history—I’ll end with that. Now, there are two versions of it. There’s one version passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. And it’s…actually it doesn’t really add anything new to earlier resolutions, it just kinda emphasizes them. It says that states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens, and if there’s a major atrocity somewhere the Security Council can act under Chapter 7. (So authorizes force.) The Security Council can act on decision of the Security Council to intervene to do something about the atrocities. That essentially reiterates earlier resolutions, but somewhat more strongly.
Well that’s the official version of responsibility to protect. But it’s not the one used by the West. There’s another version which came out in a declaration by a special commission headed by Gareth Evans, also a former Australian Prime Minister. And this is pretty much the same with one exception. It says…something like this, it says in a case of where the Security Council cannot agree on forceful intervention, states can act within their own regional system to using force to block atrocities. Well there’s only one regional system where that can be done: NATO. In a world ruled by force, nobody else can do it. NATO can do it if the master, the United States, says it’s okay. So the Evans proposal says let’s go on as before. The US and its allies will intervene when they feel like it. If the Security Council doesn’t like it, they can get lost. As they have in the past. And we’ll do what we like. Now that’s the version that’s actually appealed to. And then when anyone raises a question they’ll say Well the UN passed it, after all.” Yeah, they passed a different resolution, the one which specifically excludes this. And the South went on to condemn this one, but that doesn’t matter.
Well, there’s more to say about that, but I won’t go on. Anyway that’s the basic story about terrorism. There’s plenty of terrorism going on, it’s pretty awful. And the kind that we condemn is also pretty awful. But a lot of it is kind of a footnote. If we were willing to face reality honestly, we’d look in the mirror and we’d say we have a significant responsibility for a good bit of the terror going on in the world.
Actually maybe to make a remark about the background to 9/11. George W. Bush, second Bush, was then president. He famously made a speech in which he kinda plaintively declared that they attacked us because they hate our freedom. Shortly after that the Pentagon, which has a research unit called the Defense Study Board, they did a study of this and they concluded that no it’s not because they hate our freedom, it’s because they hate our policies. That’s why they carried it out.
Well, there’s nothing new about that. That goes way back. And it’s relevant to things happening in the Middle East today. Back in the 1950s, President Eisenhower was concerned about what he called a “campaign of hatred against us” in the Arab world. Not among the governments, who were more or less okay, but among the people. And this was secret then, it’s been declassified since. The National Security Council, a major planning agency, issued a memorandum on this issue. It stated that there’s a perception in the Arab world that the United States supports harsh and brutal dictatorships and that the US blocks democracy and development, and we do it because we want to control their resources. And it went on to say that the perception is more or less accurate. And furthermore that’s what we ought to be doing. As long as the population’s quiet, it doesn’t matter. The dictators support us, so everything’s fine.
Now that’s 1958. 2001, the Defense Science Board essentially came up with the same conclusion. The same conclusion holds today. It was strikingly illustrated in the WikiLeaks revelations. The ones that got the most publicity—big headlines, euphoric commentary—were the revelations and cables that the Arabs support US policy towards Iran. That’s really important. One slight flaw in those reports: they were referring to the Arab dictators. They allegedly support our policies towards Iran. What about the Arab population? Well, we know their feelings. There are major polls taken by the leading US polling agencies, released by prestigious institutions, Brooking institutions. Not reported in the United States, incidentally. As far as I know one report in England, Jonathan Steele, had an article in The Guardian about it. I think that’s the only one. They’re interesting. They say that there are indeed Arabs who support US policies on Iran. About 10% think that Iran is a threat. Overwhelmingly they regard the United States and Israel as the major threats. In Egypt, 90% regard the United States as the major threat. In fact opposition to US policies is so strong that a majority say the region would be better off if Iran had nuclear weapons. Almost 80% in Egypt and a high percentage in the rest of the region.
Well that won’t do. Again for the usual reasons. So therefore this is almost totally suppressed, as far as I know. Steele’s is the only report in the English-speaking world, outside of critical… You know, I write about it, other people on the margins write about it, but the reactions reveal once again the simply extreme contempt for democracy. As long as the dictators back us, it doesn’t matter what the population thinks. If there’s a campaign of hatred against us among the population and the dictators are in control, everything’s fine. Euphoric headlines.
That was 1958, 2001, today. It’s standard. In the case of Britain it goes back much earlier, it goes back you know, a century and a half, two centuries. The US, it’s standard since the US replaced Britain as global hegemon. And France is the same if not worse. In fact every great power acts pretty much the same way. Well you know, these are things in the background of terrorism. You have to pay attention to them.
We also know pretty well how to deal with terrorism. In fact Britain led the way in this case. In Northern Ireland, terrorism was pretty serious. The IRA terror. The British terror was even worse of course, but that’s the usual balance of forces. But IRA terror was not a joke. As long as Britain reacted to it with greater terror, the cycle of terrorism increased. And finally, in the 90s, Britain finally responded, with US pressure in this case, in a sensible way. They tried to pay attention to the grievances that lay behind the terror. There were grievances, real ones. So Britain started to pay attention to the grievances, terror reduced, people who’d been involved—an IRA hitman—were brought into the negotiations. Some of them now ended up in the government. It’s not utopia but it’s a big difference from what it was before.
I was actually in Belfast in 1993 and it was like a war zone. I was back last year and it’s peaceful. You know. There’s tensions, but the kinda tensions that exist in every city. I couldn’t see them but people told me you know, “This is a Protestant neighborhood and if you’re Catholic you don’t go into it,” and that sort of thing. But it certainly wasn’t what it was in 1993. Okay, that’s the way to deal with terror. Take a look at its causes and its sources. If you want to reduce it. But states do not consider terror a major problem. It’s true of Britain and the United States, for example. This came out in the Chilcot hearings, clearly. The head of British intelligence testified that when the US and Britain invaded Iraq, they both anticipated that it would increase terror. Actually it did. A lot more than anyone expected. It increased it by about a factor of seven. But they both anticipated it was going to increase terror, but there are…other purposes, there are higher priorities than protecting the domestic populations. So they went to war. And that’s not unusual. If there were time I’d go over many more examples.
Anyhow, I think these are some of the things that should be kept in mind in thinking about the return to barbarism in our time, you know, the plague of terrorism in our age and so on.