The truth about my life

Sat, 31 Dec 2005

Bir süre önce Edd Dumbill'in "Mono Developer's Notebook" adlı kitabı ile birlikte Amazon'dan aldığım Noam Chomsky'nin güncel çalışmalarından 9-11 adlı eserini de aylar sonra tamamlayarak bir başka başarıya imzamı atmış bulunuyorum.

Bu kitaptan da değerli gördüğüm birkaç paragrafı paylaşmak istiyorum:

Your comment that the U.S. is a “leading terrorist state” might stun many Americans. Could you elaborate on that?

The most obvious example, though far from the most extreme case, is Nicaragua. It is the most obvious because it is uncontroversial, at least to people who have even the faintest concern for international law. It's worth remembering – particularly since it has been so uniformly suppressed – that the U.S. Is the only country that was condemned for international terrorism by the World Court and that rejected a Security Council resolution calling on states to observe international law.

The United States continues international terrorism. There is also what in conparison are minor examples. Everybody here was quite properly outraged by the Oklahoma City bombing, and for a couple of days headlines read, "Oklahoma City looks like Beirut." I didn't see anybody point out that Beirut also looks like Beirut, and part of the reason is that the Reagan administration had set off a terrorist bombing there in 1985 that was very much like Oklahoma City, a truck bombing outside a mosque timed to kill the maximum number of people as they left. It killed 80 and wounded 250, mostly women and children, according to a report in the Washington Post 3 years later. The terrorist bombing was aimed at a Muslim cleric whom they didn't like and whom they missed. It was not very secret. I don't know what name you give to the policies that are a leading factor in the death of maybe a million civillians in Iraq and maybe a half a million children, which is the price the Secretary of State says we're willing to pay. Is there a name for that? Supporting Israeli atrocities is another one.

Supporting Turkey's crushing of its own Kurdish population, for which the Clinton administration gave the decisive support, 80 percent of the army, escalating as atrocities increased, is another. And that was a truly massive atrocity, one of the worst campaigns of ethnic cleansing and destruction in the 1990s, scarcely known because of the primary U.S. responsibility – and when impolitely brought up, dismissed as a minor “flaw” in our general dedication to “ending inhumanity” everywhere.

Or take the destruction of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, one little footnote in the record of state terror, quickly forgotten. What would the reaction have been if the bin Laden network had blown up half the pharmaceutical supplies in the U.S. and the facilities for replenishing them? We can imagine, though the comparison is unfair: the consequences are vastly more severe in Sudan. That aside, if the U.S. or Israel or England were to be the target of such an atrocity, what would the reaction be? In this case we say, “Oh, well, too bad, minor mistake, let's go on to the next topic, let the victims rot.” Other people in the world don't react like that. When bin Laden brings up that bombing, he strikes a resonant chord, even among those who despise and fear him; and the same, unfortunately, is true of much the rest of his rhetoric.

Though it is merely a footnote, the Sudan case is nonetheless highly instructive. One interesting aspect is the reaction when someone dares to mention it. I have in the past, and did so again in response to queries from journalists shortly after the 9-11 atrocities. I mentioned that the toll of the “horrendous crime” of 9-11, committed with “wickedness and awesome cruelty” (quoting Robert Fisk), may be comparable to the consequences of Clinton's bombing of the Al-Shifa plant in August 1998. That plausible conclusion and journals with feverish and fanciful condemnations, which I'll ignore. The only important aspect is that that single sentence – which, on a closer look, appears to be as utterly scandalous. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that at some deep level, however they may deny it to themselves, they regard our crimes against the weak to be as normal as the air we breathe. Our crimes, for which we are responsible as taxpayers, for failing to provide massive reparations, for granting refuge and immunity to the perpetrators, and for allowing the terrible facts to be sunk deep in the memory hole. All of this is of great significance, as it has been in the past.

About the consequences of the destruction of the Al-Shifa plant, we have only estimates. Sudan sought a UN inquiry into the justifications for the bombing, but even that was blocked by Washington, and few seem to have tried to investigate beyond. But we surely should. Perhaps we should begin by recalling some virtual truisms, at least among those with a minimal concern for human rights. When we estimate the human toll of a crime, we count not only those who were literally murdered on the spot but those who died as a result. That is the course we adopt reflexively, and properly when we consider the crimes of official enemies – Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, to mention the most extreme cases. Here, we do not consider the crime to be mitigated by fact that it was not intended but was a reflection of institutional and ideological structures: the Chines famine of 1958-1961, to take an extreme case, is not dismissed on grounds that it was a “mistake” and that Mao did not “intend” to kill tens of millions of people. Nor is it mitigated by speculations about his personal reasons for the orders that led to the famine. Similarly, we would dismiss with contempt the charge that condemnation of Hitler's crimes in Eastern Europe overlooks Stalin's crimes. If we are even pretending to be serious, we apply the same standards to ourselves, always. In this case, we count the number who died as a consequence of the crime, not just those killed in Khartoum by cruise missiles; and we do not consider the crime to be mitigated by the fact that it reflects the normal functioning of policymaking and ideological institutions – as it did, even if there is some validity to the (to my mind, dubious) speculations about Clinton's personal problems, which are irrelevant to this question anyway, for the reasons that everyone takes for granted when considering the crimes of official enemies.

With these truisms in mind, let's have a look at some of the material that was readily available in the mainstream press. I disregard the extensive analysis of the validity of Washington's pretexts, of little moral significance in comparison to the question of consequences.

A year after the attack, “without the lifesaving medicine (the destroyed facilities) produced, Sudan's death toll from the bombing has continued, quietly, to rise... Thus, tens of thousands of people – many of them children – have suffered and died from malaria, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases... (Al-Shifa) provided affordable medicine for humans and all the locally available veterinary medicine in Sudan. It produced 90 percent of Sudan's major pharmaceutical products... Sanctions against Sudan make it impossible to import adequate amounts of medicines required to cover the serious gap left by the plant's destruction... The action taken by Washington on August 20, 1998, continues to deprive the people of Sudan of needed Medicine. Millions must wonder how the International Court of Justice in The Hague will celebrate this anniversary” (Jonathan Belke, Boston Globe, August 22, 1999).

Germany's Ambassador to Sudan writes that “It is difficult to assess how many people in this poor African country died as a consequence of the destruction of the Al-Shifa factory, but several tens of thousands seems a reasonable guess” (Werner Daum, “Universalism and the West,” Harvard International Review, Summer 2001).

“The loss of this factory is a tragedy for the rural communities who need these medicines” [Tom Carnaffin, technical manager with “intimate knowledge” of the destroyed plant, quoted in Ed Vulliamy, Henry McDonald, Shyam Bhatia, and Martin Bright, London Observer, August 23, 1998, lead story, page 1].

Al-Shifa “provided 50 percent of Sudan's medicines, and its destruction has left the country with no supplies of chloroquine, the standard treatment for malaria,” but months later, the British Labour government refused requests “to resupply chloroquine in emergency relief until such time as the Sudanese can rebuild their pharmaceutical production” [Patrick Wintour, Observer, December 20, 1998].

The Al-Shifa facility was “the only one producing TB drugs – for more than 100,000 patients, at about 1 British pound a month. Costlier imported versions are not an option for most of them – or for their husbands, wives and children, who will have been infected since. Al-Shifa was also the only factory making veterinary drugs in this vast, mostly pastoralist, country. Its specialty was drugs to kill the parasites which pass from herds to herders, one of Sudan's principal causes of infant morality” [James Astill, Guardian, October 2, 2001].

The silent death toll continues to mount.

These accounts are by respected journalists writing in leading journals. The one exception is the most knowledgeable of the sources just cited, Jonathan Belke, regional program manager for the Near East Foundation, who writes on the basis of field experience in Sudan. The Foundation is a respected development institute dating back to World War I. It provides technical assistance to poor countries in the Middle East and Africa, emphasizing grassroots locally-run development projects, and operates with close connections to major universities, charitable organization, and the State Department, including well-known Middle East diplomats and prominent figures in Middle East educational and developmental affairs.

According to credible analyses readily available to us, then, proportional to population, the destruction of Al-Shifa is as if the bin Laden network, in a single attack on the U.S., caused “hundreds of thousands of people – many of them children – to suffer and die from easily treatable diseases,” though the analogy, as noted, is unfair. Sudan is “one of the least developed areas in the world. Its harsh climate, scattered populations, health hazards and crumbling infrastructure combine to make life for many Sudanese a struggle for survival”; a country with endemic malaria, tuberculosis, and many other diseases, where “periodic outbreaks of meningitis or cholera are not uncommon,” so affordable medicines are a dire necessity [Jonathan Belke and Kamal El Faki, technical reports from the field for the Near East Foundation]. It is, furthermore, a country with limited arable land, a chronic shortage of potable water, a huge death rate, little industry, an unserviceable debt, wracked with AIDS, devastated by a vicious and destructive internal war, and under severe sanctions. What is happening within is largely speculation, including Belke's (quite plausible) estimate that within a year tens of thousands had already “suffered and died” as the result of the destruction of the major facilities producing affordable drugs and veterinary medicines.

This only scratches the surface.

Human Rights Watched reported immediately reported that as an immediate consequence of the bombing, “all UN agencies based in Khartoum have evacuated their American staff, as have many other relief organizations,” so that “many relief efforts have been postponed indefinitely, including a crucial one run by the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee (in a government town) where more than fifty southerners are dying daily”; these are regions in “southern Sudan, where the UN estimates that 2.4 millon people are at risk of starvation,” and the “disruption in assistance” for the “devastated population” may produce a “terrible crisis.”

What is more, the U.S. bombing “appears to have shattered the slowly evolving move toward compromise between Sudan's warring sides” and terminated promising steps towards a peace agreement to end the civil war that had left 1.5 million dead since 1981, which might have also led to “peace in Uganda and the entire Nile Basin.” The attack apparently “shattered... the expected benefits of a political shift at the heart of Sudan's domestic crises, to end support for terrorism, and to reduce the influence of radical Islamists (Mark Huband, Financial Times, September 8, 1998).

Insofar as such consequences ensued, we may compare the crime in Sudan to assassination of Lumumba, which helped plunge the Congo into decades of slaughter, still continuing; or the overthrow of the democratic government of Guatemala in 1954, which led to 40 years of hideous atrocities; and all too many others like it.

Huband's conclusions are reiterated three years later by James Astill, in the article just cited. He reviews “the political cost to a country struggling to emerge from totalitarian military dictatorship, ruinous Islamism and long-running civil war” before the missile attack, which “overnight (plunged Khartoum) into the nightmare of impotent extremism it had been trying to escape.” This “political cost” may have been even more harmful to Sudan than the destruction of its “fragile medical services,” he concludes.

Astill quotes Dr. Idris Eltayeb, one of Sudan's handful of pharmacologists and chairman of the board of Al-Shifa: the crime, he says, is “just as much an act of terrorism as at the Twin Towers – the only difference is we know who did it. I feel very sad about the loss of life (in New York and Washington), but in terms of numbers, and the relative cost to a poor country, (the bombing in Sudan) was worse.”

Unfortunately, he may be right about “the loss of life in terms of numbers,” even if we do not take into account the longer-term “political-cost.”

Evaluating “relative cost” is an enterprise I won't try to pursue, and it goes without saying that ranking crimes on some scale is generally ridiculous, though comparison of the toll is perfectly reasonable and indeed standard in scholarship.

The bombing also carrier severe costs for the people of the United States, as became glaringly evident on September 11, or should have. It seems to me remarkable that this has not been brought up prominently (if at all), in the extensive discussion of intelligence failures that lie behind the 9-11 atrocities.

Just before the 1998 missile strike, Sudan detained two men suspected of bombing the American embassies in East Africa, notifying Washington, U.S. officials confirmed. But the U.S. rejected Sudan's offer of cooperation, and after the missile attack, Sudan “angrily released” the suspects (James Risen, New York Times, July 30, 1999); they have since been identified as bin Laden operatives. Recently leaked FBI memos add another reason why Sudan “angrily released” the suspects. The memos reveal that the FBI wanted them extradited, but State Department refused. One “senior CIA source” now describes this and other rejections of Sudanese offers of cooperation as “the worst single intelligence failure in this whole terrible business” of September 11. “It is the key to the whole thing now” because of the voluminous evidence on bin Laden that Sudan offered to produce, offers that were repeatedly rebuffed because of the administration's “irrational hatred” of Sudan, the senior CIA source reports. Included in Sudan's rejected offers was “a vast intelligence database on Osama bin Laden and more than 200 leading members of his al-Qaeda terrorist network in the years leading up to the 11 September attacks.” Washington was “offered thick files, with photographs and detailed biographies of many of his principal cadres, and vital information about al-Qaeda's financial interests in many parts of the globe,” but refused to accept the information, out of “irrational hatred” of the target of its missile attack. “It is reasonable to say that had we had this data we may have had a better chance of preventing the attacks” of September 11, the same senior CIA source concludes (David Rose, Observer, September 30, reporting an Observer investigation).

One can scarcely try to estimate the toll of the Sudan bombing, even apart from the probably tens of thousands of immediate Sudanese victims. The complete toll is attributable to the single act of terror – at least, if we have the honesty to adopt the standards we properly apply to official enemies. The reaction in the West tells us a lot about ourselves, if we agree to adopt another moral truism: look into the mirror.

Or to return to “our little region over here which never has bothered anybody,” as Henry Stimson called the Western hemisphere, take Cuba. After many years of terror beginning in late 1959, including very serious atrocities, Cuba should have the right to resort to violence against the U.S. according to U.S. doctrine that is scarcely questioned. It is, unfortunately, all too easy to continue, not only with regard to the U.S. but also other terrorist states.

In your book Culture of Terrorism, you write that “the cultural scene is illuminated with particular clarity by the thinking of the liberal doves, who set the limits for respectable dissent.” How have they been performing since the events of September 11?

Since I don't like to generalize, let's take a concrete example. On September 16, the New York Times reported that the U.S. has demanded that Pakistan cut off food aid to Afghanistan. That had already been hinted before, but here it was stated flat out. Among other demands Washington issued to Pakistan, it also “demanded... the elimination of truck convoys that provide much of the food and other supplies to Afghanistan's civillian population” - the food that is keeping probably millions of people just this side of starvation (John Burns, Islamabad, New York Times). What does this mean? That means that unknown numbers of starving Afghans will die. Are these Taliban? No, they're victims of Taliban. Many of them are internal refugees kept from leaving. But here's a statement saying, OK, let's proceed to kill unknown numbers, maybe millions, of starving Afghans who are victims of Taliban. What was the reaction?

I spent almost the entire day afterwards on the radio and television around the world. I kept bringing it up. Nobody in Europe or the U.S. could think of one word of reaction. Elsewhere in the world there was plenty of reaction, even around the periphery of Europe, like Greece. How should we have reacted to this? Suppose some power was strong enough to say, Let's do something that will cause a huge number of Americans to die of starvation. Would you think it's a serious problem? And again, it's not a fair analogy. In the case of Afghanistan, left to rot after it had been ruined by the Soviet invasion and exploited for Washington's war, much of the country is in ruins and its people are desperate, already one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

National Public Radio, which in the 1980s was denounced by the Reagan administration as “Radio Managua on the Potomac,” is also considered “out there” on the liberal end of respectable debate. Noah Adams, the host of All Things Considered, asked these questions on September 17: “Should assassinations be allowed? Should the CIA be given more operating leeway?”

The CIA should not be permitted to carry out assassinations, but that's the least of it. Should the CIA permitted to organize a car bombing in Beirut like the one I just mentioned?

Not a secret, incidentally; prominently reported in the mainstream, though easily forgotten. That didn't violate any laws. And it's not just the CIA. Should they have been permitted to organize in Nicaragua a terrorist army that had the official task, straight out of the mouth of the State Department, to attack “soft targets” in Nicaragua, meaning undefended agricultural cooperatives and health clinics? Remember that the State Department officially approved such attacks immediately after the World Court had ordered the U.S. to end its international terrorist campaign and pay substantial reparations.

What's the name for that? Or to set up something like the bin Laden network, not him himself, but the background organizations?

Should the U.S. be authorized to provide Israel with attack helicopters used to carry out political assassinations and attacks on civilian targets? That's not the CIA. That's the Clinton administration, with no noticeable objection. In fact, it wasn't even reported, though the sources were impeccable.

Could you very briefly define the political uses of terrorism? Where does it fit in the doctrinal system?

The U.S. is officially committed to what is called “low-intensity warfare.” That's the official doctrine. If you read the standard definitions of low-intensity conflict and compare them with official definitions of “terrorism” in army manuals, or the U.S. Code (see p. 16, footnote), you find they're almost the same. Terrorism is the use of coercive means aimed at civilian populations in an effort to achieve political, religious, or other aims. That's what the World Trade Center attack was, a particularly horrifying terrorist crime.

Terrorism, according to the official definitions, is simply part of state action, official doctrine, and not just that of the U.S., of course.

It is not, as is often claimed, “the weapon of the weak.”

Furthermore, all of these things should be well known. It's shameful that they're not. Anybody who wants to find out about them can begin by reading the Alex George collection mentioned earlier, which runs through lots and lots of cases. These are things people need to know if they want to understand anything about themselves. They are known by the victims, of course, but the perpetrators prefer to look elsewhere.

Bildiğim kadarıyla Chomsky'nin güncel kitaplarının bir kısmının Türkçe tercümesi yok, eğer okuma olanağınız varsa edinip okumanızı şiddetle tavsiye ederim.

Fri, 09 Dec 2005

Bir ay kadar önce Mustafa Akgül, Reyyan Ayfer önderliğinde başlatılan bazı derslerin KDE masaüstü ortamı, KDevelop ve Mono ile yürütülmesi projesine destek olmak amacıyla Bilkent'de kısa bir Mono'ya giriş sunumu yapmanın mümkün olup olmadığını sormuştu; memnuniyetle kabul etmiştim.

1 Aralık Perşembe günü sunumu gerçekleştirdik; biraz aceleyle yolda hazırladığım Mono Development Platform sunum notları işte burada: Adobe PDF ve 2.0 Impress Presentation. Fena olmamış sanki? Hmm. Unutmadan, dosyaları indirirken lütfen zayıf sunucuma iyi davranın.

Öncelikle Reyyan Ayfer ve Can Uğur Ayfer'e başarılı organizasyondan ve yakın ilgilerinden ötürü teşekkürlerimi sunmak istiyorum. Yaklaşık 2 saatlik, umuyorum hedefe ulaştığımız çok kalabalık olmayan fakat ilgili kitlenin katıldığı, benim çok keyif aldığım bir sunum oldu.

Sunumdan sonra Yavuz Selim Kömür ve Can Uğur Ayfer ile birlikte sistem odasını biraz dolaştık:

İstanbul'a geri döndükten sonra belediye, tapu ve kadastro falan gibi bazı devlet daireleri ile çeşitli işlerim oldu. Bu sayede paylaşacak bir fotoğrafımsı daha buldum:

Ayrıca sizleri Parkyeri desteğiyle sağlanan Turkcell'in en yeni servisi olan yakışıklı sistem yöneticisi servisi HakanCell ile tanıştırmak istiyorum. Çok sevimli değil mi? :) Meşhur oldun adamım, tadını çıkar.

İyi eğlenceler,

About me

I'm Enver ALTIN. I'm from the other side of the river.


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