Wow! Brzezinski said that!
Source Ken Hanly
Date 07/03/26/22:25

Terrorized by 'War on Terror'

How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America

By Zbigniew Brzezinski

03/25/07 "Washington Post' -- The "war on terror"
has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush
administration's elevation of these three words into a
national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has
had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on
America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world.
Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability
to effectively confront the real challenges we face
from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

The damage these three words have done -- a classic
self-inflicted wound -- is infinitely greater than any
wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators
of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us
in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is
meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context
nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy
but a technique of warfare -- political intimidation
through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.

But the little secret here may be that the vagueness
of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively)
calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a
"war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: It
stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear
obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it
easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the
public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.
The war of choice in Iraq could never have gained the
congressional support it got without the psychological
linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated
existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Support for President Bush in the 2004 elections was
also mobilized in part by the notion that "a nation at
war" does not change its commander in chief in
midstream. The sense of a pervasive but otherwise
imprecise danger was thus channeled in a politically
expedient direction by the mobilizing appeal of being
"at war."

To justify the "war on terror," the administration has
lately crafted a false historical narrative that could
even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. By claiming
that its war is similar to earlier U.S. struggles
against Nazism and then Stalinism (while ignoring the
fact that both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were
first-rate military powers, a status al-Qaeda neither
has nor can achieve), the administration could be
preparing the case for war with Iran. Such war would
then plunge America into a protracted conflict
spanning Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and perhaps also

The culture of fear is like a genie that has been let
out of its bottle. It acquires a life of its own --
and can become demoralizing. America today is not the
self-confident and determined nation that responded to
Pearl Harbor; nor is it the America that heard from
its leader, at another moment of crisis, the powerful
words "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself";
nor is it the calm America that waged the Cold War
with quiet persistence despite the knowledge that a
real war could be initiated abruptly within minutes
and prompt the death of 100 million Americans within
just a few hours. We are now divided, uncertain and
potentially very susceptible to panic in the event of
another terrorist act in the United States itself.

That is the result of five years of almost continuous
national brainwashing on the subject of terror, quite
unlike the more muted reactions of several other
nations (Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, to
mention just a few) that also have suffered painful
terrorist acts. In his latest justification for his
war in Iraq, President Bush even claims absurdly that
he has to continue waging it lest al-Qaeda cross the
Atlantic to launch a war of terror here in the United

Such fear-mongering, reinforced by security
entrepreneurs, the mass media and the entertainment
industry, generates its own momentum. The terror
entrepreneurs, usually described as experts on
terrorism, are necessarily engaged in competition to
justify their existence. Hence their task is to
convince the public that it faces new threats. That
puts a premium on the presentation of credible
scenarios of ever-more-horrifying acts of violence,
sometimes even with blueprints for their

That America has become insecure and more paranoid is
hardly debatable. A recent study reported that in
2003, Congress identified 160 sites as potentially
important national targets for would-be terrorists.
With lobbyists weighing in, by the end of that year
the list had grown to 1,849; by the end of 2004, to
28,360; by 2005, to 77,769. The national database of
possible targets now has some 300,000 items in it,
including the Sears Tower in Chicago and an Illinois
Apple and Pork Festival.

Just last week, here in Washington, on my way to visit
a journalistic office, I had to pass through one of
the absurd "security checks" that have proliferated in
almost all the privately owned office buildings in
this capital -- and in New York City. A uniformed
guard required me to fill out a form, show an I.D. and
in this case explain in writing the purpose of my
visit. Would a visiting terrorist indicate in writing
that the purpose is "to blow up the building"? Would
the guard be able to arrest such a self-confessing,
would-be suicide bomber? To make matters more absurd,
large department stores, with their crowds of
shoppers, do not have any comparable procedures. Nor
do concert halls or movie theaters. Yet such
"security" procedures have become routine, wasting
hundreds of millions of dollars and further
contributing to a siege mentality.

Government at every level has stimulated the paranoia.
Consider, for example, the electronic billboards over
interstate highways urging motorists to "Report
Suspicious Activity" (drivers in turbans?). Some mass
media have made their own contribution. The cable
channels and some print media have found that horror
scenarios attract audiences, while terror "experts" as
"consultants" provide authenticity for the apocalyptic
visions fed to the American public. Hence the
proliferation of programs with bearded "terrorists" as
the central villains. Their general effect is to
reinforce the sense of the unknown but lurking danger
that is said to increasingly threaten the lives of all

The entertainment industry has also jumped into the
act. Hence the TV serials and films in which the evil
characters have recognizable Arab features, sometimes
highlighted by religious gestures, that exploit public
anxiety and stimulate Islamophobia. Arab facial
stereotypes, particularly in newspaper cartoons, have
at times been rendered in a manner sadly reminiscent
of the Nazi anti-Semitic campaigns. Lately, even some
college student organizations have become involved in
such propagation, apparently oblivious to the menacing
connection between the stimulation of racial and
religious hatreds and the unleashing of the
unprecedented crimes of the Holocaust.

The atmosphere generated by the "war on terror" has
encouraged legal and political harassment of Arab
Americans (generally loyal Americans) for conduct that
has not been unique to them. A case in point is the
reported harassment of the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR) for its attempts to emulate, not very
successfully, the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC). Some House Republicans recently
described CAIR members as "terrorist apologists" who
should not be allowed to use a Capitol meeting room
for a panel discussion.

Social discrimination, for example toward Muslim air
travelers, has also been its unintended byproduct. Not
surprisingly, animus toward the United States even
among Muslims otherwise not particularly concerned
with the Middle East has intensified, while America's
reputation as a leader in fostering constructive
interracial and interreligious relations has suffered

The record is even more troubling in the general area
of civil rights. The culture of fear has bred
intolerance, suspicion of foreigners and the adoption
of legal procedures that undermine fundamental notions
of justice. Innocent until proven guilty has been
diluted if not undone, with some -- even U.S. citizens
-- incarcerated for lengthy periods of time without
effective and prompt access to due process. There is
no known, hard evidence that such excess has prevented
significant acts of terrorism, and convictions for
would-be terrorists of any kind have been few and far
between. Someday Americans will be as ashamed of this
record as they now have become of the earlier
instances in U.S. history of panic by the many
prompting intolerance against the few.

In the meantime, the "war on terror" has gravely
damaged the United States internationally. For
Muslims, the similarity between the rough treatment of
Iraqi civilians by the U.S. military and of the
Palestinians by the Israelis has prompted a widespread
sense of hostility toward the United States in
general. It's not the "war on terror" that angers
Muslims watching the news on television, it's the
victimization of Arab civilians. And the resentment is
not limited to Muslims. A recent BBC poll of 28,000
people in 27 countries that sought respondents'
assessments of the role of states in international
affairs resulted in Israel, Iran and the United States
being rated (in that order) as the states with "the
most negative influence on the world." Alas, for some
that is the new axis of evil!

The events of 9/11 could have resulted in a truly
global solidarity against extremism and terrorism. A
global alliance of moderates, including Muslim ones,
engaged in a deliberate campaign both to extirpate the
specific terrorist networks and to terminate the
political conflicts that spawn terrorism would have
been more productive than a demagogically proclaimed
and largely solitary U.S. "war on terror" against
"Islamo-fascism." Only a confidently determined and
reasonable America can promote genuine international
security which then leaves no political space for

Where is the U.S. leader ready to say, "Enough of this
hysteria, stop this paranoia"? Even in the face of
future terrorist attacks, the likelihood of which
cannot be denied, let us show some sense. Let us be
true to our traditions.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to
President Jimmy Carter, is the author most recently of
"Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of
American Superpower" (Basic Books).

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