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Terrorism: Theirs and Ours

Program #AHME008. Recorded in Boulder, CO on October 12, 1998.

Terrorism is the scourge of the era. It is a fearsome symbol conjuring up images of ferocious-looking, bearded men brandishing AK-47s. The media focus on the terrorism of official enemies like Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, and Zarqawi. After they were done away with, new demons appear to justify war and bloat the Pentagon budget. Be afraid of ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Be afraid of Yemen and Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Be afraid of all the jihadi groups that have mushroomed all over the Middle East. The notion that the U.S. and its allies engage in terrorism is simply not a topic for discussion. To scrutinize U.S. policy is verboten. The War on Terror is now the longest war in U.S. history. There is no end in sight. And that suits Washington just fine. 

This classic from the AR archives is as relevant today as when it was first recorded.

Amitava Kumar, The Nation, November 27, 2006 writes:"During Clinton's bombing of Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Eqbal Ahmad warned, 'The United States has sowed in the Middle East and South Asia very poisonous seeds. These seed are growing now. Some have ripened, and others are ripening. An examination of why they were sown, what has grown, and how they should be reaped is needed. Missiles wont solve the problem.'"

Kumar adds "Terrorism: Theirs and Ours found a new life on the Internet after September 11. Ahmad reflected on the marriage of convenience between the U.S. and the anti-Soviet Mujahideen, one that by then had ended in a bitter divorce with the rise of Al Qaeda."

Speaker(s):

Eqbal Ahmad

Eqbal Ahmad was Professor Emeritus of International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He was born in Irki, Bihar, to an Indian Muslim landowning family. His father was murdered while parceling out the estate to landless peasants. Upon the partition of India in 1947 he went to Pakistan. He came to the U.S. to attend Princeton. For many years he was managing editor of the quarterly Race and Class. His articles and essays appeared in The Nation and other journals throughout the world. He wrote a weekly column for Dawn, Pakistan's oldest English newspaper. He was one of the the most original and influential anti-imperialist thinkers of his era. He was a leading figure in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He was a remarkable and persuasive orator. As a teacher, he was mentor and inspiration to many. He was a close ally of Edward Said, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. Confronting Empire and Terrorism Theirs & Ours are the two books he did with David Barsamian. Eqbal Ahmad died in Islamabad on May 11, 1999.

Eqbal Ahmad was a brilliant and penetrating critic and analyst, a courageous fighter for justice and freedom in much of the world, steeped in humanistic understanding, warm and compassionate, a dear friend. His accomplishments ranged from demolishing self-serving dogmas about the Cold War to such constructive work as bringing Indians and Pakistanis together in a search for an amicable settlement of a tragic conflict, and far too much more even to try to mention. He is one of the most remarkable people I've been fortunate enough to know, or even to know about." - Noam Chomsky

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