Terrorism: Theirs and Ours
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 appeared 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 seeds 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 won’t 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.”
Eqbal Ahmad was Professor Emeritus of International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He had an extraordinary life. He was born in Irki, Bihar to an Indian Muslim landowning family. His father was murdered because he was parceling out land to peasants. Upon the partition of India in 1947 he went to Pakistan. He came to the U.S. to attend Princeton. He was in Algeria during the revolt against French rule. For many years he was managing editor of 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 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. Edward Said called him “an intellectual unintimidated by power or authority.” Confronting Empire and Terrorism Theirs & Ours are the two books he did with David Barsamian. Eqbal Ahmad died in Islamabad on May 11, 1999.