20 Years of the Global War on Terror/20 Days of Education And Resources

Day 9: Environmental Impacts

The US military is the single biggest danger to the environment globally. It is the world’s biggest polluter, is inextricably entwined with the fossil fuel industry, and is the primary force used to protect and serve the interests driving devastating extraction worldwide. 

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have far reaching impacts and consequences on bodies and land. Environmental devastation in Iraq and Afghanistan caused by the US war have resulted in huge rates of birth defects and poisoning of the soil. These effects will last long beyond direct US military occupation. These life-threatening toxics also affect the mostly indigenous, Black, brown, and white working class communities in the US where they are developed, such as Hawai’i and Puerto Rico, or dumped, like the radioactive Hunters Point naval shipyard in San Francisco.

Survivors and veterans are leading the research, advocacy and activism to address the harms done to bodies and land by US military toxins. One example was the Right to Heal campaign, a joint project of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq with About Face (following the lead of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility campaign led by Vietnamese activists along with Vietnam Veterans Against the War).

Primary Resource: The Right to Heal: Holding the US Accountable for the Human Costs of War

Additional Resources:

Organization: OWFI – Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI)

Day 8: Palestine

Toufic Haddad writes: “The impact of the US-led “war on terror” on the Palestinian people, their movement, and its leadership has been far-reaching and devastating. The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks provided Israel with ideal political and diplomatic conditions to achieve long-standing goals.”

More from today’s resource: “Israel Took Advantage of 9/11 to Wage War on Palestine” by Toufic Haddad:

“Israel immediately seized upon the 9/11 attacks to do as much damage as possible to the Palestinian national project in terms of its leadership structure, organizations, personnel, and morale. It used the pretext of ongoing “Palestinian terror” — namely the Palestinian uprising — to ramp up the death count of the Second Intifada, in particular by targeting key grassroots leaders who were seen as its most effective organizers. Assassination by hit squads, Apache helicopters, and eventually drones became a central tool used to decimate the experienced ranks of Palestinian political organizations… 

“Israel has long acted as a laboratory to research, develop, and test cutting-edge security technologies and doctrines, all funded by the US taxpayer. It was thus uniquely well positioned to take advantage of the financial windfalls that the war on terror released for such projects.

Israel quickly became a global leader in the development of drone warfare capabilities, border detection systems, aggressive “anti-terror” hit-squad doctrines, and elaborate spy and signal intelligence systems. It developed and tested all of these weapons and strategies within the Palestinian arena, the Gaza Strip in particular, where the territory’s near-hermetic sealing gave such technologies the stamp of being “battle-tested.””

Additional Resource: 10 Years Since the Holy Land 5 by Palestinian Youth Movement, daughters of the Holy Land 5, and Coalitions for Civil Freedoms

Organizations: Palestinian Youth Movement, Arab Resource and Organizing Center , US Palestinian Community Network, Adalah Justice Project, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine, Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, Boycott National Committee, Al Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

Day 7: Hybrid War

One of the essential elements of the War on Terror is the use of hybrid warfare. This type of warfare blends conventional warfare (boots on the ground, drones) with other methods, such as sanctions, deceptive news, diplomatic power, electoral intervention, and the use of the economic power of institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These methods allow the U.S. to remain in the background, masking its interventionism as it pursues its goal of regime change in countries opposed to U.S. policies. Far from being a “softer” form of warfare, tactics like sanctions are incredibly violent, causing massive suffering of civilians and costing millions of lives.

What do you think would be different if the majority of people in the U.S. understood more about these wars and their effects at home and abroad?

Primary Resource: Vijay Prashad, “Hybrid Wars and US Imperialism”

Additional Resources:

Organizations: The Black Alliance for Peace, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Women Against Sanctions, War and Militarization of Middle East

Day 6: Global Antiwar Movement

As long as the US empire has waged wars, people have resisted them from both inside and outside the empire. The global mobilization to prevent the invasion of Iraq was a high tide of resistance. On February 15th, 2003 an estimated 12-14 million people took part in protests on every continent. in the largest day of protest in history. On the day after the Bush administration launched the massive Shock and Awe bombing campaign on Iraq, protesters in cities across the US attempted to stop business as usual and raise the social cost of waging war. In San Francisco alone more than 2,500 people were arrested over several days of action that shut down the city’s financial center. 

The scale of the antiwar movement was incredible, and it wrestled with many issues internally. Two of the key ones were its shortcomings around antiracism and anti-imperialism. We must reckon with the fact that the movement was unable to prevent the invasion of Iraq, as we also remember the incredible resistance to US war-making and lift up some of the organizations that continue to organize powerfully against US war and imperialism: Dissenters, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Palestinian Youth Movement, About Face: Veterans Against the War, War Resisters League.

Today’s resources:

Day 5: Iraq

The US war on Iraq began with the 1991 invasion now known as the first Gulf War, and continued over the next 10 years of lethal sanctions. In 2003, despite the largest worldwide protests in history across every continent, the Bush administration invaded Iraq again on bogus claims that Saddam Hussein had funded Al-Qaeda and was building weapons of mass destruction. The US war and occupation of Iraq would cost well over a million lives, displace more than 9 million Iraqis, plunge Iraq into sectarian violence and create ISIS/the Islamic State/Daesh, destabilize the region, and poison the soil, air and water for coming generations. Even under tremendous repression, Iraqi progressive social movements and trade unionists have continued to organize for human rights and democracy.

Today we are sharing a quote from Riverbend, an Iraqi woman who started blogging about the war and politics starting in August of 2003. This quote is from 2007:

“​​And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse?

“Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.”

Riverbend’s Blog is here: https://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

Additional Resources:

Organizations: OWFI – Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) , Iraqi Transnational Collective , Collective Action for Iraq

Day 4: Afghanistan

Within weeks of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. launched its brutal “War on Terror” with the ferocious bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban. Initially, the war was sold to the U.S. population as a plan to dismantle al-Qaeda, which had claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. During this 20-year war, which cost over $2 trillion dollars, hundreds of thousands of people were killed and many thousands more were maimed. The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan destabilized the country, drove it into extreme poverty and set back the progressive movements of the Afghan people.

On 9/14/2001 the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) wrote: “Now that the Taliban and Osama are the prime suspects by the US officials after the criminal attacks, will the US subject Afghanistan to a military attack similar to the one in 1998 and kill thousands of innocent Afghans for the crimes committed by the Taliban and Osama? Does the US think that through such attacks, with thousands of deprived, poor and innocent people of Afghanistan as its victims, will be able to wipe out the root-cause of terrorism, or will it spread terrorism even to a larger scale?” from today’s resource: “The People of Afghanistan Have Nothing to do with Osama and his Accomplices

Now that the US has finally withdrawn troops from Afghanistan, what is the US government’s responsibility to the people of Afghanistan? How can people in the US offer material solidarity to the people of Afghanistan?

Additional Resources:

Day 3: Background of the US in the Region

After 9/11, the mainstream media published countless think pieces asking, “Why do they hate us?” Most responses relied on racist conceptions of Islam and Arab people. Missing in most analysis was any meaningful engagement with the violence and harm the US had already perpetrated in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as countries across the region and around the world) or the specific US economic interests at play. Also missing was the specific role the US had played in propping up Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, some of the very people who had now become their enemies. 

How do we break through the story that 9/11 led to the “Global War on Terror,” when the truth is that the US’s terrorizing so many people around the globe led to 9/11?

Primary Resource:Come September,” by Arundhati Roy. Full text available here.

Additional resources:

Day 2: “Special Registration” and Islamophobia

After 9/11, Islamophobia increased exponentially in the US. Thousands of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians were threatened and attacked in the streets, and hundreds were detained without cause. Eventually Bush’s Secretary of State, the notorious John Ashcroft, implemented the NSEERS program which forced 84,000 boys and men from Muslim-majority countries to “special register” with the government. 13,000 were deported for civil immigration violations. 15 years of organizing led by Arab and South Asian communities forced the program to end in the months before Donald Trump became president.

Today’s resource: “A reflection on Winning the End of ‘Muslim Registrations’” by Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

DRUM offers that we need to go beyond performative allyship to solidarity “rooted in actual strategies, needs, demands, and sites of leverage that are drawn from the concrete experiences of impacted communities and that actually disrupt the functioning of unjust systems.” What are some ways to do that in the fight against Islamophobia and the broader fight against racism?

Additional Resources:

  • Yesterday DRUM released this powerful documentary history of their organizing to stop the disappearances of South Asian men and boys in the immediate aftermath of 9/11: https://www.drumnyc.org/9-11-freedom/
  • Islamophobia by Justice for Muslims Collective

Organizations: DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving); Justice for Muslims Collective; Muslim Justice League; Vigilant Love; MPower Change

Day 1: 9/11/2001

Day 1: September 11th: 20 Years of the Global War on Terror/20 Days of Education. Images of protesters, the world trade center, George W Bush

Over each of the next 20 days, we are going to share a resource highlighting one aspect of the impacts and costs of the so-called “Global War on Terror” as well as some of the powerful histories of resistance. One of the primary characteristics of this truly global war waged by the US is how invisibilized it has been made to those who are not targeted by it– by design of the warmakers, and with cooperation from the media. 

On our first day, the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we are sharing the poem “First Writing Since” by Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian poet from Brooklyn.

Suheir Hammad, “First Writing Since” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDyLNgLHprI

Full text of “First Writing Since” https://merip.org/2001/12/first-writing-since/