Ben Norton 


Loud and Clear

After NYC Attack: A Deeper Look Into the Origins of Modern Terrorism

Brian Becker, John Kiriakou

On the Nov. 2nd 2017 episode of Loud & Clear, Brian Becker and John Kiriakou are joined by journalist Ben Norton, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, and professor and activist Danny Shaw. 

transcript of time interval 20:20 - 26:47

Brian Becker: There were earlier wars, in Vietnam for instance, where millions of Vietnamese people died. ...Yet the Vietnamese, when they were fighting the US, they were trying to win over the people of the US. They were always making the distinction between the American people and the American government. They said "we don't hate the American people. They are our sisters and brothers. They should join us as part of an anti-war movement. It's their government that speaks in their name that has an imperial foreign policy." Today the forces that are fighting against imperial powers are working within a framework of a clash of civilizations. In other words, the American people are part and parcel of the enemy, and so they are targets. It appears to the jihadists that this is a religious war.

Ben Norton: During Cold War movements in the Global South were resisting foreign intervention, militarism and imperialism. They were largely socialist in orientation, anti-imperialist, progressive. They were resisting foreign domination of their land, resources, their peoples. That has been totally crushed throughaut the era of the Cold War in a variety of incredibly bloody wars, through counterinsurgency programs. What we have today: There are very few resistance forces remaining.  What we are left with is radicalized groups that have been largely a product of US foreign policy that have becom essentially blow-back. Dealing with the issue of jihadists, extremist islamists, who kill not only people in the West. The majority of the victims are actually fellow muslims in the Middle East and South Asia, especially muslims of different sects.

So, these groups of today have their origins in the Cold War on the opposite side. In the 1980s the most infamous example is the US in partnership with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. They supported extremists groups (Mujaheddin) inside Afghanistan to fight the USSR-backed socialist government in Afghanistan. Mujahedin are the ideological and political forefathers for many of the groups we see today. So, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda directly have their origin in Afghanistan in the 1980s. And at that moment they were supported by the CIA. 

Far right, facists groups do not distinguish between government and civilians  The US supported extremely brutal groups (e.g. the Contras in Nicaragua) in the 1980s in Central America. This kind of violence is rooted in empires. And because the resistance groups have all been crushed, all that's left are these extremists groups that have turned on their former imperial sponsors.

US policy has effectively empowered Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Libya and Syria, Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq.

... We can't talk about the problem of islamist extremism and extremist groups that are attacking cvilians without understanding the much larger political context that goes back decades to the early part of the Cold War.

John Kiriakou: That was so on point and so important that a recording of what Ben Norton just said should be circulated to every public  school in America. Nothing is going to change unless we start to acknowledge that we have these kinds of problems in this country and we address the fact that our foreign policy leads to a lot of these attacks. We end uo wringing our hands and bemouning the fact that we are  the targets, and we are wondering aloud why does this always happen to us?

Version: 21.11. 2017

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Joachim Gruber