Column written. 11/20/01

The Secret Roots of War

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Why does a war begin?

That is, as the saying goes, one of those "$64,000 questions." (As Mama used to say.)

For there are as many answers as there are wars.

Consider the Vietnam War, which raged for over a decade, leaving over 2,000,000 Vietnamese and over 60,000 Americans dead, as well as a nation ecologically ravaged.

On Aug. 2, 1964, according to American press reports, North Vietnamese coast guards attacked two U.S. destroyers sailing in the Gulf of Tonkin. Within a week the U.S. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, granting the president war powers, and the Vietnam War was launched.

Years later, after the fires of war cooled to ashes, we learn the press reports were lies. Former CIA man John Stockwell wrote, in "The Praetorian Guard" (1991):

"After midnight on July 30, 1964, Norwegian-built 'SWIFTS' or 'NASTIES,' manned with CIA crews, attacked the North Vietamese radar station on Hon Me island and bombarded Hon Ngu in the Gulf of Tonkin. The North Vietnamese sent a formal protest to the United States.

"The frigate USN Maddox, which was patrolling inside North Vietnamese waters to provide cover for CIA marauders, remained on station. Clearly provoked and pursuing the CIA marauders, North Vietnamese moved to challenge the Maddox. The Maddox fired first; the Vietnamese answered with torpedoes that missed.

"A garbled version of the incident, blaming the North Vietnamese, was trumpeted through a cooperative media to the U.S. public and was used to justify formal moves by Lyndon Johnson to launch the Vietnam War (which had been in open planning stages for two years). The rest is history." (p. 81)

A history written in blood, gore and genocidal death. That, however, was then; what about now?

All American eyes are now focused on Afghanistan--the land ravaged by over eight years of war with the former Soviet Union. Again, according to U.S. media reports, the U.S. entered the country in response to the Soviet incursion, to aid the mujahadin--right?

In 1988, former U.S. national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, granted an interview to the French newspaper, Le Nouvel Observateur, stating that the U.S./CIA was in Afghanistan months before the Soviets:

"ZB: According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, ... after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, Dec. 24, 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention ...

"LNO: You don't regret anything today?

"ZB: Regret what? The secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?" (p. 76)

The "Afghan trap" led to over 2,000,000 Afghan deaths, 6,000,000 exiles, and 20,000 Soviet troop casualties.

Provocations. Inducements. Media manipulations. Traps. Spies. Covers.

Millions dead. Millions exiled.

Why does a war begin?

As Mama used to say, "Boy, that's the $64,000 question!"


[Col. Writ. 11/20/01] Copyright Mumia Abu-Jamal