The Nowar Collective deeply deplores this horrible act, and sympathizes with the families of all those affected. We condemn all indiscriminate terror attacks, whether the recent ones on commercial planes and the World Trade Center, the saturation bombing of Basra and Baghdad during the Gulf War (including deliberate targeting of water treatment and power generation systems), the destruction of Serbia by NATO, the continuing attacks on Iraq by the U.S. and the U.K., the invasion of Panama, with massive shelling of civilian areas, or the campaigns of murder, rape, and torture carried out by the U.S.-backed contras in Nicaragua and the U.S.-backed death squads in El Salvador.
In all of these cases, innocent civilians, who had harmed no one, were killed brutally, sometimes for the sins of their governments, sometimes for the aggrandizement of the aggressor. There can be no justification for that.
There can also be no justification for the similarly indiscriminate retaliation that is being planned. George W. Bush said, in a speech to the nation last night, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these attacks and those who harbor them," suggesting that innocent civilians in the countries identified as "harboring" the perpetrators will be targeted.
The Nowar Collective believes that the appropriate response is not to increase military aggression, and not to invest in high-tech "defense systems" and intelligence apparatus that imperils all our civil liberties but could never have foiled an attack like this. Rather, we must learn that the only way to assure security is peace, and the only way to assure peace is justice. We would also like to remind everyone that international law recognizes no right of retaliation or vengeance, and that appropriate responses should be pursued through legal channels.
For three and a half years, the Nowar Collective has served the Austin progressive community, announcing events on a wide variety of issues. It started in February 1998 as a response to the planned bombing of Iraq, and things seem to have come full circle. In that time, we have had many antiwar events, aired many perspectives that oppose the entrenched militarism of our society, and, we hope, touched the thoughts and the feelings of many. We have had successes and failures, but through it all, when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, there is always the question, stated or implied, "This is all terrible, but what does it have to do with us?" The standard answers, of our ethical obligation, of the decrease in quality of life and democratic values for all of us when we allow the oppression of others, have now unfortunately been supplemented by the other obvious answer -- Violence and aggression are a two-way street. Now is the time when perspectives from the peace movement can really make a difference, when we have been confronted so brutally with the long-term consequences of U.S. imperial domination and military aggression.
The world will never be the same. It is up to us in this country more than any others to make sure it does not dissolve into catastrophic violence.
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