Bombs Away The Unseen War on America

John McMurtry

The suicide missions that destroyed the World Trade Centre and one wing of the US Pentagon killing thousands of people on September 11, 2001, connect to wider patterns.

The first mark of a truly civilized person or culture is that they can “put themselves in the other’s place.” This is an ancient recognition, linking teachings of both Confucian and Christian founders, and it is daily preached to children as the basis of being human. Yet when the US’s most populous city is hit by the equivalent of three large bombs terrorizing and murdering thousands of people, one would have hoped that the recognition would at last have dawned that a country’s most populous city being bombed is a terrible event, a crime against humanity in its mass destruction of innocent civilians and their infrastructures. One would have hoped that the lesson taught to children over millennia would have been felt from the inside as people witnessed on the lifeground the terror, suffering and death.

Yet in all the outrage and condemnations that have flooded from reported public figures and observers around the world, not one has made the connection. None has “put themselves in the other’s place” to connect what happened to New York to the more life destructive bombing of civilians and civilian infrastructures in Baghdad in 1991, or Belgrade in 1998. In Iraq, a UN-estimated 5000 children a month have died year in and year out because of the infrastructure bombing, as well as by the contamination of the countryside by nuclear-tipped weapons and their deadly after-effects. In both countries, the most developed social infrastructures in their regions have been irreversibly destroyed by the attacks. The bombings of capital cities in each case went on, in fact, not just for a few hours, but days and weeks on end without stop, while people in the US and allied countries watched the exploding bombs night after night on their home televisions as the top-rated entertainment of the time.

The first option is to remove the obligation on banks to maintain parity between assets and liabilities, or, to be more precise, to allow banks to hold reduced levels of assets equivalent to the Third World debt bonds they cancel. Thus, if a commercial bank held $10 billion worth of developing country debt bonds, after cancellation it would be permitted in perpetuity to have a $10 billion dollar deficit in its assets. This is a simple matter of record-keeping.

The second option, and in accountancy terms probably the more satisfactory (although it amounts to the same policy), is to cancel the debt bonds, yet permit banks to retain them for purposes of accountancy. The debts would be cancelled sofar as the developing nations were concerned, but still valid for the purposes of a bank’s accounts. The bonds would then be held as permanent, non-negotiable assets, at face value [pp.135-136]... The cancellation of international debts, or their conversion to national debts [see pp. 140-143], is the sine qua non if Third World nations are to discover a path away from poverty and decline and towards more socially and culturally benign futures. The acknowledged need is for Third World countries to develop their agricultural and industrial infrastructure for their own domestic consumption and direct less effort towards export-led growth. To the extent that international debts remain, the export imperative remains.

The Third World cannot be said to be in material debt to the industrialised nations. The developing nations are in financial debt to international banks. But whilst not actually in material debt to the industrialised nations, because these bank debts are denominated in dollars, they are forced to behave as if they were in debt to the West, seeking a perpetual export surplus [p.145].

–from Prosperity, September 2001