Monday, April 16, 2007


Virginia Tech, 9/11, & Future: Tense

A few days ago, I finished reading Future: Tense (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2004) by Gwynne Dyer. When I learned of the shootings at Virginia Tech I was reminded of the following passage I had transcribed last weekend:
Terrorism ... is relatively speaking a very small threat. Even the biggest one-day terrorist atrocity ever committed, the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, is an event whose huge impact is entirely due to the careful choice of high-visibility targets and reflexive, relentless media promotion of the event. The lives of the other three thousand Americans who dies violently that same month in gun-related murders, suicides, and accidents were just as valuable, and they would have been relatively cheap to save compared to the immense cost of the "war on terror." But gun deaths happen singly or in small groups, generally out of camera-shot, and as a routine monthly tragedy they are not newsworthy--so nobody called for a "war on guns" in September 2001. This is not to devalue the tragedy of the Twin Towers, but it is to say that the "terrorist threat" is not the major threat of our times. (pp. 56-57; all emphasis in original)
Two people were shot dead near the Virginia Tech campus last August. Before yesterday, how many people had heard about that?

Dyer is almost always interesting to read and I recommend his book and documentary film, War. Future: Tense is probably best known for the phrase that opens the book: "The United States needs to lose the war in Iraq as soon as possible. Even more urgently, the whole world needs the United States to lose the war in Iraq." (p. 9)

In Future: Tense, Dyer unfortunately shies away from pointing out the central role of Israel in the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. This is despite the fact that Dyer titles one of the book's six chapters, "The Neo-Conservative Project." Zionism is a fundamental tenet of neoconservatism and, as Adbusters once observed, the Neocons are disproportionately Jewish Zionists.

Dyer has a PhD in Middle Eastern History but he shows remarkable gaps in his knowledge when it comes to the history of Israel. For example he claims, "... Americans had very little to do with the creation of Israel" (p. 58). In fact, as Prime Minister David Lloyd George said, Jewish support for the British and for American entry into World War I was part of the quid pro quo for the Balfour Declaration; the US government deliberately suppressed the 1919 King-Crane Commission report, which was highly unfavorable to the Zionist cause; the US government supported or turned a blind eye to the major flow of people--including US Army Colonel Mickey Marcus--and equipment from the US to Zionist paramilitary organizations in Palestine that killed both British and Palestinian people; contrary to the advice of the State and Defense departments, the Truman administration strong-armed other countries to support the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 partitioning Palestine with the Jewish minority (~33% of the population) controlling 56% of the territory; and, the US was the first country to diplomatically recognize Israel.

I could probably go on but by now you either get the point or you likely never will. Anyway, I think Dyer goes a bit awry on some of his discussion of religion in the book but I can't recall quite why I thought that. Since I hadn't planned on writing any kind of review I didn't take notes and the book has been returned to the library. So, it goes.

My final concern is Dyer's enchantment (although that is probably a bit unfair) with the UN and the post-WWII system of international law. I see its main--perhaps, only--value as being found in its potential for exposing the rogue nature of the United States but even that is of questionable value.

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