[saymaListserv] A historical analysis of the current crisis

Janet Minshall jhminshall at mindspring.com
Sat Oct 13 10:30:16 JEST 2001

Hi Larry and SAYMA Friends,  I really disagree that it is economic 
globalization that has created the current crisis.  Unfortunately it 
has become most common  to blame nearly everything bad that is 
happening in the world on globalization but most of the charges have 
no basis in fact (see The Economist magazine, Sept. 29 to Oct. 10 
issue, special section on "Globalization and Its Critics" on 
newstands now).

This crisis was caused, rather, by one-sided political decisions and 
resentments  created over a long period of time in the Middle East. 
I sent out the letter below  in response to a discussion on Jack 
Powelson's Classic Liberal Quaker newsletter list.  Jack is a Quaker 
economist whose writing focuses on economics and morality and 
involves Quakers from around the country.

To subscribe, at no cost (or unsubscribe) to the Classic Liberal 
Quaker send an empty email letter (no subject, no text) to 
clq-subscribe at quaker.org.
			Best Regards,  Janet Minshall

Dear Friends, J.D. von Pischke, in the Classic Liberal Quaker Letter 
#25, asks why the US undertakes "extraterritorial adventures" and why 
we Quakers put up with it quietly.  Good questions.  Assuming that it 
is unlikely that we can immediately persuade our government and our 
military to "give peace a chance", to provide only humanitarian aid 
using unarmed volunteers anywhere outside the US, as von Pischke 
suggests, maybe an intermediate step would move us in the right 

I have watched with interest an excellent "Frontline" series of 
documentaries on Public Television which has provided a truthful and 
straightforward account of US involvement in the Mid-East since the 
Suez War in 1956. Two points stood out:

1.) A Saudi prince interviewed in those documentaries explains that 
in his country a King must be balanced in his actions and rule fairly 
or he will (literally) lose his head.

2.) In an interview with a young Arab member of al Quaeda, the bin 
Laden organization, we are asked sincerely "OK, the US is now the 
world's super power so why can't you play fair?"  Another good 

Now that the cold war is over and capitalism has proved itself to be 
the most successful economic system in history  -- now that we have 
clearly won -- why do we continue to back certain regimes and 
governments one-sidedly and thus perpetually create very real 
feelings of unfairness and resentment in those we do not back or back 
only nominally?  Why do we continue to play the old and outmoded form 
of power politics that is no longer appropriate to our position?  Why 
can't we become the balanced and fair-minded leader that both the 
Saudi prince and the young terrorist seek?

We have sent Israel huge amounts of money and armaments and then 
conducted a highly publicized and televised production pretending to 
mediate a fair and equitable peace settlement with the Palestinians. 
What if we drew the line right now and said that fifty years of 
financing, arms, and overt political support is enough and the 
Israelis now must make it on their own?

We have chosen to back some Afghan tribes with money, arms and CIA 
training in the twenty-year war fought there in order to counter 
other Afghan tribes whom the Russians chose to back.  What if we 
acknowledged publicly that some of our CIA-trained troops in 
Afghanistan turned against us and our years of playing the "lets you 
and him fight" game backfired on us?

What else would have to change if we began to treat everyone fairly? 
For one thing, we would have to find ways of bringing all contending 
forces to the point of "cease fire".  Then we would have to recruit a 
new diplomatic corp and work consistently through them to promote 
understanding, goodwill and democratic governments rather than using 
mistrust, hostility, and corrupt power elites to achieve our purposes 
as we often have in the past.  And we would have to come up with a 
formula based on need rather than political advantage and apply it 
absolutely impartially in order to provide economic assistance.

If we suddenly became balanced and fair-minded in our treatment of 
people in all the other countries in the world, what effect would 
that have on our lives and the lives of others? We might just find 
that we could all begin to feel safe and secure again.
				Janet Minshall

Larry Ingle wrote:

>Much of the discussion of the tragedy surrounding the September 11 attacks
>has failed to put the problem in historical context.  Words like "terrorism"
>and calls for justice, emanating from the president and his supporters
>across the political establishments around the world, add to the confusion.
>President Bush was quick to condemn the attacks as aimed at what he defined
>as the central feature of the United States, "freedom."  Much of what we
>have heard thus obfuscates rather than clarifies.
>It's clear that those who planned and carried out the attacks chose their
>targets well--they were the World Trade Center, massive symbols of American
>capitalism and the culture that has grown up around it, and the Pentagon,
>the central military defender of this system.  These choices were hardly
>The United States, as we have so often been told in the last decade, is the
>world's supreme super power and thus an heir to confronting all the problems
>that were obscured by the Cold War, and earlier the struggle against German
>militarism in World War I and Nazism prior to and during World War II.  It
>is no surprise that both political parties in the United States have drawn
>on the "universalism" that characterizes the policies of the principal
>architect of American foreign policy in the 20th century.
>That architect was Woodrow Wilson.  His Fourteen Points called for creation
>of an "open world" that would assure open borders and open markets, both
>prerequisites for the expansion of American (and capitalist) penetration and
>influence around the world.  This open world, once established by the League
>of Nations and subsequently the United Nations, has essentially represented
>those who benefited from the status quo and who promised to maintain the
>system against any group that threatened it--German militarists, Nazis,
>Communists, or nationalists of various stripes in scattered countries.
>Osama bin Laden is apparently the latest person to call into question this
>"globalization" or universalism.  And George Bush is the latest American
>president to endeavor to defend things as they are with military force, an
>amazingly ineffective instrument to combat a set of ideas that oppose what
>universalism has wrought.  The attacks on American symbols of power and
>influence thus fit into a world-wide struggle that has been going on for
>nearly a century.
>It is hard to believe that Bush and his allies can find acceptable ways to
>"end evil in the world" as he promised early on.  To be honest, even Jesus
>was not capable of doing this, and Bush is no where near as appealing a
>figure as that first century teacher.
>If Friends are to be effective, we have to find ways to highlight and
>challenge these sets of assumptions, without falling into knee-jerk
>varieties of either the right or left wings.  One of the hardest things to
>do is to refuse to use the words that defenders of the open world trumpet
>around--words like "terrorism" and "freedom," used in the restricted fashion
>that Bush fancies.  And we must live in ways that demonstrate our refusal to
>buy into styles of life that ultmately add to the problem.
>For what it's worth.
>Larry Ingle
>Chattanooga Meeting (SAYMA)
>Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association mailing list
>sayma at kitenet.net

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