Hello Michelle (CBC Radio The Almanac),
You asked: what is the context for the bombings in Brussels?
The Context is an accumulation of “last month”s and “last year”s that extends back in time.
Context has been created by people of the Middle East AND by Westerners.
Human beings do not like it when their children are killed. They do not like it when their homes, water supplies, schools, hospitals, museums and other infrastructure are destroyed. They do not like it when their democratically-elected leaders are overthrown or murdered – – their heroes, the ones who dared to defend against exploitation by foreigners, the Leaders who insist that their people shall not live in poverty while their resource riches go into the pockets of the already-rich elites.
Destruction of one group of people by another becomes the stories that are passed from one generation to the next. The inter-generational transference amongst the “victors” is a story that arouses some emotion. Sympathy, yes. But not outrage.
It is very different for the aggrieved. The one thing that matters is that their sons were killed, their daughters were raped and their homes destroyed. The cause is not the crux. (Nelson Mandela’s great contribution was in understanding that “truth and reconciliation” are essential if the hatred and killing are to stop.)
Failure to recognize the ways in which WE have contributed to the Context of the bombings in Brussels, that there are two sides to the coin, ensures that solutions to the violence will be elusive.
Westerners stereotype people from the Middle East; it may be assumed that people from the Middle East stereotype Westerners. It is the way human brains work.
“Westerners”, in particular in the last half-century Americans, have a long and terrible history in countries whose resources are coveted. Oil in the Middle East. If a head-of-state refuses to be bought off, to cooperate with what the Americans want, the promise of wealth to others is used to overthrow the head-of-state. Democratically-elected, good leaders are replaced by dictators. Wealth is controlled by a minority; poverty is the rule for the population. . . . But there are consequences of the exploitation, eventually.
Americans travelling abroad used to put Canadian flags on their jackets or backpacks. They knew they, Americans, were generally disliked abroad. Most were at a loss to understand how that could be.
You could point to recent history, the bombing of Iraq in 2003, an illegal war that left Iraq in shambles, many killed and many who became refugees. The bombings of Libya. Or, the dropping of bombs from drones on Middle Eastern countries, with many civilian deaths, the “collateral damage”. Watch videos of interviews of the people who live in zones of drone attacks. They are terrorized. Who inflicts the terror on them? . . . Westerners. But if it’s us, we don’t use the word “terrorist”.
Many innocent people were rounded up and taken to American prisons (Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo . . . ) where they were tortured. If you think that isn’t the highest form of being terrorized, I ask you what is? The family and friends of those terrorized by torture certainly hear the stories of what happened at the hands of . . . the Westerners. But if it’s us doing the deed, we don’t use the word “terrorist”.
All that does NOT explain why the hatred or dislike of Americans (“Westerners”) was there way back in the 1960s and 1970s when I was with a school group, youth-hostelling in Europe. I was puzzled by the dislike of Americans, and thankful to be Canadian. Now I understand: I, like the American kids, had been effectively propagandized in the fortress of North America so I didn’t know what many foreigners knew/know.
The CONTEXT for the bombings in Brussels includes what many of us have never been told, the story of THEIR side of the coin, one that extends back in time.
A few examples:
- 1951 Mohammad Mossadegh was the democratically-elected prime minister of Iran. He wanted to control his country’s oil resources to benefit the people of Iran, not only the foreign corporations. It is no secret that Washington dispatched the CIA to engineer the overthrow of Mossadegh.
- 1961. Patrice Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first democratically-elected prime minister of the Congo. I became acquainted with his story through “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver (Oprah’s reading list). There are large, American-owned copper mines in the Congo. Short story: Lumumba was executed. He was the hero of his people, one who wanted his people to benefit from the resource revenues going to foreign corporations. The foreigners exploited the Congolese workers, their land and resources. From Wikipedia: Declassified documents revealed that the CIA had plotted to assassinate Lumumba. These documents indicate that the Congolese leaders who killed Lumumba, including Mobutu Sese Seko and Joseph Kasa-Vubu, received money and weapons directly from the CIA.
- The (American) United Fruit Company owned vast tracts of land in various Central American countries (think pineapple). They also “owned” people in high places in the U.S. Efforts by local leaders in Central America to raise their people out of poverty by taking back what was theirs, meant they became a target of American wrath.
Reformer Jacobo Arbenz, was elected president of Guatemala in the early fifties. The United Fruit Co mounted a campaign in the U.S., character assassination of Arbenz, painted him as part of a Russian communist plot. In 1954 the CIA orchestrated a coup. American pilots bombed the capital city. Arbenz was gone, replaced by a right-wing dictator.
- Che Guevera was a huge threat. The CIA was involved in his death in Bolivia, 1967
- 1973, the CIA overthrew Chile’s democratically-elected president, Salvador Allende. Pinochet was the replacement.
The list goes on. Those are but a few examples from a few of the aggrieved countries.
Eventually such deeds came back to haunt. You reap what you sow, you don’t escape. The idea that you are superior or impervious are proven wrong. Unfortunately for “us”, stereotyping puts us all in the same basket with the perpetrators. But then, maybe we played a role by being ignorant or silent or too busy to see?
That’s the Context. The role of “Westerners” in the creation of the Context exists and needs to be recognized. Truth, not propaganda, is required to deal effectively with “Terrorism”.
We Westerners have terrorized them. Give me a break. Why do we NOT expect to eventually be terrorized by them?
Justin Trudeau was right to stop Canadian bombing of people. Bombing is a sure-fired way to heighten the hate. And does nothing to address the Context that has fertilized the Brussels bombings.
CLOSELY RELATED: 2016-07-08 Rulers cannot rule unless we agree to let them rule. There are simply too many of us. Democracy overtaken by Corporatocracy = coup d’état. Citizens fight to regain democracy = Revolution (insurgency) . Corporatocracy fights to hold on = counter insurgency.