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US intellectuals say 'war on terror' is unjust

Washington, USA
Provided by Mr. Mohsin Hemani

A group of 128 US intellectuals opposed to the notion that the "war on terrorism" is a "just war" has sent a letter to European counterparts calling for "a sane and frank European criticism of the Bush administration's war policy."

The letter challenges the framing of the war as a struggle between good and evil, as well as President George W. Bush's explanation for anti-US sentiments. It was conceived as a response to an earlier letter defending the war on terrorism, signed by 60 American intellectuals, which recently received wide publicity in European newspapers.

"We felt that their notion of 'just war' should not go unchallenged," signer Edward S. Herman told AFP Monday. The letter "was in some ways trying to provide an antidote for the reflexive hyper nationalism in the American press and in Washington in general -- and in the end in the American public -- partly because the press has been uncritical," said Joel Bleifuss, editor of the independent socialist newspaper In These Times.

Besides Herman and Bleifuss, signers included author Gore Vidal, historian Howard Zinn, anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott and international lawyer Francis A. Boyle.

"Many informed people both within and outside your governments are aware of the dangerous folly of the war path followed by the Bush administration. But few dare speak out honestly," said the letter, which was circulated last week. "They are afraid of being labeled 'anti-American' -- the same label absurdly applied to Americans themselves who speak out against war policies and whose protests are easily drowned out in the chorus of chauvinism dominating the US media," it said.

"A sane and frank European criticism of the Bush administration's war policy can help anti-war Americans make their voices heard." The letter also challenged Bush's explanation for anti-US sentiments that motivated the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

"In this ideological context, the question raised after September 11, 'Why do they hate us?' has only one answer: 'Because we are so good!' Or, as is commonly claimed, they hate us because of 'our values.'

"Most US citizens are unaware that the effect of US power abroad has nothing to do with the 'values' celebrated at home and indeed often serves to deprive people in other countries of the opportunity to attempt to enjoy them, should they care to do so," it said.
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