News Release

Opposition to Both “Wholesale and Retail Terrorism”


SAM HUSSEINI, samhusseini at, @samhusseini
Husseini is communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy. He recently wrote the pieces, “From Planned Parenthood to Madrid: What Can Paris, London and Washington Learn?” and “The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine.”

He said today: “Ritualistic denouncements of ‘violence’ are ubiquitous after the murderous shooting Wednesday afternoon in San Bernardino, Calif. They come from many — including U.S. officials in an administration conducting bombing campaigns as well as from grassroots Muslim activists affiliated with groups backing bombing campaigns.

“It’s remarkable that Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s notion, which goes back at least to the 1980s, that the U.S. government participates in ‘wholesale terrorism’ is so rarely invoked in progressive, to say nothing of mainstream, discussions of ‘terrorism,’ even as many note hypocrisies like Christian and Muslim suspects being treated quite differently.” See: “Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Drone Assassination Program Is ‘The Most Extensive Global Terrorism Campaign The World Has Yet Seen,’” and “The Real Terror Network,” by Edward S. Herman; see below for excepts.

“This massive oversight obscures all discussions of terrorism, as the elephant in the room of U.S. government violence is not meaningfully discussed. Under those conditions, discussions are not going to lead to solutions.

“As I write, there’s endless media discussion along the lines of ‘Police have not identified a motive for the shooting. They have not ruled out terrorism.’ (NPR) But terrorism is not a motive. It’s a tactic to pursue a political motive or goal, like to dominate the Mideast (an apparent U.S. government motive) or violently coerce the people of the U.S. to stop their government from dominating the Mideast (an apparent al-Qaeda motive).

“Nor should the word ‘radicalized’ be demonized. Radicalized can and should mean to gain a greater political understanding, to see root causes of problems; it’s antithetical to someone who decides meaningful solutions lay in slaughtering 14 civilians.

“Restrictions on information often seem designed to make officialdom appear prescient, or at least have that effect. For example, a name of one of the suspects, Syed Farook (or, rather, a mangled form of it) was mentioned on Twitter at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday — some seven hours before it was made public by officialdom and major media, but well before President Obama suggested — apparently for the first time — that people on the quite problematic no-fly list should be particularly restricted from buying guns.”

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson at, @davidcnswanson
Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War. His most recent piece is “War with Russia or with ISIS: What ever happened to peace?

He said today: “One of the least likely causes of death for people to fear in the United States is violence, and among the types of violence that could cause your death one of the least likely is terrorist blowback from U.S. wars in Western Asia. More likely than that is violence from the homegrown (if sometimes trained in foreign wars) rightwing, or violence from homegrown (if sometimes trained in Israel) police. One of the most likely causes of death in a nation being ‘liberated’ or having recently been ‘liberated’ by the U.S. military (Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan) is violence. And among the types of violence that could cause your death there, some of the most likely involve U.S. weaponry.

“The same weapons profiteering that many in the United States struggle to oppose in efforts to ban or regulate guns at home drives much of the killing in the world to which we often pay far less attention. By last count, 79 percent of weapons shipped to Middle Eastern nations were from the United States. Then you have to add gifts to ‘moderates,’ and the weapons in the hands of the U.S. military itself. We’ve armed our disgruntled employees and kicked them when they were down by stripping away services to pay for wars. We’ve armed the oil-rich Middle East and bombed and occupied people’s countries. Thomas Piketty points to economic inequality in the Middle East as a cause of violence. I would add that the violence is heavily armed by someone. I would point to the same pair of problems in the United States, and point the finger of blame at the same government. The fact that the U.S. media doesn’t make these connections does not, of course, mean that angry Americans haven’t learned from their government’s foreign policy that the way to handle grievances is to kill lots of people.”


Herman wrote the book, The Real Terror Network with explanatory text on the cover: “The broad purpose of this book is to show the nature, roots and vast scope of the real terror network – the U.S.-sponsored authoritarian states – and to examine the ways in which the magnificent propaganda machinery of the west has covered this over and substituted in its place a lesser, and frequently concocted, network that includes — by careful definition and selectivity — only those terrorists who are challenging important western interests or who can be plausibly linked to its enemies.”

Chomsky writes in “Terrorism: The Politics of Language“: “My book about it, Pirates and Emperors, takes its title from a rather nice story by St. Augustine in his City of God. St. Augustine describes a confrontation between King Alexander the Great and a pirate whom he caught. Alexander the Great asks the pirate, ‘How dare you molest the sea?’ The pirate turns to Alexander the Great and says, ‘How dare you molest the whole world? I have a small boat, so I am called a thief and a pirate. You have a navy, so you’re called an emperor.’ St. Augustine concludes that the pirate’s answer was elegant and excellent and that essentially tells the story. Retail terrorism directed against our interests is terrorism; wholesale terrorism carried out for our interests isn’t terrorism.”