SANTIAGO - The Sep 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, as well as the US response, have raised questions about the future of globalization and of the anti-globalization movement .
Italian historian and journalist Gennaro Carotenuto and Chilean reporter and anti-globalization activist Víctor Hugo de la Fuente warned of the risk that the anti-globalization movement would be demonized due to its criticism of US ``hegemony''.
``The reaction of many will be that which has been imposed by the media: any criticism of the empire [the United States] is today seen as virtual complicity with terrorism,'' Carotenuto told IPS from his office in the Communications Faculty at the University of Macerata, in Italy.
If that view prevails, it will entail ``an extremely serious blow'' to the critics of ``neo-liberal globalization,'' added Carotenuto, a member of the Genoa Social Forum, which convoked the peaceful demonstrations during the July meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) richest countries, held in that northern Italian port city.
For his part, De la Fuente said in Santiago that ``it is clear that the United States and the most reactionary sectors have already taken aim at the movement opposed to neo-liberal globalization, in an attempt to demonize it.
``But our movement is peaceful and defends values and principles shared by the great majority of the population, like justice and social peace,'' underlined the coordinator of the Chilean branch of ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens).
De la Fuente told IPS that US President George W. Bush ``is trying to blackmail the countries and peoples of the world by warning that they are either with the United States or with terrorism.''
In Carotenuto's view, the Sep 11 attacks, in which hijacked commercial airliners were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon (Defense Department) in Washington, were also ``the offspring of globalization
``That is true in the sense that they did what had never before occurred in the history of the United States: they took the `war' to US territory. Although the idea that it was an act of war, according to Bush's version, serves the system he himself presides over,'' said the Italian activist and academic.
Washington ``always thought it could act on the foreign policy front without any consequences at home - an idea that has been completely crushed by the Sep 11 events,'' said Carotenuto.
After underlining emphatically that the attacks were ``condemnable from any point of view,'' De la Fuente said they were also a by-product of the attempt to impose capitalism and neo- liberal globalization ``as the only system and path possible for humankind.''
The coordinator of the Chilean branch of ATTAC said globalization had accentuated the differences between rich and poor countries, which benefited only big economic interests.
``As long as that situation remains unchanged and there is a superpower that assumes the role of international policeman, hatred and violence, including irrational manifestations like terrorism, will continue to be generated,'' said De la Fuente.
The two activists concurred that the US decision to channel an international response to the attacks through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) had accentuated the United Nations' loss of influence in today's globalized world.
``Today more than ever it is necessary to have international bodies like the United Nations and an International Criminal Court to help resolve conflicts and to prevent the law of the strongest from being imposed,'' said De la Fuente.
Carotenuto, meanwhile, said the last time the United Nations and the UN Security Council played a leading role was during the 1991 Gulf War, because the Soviet Union still existed at that time.
One of the doubts the activists and others have raised is whether the current crisis will spawn an international system characterized by a more militarized focus for the globalization process and a stronger US hegemonic presence.
According to Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear, the Bush administration is making ``a major diplomatic effort'' to avoid that possibility and generate a joint response against terrorism by the international community.
Alvear said global and regional conventions like the Inter- American Treaty for Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), signed in 1947, must be brought into line with today's new reality, and must shift from their initial cold-war inspired parameters to face up to the ``new threats'' of terrorism and drug trafficking.
Carotenuto did not rule out the possibility that the United States, due to the need to gain support to win its military-based ``war on terrorism,'' would yield on aspects of the neo-liberal orthodoxy that governs its international economic relations.
It is likely that, as a consequence of those concessions, a more multilateral world - on the economic front - will emerge from the crisis, he argued.
``What is clear, though, is that civil rights will be drastically curtailed'' in the context of the heightened security measures being adopted in the wake of the attacks in the United States.
``How long will we have to show up three hours ahead of our scheduled flight time every time we catch a plane?'' wondered Carotenuto.
Such restrictions have been accepted due to the ``fear and patriotism,'' but who knows how long the neo-liberal economy will put up with them, he added.
``Under these conditions, it has become much more difficult for the anti-globalization movement to take to the streets again,'' said the head of the Genoa Social Forum.
That was demonstrated by the tension surrounding Saturday's peace march staged by anti-globalization demonstrators in Washington, who had originally planned to protest the policies of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which canceled their scheduled meetings.
Copyright © 2001 IPS-Inter Press Service