ROME - Outspoken U.S. writer Gore Vidal has denounced Washington for waging what
he called ``a perpetual war for perpetual peace'' and said American aggression
was only nurturing fresh hatreds.
In a scathing attack on U.S. foreign policy, Vidal told Reuters that the United
States would have been better served trying to buy peace with Osama bin Laden
rather than send in the bombers to try and kill him.
Outspoken U.S. writer Gore Vidal has denounced Washington for waging what he called
'a perpetual war for perpetual peace' and said American aggression was only nurturing
fresh hatreds. Vidal is seen at his home in Ravello, southern Italy, on May 9,
2001. (Salvatore Laporta/Reuters)
Vidal, one of contemporary America's harshest critics, has had trouble finding
an audience for his views back home and is publishing his latest collection of
essays in his adoptive country, Italy.
``Anyone can describe what happened but you have to think to realize why Osama
bin Laden did what he did. This is hard work and it will make you very unpopular,''
he said in an interview late on Thursday.
Accusing bin Laden of masterminding the September 11 suicide attacks on New
York and Washington, the United States has launched an offensive against Afghanistan
where the Saudi-born dissident lives.
``Bin Laden strikes at America at the moment we are entering a world depression...it
is the most fragile moment in the West. For someone who does not wish us well
that was brilliantly timed,'' Vidal said.
For more than half a century, Vidal, 76, has made it his business to shock
the U.S. establishment as a political, cultural and social commentator and in
his latest work he criticized the government and media for not trying to explain
the reasons behind the September 11 bloodshed.
NO MORE LIBERTY?
The front cover of his new book ``The End of Liberty -- Toward a New Totalitarianism''
shows a picture of the head of the Statue of Liberty with its mouth gagged by
a U.S. flag.
One of the essays details a series of U.S. attacks on various countries since
the end of World War Two. The piece was originally commissioned by an American
magazine following the September 11 attacks but refused to publish it because
of its uncompromising criticism.
``I've listed in this little book about four hundred strikes that the government
has made on other countries. War, undeclared. Generally with the excuse that they
were harboring communists. You keep attacking people for such a long time, one
of them is going to get you back,'' Vidal said.
The U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan were not the right response, he added.
``What Osama did is not a war. It can't be a war because Osama is not a nation.
He is a gang. It is like being hit by the Mafia. You don't declare war on Sicily
because the Mafia happen to live in Sicily. You don't bomb Palermo. You get the
international police and you track him down.
``And if you are a really great nation you buy him. That's the way every empire
from Julius Caesar on has done it,'' he said, adding that he believed President
Bush, had ulterior motives for promising a long war.
``Bush is enjoying 90 percent popularity, his 15 minutes of fame,'' he said,
condemning the president's reaction to the attacks on New York and Washington
``It is not only wrong but it has repercussions that he hasn't thought about.
He likes to stand tall. The taller you stand the more likely you are to get hit
by a kamikaze pilot,'' Vidal said.
Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited