International Terrorists

David Rovics
Language: English

Related Songs

(Elona Planman)
The Popular Wobbly
(T-Bone Slim [Matti Valentin Huhta])
NYC 911
(Dan Bern)

Written on September 15, 2001
Scritta il 15 settembre 2001

Lyrics and music by David Rovics
Testo e musica di David Rovics
Da/From "Living In These Times"
David Rovics' Official Website

Hi folks,

Horrible news today of course. I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner. Needless to say (I hope), I mourn for all the innocent lives lost. I've yet to find out, but I may know some of them personally. Regardless, years ago I often worked as a temp for many evil corporations, and I'm sure there are many people just like me who were at the World Trade Center today, typing away endless streams of meaningless words and numbers for their meager pay.

But of course, as one might expect, the rulers of the world have spun this event to their militaristic ends, bent on world domination as they are. Let me be clear that I don't support the tactics involved in the spectacular terrorist attacks of this morning. But I think that understanding the situation is important. That is, there are very, very good reasons why the US government is despised throughout the world. There are reasons why people would be driven to commit such acts. There are reasons why martyrs exist. They are created daily on the streets of Baghdad by the US government (and it's junior partners in crime, most notably Britain). Yesterday and today, the US government is by far the biggest terrorist organization the world has ever known. The annihilation, through bombings and trade embargoes, of millions of people, and total destruction of the infrastructures of countries such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Yugoslavia, are unparalleled acts of terrorism. In the case of Iraq (the decimation of which was what radicalized Osama Bin Ladin), the genocide (yes, genocide) is ongoing.

You certainly won't hear GW, Blair, or Tom Brokaw saying it, but if the violence in New York is not going to be repeated, the solution (quite obviously to me and most other leftists) does not lie in further militiarization or any step-up of the security state. The US government must stop starving and killing the people of the world. The US cannot continue to politically, economically and militarily dominate the world with impunity. What happened today was reprehensible. It was also inevitable.

I find myself particularly afraid for my Arab-American friends (or anyone else with a sufficiently Mediterranean complexion). There will now be a stepped-up battle for the hearts and minds of the people of our country. The corporate/government elite will spin things their own way, to serve their own purposes. They will villify the left, villify Muslims, try to divide the people in many ways and use this as an excuse to crack down on the movement, just as they have in the past in other crises. It seems to me that we must be clear about who are the world's biggest terrorists, what kinds of conditions create martyrs (IMF austerity measures, decimation of countries by the USAF, etc.), and, of course, whoever is responsible, the Arab people, Arab-Americans, Muslims, etc. are not our enemies. (So many of the people of the Arab world are, however, some of our government's biggest victims. For more on the effects of the on-going US-led war against the people of Iraq, go to

OK, so that's my rant for now. Here are some more thoughts on the subject in the form of lyrics.

David Rovics


David Rovics, September 15, 2001

Hearts and Minds
Hi folks,
For those of you who ended up on my email list mainly to hear about upcoming gigs and such, I hope you'll understand the temporary increase in the numbers of messages I'm sending out, given the circumstances. (If it's just too much, as always, let me know and I'll remove you from my list.)

First of all, due to the terrorist attack in New York my voicemail is down, so anyone wanting to reach me for any reason can either email me or call me on my cell phone at (203) 901-3306.

I received a variety of responses to the last message and lyrics that I sent out, ranging from "thanks for saying that, it's just what I'd been thinking but was afraid to say" to "if you don't like America, why don't you move to Iraq." I'd like to say a few more words, and respond briefly to both of these sentiments.

First of all, for those of you who feel isolated because you believe in the sanctity of human (including American) life and you don't want to see our country continue the cycle of violence and retribution that has gotten us here in the first place, you will find much, much more intelligent perspective at The site includes up-to-the-minute news on what's happening, as well as lots of editorials from folks like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Alexander Cockburn and many others. The fact is that the New Left has a very consistent and eminently sensible take on the situation. If you feel confused by the barrage of corporate media warmongering, you need not be, if you have internet access. If you want to know what's going on to protest this madness, is a great resource.

As for those who have sent various venemous messages my way, well, most of these folks also asked to be removed from my list, so they're probably not receiving this message here. Of course, if you are reading this message, the simple answer to the question of why don't I leave this country is two-fold. One, because I'd prefer not to be bombed by the US Air Force as much of the world is about to be. Two (and most importantly), because I have an obligation as a human being to change this society and the power structure that rules it, because this is the only hope for humanity and for life on earth in general.

What I realized after writing what I wrote, and receiving some of these messages of outrage from some people, is that the profound ignorance of the history of this country is not just rampant in society at large, but even among many of the progressive-minded people who have come to my shows, bought CDs, signed my email list, etc. I realized that what some people really need to hear is not so much my opinion on the situation as a crash course in US history, and especially foreign policy. Many of the pieces to be found at provide a skeletal version of the crash course. For those willing to read a bit more extensively on the subject, I'd recommend some books such as A People's History of the United States, Iraq Under Siege, The Open Veins of Latin America, Whiteout, and Year 501, for starters. Lots of other great books on the subject can be found through and, among other places.

I don't know if I am really skilled enough to write something that can reach out to those people who wrote some of these messages to me. I sympathize with them, though. They, like most Americans, have been raised by the corporate media and actually don't realize that they live in a country that habitually terrorizes and massacres millions of innocent civilians around the world. They are not aware of the extent of the suffering of the people of Iraq, and if they are, they are not aware that this suffering is caused directly by their government. They may have forgotten, or perhaps were never aware, that their government napalmed and defoliated and slaughtered the people of Vietnam and Korea, killing untold millions, dropping more bombs on these tiny countries than all sides of WWII combined. They may not realize that the US Air Force demolished every building in North Korea, that 3,700 or so schools in Iraq lie in rubble, that our government does not allow the people of Iraq to have clean water, food, medicine, dignity, that our Air Force continues to bomb Iraq almost daily.

There is no justification for killing thousands of innocent people in New York City. There is also no justification for killing millions of people in Iraq or any of the other dozens upon dozens of countries where the US has been involved in killing people, or arming dictators who kill their citizens, or imposing economic austerity measures on countries and starving their citizens to death. And if we are concerned about human life, we must oppose the slaughter. Last year, last week, this week, next week. If we are nationalists, and are only concerned about American people, then we should still oppose the slaughter. For whether or not we support terrorism (and I most emphatically do not), a desperate, impoverished, starved, bombed and habitually humiliated people will inevitably retaliate. Martyrs, suicide bombers, whatever you want to call them, they do not come out of a vaccuum. Sure, perhaps they're all crazy. But they weren't born that way. It's not a genetic, cultural, or religious predisposition. If you think it is, I guess you're beyond the reach of my ability to reason with you.

Moving on and speaking to those who are still with me, who understand that this cycle of violence and oppression must end, who are aware of the role of their country in the world as a terrorist state: This attack on New York sets us back horrifically. As you've probably noticed, many Americans have gone from being ambivalent couch potatoes to hostile, racist lunatics. Perhaps the ambivalence was born of a combination of relative comfort and ignorance. Perhaps the hostility is born out of a combination of fear and ignorance. And what's about to happen will set us back much, much more.

Whether or not we can succeed in stopping the madness immediately, stopping the madness must be our goal. It seems to me that the ignorance (along with the ambivalence and/or the hostility) is the first thing that must be overcome. This is a battle, if you'll excuse the term, for the hearts and minds of the people of this country. It seems overwhelmingly obvious to me that we either win, and radically transform the state of affairs here, or, ultimately, the whole world loses (including us Americans). Either we take our collective boots off of the necks of the Global South, or we spiral further and further into the morass of militarism, war, poverty, ecological destruction, the further balkanization, stratification, atomization of our society and the rest of the world.

All of this was true last week, of course. But it seems clear that in many ways things are coming to a head. Seems to me that if ever there was a time to get off the fence, it's now. Of course, lest anyone who's actually still reading this lengthy stream of drivel think otherwise, I'm much more familiar with the question than with the answer. But clearly, we need to form a large, principled, well-organized, inclusive movement for radical social, political and economic change. Or, more accurately, we need to continue to build the movement that, thankfully, already exists.

Being one of the musicians in the movement, I'd suggest a few thousand simultaneous road shows (of course, we could always start with a few dozen and work our way up). I remember reading about how the US got involved in WWI, and how the US government hired 75,000 high school teachers to travel around the country and give pro-war speeches to rally the masses to fight the Germans. Nowadays the powers that be don't need 75,000 high school teachers. They have their five TV networks and a handful of pundits to do the same job. We may not have access to their corporate media, but if we had 75,000 people to travel around the country and educate people about the realities of the situation, and inspire people to action (through music, too, naturally), maybe we can turn the tide.

In any case, we have to try. There's a world to win, or lose. Guess that's all I have to say for today.

Well, no, it's not... For all three of you who may still be reading, I'll share a little story. It seems to me that it's related to all this. I've never lost several thousand of my fellow citizens to a terrorist attack before, but I did lose a very close friend to a shotgun several years ago. Many people lost friends, lovers, family to this attack on New York. My dear friend and housemate was attacked, robbed, shot and killed on the streets of San Francisco by a gang of Mexican-American youth. The event had a real radicalizing impact on me, somehow, although I had already been a radical before it happened. It brought a heightened sense of urgency to me, about the need to change society so this kind of thing wouldn't continue to happen. I never felt hostility towards Mexican people as a result of this, but perhaps if I didn't already have some kind of an understanding of the relationship between poverty, racism, oppression and anger, I would have become like these racist nutcases roving around the country today looking for Arabs to attack. (And of course if I hadn't realized the really obvious point, that the young men who shot Eric were only a small handful of individuals who happened to be Mexican-American, not representatives of their ethnic group.) I realized more fully what I already knew when Eric was killed, that retribution is no solution. I knew then as I know now that this kind of thing will only continue to happen as long as racism, poverty, humiliation and other forms of oppression exist. And the elimination of oppression is the only real solution. Not retaliation, not more prisons, more cops, more border patrols, etc.

David Rovics
International terrorists are scheming
They want to bring the planet to it's knees
They're hiding in their bunkers and they're plotting
With bombs and guns and biological disease
Any means to reach their ends is worth pursuing
If lives are lost then that's the way it goes
It's the game of world domination
The stakes are high as everybody knows

International terrorists are flying in their jets
Looking for the city they want to hit today
For all of the injustice in the world
They are going to make somebody pay
They'll make sure their people will support them
Through the use of their powerful cartel
If you are to prosper this is their decision
Whether you will starve or else live well

And the international terrorists are busy
Trying to win your heart and mind
They're making news and writing press releases
So that you can have your thoughts defined
And they say that they're the voice of reason
And they want to keep the world free
And they will villify, disappear and torture
Anyone who would dare disagree

The international terrorists are many
Every color, size and shape and height
Some are only small and local bullies
Content to bomb a building in the night
While some are in each pocket of the world
Looking for a nation to attack
They're training in their bases somewhere near you
And they're flying in the skies above Iraq

The IMF is the name of their cartel
And CNN's their propaganda arm
And if they don't brainwash and starve you into line
They'll make damn sure all your people come to harm
They'll decimate and carpet-bomb your country
With a million mercenaries and machines
Striking fear into the people of the world
The US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines

Contributed by Riccardo Venturi - 2006/3/26 - 11:31

Main Page

Please report any error in lyrics or commentaries to

Note for non-Italian users: Sorry, though the interface of this website is translated into English, most commentaries and biographies are in Italian and/or in other languages like French, German, Spanish, Russian etc.

hosted by