'The State It's In' - Squall Editorial
The Final Solution - What Took So Long?
Though isolated from the thoughts of the majority of the planet, George Bush is not crusading alone. This week, pollsters at ICM and Gallop jostled to tell us exactly how big a majority of Britons are clamouring for blood in the Afghan hills. The phrasing of the Daily Telegraph-sponsored questions, or the persuasions of the target poll group, are not important. Pressmen and broadcasters spent last week valiantly enforcing the illusion that leaders speak for people and governments speak for nations.
Yet outside of Texas and Kandahar, this is not necessarily the case. Many people, though sympathetic with the innocent victims of the Manhattan attack and their families, are saying: "Well, the US had it coming." Perhaps a debate on the relative innocence of Deutsche Bank Fund Managers and Iraqi children who have died under the continuing bombing American pilots, of Morgan Stanley's investment bankers and the 250,000 East Timorese murdered by CIA-backed Indonesia is inappropriate right now. But one thing is for sure. Greater TV coverage and more expensive real estate does not make US deaths any more unacceptable than that of other nations.
Unlike American Airlines Flight 11, and the subsequent baffled response of the media, the motivation for Tuesday's attack did not 'come out of the blue'.
"The idea that we've done something to provoke them is repellent," one ex-US government employee-come-expert commentator told BBC Radio 5 Live. As if the saturation bombing of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia never happened, or the bloodletting in Guatemala, Chile or Nicaragua was incidental. The invasions and incursions in Egypt, Lebanon, Grenada, Palestine, Cuba, Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq and the Balkans were all carried out in the name of 'stability', as was the manufacturing of state terror by Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Indonesia; all executed with the resourced encouragement and facilitation of the US. For fifty years or more US banditry has left a global trail of dead and landless in its quest for control. In pursuit of its global domination, the United States has not balked from sponsoring international terrorist groups which helped its agenda. Bin Laden himself received just such support when Afghanistan had a communist leadership the Americans didn't like. The assertion that the US has not done more than enough to provoke probable cause and reaction is incredulous. Its unquestioned claim to be a wholly innocent victim of terrorism is lamentably hypocritical.
Liberal voices in The Guardian newspaper have described Bush's "crusade" - for he has had the temerity and crassness to describe it as such - as heralding a "reversal" of globalisation. And yet this is patently untrue. Globalisation - or more accurately the securing of global control of resources, wealth and power by the West - has never been about any genuine market freedom and has always been steered and supported by Western governments. If George W Bush and Tony W Blair have their way, we may be about to witness 100 years worth of global capitalist power expansion in as many days. This is globalisation in fast forward. Whitehall is threatening a "lengthy" campaign against "terrorism" which could last ten years. A decade to complete the seizure of global control? No more squeezing, no more loans, no more gerrymandered puppet governments, threats or sanctions - just, give us the keys and shut the fuck up! Job done. - and what a result.
Democracy - that fabled social ideal which Osama bin Laden and the rest of the terrorist demons are out to destroy - will just have to be put on hold..... as if it wasn't already. The language says it all. Blair goes to the US to be BRIEFED, Blair TELLS Parliament (Channel 4 News 14.9.01) how far Britain will tag along with America's battle plan. And George W stomps around the Oval Office like some caricature DC-Comics despot President plotting his mythical 'war on terrorism'. "You're either with us or you're against us!" asserts Bush, wallowing in an explosive mix of self-righteous megalomania and national grief. There is no complexity, there is no history. Either you support the messianic lunacy and imminent bloodbath of 'Operation Infinite Justice' or you're a scumbag dancing on the graves of New York's finest. Taliban or Texan, Turban or Stetson - there ain't no third way now!
America, we are told (every UK Newspaper, every day since 11.9.01) has 'every right' to avenge itself for an attack on its homeland. Yet this right is not considered to extend to those who have been the victim of America's relentless sometimes terroristic interference in other countries affairs. Despite cursing the 'terrorists' "cowardly" tactics, the "allies" are out to "defeat the enemy at it's own game" (The Times 20.9.01). Why weren't the CIA out assassinating these foreigners - how could it possibly be the other way round? The Taliban's jihad/holy war is the strategy of killers and madmen, yet Bush's jihad is a reasonable response by a nation under siege. Similarly, fundamentalists are okay if they're on your side. The Osama bin Laden/Mullah Omar - a man so deranged he refuses to be photographed - double act, draws gasps of 'how can we let them live?' Yet when Bush appears in a New York Cathedral alongside reactionary-TV evangelist-nutter Billy Graham, all is well with the western world.
One nutter's holy crusade is another's act of provocation. You can tell who's in the right by asking for receipts. If you've given billions of dollars to multinational arms manufacturers in order to equip your army - then you're the good guys. If you dared to nick your missiles and machine guns from the last invader like the Taliban did when the Russians fled - then you're gonna get what's comin! If this is to be the valley of death - how fitting that we are shepherded into it by Bush and bin Laden, two men who soared to the crest of their respective waves of bogus legitimacy, greasing palms with their daddy's money and influence along the way. Bush's village-idiot presentation is tempered by the constant 'reminder' that Colin Powell and Dick Cheney are a couple of steady hands pulling his strings. Well that's okay then - what is there to worry about?
America is off to where empires go to die - a holy war in a dusty minefield against a people living on grass and animal feed. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tells us the US has the stomach for a long fight - just as they did during Vietnam (ahh - the luxury of rewriting history). The catch is, we're all coming too.
Meanwhile, back in the belly of the beast, assimilated Muslims are being cornered into apologising for Islam's excesses. The BBC's Newsnight produces a London Afghan who says: "America has every right to invade my country," (19.9.01) while upstanding UK Muslims "disown the lunatic fringe" ( Daily Telegraph 20.9.01). The Muslim Council of Britain dutifully disown any dissenters as "clowns". We all defer to our leaders.
In a posting to YearZero.org's message board, Rachel from Yorkshire accurately observes: "I know that most folk will carry on with their three minute silences and ignorance - not for the folk who jumped out of the WTC towers, not for the ordinary people who have lost friends and family... but because the US is the most powerful country in the world and, like when royalty dies, the world has to join in showing fealty."
Then we had the cheering Palestinians splashed across our televisions. Pre-teen kids who have spent their short lives watching their friends and fathers gunned down by US armed troops with US supplied M16's and Apache helicopters. Children whose homes have been bulldozed by US built tanks at the whim of an US-crutched oppressor. Kids whose only direct experience of Uncle Sam is when he strafes Arabs with bombs, fire and depleted uranium - how dare these young upstarts feel anything but sorrow and remorse when the United States takes its first ever direct hit in the epicentre of its financial and military powerbase.
There is an ongoing debate over when these television images were taken or what exactly the Palestinians were celebrating in the film footage - but that is to deny these feelings exist. Okay it suits the rabble-rousing agenda of the press to whip up enough anti-Islamic fervour to back the new "crusade" - but the United is both hated and feared across the planet. But, as long as the emotion tugging cellphone calls made from the World Trade Tower are repeated endlessly on our radios, and the aircraft carriers keep gliding across our screens, no-one will ask why. A few days after the towers fell, the brother of one of the victims said he thought war was not a legitimate response to the attacks and that Bush "should be caged". We haven't heard much more from him on either CNN or ABC. We will "end" non-compliant states, Donald Rumsfeld told the Pentagon faithful last week. And evidently this accelerated subjugation is not intended as a temporary state of affairs. Bush's crusade is less a response to the attack, and more an escalation of the incessant imperialism which provoked the terrorism in the first place. And with no lessons learned, it will surely be provoked again. "1,2,3 what are we fighting for..."