Sunday, September 17, 2006

a bit of a spit

not all naive ...

The recent inundation of stuff on September 11 - I actually watched a lot of it this time - has me reflecting on America's unilaterally declared war on terrorism (which might well be renamed the war on tourism after Beazley's recent remarks), so ably supported by us and the poms.

I recall that the anti-war side was, from the start, arguing that the September 11 attacks were criminal acts and that it was a matter more for the police than for the military. I was always sympathetic to this view, eclipsed as it has been since the war rhetoric and the war activities have stepped up. At the same time I was always realistic enough to realize that this would never wash with such a belligerent US administration, and with a general public as generally naive, IMHO, as the American public is. Not to mention the sense of national humiliation. Look at what the Romans did to Carthage for daring to threaten it, via Hannibal, at its very heart. I don't say this as a joke; the urge towards retributive punishment - someone must pay and pay dearly - is one of the strongest of human forces (this has been amply confirmed in experimental psychology - see for example, the work of Jonathon Baron and others).

Still, it's never too late. Had the 'this is essentially a criminal matter' argument won out (never a possibility, I admit), airport and other security would still have been tightened, new and sometimes draconian laws could still have been introduced, with the justification that a new type of criminal element was emerging, and information-sharing between various national police and security forces would have been improved. On the other hand, the invasion of Iraq might never have occurred, for no non-corrupt criminal investigation would ever have found a link between the Iraqi regime and September 11. The hunt for Osama would have been much more of a focus with more resources devoted to it without the distraction of the massive military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

More importantly, the operation would have targeted individuals - the responsible individuals, rather than targeting anyone with a current gripe against America, as this so-called war against terrorism - 'you are either with us or with the terrorists' - seems to be doing with such unconscionable relish. The criminal approach simplifies the issues, to a degree which is obviously unacceptable to this US administration, which has done more to foster worldwide hatred of everything America stands for than any other American administration in history. And history will undoubtedly testify to the damage this administration has done.

Keeping the matter in the field of criminality would have been the best move, psychologically, too, for war immediately legitimises your opponent, but this particular administration was far too dim-witted, or testosterone-driven (is there a difference?) to consider such possibilities.

The effect of transforming a criminal operation into a war has had tragic consequences, has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of countless innocents, a horrific toll far beyond the comprehension and sensitivities of the imbeciles of Washington and Downing Street. However, imbecility should be no excuse before the law. These imbeciles should be brought to justice for the carnage they have visited on ordinary people in the name of some vague and undoubtedly self-serving goal. I scream this out in the name of the voiceless - how dare you destroy these lives for power-political reasons dressed in a bogus humanitarianism. How dare you manipulate the aggressive enthusiasm of young, uneducated soldiers, encouraging their natural out-group mentality to turn them into thoughtless killers. How dare you turn the patriotic pride of a nation into something evil. You will reap everything you sow. You will exploit their oilfields, you will extract your billions, and you will get what you deserve. For these terrorists have one thing in common - and it sure isn't a hatred of Western democracy - a concept which isn't even a blip on the edge of their radar. It's a hatred of just the kind of adventure being engaged in in Iraq. A hatred of exploitation and ravagement, a hatred of Western arrogance, corruption and greed. And how are we going to counter that hatred? By pummeling them into submission?

US forces out? As soon as is practicable, I'd say. America would be better off acting at a distance. They might just win a bit more trust that way.



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