Daily Archives: September 11, 2011

The 9/11 attacks – The view from 11 Sept 2002 and 2011

I wrote  “Oh, we’re on the road to destruction” a year after the 9/11 attacks.  Reading it again nine years later I am struck by how much about the world in 2011 was readily predictable in 2002.   We are still bogged down in Iraq and  Afghanistan; liberal internationalists have not not had their thirst for warmongering as the present events in Libya sadly demonstrate; Western societies have become horribly  tainted  with authoritarian laws; Muslims generally have almost certainly become more hostile to Western societies and values and Western elites  failed to grasp the nettles  of mass immigration and multiculturalism  despite offering more nationalistic rhetoric.

The other thing of note is the inability of US officialdom to  satisfactorily explain  how the attacks happened. As a consequence ten years after the event conspiracy theories about 9/11 abound, although  almost all of them  are fighting on ground which is never going to be definitely captured by one side of the argument.  Those who argue about the structural impossibility or otherwise of the building collapsing will never reach a certain conclusion because there will always be structural  engineers on both sides claiming that it was  or was not technically feasible.  Those who see in it a US state false flag operation or one perpetrated by Israel  are in the nature of things  wildly unlikely to obtain conclusive  proof.

But the fact that these conspiracy theories do not stand up fully or at all does not mean there is no conspiracy.  There are aspects of the event which simply do not fit into the narrative of Islamic terrorists efficiently flying planes into buildings.    Watch the videos of the planes approaching and hitting the Twin Towers ).  Planes,  supposedly piloted by people who had  never flown a plane and whose expertise was limited to only partial completion of simulator courses, were flow  with great dexterity into what were from the air small targets. As for the Pentagon attack, eye witness accounts also report some very nifty manoeuvring a medium size airliner including a sudden bank and  sharp turn before coming in on the final run before impact. Neither crash event  makes no sense in the context of the hi-jackers’ supposed flying  expertise. To that strangeness can be added the failure to recover “black boxes” either at all or in usable form from either the WTC  or Pentagon site, something virtually unheard of in commercial flight crashes.

Robert Henderson 11 September 2011

“Oh, we’re on the road to destruction”

The 11 Sept 2001 attacks – where the USA has gone wrong

Robert Henderson September 2002

Contents

1. 9/11 in context

2. Where have the Americans gone wrong?

3. What should the US government have done?

4. The immediate consequences of the mistake

5. The “war” on terrorism

6. Mission creep

7. What if bin Laden had been given up by the Taliban?

8. The axis of evil

9. Tony Blair

10. The US and Britain

11. The ill effects of 11 September for the West

12. al Qa’eda

13. Strange bedfellows

14. How many died in the WTC?

15. The dramatic success of the attack was a “fluke”

16. The balance of propaganda

17. The aftermath of the “victory” in Afghanistan

18. The failure of intelligence

19. The legality of action against Afghanistan and Iraq

20. The USA – a quasi-imperial power

21. Why was America attacked?

22. Was the attack on America directly provoked by the US?

23. The whole truth?

24. What should the USA do to reduce the danger of further terrorists attacks?

25. The problem of unassimilated minorities in the West – the changing elite view

26. The problem of minorities – the sea in which terrorists can swim

27. What should be done with minorities?

28. The attitude of Muslims to the 11 Sept attack

29. Why is Bush so determined to attack Iraq?

30. Could Saddam Hussein fall from within?

31. Will the invasion of Iraq happen?

32. The spinelessness of British political parties

33. The consequences of an invasion of Iraq

34. What if no invasion of Iraq takes place?

35. Oil – how real is this threat from disrupted Arab supplies?

36. Who is in charge  of the Bush administration?

37. What should the  West do in the future?

38. Practical actions the West should take to promote national and  international security

38. Who is in charge of the Bush administration?

39. War is Hell

1. 9/11 in context

“Today they are ringing bells. Soon they will be wringing their hands.” The British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, after being forced against his will into a war with Spain (the War of Jenkins’ ear 1739) by war fever.

On the first day of the Second Battle of the Somme in 1916 the British army lost 20,000 dead and 40,000 wounded . A terrible shock to the British psyche but one they dealt with rapidly and carried on the fight.

During Mao’s great leap forward millions died, primarily of starvation arising from policies so irresponsible they are best described as insane.

In Cambodia a generation ago, a million or more people were killed, often with great cruelty, by the Khymer Rouge.

During the recent Rwandan massacres, hundreds of thousands of people were butchered with machetes or mutilated.

In the ongoing war in Sierra Leone the rebels adopted the terror tactic of slicing the buttocks off women with machetes and releasing them alive as a warning to others.

On 11 September 2001, approximately 3000 people were killed in America as the result of two commercial airliners being purposely crashed into the two World Trade Centre (WTC)buildings in New York and one airliner purposely crashed into the Pentagon in Washington. A fourth airliner – probably headed for the White House – crashed in open countryside, most prrobably as the result of the passengers trying to over power the hijackers. A terrible shock to the American psyche and one they have not begun to deal with a year after the event. Dramatic in the extreme and undoubtedly fear-making, it paled before the atrocities of war and determined tyranny, both in terms of its cruelty and scope. It was not, as is endlessly proclaimed by the media in America and the US, “The greatest terrorist act ever”, for what are the actions of the likes of Mao, Stalin and Hitler but terrorist acts?

Whatever their feelings about the attacks of 11 Sept, I doubt whether most Americans are entirely comfortable with the present situation, whether through fear of the consequences of American action arising from the attack or through distaste for the behaviour of their government at home and aboard since 9/11.

That government appears to be endlessly chasing an enemy they cannot find and fighting a “war against terrorism” which does not in reality exist, whilst still incontinently damaging an immensely poor country, Afghanistan, without any clear idea of what is to be done after whatever “final victory” is declared to have been won. Worse, it now contemplates the invasion of Iraq, a project which has no comfortable outcome whatever happens and which could seriously destabilise the  world economy. All this set against a background of ever diminishing civil rights and burgeoning Presidential power, through oppressive legislation and practices which are “justified” as being necessary to guard against future terrorist attacks. Yet it need not have been like this. The US today could be carrying on its business without the worry of an invasion of Iraq or even an overly heightened fear of further terrorist acts.

2. Where have the Americans gone wrong?

By treating the attack as an act of war. Suppose the attack had been undertaken by the likes of Timothy McVeigh rather than foreign Muslims, what would have happened? The USA would have simply treated it as a crime. They would have called for the abridgement for civil liberties, white separatist groups and militias would have probably received a hard time for short a while and the proponents of gun control would have shouted ever louder, despite the absence of firearms in the attack. But the American Government would not have said it was an act of war or have decreed that every nation on earth must cooperate with the USA in rooting out “terrorism with global reach” as defined by the American Government or be an enemy of the USA, let alone declare a “war on terrorism”.

Far fetched? Well, consider what happened after the Oklahoma bombing, which was mass murder on a dramatic scale in its own right – several hundred died, including women and children, and many more were injured. The US government did not say it was an “act of war” although there was as much if not more reason to call it that as there was to describe the 11 September attacks in that manner – McVeigh was indubitably mounting war against the US Government if the WTC attackers were judged to have done. They did not declare a “war on terrorism”.

They did not, for all the illiberal noises made by politicians at the time, generally abridge civil liberties. Instead they treated the perpetrators as criminals and brought just two people to court – McVeigh and tried them. No one else – although it is odds on that more were involved – has been charged with a capital offence in connection with the crime. Whether the trials were entirely fair or whether the US government was not keen on delving deeper because of federal penetration of the group which planned the bombing (or even conceivably for some more sinister reason) are open questions. What is certain is that the American public were able to accept this action as adequate in terms of retribution.

That no group claimed responsibility for the US attacks of itself provided an opportunity to keep the official response within bounds. Had the US government treated the event as a criminal act internal to America, the group responsible for the hi-jackings would either have had to claim it or would have been left in the media cold. By taking the initiative in defining the status of the act, the Bush government played into the hands of the hijackers and their associates.

3. What should the US government have done?

They should have treated the attacks of 11 Sept as a crime. They should have grabbed hold of the fact that the immediate perpetrators of the crime had suffered self-inflicted  capital punishment and kept a very firm grasp on it. They should have taken steps to immediately intern without trial and/or expel any suspected terrorists who were not American citizens.

If that had needed legislation, as it probably would, they could have  passed it without breaching the Constitution and Congress would almost certainly have put it through very rapidly in the circumstances. Those measures together with increased safety precautions at airports would have provided the immediate reassurance to the American public which was required by the traumatic events, placed the attacks in proportion and given evidence  of easily understandable government action – in the shape of internment and expulsion – to assuage the anger. That would have been the easy part.

The difficult part would have been to address the problem of how people such as the hijackers could operate so easily in the US. To do that the US would have had to question its whole immigration policy and “multiculturalism”. More of that later.

4. The immediate consequences of the mistake

Once the 11 Sept attacks were defined as an “act of war” the whole psychological shape of the event altered. If you are at war, the enemy gains a quasi-formal status. Let them remain criminals and everything is simpler, both psychologically and practically.

Because the hijackers were killed, the declaration of “war” meant that another enemy had  to be sought for punishment. As the Hijackers were Muslims who had operated within the USA for some time before the attack on the World Trade centre, that immediately raised a severe difficulty, namely, what to do if there were other members of the terrorist group still being active in the US. This was a hideously delicate matter even if only foreign Muslims were in the extended group, but it became infinitely more so if native born US Muslims were found to have some involvement. If the arch enemy was recognised as being within the US, the US would have to act in a way which was likely to inflame all Muslims in America and probably increase racial tension generally. The immediately safer option was to choose an enemy abroad, who could be made the font of all responsibility and evil. Hence, the choice of Osama bin Laden as a demon to hate and a demon, moreover, supposedly controlling an international conspiracy aimed at destroying the West. Sherlock Homes’ arch foe, Professor Moriaty, comes irresistibly to mind.

Because the US have  demonised bin Laden and his organisation, that has given him not merely immense publicity but also a greatly enhanced status and credence amongst Muslims (and one suspects in the Third World generally), a credence which will not be damaged whether he is killed or captured. All the Third World see is a man made a martyr and hero by a country possessing more firepower and resources than any other in history.

The choice of bin Laden and his organisation as culprit – and soon the Taliban as culprit by extension – was the immediately safer choice, but it produced a gigantic problem in itself,  namely how to punish the people who were demonised? As bin Laden was firmly outside the US sphere of influence and ready action, acting against him was quite obviously going to be difficult, going on impossible. Attacking Milosevic was a rational act by comparison.

5. The “war” on terrorism

If the treatment of the attacks as an “act of war” was dangerous enough, the Bush Administration in the shape of the Secretary of State Colin Powell soon made matters much worse by declaring a “war against terrorism”. It  was doubtless a casual error by Powell, imitating the absurd “war on drugs” and the “war on crime”, but it had serious consequences. Unlike the other non-existent “wars” it actively committed the US to military action and a consequent need to not merely declare a victory but to show one had been achieved. The statement showed Powell’s inexperience  and demonstrated the old saw that military men do not make good politicians.

At first the US Government was cautious enough to try to circumscribe Powell’s words by speaking of a “war on terrorism with global reach”, words carefully chosen to avoid including the likes of the IRA and ETA and used by Bush in his address to Congress on . This caveat was rapidly lost in the rising tide of rhetoric.

The “war” soon became simply a “war on terrorism”. By committing +themselves to both the pursuit of bin Laden and his cohorts and a general “war” against terrorism, the US ensured that the effects of the 11 Sept attacks were not merely greatly magnified but rendered indefinite.

Originally Bush was talking about “smokin’ then folks out” and the rhetoric was all of rapid strikes and a limited war. Six weeks later we had the British chief of defence staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, saying (27/10/01 – Daily Telegraph) that the Allies were “fighting an idea” and consequently we should look on the present action against terrorism as similar to the Cold War: The war against Communism took 50 years to win and I wonder if we shouldn’t be thinking of it like that.” That was just about the size of it.

That Colin Powell made the initial blunder in declaring his “war against terrorism” should surprise no one. Powell is not a politician. He has never held elected office. To describe him as a soldier is pedantically true, but in truth he neither saw much action or displayed any relish for war during his military career. During the Gulf War, he first opposed any  military action, then argued George Bush snr out of finishing Saddam Hussein off. He is best described as a successful Pentagon  bureaucrat. Prior to the 11 September, his foreign affair forays had been embarrassingly inept, particularly in his dealings with the Israeli/Palestinian problem. Very rapidly after 11 Sept he was sidelined in favour of Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft. It is a grand irony that he, the chief peacemonger, should have been the unwitting agent of the arch Hawks and the Bush Administration has been talking “redneck tough” for most of the time
since Powell’s sidelining.

6. Mission creep

The first US demand after the 11 Sept was that the Taliban hand over bin Laden to the US, despite the fact that the US did not recognise the Taliban as a government and consequently had no extradition treaty to activate. This first demand rapidly escalated to hand over bin Laden and any other al Que’ada terrorists operating from Afghanistan. Then it became that plus hand over any terrorists whatsoever who are in Afghanistan, destroy their training camps and allow US investigators to  come into Afghanistan to ensure that these demands had been carried out.

All of that would have been utterly unacceptable to any state or government. Not surprisingly the Taliban refused, although they did say they would consider bin Laden’s extradition to  either the US or a third country if the US provided the evidence to show that bin Laden was guilty. The US refused point blank to supply evidence of bin Laden’s guilt and continued to offer only threats if their demands were not met. The US also admitted (as did Tony Blair) that the evidence they had against him would not have stood up in a court of law. It should be noted that there is no obligation on any government to hand over a suspected criminal where no extradition treaty exists. We might in Britain, for example, hold a man we know has committed murder in a country with which we have no treaty and refuse to extradite him. Or we might refuse to extradite him to a country with which we have a  treaty, because that country has the death penalty and refuses to say it will not be enforced. Or we might simply feel that the person could not get a fair trial because of the publicity in a case. There are many legitimate ways of refusing extradition.

Having presented the Taliban with demands which were utterly unreasonable – shades of the calculatedly absurd ultimatum delivered to Milosevic before the Kosovan war which included the right to place UN/Nato troops in Serbia – and having failed to observe international law both in the matter of extradition and the threats made to the Taliban and other states such as Pakistan, the US then expanded their aims to include the fall of the Taliban, something they accomplished with the help of some exceptionally unsavoury allies in the Northern Alliance.

7. What if bin Laden had been given up by the Taliban

The US calls to the Taliban to give up bin Laden were  most certainly playacting. Let  us suppose bin Laden had been extradited to the USA, what then? It is improbable that the evidence needed to prosecute him would be available. Indeed, Tony Blair, a lawyer by profession, admitted that the evidence he had seen would not have justified even an extradition request, let alone a trial. Without evidence sufficient to mount and sustain a prosecution, the US would have been left in the ghastly position of either having to release him or to have mounted a prosecution which was manifestly unfair.

Should the evidence to prosecute actually exist, the position would still be horrendous for the US. Were bin Laden to have been extradited under the threat of force from a country with no extradition treaty with the US, as is the case with Afghanistan, the case would, at best, have got bogged down in judicial action to free him on the grounds that the extradition was illegal and, at worst, result in his freeing. It would also be the devil’s own job to show that he could receive fair trial in view of the US Government’s bald and oft repeated statements, led by the President, that he was guilty.

If bin Laden was convicted in the US, this would act as a red rag to a bull to his followers (and other Islamic groups) and almost certainly result in further terrorist attacks within the US.  These facts were recognised by both the US and British governments.  Amongst others, the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair both stated that they thought that bin Laden would probably not be taken alive and hinted strongly that this was their preferred option.

Whether or not the Taliban would be willing to agree to such terms under any circumstances is dubious. Perhaps more to the point it, is dubious if they had the ability to do so even if they wished. To begin with they do not control the whole of the country. Next it is a tribal society which does not easily recognise central authority. Third, Kashmiri insurgents as well as the likes of bin Laden have training camps. Hence, it is very unlikely they could have done what Bush demanded.

8. The axis of evil

The Bush Administration’s war rhetoric continued to grow. In his State of the Union address to Congress on 29 January 2002, Bush used the phrase “the axis of evil” to name Iraq, North Korea and Iran as the primary threats to world peace. The speech also contained the first open threat to Iraq that they would not be “allowed to develop weapons of mass destruction” by the Bush administration. On 15 February Bush vowed to topple Saddam Hussein within the year.

Mixed in amongst the clanking rhetoric of the State of the Union address – “If you are not with us, you are with the terrorists” – was a general declaration  of war against “terrorist groups with global reach”. He also put under the terrorist anathema those countries who harboured them. Interesting thought. Apart from the likes of Pakistan and India, the whole of Europe is at risk if we take his words seriously.

9. Tony Blair

Blair responded publicly on the day of the attack with his usual adolescent-about-to-burst-into-tears hammery, but there was something else: the man looked very frightened, almost as though he felt he would be personally targeted. He spouted the dangerous line that the attack on the US was an attack on democracy and effectively “The Western way of life”. This was manifestly not so. It was an attack on the US most probably because of their support from Israel.

Ominously Foreign Office ministers were soon peddling the line of “massive British casualties in the attack on the US, so doing nothing is not an option”. The tone set early on has been maintained remorselessly . Blair has supported Bush at every turn and acted as his propagandist without relief. This has been of immense benefit to Bush because it provided him with not merely a stooge to enable him to claim any action was part of an alliance.

10. The US and Britain

The political “Special Relationship” so pathetically extolled by  British politicians of all colours much to the patronising amusement of their American counterparts does not exist. There is a special relationship between Britain and the USA, one of history, culture and frequently shared ancestry, but that is an entirely different matter.

The brutal truth is that American Governments since 1945 have increasingly treated the British as a convenience. When they need us, they use us: when they do not they at best ignore us and at worst actively go against our interests, as happened in the case of Suez. That is not to say that Britain has no friends in the US government or Congress, merely that they are outweighed by those who are either indifferent to Britain or, in a sizeable minority of cases, actively hostile. The hostile minority is comprised of Irish Americans, those driven by the old American anti-colonial bias and a group devoted to a modern version of anti-Imperialism which displays itself most noticeably in the victimhood displayed by the representatives of US blacks, who blame Britain for slavery and demand reparations.

11. The ill effects of 11 September for the West

The authoritarian fallout

The general danger for individuals in the West is that governments, including our own, will use the attacks as an excuse to adopt ever more authoritarian measures. They have already made great progress in this direction.

The US

In the USA the Senate have voted through, with either no dissenters or only one dissenter, Bills such as the sinisterly named Patriotism Act, agreed to the creation of a new cabinet appointment in the Secretary for Homeland Security (Orwell and the Jacobins would have been proud of  that title), tolerated silently the lifting of the ban on CIA assassinations  and generally raised no complaint or doubt about the actions of the US in attacking a country which is dirt poor and whose people have no responsibility for the attack of 11 Sept.

Bush signed an executive order on 13 November 2001 which is so extreme in its abridgement of due process and the traditional safeguards for those accused of a crime it is literally terrifying. The Order creates military tribunals with the power to sit in judgement on people judged to be terrorists who have harmed have harmed America or its citizens and interests abroad and people accused of harbouring such terrorists – the latter category would catch the Taliban leadership.

The tribunals will sit in camera and there will be no appeal from their verdict. They have the power to order and execute the death sentence. Normal judicial procedures will not apply, viz: “[It is] not practicable to apply in military commissions under this order the principles of law and the rules of evidence generally recognised in the trial of criminal cases in the United Sates district courts” (taken directly from the Order).

Don Bartlett, the White House director of communications commented on the Order: ” We have looked at this war very unconventionally. The conventional way of bringing people to justice doesn’t apply in these times.” (Daily Telegraph 15/11/01). The intention is crystal clear, that justice will be deliberately denied.  The Order is directed in the first instance at bin Laden and other al Qe’ada members, together with members of the Taliban. Tribunals could be held in Afghanistan and death sentences carried out there and doubtless will be if anyone is tried at all, rather than simply killed. But the Order will not be used simply to attack bin Laden at al. You can bet your life on the fact that it will remain in force in some form indefinitely.

Not all US politicians have been supine. A United States Congressmen from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich, produced this succinct summary of the dismal situation.

“Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.

We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.

We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.

We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.

We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.

We did not authorize assassination squads.

We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.

We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.

We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.

We did not authorize national identity cards.

We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras [in] our cities.

We did not authorize an eye for an eye.

Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize the [U.S.] to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.

We did not authorize war without end.

We did not authorize a permanent war economy.”

Britain

Ironically, the effects on British society have been at least as dramatic as they have been on American. Here, the “war against terrorism” has been used to justify grave breaches of  personal liberty.

The idea of ,compulsory identity cards has been dropped for the moment, although it will doubtless return in the not too distant future, but other oppressive measures have been adopted as Government policy.  So arrogant has the Blair Government become that they announced (20/10/01) an increase in the penalty for sending hoax packets of anthrax spores from two years to a maximum seven years. Nothing odd about that you may say. There would not be if they merely intended to put legislation to that effect before Parliament for its approval. Instead, the Government has simply announced that the increased penalty will become effective from the 21 October, ie before any Bill has been brought before Parliament or the matter has even been debated by Parliament.

Britain is peculiarly  vulnerable to oppressive legislation being rushed through in an “emergency” because we have  written constitution. A government with a decent majority in the House of Commons can in effect pass any legislation it wants. In normal times the upper house, The House of Lords, would kick up a fuss about such legislation and might block it for a year. In the present fevered circumstances where any resistance to the Government wishes is treated by the Government as tantamount to treason, and supplemented by the media widely supporting the idea, such resistance will not come.

In terms of domestic oppressiveness, Britain has been perhaps even harder hit than the US. Seizing with an unseemly haste the opportunity provided by the hysteria following the attacks on the US, the home Secretary, David Blunkett, produced a massive Bill, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, which runs to 125 clauses. This was both a wholesale attack on all the legal safeguards preciously developed over the centuries in England, as well as containing a number of pernicious clauses which enhance the power of the state and diminish the freedom of the individual, the most noteworthy of which was the creation of an offence of inciting to religious hatred, the first new religion related offence in nearly three centuries, which carries the very heavy maximum sentence of 7 years.

By the time the Bill became law, the incitement to religious hatred clause had been dropped after opposition in the House of Lords, but it still, amongst other things, breaches habeous corpus, allows government agencies, including the police, to share information freely with each other and forces ISPs to retain data from their customers and supply this to the police and other law enforcement agencies. There is also a quite disproportionate maximum sentence of 7 years for a new offence of making hoax calls involving substances such as Anthrax.

The EU

The EU positively sprinted to get on the authoritarian bandwagon, both in inciting officials such as the EC President Prodi to make ever more grandiose plans for a Federal State and in pushing forward proposals such as an EU arrest warrant and data sharing by national intelligence services with Europol.

Twenty-four hours after the Speaker of the European Parliament linked the attack to a call for a common European foreign and security policy. Shortly after came a push to rapidly implement a European arrest warrant; greater powers for Europol to turn it into an EU version of the FBI and the creation of a European Union, ie supra national, jurisdiction in the field of criminal justice. These were not new ideas but the events of 9/11 promoted them from proposals to be discussed to “necessary” weapons in the fight against terrorism. The  European arrest warrant is already law in the sense that it has been accepted by the Council of Ministers, greater powers for Europol are in the pipeline and a system of EU criminal law is much closer than it was before the WTC attack.

There was nothing unexpected about the EU’s behaviour. The intention to use crises to expand the power of the EU was revealed as nakedly as Hitler’s plans in Mein Kampf in a report by the European Commission’s forward planning unit: ‘Five years ago, the commission’s forward planning unit drafted a report that now appears chilling: “It will be difficult to achieve political union without there being the perception of an external political threat,” it read. “A terrorist outrage would contribute to such a perception.”‘ If you want a conspiracy theory about the terror attacks on the US, there is a good start.’ (Sunday Telegraph London 30/9/01 Closer union – the EU answer terror Daniel Hamman Conservative MEP for South-East England).

Since the 11 Sept attack, a clear line of propaganda has emerged amongst Western politicians.. Afghanistan is described as a “failed state” and the world divided into pre-modern societies (tribal), modern (the nation state) and post-modern (those going beyond the nation state and linked by arrangements such as those defining the EU).

That this is a view congenial to many British politicians is clear. The speech which Blair made to the Labour Party Conference in 2001 and another in the Guildhall on 12 November 2001, left no doubt of the ideal end he seeks, a megalomaniac vision (in the Guildhall speech Blair actually spoke of obtaining Utopia) of a world in which all peoples live in a liberal “utopia” or else.

Graham Watson, the leader of the British Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament was perhaps the most succinct: “The fig leaf of national sovereignty serves only to hide the impotence of nation states.”

All of this should worry everyone, because if there is one lesson they may learn from history it is that supranational bodies are generally more oppressive than national ones. What is happening is the sudden and dramatic removal of what small amount of democratic control the masses have painfully won in the West over the past two centuries.

The economic fall-out

Since 9/11 stock markets around the world have fallen substantially and remain weak. Rates of growth have been cut and there is no clear sign that the US economy is coming out of recession strongly.

The Free Traders have taken a knock. Immediately after the attack, the aerospace industry both making and carrying went into panic. Bush bailed out the US carriers with billions of state aid. Not long after the farmers got further massive aid on top of the great subsidies they already enjoyed. Then it was the turn of the US steel producers to be protected by tariffs.

12. al Qa’eda

Bin Laden has been represented by the US and British governments as a master criminal who controls Moriaty-like a worldwide network of agents who are just waiting for his call. Since 11 September, Americans and Britons have been fed a regular diet of dire threats about what bin Laden and al Qe’ada will do, these ranging from further plane attacks and conventional bombs to the Domesday scenario of al Qa’eda using the most sophisticated chemical, biological and nuclear weapons to cause death on the Hiroshima scale, if not worse.

The odd thing is, that no further attacks have taken place, except perhaps for the anthrax cases in the USA, which have caused a great deal of fear amongst Americans and a good deal of disruption to business, but which have contaminated few and killed even less and just conceivably the airliner which crashed in New York on , but which seems on all the evidence to have been a simple aircraft crash.

Even if the airliner crash and anthrax attacks are the work of al Qa’eda (a rather uncertain proposition at present – the FBI (11/11/01) currently favour an American culprit), they are a  retty small response to the attacks on Afghanistan. If bin Laden really had this army of agents in the West surely he would have used them since 11 September? Put yourself in his position. Bin Laden has seen the immense economic effect that the airliner attacks had on the USA and the consequences for the rest of the Western world as decreased US economic activity ripples outwards. What would you do if you had his mentality and a network of trusty and skilled agents just waiting to be activated? It is odds on that you would keep up a steady stream of really damaging terrorist acts within the US to keep America and anyone rash enough to ally themselves to the US in a state of panic.

Even if bin Laden did not have such a mentality, the attitude of the US since the attacks would surely have forced his hand. The US have been utterly insistent that he is the ultimate culprit and once engaged in their attack on Afghanistan, bin Laden had absolutely no hand to play in terms of negotiation, either directly or through the Taliban. The latter, by refusing  or being unable to hand over bin Laden and his cohorts, had also burnt their boats once the US/British attack on Afghanistan began.

The obvious bin Laden response after the US bombing started would have been to produce another massive terror attack (or even better attacks) on the US and/or Britain and then threaten more of the same if the attack on Afghanistan continued.

The fact that bin Laden (or whoever else was behind the 11 Sept attacks) at most, has done nothing further beyond distributing anthrax and downing another airliner suggests that he does not have the capacity ascribed to him. It should be noted that the 11 Sept attacks were carried out without any sophisticated weapons. Instead, they were carried out using what were in effect extremely crude incendiary missiles made by aviation manufacturers.

13. Strange bedfellows

The diplomatic fall out from the 11 Sept has been immense. The Pakistani President, Musharraf, a run-of-the-mill military dictator who was beyond the Pale before 11 Sept has suddenly become persona grata and US sanctions against Pakistan have been lifted, loans have been made available and debts rescheduled. Russia’s President Putin has been feted and given more or less a free hand to do what he wants with the Muslims in Chechnya and has even managed to wangle a say in what Nato may or may not do. A series of unpleasant dictators in one time Soviet republics such as Uzbekistan have been given a degree of respectability by their aid in the military action against the Taliban.

Worst of all, the US and its allies, if one may call them that, have hitched their diplomatic and military wagon to a number of competing Afghani peoples led by sundry warlords who are the equals in iniquity,  if not worse,  of the Taliban.

14. How many died in the WTC?

The Bush propaganda and that of his “emissary” Blair, has revolved around the numbers killed on 9/11. So, how many died in the WTC? The actual number is important in itself, but also because the early estimates of deaths were grossly inflated and provided the fuel for the initial highly charged rhetoric from Bush and Blair.

Immediately after the attacks took place, guestimates of deaths were extremely high – 20,000 was a figure commonly mentioned while some went even higher. These figures were based on an anticipated population of 40-50,000 (including visitors) in the twin towers at the time of the attack. It soon became clear that although the death toll was high, it was nothing like as severe as first feared. Over the first few days the figure settled around the 6000 level. Two months after the event the official estimate of deaths is 4261 1. Of those a mere 542 have been
confirmed dead. The rest are simply missing.

As of 11 Sept 2002 the official death toll at the Twin Towers in 2801, although that is not the number of identified bodies, but bodies and the unidentified missing. To those can be added the deaths at the Pentagon and the crashed plane which was supposedly heading for the White House.

Estimates of British dead ran to hundreds and even thousands originally. The total is now officially 67.

The gross overestimates of the dead were used by Bush and Blair to drive the early rge to war in Afghanistan. Generally, it was used justify the adoption of authoritarian measures throughout most of the West, including the EU.

As the weeks passed the estimates of the number of dead came steadily down. Bush and Blair quietly dropped the reliance on numbers, but by then the attack on Afghanistan was well under way.

15. The dramatic success of the attack was a “fluke”

The World Trade Centre buildings were supposedly designed to withstand the impact of a jumbo jet. They did this in the sense that they stood after the initial impact. What the buildings could not withstand was the intense heat generated by the large amounts of highly flammable aviation fuel which burnt very fiercely after the impact. The WTC buildings – which were old 1970s technology – contained a good deal of steel. Steel progressively loses its strength as heat increases. It was this loss of strength in the steel components of the building which apparently caused the collapse of the buildings and it was the collapse of the buildings which caused the majority of the deaths. Had the buildings not collapsed, the death toll would have been much less, perhaps numbered in hundred rather than thousands – the first plane hit high up on the first WTC Tower, the second plane hit the second WTC Tower lower down but still a fair way up the building. Had the WTC buildings not collapsed, the immense damage to surrounding buildings would also have been much reduced. A death toll in the hundreds and material damage of say a fifth of what was caused would have presented the US Government with a very different event to deal with.

16. The balance of propaganda

Who has won, the perpetrators of the attack, bin Laden or the US? Sadly it is the perpetrators of the attack and bin Laden by a street. (It is important to understand that bin Laden has never admitted involvement in the attack , merely celebrated it)  The attack was not merely successful it was just about as dramatic a traditional non-military strike as could have been devised. Had it beenin  a disaster movie it would have been hailed as brilliant cinematography, the crash of the planes into the buildings, the dreadful sight of people deliberately diving to their deaths to escape the fire, the  collapse of the Twin Towers one after another a little later, the sight of the wreckage-  all these are indelible images to those who saw them.

Even for those utterly dismayed by the event, it had and has a macabre fascination, vide Sky News’ repeated showing on the day of the attack of people diving to their deaths and the vast number of 9/11 books published and successfully sold to mark the anniversary. For those who consider the US to be the Great Satan, the sights are simply thrilling and cathartic.

Had the perpetrators of the attack done nothing else, they would have won the propaganda battle. The US had nothing but the wreckage and mourning to show and both in a way were further propaganda for the attackers.

Once the US attacked Afghanistan what propaganda credit they may have drawn from the pity for the suffering of the WTC attack was rapidly dissipated. It was not obvious to many people, even those friendly to the US, that attacking an immensely poor country in reprisal for an attack made by middle Eastern Muslims operating in the West – the attack was reputedly planned in Germany – was just, proportionate, reasonable or sensible.

Once again the US  have shown themselves willing to wound but afraid to kill. Ground action by the Americans was largely eschewed as  US pilots attacked the Taliban territory in the full knowledge that they were in next to no danger because the Taliban had no airforce and little by way of ground based air defence which would be of use against the type of high tech weaponry available to the US.   As the immense discrepancy between the military technology and resources available to the US and the Taliban became all too visible, the campaign began to seem cruel. The refusal of the Americans to risk their own troops on the ground seemed cowardly and the enlistment as “allies” of the Northern Alliance removed any claim to US moral superiority. The Northern Alliance, a crew for whom the word motley might have been invented, included delightful characters such as “General” Dostam, a warlord previously “famed” for punishing opponents by tying them to the ground and arranging for tanks to be driven over them. Choosing between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban was akin to deciding whether one should die from typhoid or cholera.

The US military action being fought almost entirely from the air, there were the inevitable “friendly fire” and “collateral damage” episodes, the most dramatic being on July 1 2002 when 46 civilians were killed in a single strike, 25 of them at a wedding party. The US made matters worse in every instance where Afghans were killed, by trying to pretend that they had come under fire or that the place attacked was really a Taliban or al Qe’ada camp or weapons dump.

The “friendly fire” and “collateral damage” episodes say a great deal about the US mentality. The number of Afghan noncombatants killed is not known, but it must run into hundreds and several thousand is not implausible given the deaths which occurred before the Taliban fell and the seemingly unending “mopping up” action against al Qe’ada and Taliban “remnants”. It is quite possible that more innocents have died in Afghanistan than died in America on 9/11. Yet the US shrugs them off as though they are of no account or an inevitable consequence of war. That double standard alone is guaranteed to leech away almost all sympathy for the US amongst foreigners.

Boredom and uncertainty have also played their part in destroying foreign support and sympathy for the US. The Afghan enterprise is nearly a year old but there is no obvious end to it, nor do the US seem to have any proposed solution to what is in reality an insoluble problem.

17. The aftermath of the “victory” in Afghanistan

What has been achieved to date? The Taliban are gone as a governing force and the country has reverted to its natural state of tribal fiefdoms. Nearly a year after the USA began their attack on Afghanistan, neither bin Laden nor Mullah Omar (nor any other of the foremost people in al Qe’ada or the Taliban) have been captured, despite the offer of a $25 million reward being offered by the US for the capture of bin Laden – “dead or alive” in George W Bush’s child’s language. The fact that such a massive reward – barely imaginable riches to an Afghan
– has not been claimed suggests that in all probability bin Laden (and quite probably Mullah Omar) has long since left the country.

The US are still supposedly “rooting” out al Qe’ada and Taliban remnants as well as searching for bin Laden and Mohammed Omar, but even their official spokesmen have been reduced to talking about how it does not matter whether he is killed before or after Saddam Hussein. Indeed, his name is barely mentioned by official spokesmen for either the US or Britain these days.

The fig leaf of a self-proclaimed “broadly-based” government has been cobbled together by the West, but as this does not include proper representatives of the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan the Pushtoon (Pathans) it is not merely doomed to failure but shows up the claim to being an inclusive government for the sham it is. But even if it did include the Pushtoons it would make no general difference, because all that would do is add one more competing piece to the political chessboard.

The reality on the  ground is that local headmen, commanders and warlords are fighting over the spoils. The US shows no interest in getting bogged down in a long term commitment to Afghanistan. The Afghanis, or at least those with power, show even less desire to have any foreign troops, US or otherwise, in Afghanistan for any length of time or in any real numbers. Already the banditry and arbitrary force which brought the Taliban to power have reasserted themselves and some traders at least have begun to mutter about how times are even less certain now than they were under the Taliban. The best prognosis is that within a year or two, matters will be even worse than they were before the Taliban took over.

The Taliban were  not the problem in Afghanistan, they were merely a symptom of the problem which is that Afghanistan is not a state it is merely a territory inhabited by and fought over by competing tribes. Most of Man’s history has been such a history. It is not a failed state in the jargon which has suddenly become fashionable since the 11 September, it is a rather a territory which has never been a state.

The upshot of three months of brutal bombardment by the US airforce against a population without a single combat aircraft and only limited AAA plus a few outmoded missiles such as  he Stinger to offer an air defence, a population in effect utterly defenceless against high altitude, high tech airstrikes, and eight months or so of post “victory” mopping up, has been to replace one unpleasant regime with another and leave the country in a more unstable condition than it was in before the Taliban were driven out.

On September 4 2002, the Afghani President, who has no democratic legitimacy, survived  an assassination attempt. His perilous personal position is epitomised by the fact that his Afghan bodyguards were replaced by US ones several weeks before the attempt. It was Americans who gunned down the would-be assassin. That episode tells you all you need to know
about the likely future of Afghanistan.

18. The failure of intelligence

The seeming abject failure of the intelligence services to gain even a sniff of the plan to attack the WTC et al raises the question of why bother with security and intelligence agencies if they are so inept? After all, the CIA, FBI and other federal agencies are funded on a scale which dwarfs those of other Western States. Yet they either did not get a scent of the proposed attack or they did but for some reason failed to act.

The line being peddled at present in the US media is that it was a security failure brought about by incompetence, with the likes of the CIA being heavily committed to technological surveillance at the almost total expense in many foreign areas of agents on the ground. Whether this is the truth or whether there is a more sinister explanation with US security services (and possibly foreign security services) having some intelligence about the proposed attack, not the exact details but enough to alert them, and then failing to act on it for some reason we shall probably never know. However, in judging the efficacy of security services it does not really matter.

Can anyone remember when a disaster was indubitably averted by intelligence? I cannot. Of course the security services and politicians peddle the line that “you don’t know of the successful cases because no disaster happens and we can’t tell the general public for fear of compromising security”. What we do know are the many failures either of intelligence or of politicians to act upon intelligence. In the UK we have the many failures of the Security Services to stop IRA bombings  as an example of the former and the Thatcher Government failing to heed intelligence warnings of an Argentine invasion of the Falklands as an example of the latter. In the US there is the example of Pearl Harbour which according to which version of history you believe was either a failure of intelligence or a cynical ignoring of it by Roosevelt.

Elites love the idea of security services because it gives them a private army which is to all intents and purposes beyond the law or public scrutiny and a jolly useful means of stifling debate – the British Government always replies where it can to awkward questions that “it is a matter of national security and HMG never comments on security matters”. There is a good argument for saying that security services as they presently exist are incompatible with democracy because they allow the elite too much secret power.

The US Government is now, risibly, asking the world to believe that the security services which seemingly failed to provide information about the WTC attacks, is now providing such hot intelligence that not only can we be sure that Saddam Hussein is on the brink of producing nuclear weapons and acquiring a delivery system, but that these security services are constantly uncovering plots by al Qe’ada to perpetrate other atrocities. The strange thing is, these never take place.

19. The legality of action against Afghanistan and Iraq

One does not have to hold any sympathy for the Taliban, bin Laden or Iraq to be disturbed by the grotesque breaches of international law which have occurred since the 11 Sept. The US have made a mockery of any idea of sovereignty and respect for the rule of law.

The discrepancy between  what international law permits and what is happening now shows the utter farce of international jurisdiction. Realpolitik rules now as it has always done.

The invasion of  Afghanistan was undertaken with, at best, inadequate UN resolutions to justify it. The demands made of the Taliban were such as to be unacceptable to any country, amounting in effect to power in the county being ceded to the US – the US insisted on access to any part of the country to “check” whether terrorists and their camps were removed and destroyed. Much of the resistance to the invasion of Iraq, both in the US and elsewhere, is covered with the fig leaf of demands for a UN mandate for such action. Those who take this line say that they would support an invasion only if the UN sanctioned it. Tellingly, they do not argue the merits of the case as such. It is wrong without UN agreement, right with it. This is bogus for two reasons. Firstly, UN sanction does not equal morally justified. Secondly, the position does not address the question of the consequences of such an invasion. That is important because even if the invasion was thought morally justified, prudence might well say that the ill consequences of invading are too great to justify it.

The proponents of such a view might argue that the UN would only sanction an invasion if it was both morally justified and the safest course of action. They can do this but they cannot be expected to be taken seriously.  The UN is an institution which in its form and practices is intensely political. It is not an impartial court. Members vote for selfish political reasons, both to curry favour with the most powerful states and to obtain AID in various forms. The honesty of delegates is further compromised by the disproportionate contribution the US makes to its funding and their readiness to withhold funds if the UN is behaving in a way which angers the US government.

Its legal authority such as it is , is simply an arrogated authority seized by the major powers at its formation, who imbedded their advantage in their permanent membership of the security council. Its jurisdiction, like that of any legal jurisdiction, is only that which is accepted by its members. In principle, the UN has no authority over any state which is not a member of the UN.

But even where a country is a member of the UN, it has no authority to authorise members to invade another member where that member has not attacked another UN member. The Gulf War was legitimate within the constitution of the UN. The Nato attack on Yugoslavia most certainly was not and did not receive formal UN backing. An invasion of Iraq would fall under the same heading as the Yugoslav war as far as the UN is concerned. Saddam Hussein has not acted against any other country since the Gulf War nor threatened war.

If the UN formally sanction an invasion of Iraq they will be driving a coach and horses through one (and quite possibly two) of their two prime founding principles, namely, that the internal workings of a country are that country’s  domestic affair and no business of the UN and that existing national boundaries should be supported unequivocally. The first principle would be indubitably breached by invasion and it is probable that Iraqi territory could be seized by Iran and Turkey or that secessionist movements could create new states, either in name or in practice in the manner of Kosovo.

The attitude of the Bush Administration towards the UN is quite clear from the many statements they have made in recent months. If the UN is willing to rubber-stamp any plans put forward by Bush to invade Iraq (or take any other extraterritorial action), all well and good. The US government will welcome the fig leaf of UN “permission”. But if the UN goes against the Bush Administration’s wishes, the US will simply ignore the UN and go ahead anyway. That was the message of Bush in his speech to the UN on 12 Sept 2002. So there you have, the UN is merely a convenience at best and an irritation which has to be nodded to at worst. It is a mentality not unlike that of monarchs towards the Papacy in the Middle Ages, whereby the sanction of the Pope was sought before an attack. William the Conqueror for example sought and got the sanction of the Pope for his invasion of England.

The same attitude is taken by Bush and co. when it comes to eliciting support abroad. If it is there, fine, if not so what? just about sums up the US position. The danger in the case of both the UN and countries such as Britain is that they will agree to support him simply because they do not want to seem to be sidelined.

If the UN is in danger of being ignored, so is traditional international law. That a country has the right of defence is probably the longest and best established tenet of international law. But the right to self-defence can only be triggered by an obvious and imminent danger. That does not have to be an invasion or attack on the homeland. It could be the massing of an army on your borders by a foreign power. It could be credible threats by a foreign power. An example of that would be the threats made by Bush against Iraq. Whether he realises it or not, Bush has already provided Iraq with ample justification under international law to attack the USA.

A casual disregard by the US for international law has been shown over and over again. Take three examples, the massacre at Mazar-i-Sharif, the treatment of prisoners and the greenlight to assassination by the CIA.  The killing of hundreds of Taliban prisoners in the fort at Mazar-i-Sharif on 13 11 02 was pretty obviously a massacre by the Northern Alliance, aided and abetted by the US – what one might ask, were the US doing bombing a supposed POW camp- and, in a minor role, Britain.

We were asked to believe that hundreds of unarmed prisoners – the figures vary between 300-800 according to reports – were able to gain enough arms and ammunition to hold out for three days against the Northern Alliance and US airstrikes. Frankly, it beggars belief on those grounds alone. When one adds in the facts that (1) there were no survivors, (2) the Red Cross found bodies with their hands bound behind them and (3) the area is controlled by the Northern Alliance psychopath Dostum, a man noted even in Afghan circles as being of particular brutality, the story that it was a legitimate action to put down a prison riot becomes fantastic. This appears to have been a straightforward warcrime, yet, of course, no action has been taken against the perpetrators, while the US has refused an investigation.

Next there is the treatment of several hundred prisoners taken in Afghanistan (and a few from places other than Afghanistan) as something other than POWs. They have been classed as “battlefield detainees”, a dubious status made even more dubious by their treatment since capture. The basis for not classifying them as POWs appears arbitrary, a mere legal device to deny them the considerable rights and protections afforded by the Geneva Convention.

The USA have held these “battlefield detainees” at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for months. The first arrived in January 2002. The prisoners have been denied the protection of the US Constitution on the grounds that US law does not apply in the base. They have not been charged. They have been denied legal representation. They have no right of appeal to any court against their imprisonment. That imprisonment is open-ended, ie at the will of the US government. It could in theory last for the rest of their lives.

If the prisoners are eventually tried it will be before military tribunals whose proceedings will be held in camera and whose verdicts and sentences, which could include the death penalty, will not be subject to challenge by appeal. The prisoners, not having had the status of POWs given them, have been subject to interrogation. To date, nine months after the first prisoners arrived, nothing of note appears to have been learnt, or at least, such information has not been released if it has been gleaned.

The Americans have two hideous problems with releasing the people held in Cuba. The first is obvious: such people will be utterly determined on revenge. The second is the treatment they are handing out to the POWs. Can the USA afford to have such people at large revealing the mistreatment they have received? This would include the denial of POW status, deliberate humiliation such as beard shaving, denial of a fair trial, denial of legal representation, interrogation techniques arguably amounting to torture and deliberately placing them in physically
demanding quarters. It is difficult to see what the US can or will do with the prisoners. Simply executing the lot after “trial” by a military tribunal would, one hopes, be unacceptable to even the present US political establishment, while indeterminate imprisonment, especially without an open trial, would be sure sooner or later to become an impossible embarrassment for the US.

Finally, there is the sanction of state assassination. In October 2001 Bush lifted the CIA ban on assassination. They were ordered to go after bin Laden. BBC Radio 5 news 16 6 02 reported that Bush had effectively authorised CIA operatives to assassinate Saddam Hussein and infiltrate Iraq to engage in preparatory work for a full invasion. The order was apparently signed in January 2002.

If Hussein or any other state or group issued a statement saying that they had given permission for  the assassination of Bush or the landing of operatives secretly in the US, Bush would condemn them as terrorists. What then should we call the American action? Presumably the American Government has no objection to foreign governments infiltrating their territory and assassinating their politicians.

Under international law, assassination is illegal unless war has been declared or a country is acting in self defence. The permission to the CIA is weasel worded to allow them to use extreme force to capture Saddam and to kill him in self -defence. A rather odd definition of self-defence if you are operating illegally in another country and trying to capture its leader.

Apart fro the legal objection, there are practical objections, even one of self-interest for rulers. During medieval times, and prior, monarchs did not believe it was politic to kill one anothers’ kings. This was obviously interwoven with self survival. Bush should remember this. He is opening up a veritable can of vipers if he continues to give support to the murdering of political leaders. Not only does Bush remove any moral objection to his own assignation or any other politician, his disregard for the law sets a precedent for disregarding other laws. Bad examples set at the top have nasty habit of spreading rapidly.

20. The USA – a quasi-imperial power

The US has always portrayed itself as being in principle as well as fact as being against imperialism. In practice, it has been  imperialist in all but name. Its most successful imperialist project has been the expansion of the United States from the original 13 British colonies to its present massive territory. Americans do not of course think of it as imperialism but that is what it is and imperialism in its most basic form, namely, the settlement of other people’s territory.

But America has also been consistently imperialist outside of North America. The Monroe doctrine was proclaimed in 1823 in a message to Congress drafted by Monroe’s Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams. It was in reality an imperial act par excellence, being nothing less than a claim to political dominion or at least suzerainty, in the entire Americas. It warned European powers to keep out of the Americas full stop: “the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continent, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are not to be considered as subjects for future colonisation by any European powers.”

As the 19th Century  wore on the US expanded their influence into central and South  America, forced Japan to open up to the West, became heavily involved  in China and to all intents and purposes annexed the Philippines. In   the first half of the  next century, it breached Panama’s sovereignty by building the Panama  canal and ran Haiti for 30 odd years, controlled Cuba until Castro  threw out Baptista and after the second world war In the last 50 years  the US has intervened all over the world, sometimes  dramatically and heavily as in Vietnam and sometimes risibly as in Somalia. Currently,  US troops are stationed in more than 100 countries. With the  troops and political interference has run economic  domination.

The point I am making  is not that all the US has done abroad in the past two  centuries is wrong or indefensible. Rather, I am demonstrating  that the US is and always has been an imperial power, in fact if not name. The refusal by  the US to acknowledge that they are an imperial power has had unfortunate  consequences. The US administration has never learnt to act as  an imperial power. The result has been that those who have been the  subject of America’s imperial attentions have got the worst of both  worlds.

Great Empires  bring pluses and minuses. The pluses are the creation of order, and in many  cases, the transmission of more sophisticated cultural ideas and  technology from the conqueror to the conquered. The minuses are  the oppression of the conquered and the corrupting of the original way  of life. Generally, the longer an Empire lasts the better the  imperial power behaves. The British Empire is the prime historical  example of this trait.

Because the US  have always been officially anti-imperialist when it acquires  “colonies” it not only lacks an imperial strategy, but there is no sense of  permanence. The result is that the US “colonies” have been treated to  the invasion and oppression, only to be left in the lurch, often  after a short period, as the US suddenly decides that its interests are no  longer served by being involved.

21. Why was America  attacked?

Great powers will  always be resented. Imperial powers will always be resented. Kipling’s  a A Pict Song sums up the problem and the dangers for the  Imperial power:

Rome never looks  where she treads.

Always her heavy hooves fall,

On our stomachs,  our hearts or our heads;

And Rome never heeds when we bawl.

Her sentries pass  on-that is all,

And we gather behind them in hordes,

And plot to reconquer  the Wall,

With only our tongues for our swords.

We are the Little  Folk-we!

Too little to love or to hate.

Leave us alone  and you’ll see

How we can drag down the State!

We are the worm  in the wood!

We are the rot at the root!

We are the taint  in the blood!

We are the thorn in the foot!

Mistletoe killing  an oak-

Rats gnawing cables in two-

Moths making  holes in a cloak-

How they must love what they do!.

Yes-and we Little  Folk too,

We are busy as they-

Working our works  out of view-

Watch, and you’ll see it some day!

No indeed! We are  not strong,

But we know Peoples that are.

Yes, and we’ll  guide them along,

To smash and destroy you in War!

We shall be  slaves just the same?

Yes, we have always been slaves,

But you-you will  die of the shame,

And then we shall dance on your graves!

We are the Little  Folk-we!

Too little to love or to hate.

Leave us alone  and you’ll see

How we can drag down the State!

We are the worm  in the wood!

We are the rot at the root!

We are the taint  in the blood!

We are the thorn in the foot!

But Great Powers  and Imperial Powers can minimise the resentment if they choose. The  most disturbing part of the response of the US, both at the official  and unofficial levels is a general refusal to accept that the 9/11 attack  has any connection with the way that America behaves in the world.  A dangerous myth has grown in the US, assiduously propagated by the Bush Administration, that the attack was *simply a wicked  act which has no relation to US foreign policy. The plain truth  is the US government frequently attacks countries and routinely
interferes in their politics. If America is attacked by one of the peoples  whom the US has gratuitously attacked in the past, what moral complaint  can Americans have?

Think how  arrogant the US has been since the 11 September. The world was quickly  divided into good and evil by the Bush administration. Bush adopted a curious  line of rhetoric which combined the redneck with the biblical. Everyone  in the world was told that they were either unequivocally with  the US or against her. No one was to be allowed to be neutral or  even fainthearted. Those deemed to harbour or assist those deemed  terrorists by America would be considered by America to be guilty of terrorism.  The Taliban were given ultimatums which no government in the  world could have acceded to.

But the Taliban were not the only party to be the subject of startling American arrogance  after 9/11.  Before the invasion of  Afghanistan the US demanded that Pakistan allow them free access to  their airspace. Imagine what would happen if any country demanded  (yes, demanded) free entry for their aircraft, and military aircraft  at that, to US airspace.

It is highly unlikely  that an America which adopted a moderately cautious foreign policy  would have suffered such an attack. An isolationist America  most certainly would not. More particularly America has been  attacked by Arab Islamic militants because of her support for Israel,  political, financial and military, and her generally high  handed treatment of the Arab world.

Had the US not  supported Israel or, even not supported her in such  uncritical fashion,  it is as certain as anything can be in politics that she would  not have suffered the attack. America has for  decades has kept Israel afloat with diplomatic support, massive military  assistance, intelligence information and not least, vast subsidies,  in effect AID – Israel is not an economic success. Take the US out of the  equation and Israel would have gone down the military pan long ago.

The Bush  propaganda has been from the first a depiction of bin Laden and al Qe’ada as  simply motivated by an irrational hatred or jealousy of the USA. Yet  if one takes the trouble to look past the “Great Satan” rhetoric  of bin Laden, his demands are not for the overthrow of the West but for  distinctly limited and purely political demands. The man wants an end to US and Western interference in the middle east, including support  for Israel, a Palestinian state, an end to sanctions against Iraq and  the removal of US troops from the area, particularly from Saudi  Arabia, Whether bin Laden  wants all of those things in actuality is another matter. His  primary immediate ambition would seem to be to overthrow the Saudi Royal family. But what is clear is that he has no obvious desire to attack  the USA simply because it is the USA.

22. Was the attack on  America directly provoked by the US?

On the BBC Radio  5 programme 5 Live Report (23 Sept), a Pakistani diplomat by the  name of Nayim Naik claimed that he attended a meeting in July this year  which with some US diplomats. At the meeting, the Americans allegedly  outlined a plan to attack the Taliban and (take out bin Laden and  his crew) and revealed that they already had the agreement of some ex-Soviet republics on the borders of Afghanistan for the use of bases  on their territory to attack Afghanistan.

If this claim is true,  it would explain why so much firepower (including  British – 20,000 troops in Oman and much of our Navy in the area) was already  headed for the area before the attack in New York and Washington. Could  it be that the British government had covertly committed a  substantial part of our much diminished military strength to an attack on  the Taliban and bin Laden long before the terror attack on the USA.

If Naik’s story  is true, it is a fair bet that the Taliban and bin Laden would have  gained knowledge of the details of the meeting. If so, that  knowledge may have been the catalyst for the attacks on the World Trade  Centre and the Pentagon. Knowing that  military action against them by the West was imminent, the Taliban and bin Laden  would have had every reason to pre-empt the attack by acting  against America. They would have had nothing to lose and everything to   gain by doing so, because any attack on Afghanistan would then be done  against a background of public discussion and diplomatic  manoeuvres.

A Machiavellian  explanation for the American diplomats’ advice would be that it was  intended to provoke terrorist activity against the US and possibly  other Western states to justify an attack on Afghanistan and Iraq. Improbable?  Would the US state have been cynical enough to write off thousands  of American lives and the immense amount of material and  emotional damage done to America simply to justify such action? The  answer one hopes is no. However, that presumes that the US Government anticipated  the nature and monumental consequences of the attack. Perhaps  they thought it would be just another run of the mill terrorist bomb  attack with a few people dead. Nor one suspects can the terrorists have anticipated  the amazing success of their enterprise which not only  killed more than 3000 people, but also created material damage running into  many billions of pounds and economic disruption which cost even  more.

23. The whole truth?

I am not one  naturally sympathetic to conspiracy theories  but there are some very odd  aspects to this business. Take one example, the flying skills shown by  the hijackers. There is a gigantic gap between those flying skills and  the reported aviation training and ability of the claimed  hijackers. The plane which hit the Pentagon is reported to have executed a tight turn which would not have ashamed a fighter pilot, before coming in  to hit the Pentagon at near zero feet. The planes which hit the WTC  did not perform such sophisticated manoeuvres, but none the less the  planes were guided deftly in to hit buildings which although tall did  not present a massive target from the air. Yet we are told that  some at least of the supposed pilots had been trained on simulators. It   really does take a bit of believing that people who had never flow a  plane before would be quite so adept. That is one of many legitimate  unanswered questions about the event.

24. What should the USA  do to reduce the danger of further terrorists attacks?

America will be  wise to recognise that anti-Americanism runs throughout the world. This  is not primarily because she is a super power, but because of her  general international behaviour which is such as to forfeit the  sympathy and the admiration of much of the world. Time and again since  1945 she has intervened abroad in a manner which is best described as
blunderingly imperial. More insidiously she has attempted to  force her view of how men should live on the rest of the world. You must  not only be a free trader to be a friend of the US, (in itself a massive  imposition and socially disruptive force), you must also sign up to  the whole ragbag of American ideals which are currently a bizarre mixture  of naive beliefs that the world is all about democratic  motherhood and apple pie mixed with the poison of political correctness. Such  ideas are at best simply unrealistic for most societies and in  the case of political correctness, positively against human nature.

The thing above  all America needs to do is stop her uncritical support for Israel, which  is both an unsustainable state in the long run and a running sore in  the Arab world. Israel was doomed from the moment it was created in  1948. It was created in defiance of just about every important clause  in the UN Convention. Territory occupied by others was taken. Political authority asserted through force of arms. Arab property sequestered.  Above all, a Jewish state was created in a sea of Islamic  states. Imagine that a Muslim state had been suddenly plonked down in New  England in 1948 and you get the idea.

Since 1948 breaches  of all the rules held dear by liberal internationalists  have been committed over and over. Additional Arab territory was taken  in 1967 and 1973. Arabs were driven out and Israeli settlers  put in their place. Many millions of Jewish immigrants were brought in  to fuel the conquest by settlement. The Israeli state has pursued a  policy of assassination. Generations of Palestinians have lived at the  all too often abusive will and whim of Israel. All of this without  any weakening in the support of the US and without that support, Israel would have gone under long ago. The US must also  perhaps learn something else, namely that there is a price to be paid  for “multiculturalism” and a badly leaking immigration system. The  people immediately involved in the crime, the hijackers, had been in the  States for some time. This was obviously not an action arranged in a few  days. It probably required sleepers” employed by the airport  and/or airlines. The people involved may have been in the States for many  years or even have been born and raised there, for there is a very large  Arab population in the US, including many Palestinians. The  old problem of “the enemy within” rears its head.

Not to put too  fine a point on it. By its crazy immigration policy since the early  1960s, the US has created a positive army of fifth columns just  waiting to be used. How it solves that problem is another matter. Perhaps  it is insoluble. As I finish writing this piece (16 9 02) news has come  in of the discovery of an American born al Qe’ada cell in Buffalo,  New Jersey.

25. The problem of  unassimilated minorities in the West – the changing elite view

“A multicultural  society is a contradiction in terms, dissolving society into  competing fragments. It gives people nothing to identify with or hold in  common with each other. It creates instead a grievance culture in which  minorities present themselves as victims.” Melanie PHILLIPS, Sunday Times 2 9 01

That is the  problem in a nutshell. Sheer numbers of minorities are also important, but  the general problem is as Phillips describes it.  There is a truly  gigantic elephant in the room which neither the US nor any other Western  Government has been willing to overtly acknowledge since 9/11. That  is the position of Muslim minorities in the West and by extension  minorities generally. This is scarcely surprising because “multiculturalism”  has for so long been the elite Western ideology and is so well  entrenched in the institutions and media of the West, that it has a life of its  own. Yet the events of 9/11 have already substantially changed  the rhetoric of the liberal elites on race and immigration.

In Britain we  have a Labour Home Secretary, David Blunkett, speaking of schools being  “swamped” by asylum seekers and suggesting that new immigrants take an  oath of loyalty. On the media front, national newspapers and broadcasters  have begun to mention the race of criminals. Some mediafolk  have even begun to address frankly the problems of immigration and race relations. Here are  examples from the  British broadsheets, The Times,  Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph:

“The borders  of Western countries are under siege and the West needs to consider  incentives for would-be migrants to stay at home.” EDITORIAL, Sunday Times 2 9 01.

“[Home Secretary  David Blunkett's] outburst [urging that immigrants learn English and  renounce arranged marriages and genital mutilation] is quite useful. The  pussyfooting fake reverence for immigrant “cultures”  has done damage to British life.” Times columnist Libby Purves, 11 12 01

“The trouble  is we’re all being so sensitive about Muslims that pretty much everything  that goes on within the isolated Islamic communities of  the West is presumed to be a cultural tradition that we chaps can’t understand  and should just leave alone…” Mark Steyn Daily Telegraph  14 9 02.

Some mainstream continental  politicians have been more forthright than the British.  The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi spoke of “The  superiority of European civilisation over that of Islam” in the Autumn of 2001, while  during the current German election, Gunther Beckstein, the  CDU’s shadow interior minster has said “I am convinced that the goal [of the Social Democrats] is to make Germany a modern, multicultural country  of immigrants. That’s exactly what we don’t want.” 1

The process of  moving towards a public recognition by the elite of the reality of multiculturalism  is far from complete and government measures to address  the problems of separate-minded, alienated minorities are, at  least in Britain, still couched in politically correct language regardless  of the fact that the practical measures proposed are  anything but pc.

26. The problem of  minorities – the sea in which terrorists can swim

Unfortunately, most  members of a minority do not have to be actively attacking or opposing  the state and society they live in to pose a threat. Their  mere existence provides the  circumstances for terrorism.  Substantial  minorities provide the terrorist with camouflage. The mere existence of the  minority ensures that the terrorist from the same minority group has a reason for being in a country. It also means that the terrorist  can vanish into a community and the community, because all immigrant  communities are very  tribal and  will instinctively protect him.

The existence of tens  of thousands of people in a country also produces a  virtually insoluble problem for any state which respects the law and values  individual freedom. Any attack on a member of the minority may well  produce rioting on a widespread scale. Tens of thousands of  people up in arms are an army.

The 11 Sept  terrorists were able to operate so easily for two reasons. The first is the  existence of a large population of Arabs in particular and Muslims in  general in the US. This in the words of Mao “provides the sea in which  they swim”. The second is the  paralysing effect of “multiculturalism” on American society, which  makes the airing of any suspicion of or the taking of action against a  member of an ethnic minority not merely difficult but positively dangerous  for the accuser if they are white. This fact naturally affects  the police and security agencies as well as the general public.

27. What should be done with minorities?

Much of the  problem arises because of the unreasonable expectations of minorities. These  expectations are the creation of liberals. The idea that any immigrant  may settle in a country and enjoy all the advantages and  privileges of that country whilst retaining their own culture and sense  of separateness is frankly mad. The native population of the country in  which the immigrant settles is being asked to allow the immigrant to use  their country simply as a residence of convenience. That  is bound to create considerable resentment. Where an immigrant community is large enough, it becomes self-sustaining and to a large extent  beyond the law of the country, for if the authorities know that  a riot is going to be the consequence of any attempt to outlaw  customs at odds with the societies values or even the enforcement  of the law generally, they all too often back-off.

The absurd  lengths to which multiculturalism have gone in Britain are epitomised by the  case of Sikhs working in British airports. In the aftermath of  9/11, security at British airports was improved, at least in theory. Any  sharp or pointed object was banned to air travellers. A positive mountain  of nail scissors and nail files have been confiscated from passengers. Yet at those same airports, Sikhs have been permitted to keep their  “ceremonial” daggers with a three inch blade with them while they work.

If the US (and  other Western states) are to address this problem they must kill  multiculturalism and end, for a time at least, further mass immigration. It  should be made clear to new immigrants and minorities already  established in the West, that they have a positive obligation to integrate and that  second and later generation immigrants must place the culture of their new county above that of the country from which their ancestors  came. This is no more unreasonable than expecting a visitor  to another’s home to respect the wishes of the host.

The other thing which Western states must be robust about is preventing minorities manipulating  the state for their own advantage. And that must be a general  rule, not merely one applied to new minorities. The most topical example of a minority group doing this at present is the capture of US  Middle East foreign policy by American Jews. To point that out is  to automatically provoke cries of anti-semitism, just as any criticism  of Israel tends to do. Yet what national interest does America have or  what benefit does America gain from their support of Israel? The  answer is none. The people who gain the benefit are the Israelis. In fact,  the US gets nothing but disadvantage from their support, for it  poisons their relations with the Arabs.

This might all  seem pie-in-the-sky. Most people will look at the vast edifice of multiculturalism  built up over the past half century and think it  immovable. “How?” they will reason,  “How could things change when the people with  power are so wedded to the idea that multiculturalism is  desirable and enriching and should be positively encouraged?”  The thing to understand about elites is that as a class they only have  one principle. That principle is how to maintain their power, wealth and  privilege. If they feel threatened by the effects of immigration or multi-culturalism,  they will have no compunction in dropping the  pro-immigrant, pro-multiculturalist line.

28. The attitude of  Muslims to the 11 Sept attack

“A Sunday Times  survey has found that four of ten British Muslims believe Osama bin  Laden is justified in mounting his war against the USA. Britain has  got to get real and ditch the multiculturalism that is now a menace to  life and liberty.” Melanie PHILLIPS, 01, Sunday Times, 4 xi 01.

Of all the cant  spoken by the warmongers since 11 Sept, that resulting from the attempt by Bush and Blair to avoid dealing realistically with the fact of large  Muslim populations in America and Britain has been the most ludicrous. Time and again the refrain “this is not a war against Muslims,  it is a war against terrorism” has been heard – Blair excelled himself at one point with the statement that “these are not Islamic  terrorists, they are simply terrorists.” By this illogic, IRA terrorists are not  “Irish Republican terrorists, but simply terrorists”.
Another favourite piece of illogic has been the claim that “We don’t  speak of Christian or Catholic terrorism when the IRA bomb someone, therefore  why should we speak of Islamic terrorists when they engage in attacks  such as those of 11 Sept? ” Well, we do not speak of Christian or  Catholic terrorism when the IRA are involved for the very good reason that  their cause is Irish Republicanism not Christianity.

The Taliban and  al Qe’ada have been portrayed as false Muslims and their Islam a  false Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, quite compatible  with Western liberalism. This is simply untrue. Here are few quotes  from the Penguin translation of the Koran by Dawood:

‘Because of their  iniquity, we forbade the Jews the good things which were formerly allowed  them; because time after time they debarred others from the  path of Allah; because they practice usury – although they were  forbidden it – and cheat others of their possessions.’ (Sura [Chapter] (4)  entitled ‘Women’).

‘Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and  because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are  obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah guarded them. As  for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send then  to beds apart and beat them.’ (Sura entitled ‘Women’).

‘As for the man or woman who is guilty of theft, cut off their hands to punish them for their  crimes. That is the punishment enjoined by Allah.’ (Sura (5)  entitled ‘The Table’).

‘As for the unbelievers, the fire of Hell awaits them. Death shall not deliver them, nor  shall its torment be ever lightened for them. Thus shall the  thankless be rewarded.’ (Sura (35) entitled ‘The Creator’).

‘Prophet, make war  on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal vigorously with them.  Hell is their home.’ (Sura (9) entitled ‘Repentance’).

‘When the sacred  months are over slay the idolators wherever you find them. Arrest  them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them.’ (Sura entitled  ‘Repentance’).

‘You shall not wed  pagan women, unless they embrace the faith. A believing slave-girl  is better than an idolatress…’ (Sura (2) entitled ‘The  Cow’).

‘Believers, retaliation is decreed for you in bloodshed: a free man for a free man, a  slave for a slave, and a female for a female.’ (Sura entitled ‘The  Cow’).

Remember the  words of Lot, who said to his people: “Will you persist in these indecent  acts which no nation has committed before you? You lust after men instead  of women. Truly you are a degenerate people. (Sura (7) entitled The  Heights).

“Will you fornicate  with males and leave your wives whom God has created for you?  Surely you are great transgressors (Sura (26) entitled The Poets)

Many Muslims, especially  those in the West, would not actively seek to act upon all or  most of those commandments. I say commandments because that is precisely  what they are, as indeed is the entire Koran where it commands, directly  or by implication. The Koran is meant to be the literal word of  God, told to Mohammed. There is no equivalent to Christian
weaselling about the more inconvenient passages in the Bible. If you are a  Muslim, you believe everything and take it literally to boot. It is also  true that the Koran is considerably less ambiguous and contradictory  than the Bible.

This requirement  to take the Koran at face value in its entirety means that any Muslim  is a “fundamentalist”. It also means that the minority act upon its  injunctions to the nth degree have an absolute right to do so from the  theological viewpoint. It is simply untrue that the Koran  bans  violence or enjoins equal treatment of non-Muslims. There is plenty of justification for “jihad” against the West.

29. Why is Bush so  determined to attack Iraq?

The attack on  Afghanistan can be plausibly be depicted as a pure gut political  response to the attack on the WTC, although there have been not entirely implausible  suggestions that the securing of an oil pipeline from one  or more of the Asian ex-Soviet republics is the real motive or at  least a convenient bonus fore the US from the attack.

What cannot be  plausibly be presented as a normal or rational political response is  Bush’s obsession with attacking Iraq. There is no obvious  connection between Saddam Hussein and the perpetrators of the  WTC attack. Indeed, Hussein is ideologically opposed to the  likes of bin Laden, being essentially a secular man. Then there is the  awkward fact that most of the hijackers who hit the WTC were Saudi  Arabians and the others Egyptian. Why not attack them? They are much more  plausible harbourers and creators of al Qe’ada supporters. The answer  is simple. Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt are unofficially  client states of the US.

The US takes  Saudi oil and in return supports their highly corrupt regime diplomatically  and, since the Gulf War, militarily with the US troops stationed  in the country (no one is going to attack Saudi Arabia while US troops  are there in force.) As for Egypt, they have been taking US aid of  several billions of dollars a year since they recognised  Israel’s right to exist. The aid is paid essentially as a Danegeld on behalf of Israel, the deal being the US will prop up the Eyptian regime who in return will support Israel’s right to exist and refrain from becoming involved in another Arab attack on Israel.

Some commentators try to explain Bush’s desire to attack Iraq as pay-back time for  the failure of Bush’s father to topple Saddam in the Gulf War. Yet are  we to believe such a massive and hazardous enterprise task  invading Iraq is to be undertaken simply to assuage the pique of the Bush  family? It makes no sense. It does not even make any sense in terms of  securing Bush’s popularity for a second term because the risk is so  high.

Much more plausible  is the securing of oil supplies for the US, not least because  Bush, Dick Cheney and sundry other people connected with their administration  have intimate links with the oil industry, both Bush and Cheney  having worked at a senior level in the business, Cheney for Halliburton which  has extensive interests in the Middle East.

There is also a  nasty fact for Americans that the US imports half of its current 20  million barrels of oil a day consumption 1, a substantial proportion of  which still comes from the Middle East despite new deals being made  between Russia and the US for the supply of oil to the US. That leaves the  US potentially very vulnerable, for the securing of their supplies in  the short to medium term cannot be achieved without a very large  Middle East contribution.

There is also a  wider economic motive. Larry Lindsey, Bush’s economic adviser said this  on 16 9 02: “When there is a regime change in Iraq, you could add three  million to five million [barrels per day] of production to  world supply… the successful prosecution of the war would be good to  the economy” (Daily Telegraph).

Bearing such facts in mind, try this scenario for size. The US attacks Iraq successfully.  A puppet government controlled by the US is installed. The US  then has ready access to Iraqi oil. That reduces its dependence on Saudi  Arabia oil, which in any case is pretty well guaranteed with US  troops in the country and the threat from Iraq removed.

More ambitiously,  the conquest of Iraq could be used as a platform for overt control of  the Middle East by the US with the US appointed by the UN either as  the protectorate power in Iraq or as the de facto power under a general  UN mandate. In either case, the US would effectively control  the Middle East as an imperial power. That would solve the threat  of states such as Saudi Arabia falling to Islamic rebels. In  practice, things would not work out so neatly of course, and would  probably not work out at all but leave a dire, bloody mess, yet it is the type of plan which has great allure for armchair, strategists such as  politicians, their advisors and career diplomats.

But if that is  the Bush administration’s reasoning, it is fair to say that it puts the  fear of God up quite a few in the oil industry who see only too  clearly the chance of an invasion of Iraq resulting in a general  destabilisation of the Middle East and a consequent serious and prolonged period  of disrupted oil supplies. The worst case would be if Saddam Hussein managed to destroy or seriously damage Saudi and Kuwaiti oilfields  using Scud missiles carrying biological or chemical weapons.

The alternative “business”  motive to oil is armaments. Anthony Sampson, the  author of The Seven Sisters which examines the politics of oil in the Middle East, believes that it is the armament manufacturers nd their surrogates in the Pentagon who are driving this apparent lust or war: “The business pressure for war comes rather from arms companies and the Pentagon, personified by Donald Rumsfeld, the most hawkish member of  the cabinet, who can make more profits from chaos than from  stability. It is the traditional military-industrial complex which has gained  most from Washington’s militancy since last September, which achieved  huge increases in the defence budget.” 1 That is plausible  as far as it goes, which is not far. Doubtless military  suppliers favour greater spending, but it does not follow that politicians have  to satisfy their wishes. It is true that increasing defence spending  will play well with the American public at present, but you can have  increased spending without going to war.

So what is the  reason? Frankly, it is difficult to discern a single clear motive. For  the sake of my sanity, I would like to think that it is the result of a  complex mixture of motives: resentment of Saddam Hussein’s survival  for more than ten years, his defiance of the UN (and US), the  desire to secure oil supplies, the Jewish lobby in the US wanting greater US military involvement in the Middle East to guard Israel, the lobbying  of Arms suppliers, warmongers in the Bush Administration, the  Pentagon and the State Department and the normal grubby political  considerations of what will play with the electorate.

Those reasons at least would have a certainly rationality – immoral in the main but  irrational. Unfortunately, I have this dreadful suspicion that what we are  seeing is simply the consequence of the intemperate rhetoric of the Bush  Administration which from the first has been unremittingly gung-ho  in terms of what the US would do and what the rest of the world must do to be America’s friend.

The nature of  that rhetoric has left Bush no way back. By declaring a general war on  terrorism Bush gave himself a particular problem: if you are to fight a  war you have to keep doing something or declare a peace. But peace can only be  meaningfully declared if an enemy has surrendered or an armistice signed.  Neither having happened, you have to continue the war. The general problem  was made worse by the portrayal of al Qe’ada as an  ineffably threatening international organisation with members throughout  the West who could (and almost certainly would)strike again. Even  if bin Laden had been killed or captured, the US could not  plausibly have claimed the organisation was finished and the threat from  terror gone.

Bush is adopting the same tactic over Iraq as was used with Milosevic and the Taliban. Unreasonable  demands are made by the US, either unilaterally or  with the fig-leaf of UN sanction, with the penalty if the demands are  not met of an invasion headed by the USA. During his speech at the UN  on 12 9 02, Bush made these five demands of Saddam Hussein: “If the  Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally  forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass  destruction, long-range missiles and all related material.

“If the  Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for  terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by  U.N. Security Council resolutions.

“If the  Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian  population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans and  others – again as required by Security Council resolutions.

“If the  Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel  whose fate is still unknown. It will return the  remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and  fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these  issues – as required by the Security Council resolutions.

“If the  Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade  outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N.  administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used  fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi  people.”

The demands are  either such as no sovereign state could agree to, for example, the UN administration  of the oil-for-food programme or are probably impractical, fpr example,  the war reparations could not be paid because Iraq does not have the  resources to do so.

30. Could Saddam  Hussein fall from within?

The US strategy  to date has all the hallmarks of a very clumsy piece of psychops. You  intimidate Hussein and frighten Iraqis generally with the rhetoric in  the hope that Hussein will fall from within. How could this happen and  how likely is it? The possibilities would seem to be these:

1. Hussein is  killed by members of his own inner faction. This is unlikely because  the man is both very practised in guarding himself and because the close  associates are either drawn from his own “tribe” – reputedly from  the small village he comes from – or are so compromised by their   association with Saddam and so terrorised by what he has done to others he deems to have betrayed him – normally their death and that of their families  – that they are unlikely to act. There is also the problem that if  Saddam is killed they must also kill his sons. That would be problematical  both for logistical reasons and because they have their own  sub-factions. On the same theme, it is also unlikely that a plot to  kill Saddam and his sons could be hatched which would carry the support  of most of Saddam’s regime. Such a plot would have to executed by a  few men at most or it would be discovered.

2. Hussein is  killed by someone within his general faction, for example,  a member of the Republican  guard, but not close to him. Unlikely for all the reasons given in  1, plus less  opportunity to get physically close enough to kill  him.

3. Hussein is  killed by an ordinary Iraqi. Unlikely for the reasons given in 1. and  even less opportunity to get physically close to him than 2.

4. Hussein is killed by professional assassins introduced by the US into Iraq. Again,  unlikely because of the difficulty of getting physically close  enough. Moreover, those introduced would have to be Iraqis or pass  for Iraqis. Any person not in Iraq for the past ten years would be  automatically suspect.

Let us suppose that Saddam Hussein was killed but his sons were not. It is  quite possible that they could maintain the regime because all of  the people who have served it have nowhere else to go, that is,  they must  maintain their position in control of the country or be lost. But even if Saddam  and his sons are killed, the rest of the regime must maintain their position  or be lost. They can only do that by maintaining Saddam’s  policies. Could they allow weapons inspectors’ in without qualification?  Unlikely, because it would destroy their credibility as being in command of the country.

An alternative  scenario is for the country to collapse into civil war on the death of  Saddam. That would produce a very complicated situation with the  surrounding states, especially Iran, tempted to take parts of Iraqi territory. In  such circumstances a US invasion would be next to impossible because  they would have no clear enemy and would run the risk of clashing
with non-Iraqi interests.

Could Saddam  simply throw in the towel? Impossible on the face of it because he has  nowhere to go. If he leaves Iraq he would have to find a country both  powerful enough to resist US pressure to hand him over and unlikely to hand  him over for internal political reasons.

31. Will the invasion  of Iraq happen?

Bush shows all the signs of being serious, both in his rhetoric and in  practical measures such as stockpiling oil in the US and in moving a  good deal of military hardware and personnel into or within easy reach  of the Middle East. He is also rejecting any action by Saddam Hussein  which ostensibly could avert a war. On 17 September 2002, Hussein made an offer to the UN to allow UN inspectors back unconditionally. This  was just as unconditionally rubbished by Bush on the same day (the  rubbishing faithfully echoed by the British Foreign Secretary, Jack  Straw).

If Bush backed  down now his domestic and international credibility would be gone. Even  if he wanted to. It is difficult to see how he could do so unilaterally.  However, none of this means the invasion has to happen. One  thing might stop it – action by Congress. The US President  may be commander-in-chief of the US armed forces, but the Constitution gives Congress the right to declare war not the President. It is  true that declarations of war by Congress have been very few and military  operations initiated by Presidents without a declaration of  war have been many. Indeed, in many people’s eyes the Constitution has been  breached comprehensively by these undeclared wars, most  dramatically during Vietnam. But breached or not, extended military action  has only been possible with the consent of Congress because only  Congress can vote the money to carry out such military action. Congress
could put a stop to an invasion by refusing funds. As a last resort Congress  could impeach Bush and Cheney and effectively end  the war by removing them from power.

The problem is, Congress  has been supine since 9/11. Even now what mainstream  political resistance there is, tends to couched in terms of “We must have  UN sanction for an invasion of Iraq”. If a new UN resolution is cobbled  together, which it may well be, there will definitely be no action  by Congress. Even if Bush acts without UN sanction, if US opinion  polls support him there is realistically no prospect of  Congress acting to prevent an invasion.

Will US public opinion  support hold up if an invasion becomes imminent? Well, the  polls at the moment show sizeable majorities in favour of an invasion  of Iraq where people are simply asked “Would you support an  invasion?”. When more detailed questions are asked such as “If there are  likely to be heavy US casualties, do you support an invasion?” or  “If the invasion of Iraq will result in a long-term US occupation of the  country, would you support an invasion?”, support drops to near 50%  I think the betting would be on US public opinion undergoing a sea-change  if heavy US casualties were suffered. The problem is that by  then the invasion would be a fact and the US could not simply  withdraw.

32. The spinelessness  of British political parties

In the Commons debate  of 14/9/01, the leaders of the three main parties, Labour, Tory  and Liberal Democrats, all gave unconditional support to what  ever action the US decided to take. If the US had decided to  “nuke” every Islamic country on the planet Britain was in theory right  behind them.

Since that  Commons debate the position has changed little. Publicly, Blair has  maintained unquestioning support for Bush and has acted as his “emissary” to the Middle East and the subcontinent. None of his cabinet have  resigned, although some rumblings of discontent against the planned attack  on Iraq have been signalled by some senior ministers, most  notably Robin Cook, the leader of the House of Commons. Labour backbenchers have been more forthcoming in their opposition, with the likes of  Tam Dalyell and Peter Kilfoyle both opposing further military action and  warning of a split in the Parliamentary Party if the war against  Iraq occurs. One Labour MP, George Galloway, has been not only opposed  to the war but has actively put Saddam Hussein’s case in the sense of  rebutting the idea that he is a threat to world peace.

Undoubtedly a  large number of Labour MPs do not want war at any price, but few  are willing to openly go against Blair and most would quietly vote YES  if a vote was held or support the war actively if the UN had  “sanctioned it”. The main opposition, the Tory Party, has been utterly supine. The Tory leader, Iain Duncan  Smith, has attempted to out-hawk Blair in his support for  whatever Bush proposes. Tory criticism of the Afghan war was meagre going  on non-existent. Worse, to date I can find only one Tory MP who has  publicly voiced any doubt about an attack on Iraq. This was Peter  Ainsworth, who wrote a piece entitle “I dare to dissent” in the political magazine  The Spectator of 14/9/02.

If the war goes wrong, the Tory  Party will be hung out to dry without any credible leader untainted  by his support for an attack on Iraq. The Labour Party at least  will have a fair number of MPs, including senior ones, who have made  doubting noises. With its keen disapproval  of imperialism and its support for the independence of  the Third World, the third party in British politics, the LibDems, might  have been expected to oppose both the war in Afghanistan and the attack on Iraq. In fact, they have provided little more opposition  than the Tories and considerably less than Labour  backbenchers. Their whole policy revolves around the mantra “we will support whatever  the UN sanctions”, regardless of the reasonableness of  what the UN approves. Their leader, Charles Kennedy, has been  next to invisible since 9/11.

The great danger  for Britain is Blair’s personality. He is reckless in the extreme.  During the Kosovan War, he committed 50,000 British troops to a proposed  land invasion of Kosova and Serbia. I can all  too easily imagine that  he will commit British forces to an attack on whichever Islamic  country draws the short straw with the CIA and is designated to be  attacked by the US. That could well prompt terrorist attacks on  Britain.

Because Blair and Duncan Smith have tied themselves utterly to the Bush chariot, they  will both fall if the war brings to heavy a cost in men or material.

33. The consequences  of an invasion of Iraq

There are a fair number  of possible outcomes. These are all somewhat less than rosy. I think we can  rule one possibility out, that the US would meet such resistance and suffer  such casualties that the invasion would be rebuffed or  aborted by the US to placate US public opinion. I cannot see how once in  the US could come out, for reasons both of national prestige and the personal futures of Bush and co. I would also be willing to bet  that if the US runs into real trouble, it will simply start upping the military  ante using everything from massive and indiscriminate  airstrikes to, just about conceivably, small nuclear weapons, the last  assuming either some US catastrophe such as massive casualties from chemical  or biological warfare or a threat of the destruction of  most of Iraqi and Saudi oil production.

If the war is hard won, it will be very expensive for the US – even the Gulf War cost several  tens of billions of dollars. Actually taking Iraq and maintaining its geographical  could cost many tens of billions of dollars, possibly  even several hundreds of billions.

Should oil supplies  from the Middle East be severely reduced, the price of oil will  rise very substantially because the rest of the oil producing world  will just not have the spare capacity to make up the difference. That  will depress the world economy generally.

The joker in the  pack is Israel. During the Gulf War the Israelis did not respond to  the scud missile attacks Iraq made upon them. This was doubtless due to US influence. But the Gulf War attacks were few in number and caused  little damage. If Israel was hit by a serious attack with chemical or  biological weapons, either delivered by missiles or by Iraqi agents or surrogates working within Israel, who would want to bet absolutely  against Israel responding either in kind or even with a nuclear bomb?

Whether the war  is won easily or not, the US is then faced with a truly hideous problem: what  to do next? The Middle East does not have a single stable  state in it, and I include Israel in that judgement. The Kurds, spread  mainly between Iran, Iraq and Turkey, want a separate state or states. They  are a people of some 7 million. In Iraq, their homeland contains  a good deal of oil. Within mainstream  Iraq there is considerable division between the Sunni majority  and Shi’ite minority. There is also the division between those who have  aided Saddam Hussein’s  peculiarly brutal regime and those who did  not. Add in the likes of the Marsh Arabs and the fact that there is no  obvious replacement for Saddam Hussein waiting in the wings and it is  difficult to see how Iraq could be maintained as sovereign state  even if there were no outside forces pulling her apart.

But of course  there are such forces. Both Turkey and  Iran would cast envious eyes on the northern parts of Iraq, especially  those with oil. Jordan, a very weak state in which a majority of the population are not Syrians but Palestinians, could simply fall apart  and the fate of Syria would be precarious, geographically  trapped as it is between Turkey, Iraq and Israel.

It is against  this background that the US intend, they say,  to free Iraq of Saddam and co.  and replace him with a democratic Iraqi government. This is best  described as purest fantasy. What they will be forced to do is act in  effect as a colonial power, not merely in Iraq but for the entire region –  the nearest historical parallel I can think of is the British Raj in  India . Whether they would have the capacity to do such a thing is another  matter.

To take just one  example. The US could probably take over Saudi Arabia without too much immediate  resistance, especially as they have substantial forces  already in situ and the Saudi armed forces are a spectacularly well  equipped joke. Their problems would then begin. Apart from al  Qe’ada and similar groups, the whole of the Muslim world would see The  Great Satan holding their most sacred places and become potential threats  to the US. And once in, they could never afford to come out. Vietnam  would have nothing on the mess they would find themselves in,  perpetual guerrilla war.

If the US were not able to act as an imperial power in the Middle East, they would  probably simply withdraw abruptly at some point, as they did in  Vietnam. If that happened, it is reasonable to forecast most of the  Middle East rapidly becoming a battleground, which could, ironically result  in just what the US does not want, disrupted oil supplies.

34. What if no  invasion of Iraq takes place?

Let us suppose  Saddam has, or can get in the near future, serious chemical, biological  and nuclear weapons and a decent missile delivery system, what then?  The question to ask in reply is so what? North Korea has nuclear  weapons. Iran is probably close to developing them. Knocking around the  ex-soviet republics are not merely weapons but unemployed weapons  technologists and scientists. Apartheid South Africa was  reputed to have developed an atomic bomb. Black governed South Africa may  still have it for all  we know. All these states are unstable to say the least, many of  them rather less obviously stable than Iraq.

And what of the big boys? China has the full range of weapons. So do India and  Pakistan. Russia is still a major nuclear power with the best missiles outside  of the USA. All these states are potentially very dangerous. China  threatens Taiwan, while its unmanageable size and antique political  structure are unlikely to bear forever the political strains  of industrialisation and a burgeoning market economy. India  and Pakistan are self-evidently a constant threat to one another and Russia  is a not so much a political entity any more but one of those  countries which the liberal elite currently delights in calling a  collapsed or failed state.

To those loose cannons  may be added the supposedly “safe” First World countries the USA  and the likes of Britain and France, that is, the countries which deem  themselves to be above using weapons of mass destruction  gratuitously. With the likes of Bush and Blair in charge, can we honestly say  that our weapons of mass destruction will indubitably not be  used either pre-emptively or to extricate our countries from a  military hole? Nor should it be forgotten that the US is the only  country to have used atomic weapons in anger or that it extensively used chemical weapons in Vietnam, with Agent Orange and Napalm to the  fore.

Most pertinently  perhaps there is the case of Israel. They indubitably have nuclear  weapons and a decent delivery system. Doubtless they also have chemical and  biological weapons. Of all the states outside the traditional  nuclear powers – USA, Russia, Britain, China and France – they have the  greatest scientific and technological military resources. Moreover, they  have made it pretty clear that if Israel is in serious danger of losing  another war with the Arabs they will use whatever means they have  to defend themselves. Common sense tells you that anyway. Looked at coldly, the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East for the foreseeable  future is indubitably Israel. Yet no one suggests that they  should give up their weapons or be subject to inspection. Why  are they to allowed such weapons when Saddam is not? The answer can  only be political, namely, the power of American Jews in influencing US  Middle East policy.

35. Oil – how real is  this threat from disrupted Arab supplies?

The West supports  unpleasantly authoritarian and corrupt Arab regimes such as the Saudi  Arabian, because they are convenient to the West and because the  perceived alternative is considered worse. The conventional wisdom is that a  severe reduction in Arab supplies would cripple the First World and  that such a reduction could well happen if the regimes currently in the oil  rich states were replaced by Islamic fundamentalist  ones. How real is this fear?

In 1973 the West  was shocked by the action of an Arab oil cartel (OPEC) which managed  very rapidly to raise the price of crude oil several fold and continued  throughout the 1970s and early 1980s to push the price up substantially at  regular intervals. The West lived with this, although not  without some considerable immediate economic discomfort – which manifested itself in the form of severe (by Western standards) inflation and  unemployment – and no little panic. Yet the West did not collapse. Existing  non-Arab oil fields expanded production. Fresh oil reserves were  discovered outside of the Middle East. As prices rose, even high cost oil  fields such as those in the North Sea became profitable. The cost  of extracting oil fell through new technology. Motor vehicles became vastly more economical in their consumption.

By the mid 1980s, the  West’s crisis was passed and by the end of the 1980s the  “Oil Shock” had been completely absorbed, with the price of oil much reduced  in real terms from that reached at its height in the inflationary  1970s.

Today, processed  oil in forms such as petrol and kerosene, are cheap in terms of  production. In places such as Britain, petrol is expensive simply because  governments tax it to death (more than 70% of the price is made up of  taxation of various kinds). In The USA, it is not heavily taxed and a  gallon costs less than a œ1. In other words, there is a great deal of  slack which governments such as Britain could let out by reducing taxes on  petrol if the crude price rose dramatically.

Let us suppose  the worst happens, that the Arab states who are major oil producers all  fall to fundamentalist Islamic governments, what then? The governments  of those countries have only one meaningful source of serious  income, namely oil receipts. They would of necessity have to sell oil  to survive and they could only sell sufficient if they sell to the West. The West would  undoubtedly be seriously inconvenienced in the short term by a severe  disruption of Middle Eastern oil supplies through war or by a decision  of OPEC (or whatever other cartel if another one is formed) to  substantially reduce oil production, but there is no reason to believe the West  would be brought to its knees. The non-Arab supplies of oil  are more substantial now than they were in 1973, oil extraction technology  greatly improved and motor vehicles are vastly more efficient  users of petrol. It isalso  important to  realise that the large majority of the oil we consume is used  to power motor vehicles. Some oil is needed for uses such as chemical  production and domestic heating, but it is a small part of the whole.  The electricity we consume in our homes and workplaces is not  generally produced by oil.

What would cause  more than severe inconvenience to the West would be a war with Iraq  which largely disabled not only Iraqi oilwells but also those of Saudi  Arabia. They still provide too much of the world’s oil to be shrugged  off. Saddam Hussein could certainly cripple his own production to  prevent it falling under US control and might well have the capacity to severely  damage the oil production of Saudi Arabia using scud  missiles.

Alternatively, a war  in Iraq could be so disruptive in its after effects – civil  wars and competing states trying to seize land – as to severely limit  oil production.

36. Who is in charge  of the Bush administration?

Bush is thought  to be less than intellectually gifted by virtually everyone without  a vested interest in saying otherwise. But exactly how dim is he? Is he  merely around average IQ or way below? Those friendly to  the Bush Administration try to portray Bush in one of two ways. The  minority attempt to portray Bush as a man who is much brighter than he  is given credit for and someone who has expanded his intellectual  horizons greatly since taking office. The majority group  take the “Yes, he is not an intellectual, but he does have real  political street-fighting nous and he makes up for his intellectual  shortcomings by surrounding himself with very able men”.

What evidence do  we have to judge Bush’s intellectual competence? The best comes from his  public speaking. Put Bush in front of an autocue and he will, even  with the considerable practise he has had, frequently deliver sentences  in a manner which suggests he has not got a clue as to the meaning of  what he is saying, his phrasing being completely awry – he frequently  stops in the middle of sentence. Apologists for  Bush attribute this to his difficulty with reading. It is worth noting  that Bush by his own admission has done precious little sustained reading  at any time in his life.

Take Bush away  from an autocue and he invariably lapses into halting sentences, interlaced  with odd spurts of fluency. These bursts of fluency go as quickly  as they come and show all the signs of being phrases and sentences  which he has learnt without any real understanding. Those  he does understand he tends to repeat very frequently. Bush’s vocabulary  is small and short on abstractions. He is massively lacking  in general knowledge – his reported ignorance of Brazil’s large  black population almost beggars belief but appears to be genuine. His comprehension  is minimal. He frequently uses the wrong word. For  example, during a visit to Japan, he caused a run on the yen when he said he  had had talks on devaluation with the Japanese PM when he should have said  deflation. When the  presidential election was in the balance he was reported to have said to his  father “But you promised I would win, you promised!” The voice of the  young child.

So what do we  have? Lack of oral ability. Poor literacy. Generally ignorant. All at  sea with abstractions. Childlike manner. Taking all that into account,  I would venture a guess that Bush has an IQ way below average. Does it matter? Yes  it does. If Bush is really that dim, he will be a tool in the hands  of others simply because his combination of ignorance, intellectual  laziness and mental incapacity will mean he simply cannot come  to terms with the very complex issues he is confronted with. It  is a fraud on the electorate.

Those still  unpersuaded of this, might care to reflect on these gems from George W. Bush:

“I first of  all, there’s a lot of brains in this room. And you get to decide whether  there’s a brain drain in Russia. I tell Vladimir all the time –I mean, Mr.  President all the time — that Russia’s most precious resource  is the brain power of this country. And you’ve got a lot of it. It’s  going to take a lot of brains in Russia to create a drain.” George  W. Bush, St. Petersburg University, St. Petersburg, Russia, May 25,  2002.

“My administration  has been calling upon all the leaders in the — in the Middle East  to do everything they can to stop the violence, to tell the different  parties involved that peace will never happen.” George W. Bush, Crawford,  Texas, Aug, 13, 2001

“One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic  pictures.” George W. Bush

“This  administration is doing everything we can to end the stalemate in an efficient way.  We’re making the right decisions to bring the solution to an  end.” George W. Bush, April 10, 2001

“A low voter  turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.”  George W. Bush,

“I do think  we need for a troop to be able to house his family. That’s an important part  of building morale in the military.” George W. Bush, speaking at  Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, March 12, 2001

“Mars is  essentially in the same orbit … Mars is somewhat the same distance from the  Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are  canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is  oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.” George W. Bush, August 11,  1994

“The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation’s history. I mean in this century’s  history. But we all lived in this century. I didn’t live in this
century.” George W. Bush, September 15,1995

“I am  mindful of the difference between the executive branch and the legislative  branch. I assured all four of these leaders that I know the difference, and that
difference is they pass the laws and I execute them.”  George W. Bush, Dec. 20, 2000

37. What should the  West do in the future?

The need is for  non-interference.  If a majority of  the American elite came to accept that America is the generator of   the hatred displayed against her, she would probably become more  isolationist. That would be for the general good of the world, for most  of the mischief which currently exists is much worsened and prolonged through  the meddling of liberal internationalists. If America stops  such behaviour, the rest of the West will follow. The plain truth is  that America is by far the greatest threat to world peace today  because of its constant interference and arrogance.

The West needs to  remove any moral ambiguity from its position. The criticisms I make  of America apply to a degree to Britain, which all too often runs  obediently on a lead by America’s side in enterprises such as the  Kosovan War that are essentially criminal if national sovereignty means  anything. Just as the US has robbed itself of moral authority by incontinently using force against others, so have we. If, for example, a  Serbian group launched an attack on us in revenge for Britain’s cowardly  attack on Serbia, what could we honestly say on a moral level? We  should defend ourselves out of expediency and perhaps revenge ourselves  out of natural human emotion, but to say that we were morally wronged  would be beyond us. The Serbs in that instance would simply be  committing an act of war.

The moral game  can only be won if liberal internationalism is at least reigned in.  Preferably it should be crushed. Do that, extol the nation state as the  natural unit of modern man, let nations mind their own affairs and not  those of others, and attacks such as that made on the US today will  become redundant. The hijackers were  without exception not the fruit of poverty. They were educated men  who came from middle class backgrounds or better.

Osama bin Laden  is the child of a man who was one of the richest and most influential men  in Saudi Arabia, a member of a family which controls much of  the building work in the Gulf and the inheritor of many millions.  Yet despite this, much of the propaganda from both the pro-War and  anti-War factions has attempted to explain the attack of 11 Sept and  Muslim resentment to the West as being at least partially the result of the  imbalance between the wealth of the West and the poverty of not  merely the Islamic world but the Third World generally. This behaviour is  readily understandable. The people on both the pro and anti war side  with ready access to the media are drawn from the same ideological source,  namely the liberal internationalist One Worlders.

The pro-War faction seek to sanitise their aggression with the idea that after the  military action will come AID. The anti-War faction merely want the  AID. Both groups have wished to seize the opportunity presented by the uncertainty  and fear generated by the 11 Sept attacks (and fed  assiduously ever since by the media and government in both the US and  Britain) to promote the idea that the only rational response to the attack  is the superseding of the nation state by supranational  groupings.

Morality in  politics is a looser thing than it is in private life. It is looser yet in  international matters. It is looser not because morality becomes less  important, but because the moral issues are vastly more  complex and the complications of Man’s innate hierarchical social form and  tribal inclinations are played out in a way that they never are private  relationships.Yet though looser, morality in politics still has a vitally important place. Without it,   government becomes no more than gangsterism. Lose  it completely between nations and the  psychopathy of total war  results.

The West does  itself great moral harm by allowing itself to be allies with such as  Dostum. There are occasions when in extremis all moral restraint in the  choice of allies may be reasonably cast aside, but those occasions  are limited. It really only applies where there is a direct threat of invasion  or overall defeat by the enemy. That obviously does  not apply here.Realpolitik is the watchword of the faux sophisticate. It is one thing to recognise  unpleasant realities, and if necessary act on them without regard to general  morality, That is sometimes regrettably necessary. It is quite another  to extend the term to absolve nations from the need to act in a  moral manner where they are not driven utterly by circumstances.

The political class  of a country becomes morally dirty when they attempt to  interfere with the lives of foreigners for no better reason than that they believe  that all people should live by certain standards. This  is what liberal internationalists do. They claim to be value free when  in fact they are the most judgemental of men. International political  morality should consist of respecting the sovereignty of  other nations provided they respect the sovereignty of others.

The UN had as two  of its central founding principles the preservation of national boundaries  and the non-interference with what went on within national  boundaries. These were sound principles, especially the maintenance  of national sovereignty. Unfortunately the  UN subverted the second principle though its multiple agencies, most  notably the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

We need to return  to a respect for national sovereignty, but we should  go  further. Those territories which are incorrectly labelled as failed states must  be allowed work out their own destiny within the context of their  tribal circumstances. It may be that they fall into what by Western  standards chaos The West can remain  morally clean by adopting a policy of non-interference.  Aid must be withdrawn. The UN should be abolished to remove the malign  influence of its agencies and the fig leaf it provides for US  aggression. International AID charities should have all government  aid, direct or indirect removed from them.

The West does not  owe the rest of the world a living. No country owes any other country  a living. It does owe them the opportunity to work out their own  future. Non-interference goes beyond not invading or blockading other countries and corrupting  their populations with “AID” and “loans”. It also means not forcing  economic systems upon countries which are utterly unsuited to their social  and economic circumstances.

What is seemingly  forgotten by those with power in the West is that industrialisation (the only way for a country to attain First World prosperity) is  not something which can be simply conjured up by an act of political  will. Many countries have tried to join the First World and failed  dismally to do so. South America, which has the advantage of a broadly  European culture, remains poor and is getting poorer thanks to the  disruption caused by “globalisation” and the depredations of the IMF.

38. Practical actions the West should take to promote national and  international security

The first duty  any government owes its people is to provide for their security. That  comes ultimately from self-sufficiency. So called free  traders 1 who speak blithely of the world as a single economic unit  ignore politics. They behave as though the age of war and blockade has ended  and that it really is of no account if the provision of  goods and services simply go where the market dictates. If a country cannot  mass produce cars cheaply enough allow the production to go to the  Third World. If a vital industry such as steel is “uncompetitive” in Britain let it go to Poland or China. If people in the First World  are put out of a job in large numbers so be it say the free traders.  They even look with equanimity on the idea of ariculture in the First  World going to the wall in the face of open markets from the developing  world. It is the monomaniac ideology of the religious believer.

We need to be  completely independent of Arab oil. We should increase the existing serious  non-oil energy sources, in particular nuclear power, and  explore the possibilities of making “green” energy sources such as  bio-fuels, wind, water and solar power significant contributors of energy. If  they cannot be made that, the concentration should be on nuclear energy.

Those who fear nuclear  energy for its potential for severe contamination  through accident or deliberate destruction should have their fears assuaged  by setting power stations so far underground or so deep within hills  that it would make them invulnerable to any attack other than a  nuclear one and if possible, invulnerable, to that as well. Being buried  so deep would also prevent widespread aerial contamination in  the event of a Chernobyl style accident, although the danger to  polluted groundwater would remain.

Treaties should  be few in number and always time limited. They should always be put to  a referendum. Treaties as they now stand are a complete negation  of democracy.

39. War is Hell

In 1880 the old  Union general, William Sherman, visited a school in Columbus Ohio to  give a talk. The schoolboys were very gung-ho about war. Sherman  gently damped their ignorant fervour. “There is many a boy here today who  looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell.”

Never a truer  word spoken. It is all that and more. In particular, it is hideously  disruptive of the life in general and gravely affects any peace which  follows. Dulce et Decorum
Est by Wilfred Owen – perhaps the greatest poem on war in the English  language – is always worth reading to remind oneself of the  grubby reality:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed  through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our  backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all  blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped   behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and  stumbling,

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green
light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking,  drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could  pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues -

My friend, you would not tell with such high  zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.

There is something  obnoxious beyond words about Blair and Bush, speaking blithely  about being willing to “pay the blood price”. It will, of course, not  be their blood which is spilt nor the blood of the relatives or  friends. In Bush’s case there is the added fact that he avoided going  to Vietnam by enlisting in his state aircorps. As the novelist E.M. Forster  pointed out, politicians would be considerably less enthusiastic  about war if they had to fight themselves.

It is not  anti-American to oppose reckless American aggression.  I am attacking US  foreign policy, that is all. I wish however that the ordinary American  had protested effectively against the many state crimes that their  government has committed in their name, and that includes domestic  ones such as Waco. They also have the great stain of actively  supporting the IRA. There does come a point where political ignorance and  inertia becomes inexcusable in a democracy.

More broadly, I  am concerned with the destabilising effects of US action. The effects  of what Bush may do are not simply an American concern. He could  without meaning to, ignite a serious international war. What has been  done and is proposed to be done, has been both reckless and hypocritical.  It has been presented as a moral behaviour, especially by  Blair, who appears to have slipped firmly over the line to full blown  megalomania. In fact, it has been merely an exercise in realpolitik, and  very blundering realpolitik at that.

If moral arguments do not win the day with powerful, the immense  vulnerability of advanced societies to attack should persuuade them. After 9/11  not only did all air  traffic in the states cease, but the phone system was seriously incommoded. Developed  societies are easier to bring to a dead halt than those  not dependent on advanced technology. The enemy does not have to be many in number nor very sophisticated to keep repeating the trick.  in short, developed states are always going to lose these battles in the long run.

1 “Free” trade is in fact state regulated trade because markets require anti-monopoly laws to maintain  competition.

1 Evening  Standard 6 8 02

1 Daily Telegraph  6 8 02

1 Daily Telegraph  17 9 02.

1 Sunday  Telegraph 4/11/01

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