Saturday, December 31, 2005

War without end

This was the year the "war on terror" - an obnoxious expression which we all parroted after 11 September 2001 - appeared to be almost as endless as George Bush once claimed it would be. And unsuccessful. For, after all the bombing of Afghanistan, the overthrow of the Taliban, the invasion of Iraq and its appallingly tragic aftermath, can anyone claim today that they feel safer than they did a year ago?


We have gone on smashing away at the human rights we trumpeted at the Russians - and the Arabs - during the Cold War. We have perhaps fatally weakened all those provisions that were written into our treaties and conventions in the aftermath of the Second World War to make the world a safer place. And we claim we are winning.

Where, for example, is the terror? In the streets of Baghdad, to be sure. And perhaps again in our glorious West if we go on wih this folly. But terror is also in the prisons and torture chambers of the Middle East. It is in the very jails to which we have been merrily sending out trussed-up prisoners these past three years. For Jack Straw to claim that men are not being sent on their way to torture is surely one of the most extraordinary - perhaps absurd is closer to the mark - statements to have been made in the "war on terror". If they are not going to be tortured - like the luckless Canadian shipped off to Damascus from New York - then what is the purpose of sending them anywhere?

And how are we supposed to "win" this war by ignoring all the injustices we are inflicting on that part of the world from which the hijackers of September 11 originally came? How many times have Messrs Bush and Blair talked about "democracy"? How few times have they talked about "justice", the righting of historic wrongs, the ending of torture? Our principal victims of the "war on terror", of course, have been in Iraq (where we have done quite a bit of torturing ourselves).

But, strange to say, we are silent about the horrors the people of Iraq are now enduring. We do not even know - are not allowed to know - how many of them have died. We know that 1,100 Iraqis died by violence in Baghdad in July alone. That's terror.

But how many died in the other cities of Iraq, in Mosul and Kirkuk and Irbil, and in Amara and Fallujah and Ramadi and Najaf and Kerbala and Basra? Three thousand in July? Or four thousand? And if those projections are accurate, we are talking about 36,000 or 48,000 over the year - which makes that projected post-April 2003 figure of 100,000 dead, which Blair ridiculed, rather conservative, doesn't it?

It's not so long ago, I recall, that Bush explained to us that all the Arabs would one day wish to have the freedoms of Iraq. I cannot think of an Arab today who would wish to contemplate such ill fortune, not least because of the increasingly sectarian nature of the authorities, elected though they are.

The year did allow Ariel Sharon to achieve his aim of turning his colonial war into part of the "war on terror". It also allowed al-Qa'ida's violence to embrace more Arab countries. Jordan was added to Egypt. Woe betide those of us who are now locked into the huge military machine that embraces the Middle East. Why, Iraqis sometimes ask me, are American forces - aerial or land - in Uzbekistan? And Kazakhstan and Afghanistan, in Turkey and Jordan (and Iraq) and in Kuwait and Qatar and Bahrain and Oman and Yemen and Egypt and Algeria (there is a US special forces unit based near Tamanrasset, co-operating with the same Algerian army that was involved in the massacre of civilians the 1990s)?

In fact, just look at the map and you can see the Americans in Greenland and Iceland and Britain and Germany and ex-Yugoslavia and Greece - where we join up with Turkey. How did this iron curtain from the ice cap to the borders of Sudan emerge? What is its purpose? These are the key questions that should engage anyone trying to understand the "war on terror".

And what of the bombers? Where are they coming from, these armies of suiciders? Still we are obsessed with Osama bin Laden. Is he alive? Yes. But does he matter? Quite possibly not. For he has created al-Qa'ida. The monster has been born. To squander our millions searching for people like Bin Laden is about as useless as arresting nuclear scientists after the invention of the atom bomb. It is with us.

Alas, as long as we are not attending to the real problems of the Middle East, of its record of suffering and injustice, it - al-Qa'ida - will still be with us. My year began with a massive explosion in Beirut, just 400 metres from me, as a bomb killed the ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri. It continued on 7 July when a bomb blew up two trains back from me on the Piccadilly line. Oh, the dangerous world we live in now. I suppose we all have to make our personal choices these days. Mine is that I am not going to allow 11 September 2001 to change my world. Bush may believe that 19 Arab murderers changed his world. But I'm not going to let them change mine.


Source Robert Fisk Independent

12 Comments:

Blogger G_in_AL said...

thats cute... really. I am just enthralled with stuff like this, especially with its ability to whine, complain, fein "outrage" and sorrow, yet still have nothing near decisive or conclusive as to alternatives and/or solutions. Anyone can complain, leaders solve.

January 03, 2006 9:18 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

LOL very amsuing G , leaders solve , journalists report

Now you want journalists to supply solutions LOL ?

This article just prints a journalists take on events , thats his job , he gets paid to report

You want solutions go shout at the man that put you in this mess , thats his job , he gets paid to solve problems

Dont ask journalists to solve the disasters your leaders create , that just silly

That has to be the ultimate in buck passing , instead of blaming the people who actually made the stupid mess , you blame a British journalist for failing to provide the American Neocons with a solution

Never ask journalists to do the work of politicians G , for when you do you lose one of the balances that enable us all to be free

Instead you should look at your leaders to fill the void in solutions that is so badly needed in US foreing policy .

To me G , your falling into the trap so many from the right also fall into ...

You shoot the messenger and ignore the message

January 03, 2006 9:56 pm  
Blogger Devrie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 04, 2006 5:34 am  
Blogger Devrie said...

Devrie said...
"But, strange to say, we are silent about the horrors the people of Iraq are now enduring. We do not even know - are not allowed to know - how many of them have died. We know that 1,100 Iraqis died by violence in Baghdad in July alone. That's terror."

In response to "G," there is a really big problem with asking the non-politicians to come up with solutions. Firstly, the average person doesn't seem to have a clue as the the true mission of this war, nor does he/she know why there would even be a terroist problem in Iraq.

Is this a war on Terrorism? Iraqi Freedom? When will it end? What are the milestones? What do the Terrorsts want to say? --Now that's a question that should be asked liberally in the press. If we even had an inkling, perhaps we all could find some less deadly solutions. After all, how many people died at the hand of terrorism in comparison to the innocent people who have lost their lives because of the war?

The war may or may not be honorable in intent, but considering the cost, I don't think it is too much to ask for some better solutions.

In America, anyway, the people are the final check in our government. We ought to have the right to raise concerns, and not doing so, I think, is less patriotic than blindly following a cause--not that everyone who supports it is doing so blindly.

Ah well, that's my two cents. I'm tired. :)

January 04, 2006 5:37 am  
Blogger DJEB said...

A "figurative measure" again, g?

January 04, 2006 9:40 am  
Blogger G_in_AL said...

No, not at all. For example, if you were to ask me for a solution aside from just complaint to a given situation, I would be happy to provide you with one. Feasible or not, I would still provide it. I guess thats just the old "Jar Head" in me, but if you cant fix it, either find someone who can or shut the hell up.

The world is full of whiners and complainers, but unfortuneatly we have very few problem solvers. I'm not even asking for THE solution, just A solution. Hell, once you provide some alternatives at least we can starte a dialogue.

Right now, we just have a bunch of people that are complaining, rueing the days of yore when things were peachy (convienently forgetting that "before" is what got us into this), complain about anyone and anything that trys to ACT versus REACT. Again, if you dont like Bush's idea of how to deal with international Islamic terror, please feel free to give us the new and improved idea(s) that will keep us from having to go that route.

But I'm really tired of the "it just breeds more terror" arguement, I mean hell, we'd already bred enough terrorist before this war started, I dont think we are in any deeper now. That is just a cop out.

January 06, 2006 1:42 am  
Blogger _H_ said...

well the people in Iraq will certainly claim you have bred more terror G

but i still dont think you should be asking a journalist for answers , that itself is a cop out

journalists report events from their perspective , now your asking them to define policy

hey , why not let the new york times or the guardian run the country if you going to throw that at them

I personally have plenty of solutions to offer but they would all require the US government eating an awful lot of humble pie and thats not going to happen is it ?

btw why didnt you ask the press for solutuions during katrina ? sounds silly doesnt it

The world has plenty of solutions G , but none of them can happen whilst GWB and the neocons are in power

right now i would consider it a success if we could just convince the government to drop any idea of making an equally absurd attack on Iraq

The number one priorty for someone like me at this moment in time is damage limitation , not alot can be done to repair the damage whilst the damage is still being done

January 06, 2006 2:07 am  
Blogger DJEB said...

"if you cant fix it, either find someone who can or shut the hell up."

That's one thing you can be sure that I will not do. Sorry, I don't consider discussing a problem to be out of bounds unless one gives prescriptions.

"The world is full of whiners and complainers"

You certainly have a history of whinging about this site...

"Right now, we just have a bunch of people that are complaining, rueing the days of yore when things were peachy (convienently forgetting that "before" is what got us into this)"

Funny that we are talking about a piece by a journalist who regularly delves into the hisotry of the problems that he writes about.

"Again, if you dont like Bush's idea of how to deal with international Islamic terror, please feel free to give us the new and improved idea(s) that will keep us from having to go that route."

There certainly have been plenty of ignored attempts to do just that. Every time I suggest them to someone from the Right, the only response I elicit is a string of straw man fallacies. That said, read Robert A. Pape's book Dying to Win.

"I mean hell, we'd already bred enough terrorist before this war started, I dont think we are in any deeper now. That is just a cop out."

Cop out? It is a statement of statistical reality.

January 06, 2006 3:11 am  
Blogger G_in_AL said...

statistical to whom? The terrorist structure was in place, and before this war, the terrorist were there. Not all were mobilized, but maybe that's it for you. The cancer is ok, as long as it isnt attacking, we can just wait for it.

Now, again H, give me a problem, I'll give you a solution. This "journalist" isnt reporting, he's complaining and spilling out personal opinion based loosly on facts. Reporting means either you are bringing some new news, or exposing something new about old news... a "reporter" doesnt re-hash old arguments in the hopes of winning people over to the "Bush is the Devil" crowd.

Like I said, complaining has been done, we are way, way, way past that. It is time to put up or shut up.

DJEB, again, you're amazing... Did you pay H to tell me how formidable you'd be? I'll read your book if you'll walk outside into the real world for a bit. In the real world, you can't just have ideals. Things actually have to pan out and work. The best of intentions is still a failure if it doesnt work.

January 06, 2006 6:24 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

well if its tim to get this problem solved G then i am sure you will join me in fixing things from the top

you seem to accept its a big mess , so the most stupid thing we could do is try to fix things whilst the creators of this mess are still in place

help us to get them out , then we can fix things without more damage being done behind our backs

welcome on board (sarcastic grin)

January 06, 2006 8:49 pm  
Blogger DJEB said...

"statistical to whom?"

It's exceedingly simple. The terrorism that the U.S. concerned itself with has increased in direct correlation the The War Against Terrorism (AKA TWAT). I know the State Deptartment tried to claim the opposite in a report on terrorism. After a collective "yeah, right," they reissued the same report conceeding that terrorism had, in fact, increased after the TWAT.

"The terrorist structure was in place, and before this war, the terrorist were there."

Yes, only they used to be called the mujahedin and were called "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers" by the Great Communicator. Recruitment and campaigns have, however, increased since the TWAT.

"the "Bush is the Devil" crowd."

As I said elsewhere, YEE HAW! Straw men arguments are fun and easy!

"I'll read your book if you'll walk outside into the real world for a bit. In the real world, you can't just have ideals. Things actually have to pan out and work. The best of intentions is still a failure if it doesnt work."

The real world according to you is... that which you say it is. As for the book, again, you have not read it, so your comment on what it has to say (intentions and things panning out) is meaningless. If you do read it, you will find that its approach is very statistical and draws not only on credible studies of terrorism, but also looks at the statements of different terrorist organisations and examines the patterns of their actions. Furthermore, it is the only study ever to have looked at all modern insidences of suicide terrorism. If you don't find the issue of terrorism to be that important, then, by all means, don't read the book.

"Did you pay H to tell me how formidable you'd be?"

Nice. You insult _H_ to get to me. I see form the official Marine website that being a Marine is part of "a noble tradition" of "warriors of the finest kind... tempered with compassion, respect, and maturity." [emphasise mine; see the "Parental guide" on the official Marine website] Since when is it noble, compassionate, respectful or mature to go around insulting people? (Remember on your last round on this site you insulted me along the developmentally challenged by calling me a "retard.") If it is not noble, compassionate, respectful or mature to do this, then I say Marine, remember who you are supposed to be representing.

January 07, 2006 2:32 pm  
Blogger DJEB said...

G, I said since when is it noble, compassionate, respectful or mature to go around insulting people? I know you've been back to the site, so you should have seen this.

January 10, 2006 1:49 am  

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