This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Saturday, 13 October 2012

My Annual Anti American Hate Rant Part One: 11/9/2009

Eight years ago, on this day, the world stopped turning.

Or so we are assured.

Eight years ago, when on “9/11” (sic; 11/9; 9/11 is 9 November) alleged Arab terrorists allegedly hijacked four American commercial airliners (it bears repeating that they were American; a year later, in the days before 11/9/2002, the US would try to ban foreign airliners from flying in its airspace, until self-respecting nations threatened a counter-ban on American aeroplanes) and crashed two of them into the two towers of the World Trade Center (sic), causing their collapse, and hit the Pentagon with another, causing some relatively limited damage, we were informed that we were all (in the words of the German magazine Stern) Americans. Our duty, it was said, was to rally to the support of the American Cause, worldwide. Our governments fell over each other begging to express their solidarity. The then “President” (later President) of the US, George W Bush, told us that we were either for him or we were for the terrorists, who were, naturally, evildoers who hated America’s freedoms and who had to be smoked out of their holes.

I assume all of you remember that. Far too many of you have been inundating us with blog posts detailing your memories of that day not to remember.

I assume, therefore, that you also know the aftermath of that little episode: the invasion of Afghanistan, which continues to this day and which has successfully returned that unhappy land from the control of religious zealots to the partial control of warlords and drug kings; and to the invasion of Iraq, where a functioning nation was destroyed, a civil war ignited, a million or more people killed as a result, and a secular Muslim nation given over to fundamentalist mullahs of various stripes. I assume you know all that.

The world stopped turning. The world changed forever. America was targeted; terrorism suddenly came into existence; and Islamic Terror had to be fought. Yeah.

Before I go on any further, I’d like to repeat what some of you already know: unlike 99.9% of you, I have lived through an insurgency. I’ve personally met terrorists and seen them in action. I was less than a hundred metres away from a terror strike, in 2001, in which five people were killed. For my first novel I interviewed a former terrorist leader (Chakra Gohain of the United Liberation Front of Asom). In other words, when I use the word “terrorist”, I know, from personal experience, what I’m talking about.

Therefore, I am very, very far from accepting any notion that the world stopped on 11 September 2001. I do not believe that terrorism had to target America before being recognised as such; and I am very, very far from accepting any notion that terrorists target anyone out of “hatred”. As I’ve said repeatedly, terrorism is a tactic of war, and like any other tactic it is meant to produce a definite result, whatever that result might be. Nobody has to be a genius to decide that rhetoric saying “We’re good, so if they target us, they must be evil” is anything more than puerile. If any individual therefore believes, or pretends to believe, that 11/9 was caused entirely by blind hatred (for instance, the very right-wing Indian magazine India Today had declared it to be a “Jihad Against The World” in its cover story, equating America with the world, something I’d only come across Americans doing before that) or that the victim was entirely blameless, he or she is being at the very least wilfully blind.

There are a couple of other things I believe need repeating: first, I am not necessarily a believer in conspiracy theories. I am not discounting the possibility that the Bush Administration engineered the attacks in some fashion and blew down the two towers of the World Trade Center (sic) with explosives. That’s why, up above, I wrote that the 11/9 attacks involved alleged Arab terrorists allegedly hijacking aeroplanes. “President” (as he then was) Bush’s men may have been behind the attacks; but I do not think it is very likely. Considering the complexity of the operation and the number of people it must have involved, a cover-up of an operation of such magnitude would have been so difficult that there would have been hard evidence long before now. Far too many people would’ve talked.

However, there is a different way in which the talk of a conspiracy theory may be right after all, and this lies in the oft-repeated phrase “Pearl Harbor (sic) Moment.” As scholars of the Second World War strongly suspect, the attack on Pearl Harbor (sic) on 6 December 1941 was anything but unanticipated and anything but a strike out of the blue. Back in 1941, the US was in a race with Japan for resources in Asia and was desperately trying to find a back door to enter the war in Europe. Japan was squeezed (by repeated ultimatums to quit China and SE Asia) into beginning a war it could not possibly win in the long run, and there’s good reason to believe (among other things, the US had long since broken the Japanese naval code) that the actual Japanese attack was anticipated and allowed to happen so that the American people could be filled with righteous rage against the perfidious evildoer Japanese.

Similarly, in the late nineties, the US was desperately trying to find a route to the natural gas fields of Central Asia and longed to control the oil of Iraq. As late as 1998, Washington was still trying to negotiate a pipeline deal with the Taliban (which was still in the US’ good books at the time, as it had been from the moment it was first set up by the Pakistanis; vide Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: The Story of the Afghan Warlords) and hoping for UN-imposed mass starvation to set off a coup in Iraq. A colonised Iraq would be a permanent source of oil to the US; it would be a permanent military base from which to threaten other Arab nations and Iran; and, not the least, it would remove one of the few genuine opponents of the Zionazi pseudostate of “Israel”.

But the coup never materialised, and the Afghan pipeline deal collapsed when the Taliban decided to award the contract to Argentina’s BRIDAS instead of America’s UNOCAL. Only a series of major wars could set things right, but even the American people couldn’t be persuaded to begin a series of major wars without a lot of manufacturing of consent. And it would be so very convenient to let a spectacular terrorist strike happen so that the people could be carried away on a flood of patriotic emotion...

You see where this is leading? No need to arrange this or do that; just allow a terror strike that was already in the planning go through, lie about the origins of the terrorists, keep saying that you’re innocent defenders of freedom attacked by evildoers, and you can be sure that most of the people, the majority of whom – perhaps coincidentally – also happen to believe that there is no such thing as evolution, will go right along with you.

So, just as I do not believe that the aeroplanes which hit Pearl Harbor (sic) on 6/12/41 were American planes launched from the US Navy aircraft carriers which were mysteriously absent from the anchorage that day, I do not believe that the attacks on the World Trade Center (sic) on 11/9/01 were made by aeroplanes controlled by the US government; but in both cases, the use the US administrations of the time made to the respective attacks were such that there’s little doubt that they came extremely in handy, so much so that there would have been little actual difference had they been set up. After all, just five hours the attack, Donald Rumsfeld was already holding meetings discussing how to blame Saddam Hussein, someone who was absolutely opposed to Al Qaeda, the alleged culprits.

Also, it should be obvious that I don’t buy the “innocent victim” line; a nation that has been involved in more wars abroad than the rest of the world put together in the last sixty years, a nation that has propped up brutal dictators across the globe, a nation that treats the planet as its personal property, and has been complicit in the creation of the same demons it is now allegedly fighting, has no right to the epithet “innocent victim”. Yes, there were innocent victims – in the aeroplanes and in the buildings – but they were, in the final analysis, collateral damage at best and sacrificial pawns at worst. Certainly they had no more right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness than some Afghan in a village near Kandahar or an Iraqi in a Baghdad souk who has been turned into roadkill on the way to Imperial glory. Why should this photo,

or this,

be any less iconic than this?

Wearing an Armani suit and earning US dollars doesn’t make you a superior being.

But, all right, let me – for the sake of argument – concede the point. Let me say that you’re right: the US was an innocent, freedom-loving, honest nation brutally subjected to an unprovoked attack by Islamofascist terrorists leading to the death of thousands of freedom-loving innocent honest Americans, and that the appropriate response to these attacks was to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, the latter of which had nothing to do with the attacks, as even "President" (as he then was) George W Bush was to admit. Let’s say you’re right in all that.

Assuming you are right, what is the result, eight years on, of the appropriate response that you’ve made to these dastardly and unprovoked attacks?

Even if we’re to ignore the deaths and injuries, the loss of property and livelihood, among the Afghans and Iraqis who are lesser beings than you, the Lords of the Universe, as inconsequential, what have you, actually, achieved?

You have taken a functioning secular Muslim nation, which had kept the fundamentalists at bay, and converted it into a hub of international terror, a society fractured by civil war and sectarian divisions, and you haven’t even succeeded in your objectives of either exploiting its oil or using it as a military base to intimidate or attack its neighbours.

Also, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out in the past, the Taliban in 2001 were on the verge of collapse from their internal divisions and essential inability to rule. You’ve taken on a doddering and incompetent grouping of mullahs and succeeded in turning them into a lethal and determined enemy who now can claim, with justification, to be nationalists, and whose final victory is only a matter of time.

You’ve managed to revive opium cultivation, which the Taliban had almost eradicated, and made it Afghanistan’s most important crop, and the heroin made from that opium is making its way right back to contaminate your own society.

You’ve, by your meddling, allowed the Taliban to make deep penetrations of Pakistan, a country which is of immensely more significance to the jihadist cause than Afghanistan, and not only because Pakistan has the Islamic world’s only declared arsenal of nuclear bombs.

You’ve turned what was never really a united terrorist organisation, Al Qaeda, into a loose franchise of terror cells scattered throughout the globe, without central direction and control and therefore a more difficult target than it ever was.

You’ve, while we’re on the subject, managed to make more people than ever before hate you, and with greater cause than ever before. If we were “all Americans” on 12/9, we’re now going to sympathise with your victims instead, and a reprise of 11/9 will, I predict, be greeted with wild cheers the world over, not with sorrow.

You’ve managed to get far more of your soldiers killed and maimed than your civilians were ever killed in the attacks of 11/9. A cure which causes more damage than the original disease isn’t usually thought to be a worthwhile cure.

You’ve managed to damage your international alliances to the extent that your “allies” will have second, third and fifteenth thoughts about being ever again associated with any war instigated by you.

You’ve proved to the world that men with AK47s, landmines and RPGs can, with sufficient determination, take on your tanks and fighters and UAVs and warships and fight you to a stalemate. You’ve, in fact, demonstrated that your super-soldiers can be beaten by village hicks. Is it a wonder that the world has begun defying you?

You’ve managed to run your own economy into the ground, while pouring more and more of your increasingly scarce funds into the black hole of your neverending wars, and your only flourishing industry is that concerned with military production, essentially an industry which needs even more wars to justify its continued existence.

Oh, and you haven’t even got those pipelines, and your puppet in Kabul has recently promulgated laws that validate marital rape and make the Taliban look liberal.

Do you still think, oh brave warriors of freedom, that it’s all worth it?

From my point of view, there are a few positives to the whole damned mess, though:

It has publicly demonstrated the hollowness of the US claim to be a bastion of freedom, and exposed it for what many of us had always known it was: an aggressive right wing militaristic dictatorship with fake “elections” whose results changed nothing, a nation ruled by and for the super-rich with no thought for the rest of the world, including the less well-off of American citizens.

It has exposed “Great” Britain for what it manifestly has been since the end of the Second World War: a pathetic appendage to the Americans, without even the independence to utter a pro forma protest, a colony so abject that it is unworthy even of contempt.

It has weakened the US and made the decline of the American Empire a real and present thing, instead of something we all knew was coming but not precisely when. This decline and subsequent fall will perhaps result in the break-up of the US, but even if it does not, a much weaker and humbler America can only be a good thing for the world as a whole.

Think about it while you keep shouting to the skies about the Day The World Stood Still. 

Addendum (14 Sept 2009):


Over the past few days, as all of you are no doubt aware, there’s been one hell of a lot of discussion about “terrorism” on the net, and one interesting comment I read was “9/11 (sic) was an attack on the United States.”

Without taking sides on the issue, it’s worth thinking about that statement and asking, was it?

It is somewhat important to decide, as I intend to demonstrate, whether a terrorist act is a crime or an act of war. That is so because the way one responds to a criminal act and an act of war are fundamentally different.

Let’s take the case, say, of a family slaughtered in their house, and the prime suspect, it’s said, belongs to a particular neighbourhood of the city. Now what would be the appropriate response to that situation? Do you send in artillery and bombers and flatten everything in that neighbourhood, and stand atop the smoking ruins and declare victory? Or do you conduct a police investigation, carefully build a case, and then, only then, when you have hard evidence, do you ask for a warrant and secure an arrest? Which is the more logical course of action?

Similarly, let’s take the case of a gang that creates mayhem in a city. What is the appropriate response? Do you destroy the city that houses the gang, or do you increase the police on the streets, pick off gang members when you can identify them, and improve conditions of life among the people from whom the gang recruits, so that they aren’t tempted to join?

So, assuming I’m making some kind of sense here, this means that crime is more properly tackled by police action rather than massed military force.

Now, take the case of a war. If you consider a terrorist strike an act of war, you are constrained to respond according to the laws of war, at least for purposes of common sense if for nothing else. That means you can not strike civilian targets or treat prisoners outside the constraints of the Geneva Conventions. You can’t, in fact, act in any way different from how you would fight a conventional conflict. If you begin torturing prisoners, carpet-bombing cities, and so on, legally you are guilty of war crimes and tactically you’re providing the opposition a moral handle against you.

Fine. So we’ve more or less chalked out some parameters for this discussion. So what is a terrorist strike, an act of war or a criminal act?

Now, I’ll go out on a limb and say this: it does not make a damned bit of difference what a terrorist attack is, the only way one can effectively respond to it is as a criminal act.

Let’s take the modern terrorist (not guerrilla warrior, terrorist). He may have legitimate grievances against you; in fact, even if only in his own mind, he almost certainly does. In his mind, he may be fighting a war against you. But, and this is vital to remember, the modern terrorist is not a member of an army; he is a member of, at most, a relatively small group of individuals or may be acting alone. He no longer needs training facilities and instructors; in many cases, he can find all he needs to know off the net. He doesn’t have to be sitting in a forest camp halfway across the continent. He can perfectly well be the quiet man in the next room, sitting at a computer terminal.

So just how do you stop this man? How the hell do you fight a guy like this? By bombing the hell out of his homeland? How do you fight a war on terrorists when they have no central organisation, no common leader, nothing in fact binding them, not even ideology, except a conviction that what you are doing is so wrong that they have to oppose you by force? Isn’t bombing the hell out of their nations just going to make them even more determined to come after you?

What, then, is the better option? Aggressive warfare sounds good to the aficionados of Rambo films, but only to the aficionados of Rambo films. Like the old story of the hare and the tortoise, if you look at actual strategies that have led to long-term success against terrorists, they have always focused on increased security, careful investigation, and infiltration of terrorist organisations – the same tactics that work against gangs, really – and not frontal assaults. Frontal assaults, even when apparently successful, worsen the situation in the long term because all they do is increase the quantum of resentment, which is now justifiable resentment (Abu Ghraib, anyone?) and create more terrorists and more support for terrorists.

I’ll be returning to this theme in a future blog post, but I leave you with this thought: just assuming that a nation launches a frontal war on terrorists, when does it declare “victory”? Will terrorists come out with their hands up and sign some kind of unconditional surrender? Of course not. Even if that nation succeeds in killing every terrorist that existed when it launched its assault, it could never be certain that it hadn’t created thousands more. So any nation that treats terrorism as war commits itself to an eternal war, where it will have to keep pressing more and more resources into the conflict. I’m sure the people in charge recognise this simple fact. So why do they persist in treating terrorism as war?

I have some ideas, and I’m sure you do as well.  

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