Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 19 June 16 - 22, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
'Titanic War on Terror'
it was to be a crusade. Then it became the "War for Civilization".
Then the "War without End". Then the "War against Terror".
And now--believe it or not--President Bush is promising us a "Titanic War
on Terror". This gets weirder and weirder. What can come next? Given the
latest Bush projections last week--"we know that thousands of trained
killers are plotting to attack us"--he must surely have an even more
gargantuan cliche up his sleeve.
he must have known about the would-be Chicago "dirty" bomber--another
little secret he didn't tell the American people about for a month. Until, of
course, it served a purpose. We shall hear more about this strange episode--and
I'll hazard a guess the story will change in the next few days and weeks. But
what could be more titanic than the new and ominously named "Department for
Homeland Security", with its 170,000 future employees and its $37.5bn
(lbs26.6bn) budget? It will not, mark you, incorporate the rival CIA and
FBI--already at each other's throats over the failure to prevent the crimes
against humanity of 11 September--and will thus ensure that the intelligence
battle will be triangular: between the CIA, the FBI and the boys from
"Homeland Security". This, I suspect, will be the real titanic war.
the intelligence men of the United States are not going to beat their real
enemies like this. Theirs is a mission impossible, because they will not be
allowed to do what any crime-fighting organization does to ensures success--to
search for a motive for the crime. They are not going to be allowed to ask the
"why" question. Only the "who" and "how".
if this is a war against evil, against "people who hate democracy",
then any attempt to discover the real reasons for this hatred of America--the
deaths of tens of thousands of children in Iraq, perhaps, or the
Israeli-Palestinian bloodbath, or the presence of thousands of US troops in
Saudi Arabia--will touch far too sensitively upon US foreign policy, indeed upon
the very relationships that bind America to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel
Sharon, and to a raft of Arab dictators.
just one example of what I mean. New American "security" rules will
force hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims from certain countries to be
fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated when they enter the US. This will
apply, according to the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, to nearly all
visitors from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, most of whom will not get visas at
all. The list is not surprising. Iran and Iraq are part of Mr Bush's infantile
"axis of evil". Syria is on the list, presumably because it supports
Hamas' war against Israel.
is a political list, constructed around the Bush policy of good-versus-evil. But
not a single citizen from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan has been accused of
plotting the atrocities of 11 September. The suicide-hijackers came principally
from Saudi Arabia, with one from Egypt and another from Lebanon. The men whom
the Moroccans have arrested--all supposedly linked to al-Qa'ida--are all Saudis.
Saudis--who comprised the vast majority of the September killers--are going to
have no problems entering the US under the new security rules. In other words,
men and women from the one country whose citizens the Americans have every
reason to fear will be exempt from any fingerprinting, or photographing, or
interrogation, when they arrive at JFK. Because, of course, Saudi Arabia is one
of the good guys, a "friend of America", the land with the greatest
oil reserves on earth. Egypt, too, will be exempt, since President Hosni Mubarak
is a supporter of the "peace process".
America's new security rules are already being framed around Mr Bush's political
fantasies rather than the reality of international crime. If this is a war
between "the innocent and the guilty"--another Bush bon mot last
week--then the land that bred the guilty will have no problems with the lads
from the Department of Homeland Security or the US Department of Immigration.
why, for that matter, should any Arabs take Mr Bush seriously right now? The man
who vowed to fight a "war without end" against "terror" told
Israel to halt its West Bank operations in April--and then sat back while Mr
Sharon continued those same operations for another month. On 4 April, Mr Bush
demanded that Mr Sharon take "immediate action" to ease the Israeli
siege of Palestinian towns; but, two months later, Mr Sharon--a "man of
peace", according to Mr Bush--is still tightening those sieges.
Mr Sharon is not frightened of Mr Bush, why should Osama bin Laden be concerned?
Last week's appeal by President Mubarak for a calendar for a Palestinian state
produced, even by Mr Bush's absurd standards, an extraordinary illogicality. No
doubt aware that he would be meeting Mr Sharon two days later, he replied:
"We are not ready to lay down a specific calendar except for the fact that
we've got to get started quickly, soon, so we can seize the moment."
Bush line therefore goes like this: this matter is so important that we've got
to act urgently and with all haste--but not so important that we need bother
about when to act. Mr Sharon, of course, doesn't want any such
"calendar". Mr Sharon doesn't want a Palestinian state. So Mr Bush--at
the one moment that he should have been showing resolve to his friends as well
as his enemies--flunked again. After Mr Sharon turned up at the White House, Mr
Bush derided the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, went along with Mr Sharon's
refusal to talk to him and virtually dismissed the Middle East summit that the
Palestinians and the world wants this summer but which Mr Sharon, of course,
the meantime, as well as Mr Sharon, all of the men who claim to be fighting
terror are using this lunatic "war" for their own purposes. The
Egyptians, who allegedly warned the CIA about an attack in America before 11
September, have been busy passing a new law that will so restrict the work of
non-governmental organizations that it will be almost impossible for human
rights groups to work in Egypt. So no more reports of police torture. The
Algerian military, widely believed to have had a hand in the dirty war mass
killings of the past 10 years, have just been exercising with NATO ships in the
Mediterranean. We'll be seeing more of this.
was almost inevitable, of course, that someone in America would be found to
explain the difference between "good terrorists"--the ones we don't
bomb, like the IRA, ETA or the old African National Congress--and those we
should bomb. Sure enough, Michael Elliott turned up in Time magazine last week
to tell us that "not all terrorists are alike". There are, he claimed,
"political terrorists" who have "an identifiable goal" and
"millenarian terrorists" who have no "political agenda", who
"owe their allegiance to a higher authority in heaven". So there you
have it. If they'll talk to the Americans, terrorists are OK. If they won't,
well then it's everlasting war.
So with this twisted morality, who really believes that "Homeland Security" is going to catch the bad guys before they strike again? My guess is that the "Titanic War on Terror" will follow its unsinkable namesake. And we all know what happened to that. Re-posted from ZMag