I don’t think she’s hot, but…
An Inconvenient Truth
It’s a willful blindness. A stubborn resolve not to face reality. In all of the ‘War on Terror’ rhetoric spouted by politicians, in the miles of newsprint and endless hours of television debate devoted to it, I rarely see any acknowledgement of the responsibility the US and UK themselves bear for radicalizing so many by their long-term behavior in the middle-east as well as through their more recent ‘wars’.
Our leaders lied. The USA, with the servile collusion of then UK Prime Minister Blair, attacked Iraq and Afghanistan. Huge, blatant lies were told to voters on both sides of the Atlantic. We know now that the attack on Iraq had been planned for a long time. It had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, Al-Qaeda, or WMD. Afghanistan, accused of sheltering Al-Qaeda, offered to surrender Bin Laden if Bush could produce any proof of guilt over 9/11. Bush however, hell-bent on invasion, ignored that and attacked. The point is both were ‘wars’ of choice, not undertaken in good faith for the reasons stated at the time.
State terrorism. America’s initial ‘Shock and Awe’ bombing of Iraq was, without any question, intended as state terrorism on a grand scale. In the course of the bloody invasion and occupation estimates put the Iraqi dead at between 600,000 to a million and the refugees created at over 4 million. It is the greatest disaster the middle-east has known in living memory. Men, women and children have been killed and wounded in vast numbers. Some have been taken and held for years in hell-hole prisons without trial. Others have been brutally tortured. War-crimes and civilian massacres have been committed. Even now, we regularly see reports of US drones killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan. The people of those countries know exactly what war feels like.
A tainted history. It would be easy to suggest, as some do, that this all ‘served them right’ because ‘they’ started it. That it was the direct consequence of an unprovoked attack on 9/11. That the innocent USA was simply retaliating. But of course that’s nonsense. The US had a long, tainted history of meddling in the middle-east. For decades it had subverted democracy, propping up brutal dictators and torturers all over the region. It had armed and funded Israel and used it as a proxy to fight wars and funnel arms to despicable regimes. It had turned a blind eye to Israels treatment of Palestinians. The nature of the attack by a bunch of Saudi Arabians (not Iraquis or Afghans) on the Twin Towers was surprising but the fact that there was a response of some kind to long-term US behavior in the middle-east surely should not have been.
Blowback. If we take that long, tainted history as a background, which we must if we’re honest, and add the post 9/11 ‘wars of choice’ then it would take a spectacular level of naivety to think that so much suffering could be inflicted on so many for so long without there being some kind of blowback. However the problem for the USA was, and still is, that in those circumstances you do not get to define what form the inevitable retaliation will take. You do not get to define the theater of war. You do not get to say who is a ‘legitimate’ combatant or not. You do not get to say ‘we will fight you there but not here’. You must accept that the enemy you have created will retaliate in whatever way and in whichever place and using whatever weapons he chooses to. Peter Ustinov once said .. “Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.”
Making the connection. Some people, amazingly, claim not see any connection between the actions of the West in the middle-east and acts of terrorism committed against the West. Others can. Attorney General Eric Holder said .. “Guantanamo is a chief recruiting tool for al-Qaeda. It has put a wedge between the United States and at least some of its allies.” Historian Howard Zinn said ..” how much common sense does it take to know that you cannot end terrorism by indiscriminately dropping bombs ?”. Noam Chomsky said of Iraq and Afghanistan .. “Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a war against terrorism”. How utterly pointless, and ultimately futile, is focusing on symptoms but ignoring the underlying cause of the disease.
We reap what we sow. It’s an inconvenient truth that actions have consequences and the longer that is ignored the less chance there is of any positive change.
Cate Blanchett by Patrick Demarchelier
Leila Hyams, The New Movie magazine, April 1930