Monday, 21 September 2009

The CBI in Inevitable Pro-Business Shocker!

Does anyone else get annoyed when obviously biased bodies make completely predictable announcements about issues in which they have a specifically partisan interest, and then those unsurprising announcements are treated as legitimate news stories by a media who really should know better?

Earlier this week, an umbrella group representing the business end of the UK music industry, UK Music, came out in favour of recent government proposals to block broadband access for those individuals found illegally file-sharing. Indeed, they applauded any “government intervention” on the matter of downloading music for free that might help save their dying industry.

Well, duh!

Of course they would! If the music industry dies, then so does UK Music and all it represents. More specifically, if the music industry as we know it dies, but adapts into something else (something where massive labels and media providers no longer hold so much power over consumer spending, and one can no longer charge £15 for a CD that costs less than a pound to produce), then the business interests of the members of UK Music are thwarted. Therefore, UK Music is not interested in protecting “the music industry” – as they claim - but only the current business model of the UK music industry, from which they all benefit.

This is not news.

This is a bunch of business men and women getting together and working out how best they can keep hold of their current dominance over an industry which is slowly slipping from their grasp. To report it, is like reporting that The Group of Associated Computer Makers believe that people should buy more computers; or that Booksellers UK have come out in favour of reading – a total no-brainer!

Which is why I can’t believe the amount of coverage received by this morning’s announcement of the Confederation of British Industry, regarding University education in the UK!

Basically, this pro-business, pro-private-profit group which represents the collective interests of UK business has decided – surprise, surprise – that UK Universities should be run more like businesses and make more money!

Raise the tuition fees, they say. Restrict grants, increase interest paid on student loans…basically, make the UK University a much more lucrative business model; an elites-only, self-sufficient, profit-making institution that will not suffer financially when the government makes “inevitable” cuts in education spending.

The idea of “inevitable” cuts in education spending at play here gets me incredibly angry. Notice how this lobby group for UK business does not assume that Alistair Darling’s predicted cuts will (or should) be made on corporate welfare, export credit guarantees, public private partnership programmes, or any other form of public financing of private UK businesses. Nor do they suggest that the best way to put more money into the depleted government coffers, would be to raise the taxes paid by big business and the richer private citizens who own them.

No. All of these measures are, predictably, off the table in the CBI’s plans for University funding – because the CBI is not an education body, or even an objective policy body – it is a private confederation of British Industry; with its own political and ideological agenda.

Hence, the idea of education for education’s sake, is – again, predictably – not anywhere in their recommendations either. Such a view is irrelevant to the aims and objectives of the CBI, for whom University can only be seen as a tool to benefit UK industry. Nor is the problem of social equality dealt with. That children from poorer backgrounds might not actually be able to afford University under these new proposals is not an issue that causes the members of the CBI much concern. Not because they are inhuman monsters, but because it is literally not their problem. The organization’s only purpose in life is to represent the interests and goals of British Industry – not to promote an egalitarian vision of education for all. British Industry does not need a nation of degree-educated people; it needs low-level workers as well as high-level workers, and its recommendations reflect that. Who gets to do what job in the end doesn’t matter to the members of the CBI, so long as it continues to make them some money and doesn’t interfere with their current economic and ideological interests.

This is not to condemn the CBI for doing what it is designed to do, but to condemn the news media for thinking that its conclusions on higher education are anything more than they are: utterly self-serving pieces of pro-business propaganda.

Make more money and give us more ways of making money from you in loan repayments, subsidized private research and debt collection

There is not a single thing which the CBI said about Universities that wasn’t entirely predictable: Pro-Business Lobbyists Make Another Predictably Pro-Business Announcement. Why that should constitute as news at all – let alone as headline news – is a mystery to me?

Saturday, 19 September 2009

A No Horse Race

As the Liberal Democrats begin their conference today in Bournemouth, you can’t help but feel sorry for them.

When it turned out that a Labour leadership was no better than the previous eighteen years of Tory rule, you might have thought the fed-up British public would at least give the Lib Dems a go.  I mean, collectively, the other guys have had thirty years between them to get things right and have done nothing but fuck everything up for three whole decades now.  Surely a Liberal Democrat government couldn’t be any worse?

Yet here we are, nearing the end of New Labour’s twelve disappointing years in power, and instead of thinking the obvious – wow, both the Conservatives and the Labour Party suck; let’s try something different – all you ever hear about in this idiot country is the inevitability of another Tory win at the next General Election!

How lame-duck must the Liberal Democrat party be, when they can’t even promise the vaguest prospect of a victory under such seemingly favourable circumstances?  And how stupid must the majority of British citizens be if they think the same Conservative Party who started destroying this country thirty years ago, are going to be our saviours now? 

Friday, 18 September 2009

Darling’s Choice…

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced that it would be necessary to make some cuts in public spending.  Today, Alistair Darling will hold a series of one-on-one meetings with Cabinet colleagues to discuss which areas should receive the cuts, and which areas should be spared.

But has it ever occurred to the Chancellor that there is a simple, far more democratic, way of adjusting government spending than asking a cabal of Cabinet colleagues what they think we should do?  Namely, asking the citizens – the ones who pay the taxes – what it is they want their money to be spent on.

Imagine, if you will, a once-a-year form from the treasury, sent to every tax-paying individual in the country, whereby each citizen can designate the specific areas in which they want their taxes to be spent.  The results of these polls are then tallied and processed, and the total taxed income of everyone is divided according to a national average.  (i.e. if 62% of the population wish for an average of 58% of their yearly taxes to be spent on the NHS and associated services, then that is what will happen.)

How hard could that be?

Instead of the relatively unaccountable Chancellor dividing the budget into what he believes to be the best interests of the nation, we let the nation do it themselves.

On my own personal form, I would ask that the majority of my money went into healthcare, education, and other important areas of the underfunded welfare state, and I would prohibit any of my money being spent on “defence” and the ongoing illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  To some, that simply highlights the major flaws in such a plan – if everyone were like me, the military would have no money; conversely, if everyone thought the opposite, defence spending could skyrocket whilst schools and hospitals suffered.  But the fact is, the genius of such a system is that by averaging the total national results, extreme views such as my own will be tempered down by more sober-minded and utilitarian citizens.  In reality, the likely outcome would simply be an accurate reflection of what the nation really wants: institutions the public need and care about would receive the most money, and those they think are bloated or over-budgeted would get cuts (the wisdom of crowds and all that).

Under such a radical change of system, government would be forced to listen to the true demands of its people; the public would hold the purse-strings, and thus the key to policy. 

With this new distribution strategy being an annual, or even six-monthly, occurrence, as national priorities change, so too would our individual designations, making it a much more flexible and responsive system than our current budgetary procedure, beholden each year to outdated historical precedents and Whitehall in-fighting. 

Underfunded schools failing our children?  Give ‘em a little more cash.

Overfunded schools still failing our children?  Take the money away until they produce results.

An inflated military budget allowing never-ending and unjustified overseas wars that kill thousands of innocents each year?  Put the money somewhere else and bring “our boys” back home until they learn to behave.

Mass unemployment because of an ongoing financial crisis for which the majority of people are not responsible?  Refuse to give more hand-outs to the banks and corporations that caused this mess, and help ensure nobody gets kicked off their Jobseeker’s Allowance because of lack of funding.

It’s simple Mr. Darling…at least, it would be if we actually lived in any kind of democracy.  As it is, I expect the result of the Chancellor’s meetings will be pretty predictable: cuts in benefits, welfare, education and healthcare; no major changes in defence spending (there’s an illegal war to win in Afghanistan you know!); and a further extension of insidious public/private partnerships (such as the Private Finance Initiative) that claim to cut public expenditure by selling our souls – and institutions – out to big business.  

In other words: same shit different day in the corridors of power.

Friday, 11 September 2009

9/11: an excerpt from my Thesis…

In contrast to my earlier post – an opinion piece from a punk rock fanzine, written eight years ago, about the events of 9/11 – I thought it might also be worthwhile uploading an excerpt from my 2008 Ph.D. Thesis about the September attacks and subsequent “war on terror”, so that you can see the evolution of my teenage views into something firm and fact-based.

Within the wider thesis, this section is used to illustrate the democratic failings of contemporary capitalist media vis-a-vis fulfilling the necessary “political teleology” I have argued for in any justifiable system of political power, utilizing Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s “propaganda model” of mass media in its critique of post-9/11 news coverage. 

Though the Chomsky/Herman model – and my wider theory – is not explained at all in this excerpt, hopefully, the section still speaks for itself, and shows why I am opposed to our continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq…


From: McKee, D, 2008: A Critical Examination of Ethical Justifications for Political Power, pp.,256-269, (Ph.D. Thesis; Cardiff)


When terrorist attacks occurred across the United States on September 11th, 2001, they were quickly reported as being the work of Islamic militant group, al-Qaeda, and less than a month later, on October 7th, the new ‘war on terror’ got underway with a castigatory battle declared against Afghanistan, the country heralded as al-Qaeda’s home-base.

As an immediate consequence, ‘between 3,125 and 3,620 Afghan civilians were killed by US bombing’ and ‘between 10,000 and 20,000 people died as an ‘indirect’ result’.[1] This is not to mention that ‘according to the UN in March 2002, Afghanistan had become littered with 14,000 unexploded bomblets’,[2] landmine-like devices left behind by cluster-bombs with the potential to go off at any time.

The way these two events were reported at the time in the commercial news media and by the politicians in charge of it, made it appear that the attack on Afghanistan was an entirely justified response to an initial aggressive act, and fully permitted under traditional just war theory and international law. America was attacked, the papers said, and al-Qaeda did it. Al-Qaeda must be destroyed, the TV newscasters told us, and so too therefore must Afghanistan because, the politicians told us, that’s where al-Qaeda is based and, in the words of President Bush, ‘if you harbour terrorists, you are terrorists.  If you train or arm a terrorist, you are a terrorist.  If you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist, and you will be held accountable by the United States and our friends.’[3]

Closer inspection of the full context and total body of evidence surrounding these events outside of the five filters of the propaganda model, however, show us a very different picture indeed, and a clear example of how the news media misinformed the public and crippled their ability to democratically function.

The most immediate difference between reality and perception concerning 9/11 was the very idea that a retaliatory war needed to be fought at all, especially against Afghanistan. America had been attacked, but one cannot call the suicidal acts of an autonomous terrorist cell, no matter how well-orchestrated, a war-declaring act of international aggression from an enemy nation.

It was a crime, without a doubt, but it was a crime committed by one autonomous cell of individuals in a loosely affiliated network of cells with no overall leadership structure. Whilst Osama bin Laden made a perfect personification of the Jihadist bogeyman for front-page photographs, and certainly provides key funding for al-Qaeda activities; in reality, as each cell runs its own operations independently, without any overarching authority, the group cannot be tied down to one individual leader, let alone any single ‘base’ country of operations.

As a crime, a criminal investigation of the 9/11 attacks should have been undertaken immediately and the perpetrators brought to justice as soon as possible. Of course, that is hard when the perpetrators themselves are as dead as their victims, but if the claim that it was al-Qaeda and bin Laden was true, as was repeatedly and unquestioningly reported, there should have still been many leads to go on for finding the terrorist group legally. A good start would be basic intelligence gathering from those with connections to the terrorists responsible, but within hours of the attacks ‘top White House officials authorized planes to pick up 140 Saudis, including two dozen members of the bin Laden family, from ten cities and spirit them back to Saudi Arabia’ without interrogation – this at a time when all commercial flights in the country had been suspended until further notice.[4]

Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, like bin Laden, were Saudi Arabian. They also had legal visas to enter the U.S., gained from the Saudi Arabian government. The other hijackers received their visas to enter the U.S. legally from both Germany and the United Arab Emirates. According to the 9/11 Commission’s report on the attacks (a report from which twenty-eight pages relating to Saudi Arabia’s role in the attacks were withheld by the Bush administration[5]), ‘beginning in 1997, the 19 hijackers submitted 24 applications and received 23 visas…the 19 hijackers entered the United States a total of 33 times. They arrived through ten different airports, though more than half came in through Miami, JFK, or Newark’.[6] Why then, with no seeming connection to the crime, was Afghanistan bombed and not, say, Saudi Arabia?

Possibly, because Saudi Arabia is an American ally, to which the indebted U.S. economy is intricately tied, or perhaps because of the Bush administration and Bush family’s longstanding business connections to the bin Laden family and Saudi Arabian oil industry?[7] There are many possibilities, but none that were raised by the press at the time. Instead Afghanistan’s culpability was simply asserted, without evidence or argument, and its legitimacy as a military target was never seriously brought into question. The official fiction was repeated and repeated as fact: bin Laden (a Saudi) runs al-Qaeda (not strictly true) and has been hiding out in Afghanistan (as I write this, over half a decade since Afghanistan was invaded, bin Laden has yet to be found there) so Afghanistan must be bombed (not the only logical conclusion if the 9/11 attacks are considered the crime that they were instead of an act of war).

The rationale repeated and repeated until considered unchallengeable was that al-Qaeda had committed the attacks and ‘if you harbour terrorists, you are terrorists’, therefore Afghanistan, who is harbouring bin Laden, is a viable target of war.

Except that the Afghani Taliban government were not harbouring terrorists. Before the October 7th strikes, they had offered to give bin Laden over to American authorities several times, so long as the U.S. government could provide evidence to back up their accusations about bin Laden’s involvement; a common legal convention in preparation for extradition, especially to a country where it is unlikely that the extradited individual will receive a fair trial. Yet the Taliban requests were not only rebuffed; the Taliban themselves became equated with al-Qaeda in both governmental speeches and the news. ‘For their part, the media effectively suppressed evidence of the Taliban’s offers to extradite Mr bin Laden, and distorted the Taliban’s position, thereby making war seem natural and inevitable.’[8]

As Chomsky reminds us, the assertion that al-Qaeda was responsible at all was itself still questionable as the first bombs dropped on Afghani soil.

Support for the bombing was based on a crucial presupposition: that those responsible for 9-11 were known. But they were not, as the government quietly informed us eight months after the bombing. In June 2002, FBI director Robert Mueller testified before a Senate committee…Mueller informed the Senate that “investigators believe the idea of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon came from al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan,” though the plotting and financing may trace to Germany and the United Arab Emirates. “We think the masterminds of it were in Afghanistan, high in the al Qaeda leadership,”…If the indirect responsibility of Afghanistan could only be surmised in June 2002, it evidently could not have been known eight months before, when President Bush ordered the bombing of Afghanistan.[9]

In Peter Singer’s words, it is ‘possible that the horrendous nature of the attacks of September 11, still fresh in everyone’s memory, swayed people’s judgment and prevented the kind of calm reasoning that is desirable before making a momentous decision that puts at risk the lives of many people, including innocents.’[10] But I think such an opinion is too charitable. It ignores the wealth of evidence for a ‘continuity theory’ of Western foreign policy, and its history of ideological manipulation, and leaves out the notion that such grief and horror might also sway people’s judgement if it is used to do precisely that; which is exactly what it seems the media unwittingly but methodically did after 9/11.

The media also neglected to give important context to the attacks, preferring to repeat the President’s hollow platitudes that the hijackings happened out of the blue, because the terrorists were irrational ‘evil-doers’ who ‘hate our freedoms’.[11] Even if we are to accept al-Qaeda’s responsibility for the attacks, important questions about who al-Qaeda are, how they came into existence and why they did what they did were not answered until long after it was too late.

As John Cooley remarks, the ‘Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was the event which was the fateful first link in the chain of dark destiny which led the United States to its present serious crisis.’[12] When Russia invaded, America’s CIA, together with Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence Directorate (ISI), funded, trained and armed ‘a mercenary army of Islamist volunteers’[13]called the mojahidin, to repel the Soviets in what they called ‘jihad’ or ‘holy war’. The holy war took a decade and it was not until 1989 that the Russians were defeated. By this time, ‘Afghanistan lay in ruins, wasted by the jihad. Its society and people were ravaged by drugs, poverty and horrific war injuries from fighting and land mines.’[14] Worse still, as government funding for the extremist army ran out whilst the war took its course, the anti-Soviet jihad was forced to find private money from wealthy individuals like Osama bin Laden to fund it, who ‘was paying with his own money to recruit and train the Arab volunteers who flocked to Pakistan and Afghanistan…the CIA even helped bin Laden build an underground camp in Khost, where he was to train recruits from across the Islamic world.’[15]

Britain too was involved in the genesis of al-Qaeda. As well as supplying weapons to the jihad,

A British private “security” company, KMS, undertook training of small numbers of mojahidin commando units in Afghanistan and at an MI6 base in Oman, cleared by the Foreign Office. Ex-SAS men took over the KMS training programmes while a few other SAS veterans also trained Pakistani forces…selected Afghan fighters were smuggled into Britain disguised as tourists and trained in three-week cycles at secret camps in Scotland. Some SAS officers’ role went beyond that of trainers and they were involved in scouting and back-up roles with the mojahidin.[16]

This U.S./UK-created jihad eventually, and inevitably, turned against its masters once the war with the Soviets was over and they could turn their attention towards other enemies of Islam. Similarly the Taliban, created and manipulated only to serve U.S. and Pakistani power interests in the region, eventually, and predictably, grew out of control.

Was America targeted because ‘they hate our freedoms’ as the President told us? No. As Palast states, ‘there should be no confusion’ over bin Laden’s aims because, ‘Al Qaeda states its mission, like most enterprises, on its Web site’.[17] The reason bin Laden declared his holy war on his former American masters was not because he hates freedoms, but because of his opposition to the presence of U.S. military bases in the holy Islamic cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.[18] Also because, as we have been discussing vis-à-vis power protecting power, bin Laden does not want to damage his own economic interests and power in the region, claiming that ‘the presence of the U.S.A. Crusader military forces on land, sea and air in the states of the Islamic Gulf is the greatest danger threatening the largest oil reserve in the world.’[19]

The idea that the terrorists might have had rational aims and a defined agenda, no matter how flawed their chosen method of obtaining them, or misguided their ultimate goals may be, and were not simply raving madmen was seldom, if at all, mentioned in the mainstream media. But even with this new perspective on things and the revelation of U.S. and UK complicity in the original genesis of al-Qaeda, we still do not yet entirely have the full story. Another essential piece of information, relevant to a true contextual understanding of 9/11 is that the group known as al-Qaeda ‘was barely mentioned in U.S. intelligence reports until 1998.’ [20] In that year, U.S. embassy buildings in Kenya and Tanzania were blown up by a terrorist group linked to Osama bin Laden. U.S. President, Bill Clinton, responded to the attacks by unilaterally bombing Sudan and Afghanistan despite there being little or no evidence that the countries were involved, and destroying the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries factory in the process, a major supplier of medicines and veterinary drugs to Sudan and other third world countries that had no military connections at all.

This ‘bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998 effectively created Al Qaeda, both as a known entity in the intelligence world and also in the Muslim world’, says Chomsky. ‘In fact, the bombings created Osama bin Laden as a major symbol, led to a very sharp increase in recruitment and financing for Al Qaeda style networks, and tightened relations between bin Laden and the Taliban, which previously had been quite hostile to him.’[21]

This fact was echoed by Adam Curtis in his 2005 documentary The Power of Nightmares,

Al Qaeda as an organisation did not exist. The attacks on America had been planned by a small group that had come together around bin Laden in the late 90s. What united them was an idea: an extreme interpretation of Islamism developed by Ayman Zawahiri. With the American invasion, that group had been destroyed, killed or scattered. What was left was the idea, and the real danger was the way this idea could inspire groups and individuals around the world who had no relationship to each other. In looking for an organisation, the Americans and the British were chasing a phantom enemy and missing the real threat.[22]

Curtis explains that ‘In January, 2001, a trial began in a Manhattan courtroom of four men accused of the embassy bombings in east Africa. But the Americans had also decided to prosecute bin Laden in his absence…to do this under American law, the prosecutors needed evidence of a criminal organisation…that would allow them to prosecute the head of the organisation even if he could not be linked directly to the crime.’ In other words, the idea of a definite and cohesive organization was essential in order to achieve the criminal prosecution of bin Laden under American law and so the FBI, alongside an ex-associate of bin Laden’s, Jamal al-Fadl, strung intelligence together in such a way as to create the necessary organization as a useful fiction.

Although terrorism and terrorist groups clearly did exist, ‘the American and other governments…transformed this complex and disparate threat into a simplistic fantasy of an organised web of uniquely powerful terrorists who may strike anywhere and at any moment’, and as time went on, ‘the scale of this fantasy just kept growing as more and more groups realised the power it gave them’, be it the small-scale terrorist groups who could utilize the identity of the U.S.-created al-Qaeda monster to boost their own image, or the Western governments using the al-Qaeda idea and ‘war on terror’ to forward their own agenda and fill the ideological gap left by the end of the Cold War.

The pure invention of the ‘al-Qaeda’ name was even admitted by former UK foreign secretary Robin Cook, a month before his death in 2005, when he explained, ‘Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.’[23]

In short, there is ‘no evidence that bin Laden used the term “Al Qaeda” to refer to the name of a group until after September the 11th, when he realized that this was the term the Americans have given it.’[24] Al-Qaeda was merely a self-fulfilling prophecy, an idea created by the U.S. government to name a phantom enemy but, oft repeated in the media’s echo chamber; eventually this fantasy became a reality.

Despite governmental reaction and mass media reporting, the idea that the atrocities of 9/11 were committed for inexplicable, freedom-hating reasons by a clear-cut organized enemy led by Osama bin Laden and called al-Qaeda, based in the definitive territorial location of Afghanistan and criminally harboured by the Taliban regime is very far removed from the truth. It is an entirely ideological construct. In actual fact, America was attacked by an autonomous and independent group of mostly Saudi Arabian individuals, largely trained and created by the U.S. themselves, who had come into the country legally from a variety of destinations and been accepted by U.S. immigration services. They may, or may not have had, financial backing from Osama bin Laden, but not enough information is known – possibly because ‘the Bush administration blocked key [FBI] investigations into allegations that top Saudi Arabian royals and some members of the bin Laden family, not just Osama, funded and supported al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations’ in the months before 9/11[25] - and they certainly did not attack the World Trade Centre and Pentagon because they hated freedom; they did it because they were clear and symbolic targets of American militarism and economic imperialism, and their problem with the U.S., clearly stated for those who cared to listen, was its continued unwanted military and economic presence on Islamic holy lands in Saudi Arabia.

But the ‘war on terror’, and its ideological support from a compliant mass media, did not end with the invasion of Afghanistan. Its next phase was the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, a country which had already once before fallen victim to the ideological propaganda of Western capitalist mass media.[26]

A spurious connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein was posited and repeated, without any credible evidence, within days of 9/11 by Dick Cheney and other senior members of the Bush administration. Citing the crime of gassing his own people at Halabja in 1988 as proof of Saddam’s tyranny (whilst neglecting to mention the U.S. / UK support for it at the time), with the war in Afghanistan already raging, it was alleged that Iraq was in possession of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMDs), and thus a threat to international security which had to be thwarted.

Such claims, since proven to be entirely unsubstantiated despite their furious repetition and unqualified assertion in the mass news media in the run up to war, were surprising to anyone actually familiar with the facts. As long ago as 2001, the man who would conversely later try to convince the UN of Saddam’s WMD threat, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, had admitted publicly that Saddam Hussein ‘has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.’[27] Similarly, former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter claimed in 2002 ‘a 90 to 95 percent level of verified disarmament’[28] from when he and his team of inspectors left the country in 1998.

Two years previously, Ritter had reported that ‘as long as monitoring inspections remained in place, Iraq presented a WMD-based threat to no one’,[29] and it should be noted that the only reason these recommended monitoring inspections did not remain in place, was because inspectors were pulled out by the U.S. themselves in 1998 in order to allow the increased U.S. bombing of the country.

The increase in bombing was in alleged response to Iraqi non-cooperation, but in Ritter’s own words, in 1998 UNSCOM became compromised from fulfilling its original task of seeking out weapons of mass destruction, and instead of cooperating with Iraq on disarmament, ‘inspectors were sent in to carry out sensitive inspections that had nothing to do with disarmament but had everything to do with provoking the Iraqis.’[30] As soon as Iraq was provoked, and questioned the reasoning behind these new demands for the inspection of sensitive sites; instead of seeking diplomatic negotiation with them, the U.S. decided to immediately use force and pulled out the inspectors in preparation for bombardment. This lack of serious concern at attempting peaceful disarmament, coupled with the fact that the American CIA had largely taken over the supposedly multilateral UNSCOM and had began using it as a means to spy on Iraq for the U.S., led to Ritter’s eventual resignation.

The contempt for the inspection process did not end there however. When a new inspection team, UNMOVIC headed by Hans Blix, was formed in late 1999, it was immediately undermined by the United States and the UK through opposition in the UN security council; unreasonable demands for access in Iraq which immediately antagonized the country instead of gaining its cooperation; strategic leaks of Washington war plans and CIA plots to assassinate Saddam which led to Iraqi distrust of the already once-infiltrated inspection team; a refusal to answer Iraq’s questions about the inspectors in the security council; and attempts at smearing Blix himself, thus discrediting both him and his team.[31]

The final undermining came just before the 2003 invasion, when UNMOVIC’s reports of finding no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and needing more time to inspect, were systematically ignored and war was declared anyway, despite there being no definite evidence of a clear and present threat and no grounding in UN resolutions or international law to justify it.[32]

A democratic media truly concerned with holding power to account, might well have brought all of this up when governmental leaders began their talk of fantasy WMDs and spurious Iraqi non-cooperation, but in both the UK and the U.S., just as it had with Afghanistan, the ideologically capitalist media – whilst offering the occasional superficial critique – stuck close to the propaganda model; keeping the general public misinformed by repeating, unedited, the words of official sources, without searching any further for proof; perpetuating ideological fictions that sent many of their citizens off to die.

[1] Curtis, M, 2003. Web of Deceit, p. 49. (Vintage; London)

[2] Ibid., p. 54

[3] (accessed: 07/02/08)

[4] Goodman, A, 2004. The Exception to the Rulers, p. 43. (Arrow Books; London)

[5] Ibid., p. 47

[6] (accessed: 07/02/08)

[7] Unger, C, 2007. House of Bush House of Saud. (Gibson Square Books; London)

[8] Rai, M, 2002. War Plan Iraq, p. 38. (Verso; London)

[9] Chomsky, N, 2004. Hegemony or Survival, p. 200. (Penguin; London)

[10] Singer, P, 2004. The President of Good and Evil, p. 147. (Granta Books; London)

[11] (accessed: 07/02/08)

[12] Cooley, J, 2002. Unholy Wars, p. xiv. (Pluto Press; London)

[13] Ibid., p. xv

[14] Ibid

[15] Curtis, M, 2003. Web of Deceit, p. 61. (Vintage; London)

[16] Ibid., pp., 62-63

[17] Palast, G, 2006. Armed Madhouse, p. 10. (Allen Lane; London)

[18] Fukuyama, F, 2007. After the Neocons, p. 79. (Profile Books; London)

[19] Palast, G, 2006. Armed Madhouse, p. 12. (Allen Lane; London)

[20] Chomsky, N, 2005. Imperial Ambitions, p. 108. (Hamish Hamilton; London)

[21] ibid

[22] Curtis, A, 2005. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise in the Politics of Fear, BBC

[23] Cook, R, The Struggle Against Terrorism Cannot Be Won By Military Means: The Guardian, July 8th, 2005:,12780,1523838,00.html (accessed 10/9/07)

[24] Curtis, A, 2005. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise in the Politics of Fear, BBC

[25] Palast, G, 2002. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, pp., 91-92. (Robinson; London)

[26] See Appendix

[27] In Singer, P, 2004. The President of Good and Evil, p. 162. (Granta Books; London)

[28] In Rampton S and Stauber J, 2003. Weapons of Mass Deception, p. 85. (Robinson Books; London)

[29] Rai, M, 2002. War Plan Iraq, p. 72. (Verso; London)

[30] Ritter , S and Rivers Pitt, W, 2002. War On Iraq, p. 52. (Profile Books; London)

[31] Rai, M, 2002. War Plan Iraq, pp., 57-63. (Verso; London)

[32] Sands, P, 2006. Lawless World, (Penguin; London); see also: Norton-Taylor, R, 2005. Attorney General Told Blair War Could Be Illegal;, April 27th, 2005: (accessed: 13/07/08)

Remembering 9/11…and Fighting the War on Terror

On this, the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, I thought it might be interesting to re-print here on my blog, the column I wrote about the attacks for Scanner Fanzine, in November, 2001.

Obviously some of the things within the article have since been proven inaccurate with the passage of time (for instance: 3,000 people died that day, not 5,000, as first thought; and the very notion that a group called “al-Qaida” existed before the attacks, and were unquestionably responsible for the attacks, has since been called into question).  But I was nineteen years old when I wrote this – just a shocked and scared kid trying to figure out what the hell was going on during this crazy and turbulent time.  In the eight years that have followed, however, I have since earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy that actually gives good credence to a lot of the arguments contained within; not all of them, I hasten to add – but some.  Being nineteen at the time though, and not yet a trained academic, it is important to point out that what follows was an OPINION PIECE, written for a punk rock fanzine at a time before all the dust had settled, and it does not necessarily reflect the fullness of my views today.  That said – despite some obvious failings of youth and naivety, I have to say it’s pretty unbelievable than an untrained nineteen year old could have gotten so many things RIGHT about the subsequent war on terror that followed, at a time when so many alleged specialists and journalists were unable to see similar inevitabilities. 

If I could come to these conclusions – a nineteen year old with just a few books and a laptop – then how the hell couldn’t the professionals?

To know the answer to that, you’re probably gonna have to read a little Chomsky…but my comments certainly bear repeating as our unjustified war against Afghanistan continues into its eighth year…



by DaN McKee, (07/11/01)

"Ordinary people do fucked up things

When fucked up things become ordinary"

- Propaghandi


"They're trying to build a prison

(for you and me to live in)"

- System of a Down

When I wrote my article in SCANNER a few issues back about the Prevention of Terrorism Act and it's implications on activists, I had no idea the extents that our government, and governments worldwide, would be using terrorism as a scapegoat and political excuse for repression, destruction and death on such a scale as we have seen the past few months.

Before I begin this piece, I need to make very clear exactly how disgusting and horrific the attacks on September 11th 2001 were to me, so that you are under no illusions that I am just a cold-hearted, uncaring bastard, and you realise I am saying the things I will be saying with a full grasp of the vileness of the atrocities that have sparked our current war in Afghanistan.

I was on the phone to Tom, one of my best friends, and the Bullet of Diplomacy guitarist. We were just shooting the shit, the regular pointless but essential chatter that all good friendships are made of, when he noticed on the muted television in front of him that two planes had smashed into the World Trade Towers in New York City. Curious, I switched on my own TV and we watched together as the tragedy began to unfold.

Initially the both of us, along with the news presenters were confused as to how a pilot could commit such a stupid mistake as to crash into those blatant buildings…but then the sickening realisation began to hit, just seconds later, that our question was exactly the answer. No pilot would make that mistake, let alone two, within minutes of each other. This was intentional. Two planes had kamikazied themselves into two of New York's biggest landmarks and we were watching this madness live on TV!

It was too insane to be real. Watching on in grim fascination, Tom and I couldn't quite believe our eyes…it was too much like a movie. The years of growing up with big-money, action adventure, special effects cavalcades had taken their toll, and as we witnessed the flames and plumes of smoke rising from the smashed sides of the twin towers – and alongside the disbelief and panic that was rising within – we were joking about how much like the movie Independence Day this all was and, wouldn't it be cool if, into all kinds of landmarks across the world, planes were descending fast on similar missions of destruction?

Hanging up the call, with no one to continue the Hollywood daydreaming with, I was faced with just the stark reality…two planes had crashed into two heavily populated buildings in a city that I loved, and the world was suddenly spinning out of control.

Suddenly, it didn't seem so cool anymore.

You see, half my family comes from The Big Apple. My Mother was born and raised in Manhattan and we have spent a lot of time there over the years visiting friends and relatives. The city had always been special to me…strangely alluring amidst all its filth and dirt, and as a dual UK/US citizen I'd always considered New York a home from home. In fact, I've always planed to live there some day.

Not only that but I'd just been there a week before.

My grandmother had died a few weeks previously and we had gone over for the funeral, leaving strange fresh memories in my head of that magic, grizzly, city to dance around as I watched it's assault live in my living room.

And worse still, my mother had remained in the city to sort out my Gran's affairs, and on September 11th, as I and the befuddled newscasters tried to make sense of the senseless, she was still there in Manhattan!

I tried getting through to the New York number repeatedly as I watched the news, but to no avail.

So I sat there scared and shocked as the World Trade Centre burned on, and suddenly the facetious speculation of Independence Day style destruction came true as we were informed that another plane had hit the Pentagon.

There was no escaping the scale of the attack now, or being awed by the enormity…there was just fear.

And then the towers collapsed.

There are no words that describe that feeling of seeing those eternal features of the New York skyline plummeting to the ground and knowing that there were thousands of people inside each one. Of knowing that you are witnessing a massacre.

There are no words, and more disturbing still there doesn't need to be because, thanks to the joys of television, we all saw it happen ourselves, over and over again, both in real speed and slow-motion. Both in unsettling silence and with heart-rending and tragic soundtrack. Live and in re-run, again and again and again, those two hideous moments.  Mass destruction, death, and damage; and still I couldn't get through to my mom.

"The crowd roars, it's deep and so unhealthy"

- Faith No More

Yes I was traumatized. I spent the next three days glued to the television and slept at night with the radio on, only leaving my house to buy newspapers. I got through to my mother after about five hours of trying and found her to be safe and well, but her flight home had been cancelled as U.S. air-space was closed, stranding her for a week, and it was days before we'd managed to get though to and account for all the various other New Yorkers we know.

But by the third day I had to switch off the TV. The baying for blood that had started just hours after the attack was reaching a crescendo, and after days of Americans interviewed telling me "we're gonna kick the ass of whoever did this to us", of Tony Blair telling me we'd stand "shoulder to shoulder" with anything the US decided to do in wake of the atrocity, of continued patriotism and stars and stripes montages, of everybody on the screen wanting someone to blame and someone to kill back (because it was so appalling to…see people killed?) it all came to a head as the House of Commons stood for a three minute silence in respect of those who died – even as they were talking war.

I couldn't stomach anymore the ignorance and the hypocrisy, the blatant lies and the heinous manipulation of anger into war-fever.

September 11th 2001 affected me very deeply and significantly and I will never forget those stark images and the feeling of watching thousands die before my eyes, but underneath all the horror and all the shock there was another feeling inside me that day. A feeling of total and utter expectance and acceptance.

Even as those buildings crashed to the ground and those thousands lost their lives, a voice inside my head was saying: of course, who didn't see that one coming; I'm surprised it took so long.

"Rational thought is demonised"

- Four Letter Word

Now I don't mean to sound uncaring and unfeeling and when I say that I expected something like this I am not saying that I wanted something like this to happen, but when both myself and the shocked newscasters made the sickening realization that the crashes were intentional, it simply made sense to me.

America is hated worldwide.

It is a vicious thing to say, but it is true.

Thanks to US foreign policy since World War II, which has exploited, corrupted, and oppressed too many countries to count worldwide and carved up a world-order in which the globe is it's personal playpen, real and justified anger towards the US has been growing.

When I say real and justified anger, I mean that anger directed towards the U.S. government and businesses; those who make the policy. I do not mean the sad, side effect of this anger that takes the form of wider anti-American racism by people, who pass on their anger at what U.S. policy is doing to their lives, to the people of that nation. And I am not being an apologist for the September 11th terrorists. I am just stating that the United States has a foreign policy widely acknowledged to protect it's own financial and political interests at any and all human cost and that this foreign policy has been economically crippling many countries and robbing them of their resources, and in many cases, sovereignty. As a result of this continued foreign policy, many people justifiably see the USA as a country that has screwed them over, and thus are logically angry at that.

Anti-American feeling is huge, and it was ineluctably obvious that one day some group or individual would be taken to extreme measures in their rage and try to commit some act of devastation against the country.  So as September 11th and it's aftermath unfolded, I was not surprised that it had happened, and the idea that whoever had committed the crime did it because they were jealous of America's freedoms did not rub with me at all.

So, what did we have post-September 11th?

We had five thousand plus people dead, part of a city destroyed, and a shocked and scared populace. We also had that all-important question of why it had happened and what we should do about it.

What we have since decided on these questions, or more correctly, what our governments decided for us on these questions is as follows…

That September 11th was a terrorist act by Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaida network, and that it was an act of war.

That it happened because Bin Laden not only hates America (although, thus far, it is still only US targets that have been hit), but "the entire civilized world" and he hates it because it is so damn free.

That we should fight back against not only these particular terrorists, but all terrorists everywhere and embark on a multi-national War on Terrorism (registered trademark) and vanquish terror from the world.

That we will be best set for eliminating terrorism from the world by bombing Afghanistan, a poor country already devastated from decades of war. We will bomb it even though it has barely anything to bomb, and if bombs don't work, we will send in ground troops. We will use everything in our arsenal from normal common or garden carpet-bombing, to cluster bombs, to Daisy Cutters-the biggest thing we have that's not nuclear. This military action will destabilize al-Qaida, or the Taliban – depending on which day it is and who is doing the speaking – and maybe we'll even be able to kill that nasty Bin Laden.

We will give the CIA permission to commit political assassinations again to help us in this cause, ignoring the dubious ethical grounding of such a law anyway, and more importantly, the CIA's past history since the end of the second-world-war.

Basically, the killing of thousands of innocent people is a terrible outrage and morally wrong, and to oppose this kind of evil we will…kill many more thousand innocent people through war, and possibly millions more through foreseeable starvation as a result of this war.

This is what was decided for us.

"Nonsense is better than no sense at all"

- No Means No

Now call me crazy, but I don't see this as the best thing to do in reaction to September 11th's attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

I don't think what the US/UK governments and the rest of the worldwide coalition to stop terrorism are doing to Afghanistan is going to stop terrorism.  I don't think it is the correct response and I think this for various reasons, that I am now going to explain.

The reason September 11th was so appalling, and the suicidal kamikaze plane attacks so disgusting, was because innocent people were killed.

That is why terrorism is such a terrible thing. People's lives are treated contemptuously, as mere obstacles in the way to a political goal. They are just pawns, and even murder is acceptable if it means the right political outcome.

September 11th didn't stun the world because they saw over five thousand American people die…it stunned them because they saw five thousand people die, end of story.

It is that useless loss of innocent life that is so hideous, and to fight against that outrage by doing exactly the same thing on a larger scale is even worse.

War is just terrorism writ large.

Bombing Afghanistan, we are not killing the terrorists; we are killing innocent people, with more and more casualties and fatalities by the day. Not just killing them brutally but quickly with our not-so-smart bombs (each war we have those fucking things go off course and kill hundreds of innocents at a time, something we always "deeply regret", but it is just ridiculous that such homicidal disregard is shown by our armies and governments who just tot up these "unfortunate" victims as "collateral damage". Once could be classed as a terrible mistake, but over and over again war after war after war…you just don't make those kind of mistakes.), no, not just quick brutal deaths but leaving millions to a long lingering death by starvation in the coming winter.

While claiming humanitarian concern by showing us that they are dropping food parcels to the people of Afghanistan (who Bush and Blair continue to remind us "we are not at war with"), what our governments are not too keen to parade is the fact that international aid agencies like Oxfam have said that at best these airdrops will merely feed 130,000 people-just 3.5% of the total population!

Not only that, but human right organisations have claimed that the meagre amounts of food they are dropping has several other problems. Firstly, many Afghans are traumatized from the past war with Russia back in the '80s, when the Soviets would drop toy dolls from their planes that were actually explosives. After an experience like that you would be very distrustful and scared of picking up anything that had fallen from an army plane. Also, this previous war with Russia has left the majority of the country plagued with landmines. Reporter Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent before the bombing, put the area of land contaminated with landmines at 80%, thus, just to get to the dropped aid packages, there is a substantial risk of injury.

But finally, if the pre-existing landmines weren't hazardous enough, the food packages are alleged to be the same colour as something else dropping from our warplanes… cluster bombs. Cluster bombs break open as they fall into many separate shells and the ones that don't hit an immediate target essentially become like landmines, waiting to explode. So if the Afghanis brave the horrors of the past and put their lives on the line to try and pick up one of the descending drops, there's a good chance that instead of food, they will get a cluster-bomb!

So it is a given, begrudgingly even admitted by our leaders, that innocent people will die in this war. War is a miserable business, as they say, somewhat apologetically.

But what if we do, through bombing, or even through employment of ground-troops, manage to get rid of Osama Bin Laden or the Afghani al-Qaida?

The al-Qaida group operate in sixty-four countries and are stronger than just one man . Within these sixty-four countries are some of our allies and members of the coalition who we are not intending to bomb, so ultimately, while getting rid of one cell of the group-we will not be stopping the entire organization and therefore not stopping their terrorism.

I mean, the whole idea of a war on terrorism is crazy for that very reason, as we are not going to fighting back at some very real terrorism that is occurring within the coalition. Are we going to bomb Israel, Northern Ireland, The UK, and The USA? No…this rhetoric just doesn't work even under the slightest speck of analysis.

The only probable outcome of killing Bin Laden and ousting the Taliban (a group the US helped create and finance right up until earlier this year), is that America will install a new government in Afghanistan that is friendly to it…as they've done in all major conflicts they've ever gotten involved in.

So we have a plan of attack that is doing more of the thing we are claiming to want to stop, that ultimately will not possibly provide the proclaimed desired outcome of an end to terrorism, and will only ultimately have a foreseeable outcome of causing more anger towards the US and it's allies, more rallying round the Taliban in the meantime, and more of the despair that leads people into suicidal attacks such as those seen on September 11th in the first place.

And worse of all in this whole outrageous situation, is that one crucial fact that we seldom talk about anymore…that we still don't know for sure who actually was responsible for September 11th!

Sure we've been told it was Bin Laden and that Blair and Bush have seen compelling evidence that proves it all, but come on! Why won't they show it to us? That old adage of National Security.

Well I say fuck National Security, if you want my support for killing potentially millions of people then I want to see why.

Because the US intelligence services just aren't the most trustworthy bunch of people in the world you know? Like when they lied to justify bombing Quadafi back in 1986, or when they said Soviets were building a military base in Grenada, or when they claimed that Sandinistas in Nicaragua were running drugs, when in fact it was the US. Just a few examples but enough evidence for me that to just take their word for something is not the safest thing to do!

All we've been told, is that out of the nineteen alleged hijackers, three were linked to Bin Laden.



Not out-and-out-definite-here's-the-facts members, but linked.

And again, the actual proof of this is missing, and all we are given is conjecture and speculation based on assumptions and flimsy scraps of evidence.

I mean, isn't it weird that if it is Bin Laden he hasn't admitted to it yet? That whoever committed the act, causing such destruction and attention has not capitalized on this yet and stood up to brag – yes it was us, we were the ones who kicked the US's ass for a day! If someone did such a monumental thing I'd have thought they'd be using it as a PR tool for years to come.

For Bin Laden, what's the worse that can happen by admitting it? The US may want revenge; try to kill him and bomb the country he's living in? Oh right-THAT'S ALREADY HAPPENING! So why wouldn't he admit it, what has he got to lose? Why would he constantly and consistently deny it?

Now…what I'm about to say is purely a conspiracy theory of my own, and I'm not sure that I believe it, but, there is as much evidence for my next accusation as there is for al-Qaida being responsible, and as we're willing to kill so many based on the government's flimsy scraps of evidence, I may as well put this equally plausible theory across.

OK, here goes…

…The Bush's did it!

You see, back in the early sixties, America's top military leaders are reported to have drafted plans to get US support for a war in Cuba by…orchestrating violent acts of terrorism in US cities! In a proposed Operation Northwoods, plans were laid out to raise public opposition to Cuba by blaming them for acts of horrific terrorism that in reality would have been committed by the US themselves.

The operation was luckily not put into practice…but the story does not end there.

George Bush's tenure as CIA director in 1975 would have no doubt meant he had access to these old plans as head of intelligence, however it turns out that we don't even have to speculate as to his knowledge of Operation Northwoods for some sources place George Bush as working for the CIA as early as 1961 , right about the time these plans were being drawn up! Not only that, but he is believed to have worked on the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, the very incident that Operation Northwoods was supposed to be a response to.

So there's good chance that George Bush Senior knew about the concept of terrorizing the US and blaming it on someone else to justify a war with them.

Then we have his son, unconstitutionally pushed into the position of president by a biased and unjust Supreme Court decision, with an administration of his father's old friends. A son who, like his father, and his vice president, Dick Cheney is big on oil.

Now Afghanistan is a crucial geographical location in regards to getting oil from the Caspian sea and the US would love to control it.  I know this, because Cheney himself has said this before he was vice president, but how do you go to war against an impoverished country who's rulers you've just recently given several million dollars of aid to? How do you get an American public into a war like that?

Send some planes into the World Trade Towers, blame Bin Laden, blame Muslims, blame whatever…just get our armies into Afghanistan so we can fuck shit up and take over! Five thousand dead isn't that big a number when looking relatively at America's historic disregard for human life. It's a price that, I think, they'd think is worth it, to paraphrase former secretary of state Madeline Albright when she was asked about the deaths of half a million Iraqi children.

Five thousand is a relative pittance when faced with the total death toll of American interventions.

Yes, that's right, my speculating, conjecture and assorted facts all add up to a compelling case against the Bush family as being responsible for September 11th. And if we are to accept the flimsy evidence of Bin Laden's responsibility we must be forced to admit that my own case against the Bush's is just as convincing, if not more so, because as at least mine has some facts in it that make sense!

"All we want to do is change your mind

All you need to do is close your eyes"

- Bad Religion

So not only is the current war not doing what it says it is doing, but it is a war against someone we don't know for sure is responsible! Sure Bin Laden is a terrorist, but is he responsible for September 11th? Now the way I see it, war is a very heavy thing to get into…you'd have thought we'd make one hundred percent sure first that we were fighting the right people before we went that far, but it seems we haven't. So it could turn out that our soldiers die over in Afghanistan and their families get to find out years later, when all the secret documents have been declassified, that not only did their loved ones die in another war for oil (because Bush conspiracy aside, the oil interests are real), but that they weren't even fighting the real people responsible for September 11th in the first place.

And let's not forget that, just as George Bush senior ignored Saddam Hussein's offers to leave Kuwait before the Gulf War…The Taliban offered to hand Bin Laden over three times before the bombing. All they requested before they did this was evidence that Bin Laden had really done it, and the US and UK wouldn't give it to them.

I really don't think it can be seen as contemptuous or war-mongering to want solid evidence for someone's extradition before you extradite them, but apparently, to George W Bush, it was, and the bombing commenced anyway, with him telling us all diplomatic routes had been tried and they had failed.

To be fair, the Taliban's offer for Bin Laden, was not the offer the US had demanded…they wanted him given with no evidence, and given straight to them – as opposed to a third party neutral country for trial as the Taliban suggested – but the key to diplomacy is compromise. The facts are, the will was there to give Osama over, and with some genuine negotiating, and fair legal practice of supplying evidence, he could have been given over and tried in an international war court somewhere without a single bomb being dropped…but the US refused. "We did not ask for this war", George Bush said as the first bombs began to drop…but he did everything in his power to ensure it happened.

Maybe they didn't accept the Taliban's offer because they'd have to make overly public their opposition to an international war-crimes court which they have been vetoing for years because the US harbours many war-criminals…pretty much all their living ex-presidents to name but a few.

Or maybe they didn't accept the Taliban's offer because they don't have the evidence they were asked to show and the Taliban would laugh them out of Kabul at the pathetic dribbles of information and assumption that they have.

Or maybe they didn't accept it because, most likely, war, and especially a crusade of a war that can be fought in any country anywhere under the auspices of fighting terror, is good for Western governments and the U.S.. It's good for business; it's good for control?

Whoever was responsible for September 11th, it is clear the U.S. have manoeuvred the aftermath towards this war since the start.

But all doubt aside, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Bin Laden did do it. Is the U.S. the right country to declare a war on terrorism?

The U.S., who trained Bin Laden in the first place when he was useful to them in ousting the Russians from Afghanistan and who helped established the very Taliban they are fighting today.

The U.S., who have sponsored, underwritten, protected or engaged in themselves, terrorists and terrorist acts in countries such as Iraq, Columbia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Uruguay, Cuba, Guatemala, Indonesia/East Timor, Zaire, Angola, South Africa and given unconditional support for Israel's vicious oppression and slaughter of Palestinians to name just a few of their worldwide terror operations that have killed many more than the relatively low number of deaths in the World Trade Towers (not that five thousand is insignificant, I am just saying that, ultimately, the U.S. have killed many times over that amount throughout the years).

The U.S., who have safeguarded Cuban refugee terrorist groups along with other terrorist groups useful to their global policies such as El Salvadorian, Haitian, Vietnamese and even German Nazi terrorists.

The U.S., who for the past fifty-five years have run a terrorist school in Fort Benning, Georgia, the former School of the Americas and now, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or WHISC?

Is this country, who has had it's finger in every terrorism pie you could mention over the last fifty years, who is still killing innocents in Iraq and Columbia at the same time as they speak about stopping terrorism, really the right country to lead a "crusade" against terrorism?

A country who is turning a blind eye to it's allies’ acts that kill just as many, if not more, than those killed on September 11th, as long as they go along with the war – most notably Russia, who have been essentially given a green light to do as they please in Chechnya in return for their support.

The answer, quite clearly, is no.

A terrorist country can not claim to be the leaders in a war on terrorism, and their actions in this claimed war are just going to prove that as they merely cause more and more terror, death, destruction and chaos in their quest for another country to control.

"Cull memory for assimilation"

- Fugazi

The way to stop terrorism is simple.

First of all, stop doing it yourselves.

There, that would already cease the majority of global terror; but in regards to September 11th, what about that? What do you do to combat those wicked individuals who committed such an atrocity? People demand justice, and families of lost loved ones want some retribution.

Well, you start by realizing that whoever did it was not wicked, they were desperate. They killed themselves and thousands more because, for some reason or another, they were aggrieved about something.

This ignored facet of information is crucial.

There was a reason whoever was responsible did what they did and that reason has to be looked into, because, whatever it was (probably the US foreign policy I've mentioned so many times already) it is a real problem. People do not just hijack a plane and crash it into a landmark building for the shits and giggles…it is a desperation manoeuvre, and whatever caused that desperation needs to be looked into and sorted out.

Stopping terrorism requires a serious and self-critical look at our policies and practices that are tearing the world apart as our governments use, use, use everyplace and everybody they can to maximize their profits and power without a second thought for the lives, cultures, and planet that they are destroying in the process. Until they are willing to do this then their words about stopping terrorism are just that.

Words and nothing else.

Right now, all that has happened in the aftermath of September 11th is our governments have shamelessly capitalized on it to put forward a program of repression and warfare that they have duped us into accepting as necessary, unscrupulously manipulating our very real shock and outrage at the tragedy to their own political needs.

It will not make it better for the people who had friends and family killed that day, or for the public who watched on outraged as it happened live on TV. It will just create many more people to loose loved ones, and who have to watch people die in front of them as their countries are ravaged by uncaring, unfeeling and murderous bombs. It will create more chances of terrorism too, as this anger, like our own anger at September 11th, is manipulated into wanting retaliation instead of just, an end.

"Don't believe the hype-It's a sequel"

- Public Enemy

The War on Terrorism is just a new Cold War. A cover-all blanket of excuse to do whatever the U.S. want, wherever they want, no matter how despicable; all in the name of "fighting terrorism".

Replace the rhetoric of the Cold War from "communist" to "terrorist" and you see comparisons that would be laughable if they weren't so scary. As the U.S. used the name of anti-communism to do whatever it wanted both at home and abroad, the latest coalition headed by them will do the same thing with anti-terrorism. We have already seen, just months following the events, many repressive laws rushed through in both the U.S. and the UK that, under normal occasions, would have been hotly contested, including the introduction of internment here in Britain on a larger scale than even the repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act already allowed, and we are already hearing talk of the war lasting for years in Afghanistan and beyond. One US official even claimed that the war might not end in our lifetime!

Businesses are capitalizing too, downsizing gratuitously as we accept it as a cost of this war, not thinking about how, if their profits really are down, they could just cut their CEO's pay and their executive’s, and continue paying their workers. We just are told, it's to prevent a recession in the wake of September 11th…but if there are so many more people unemployed now thanks to these huge redundancies, then who will buy their products? Surely that too will lead to recession?

And after Afghanistan?

Iraq is being mentioned, nuclear weapons are being mentioned, and once again we seem to be entering a state of permanent war.

Anyone the U.S. doesn't like can be deemed terrorist. Any group that are getting out of line can be deemed terrorist. Any lifestyle that threatens the world-order can be deemed terrorist.

Basically, it is blank cheque to do anything, anywhere, with just the flick of the tongue. Call someone terrorist and anything goes.

"Killing so fat-cats can plunder, I bet he pleased all the shareholders

But he can't ever get his fucking life back!"

- Academy Morticians

Now I am for a genuine end to terrorism, but I want an end to all terrorism, and I recognize that terrorism can't be solved through warfare. We need diplomacy, and lots of it. Discourse to find out what is wrong. A will to change our own practices that are causing anger and hostility in the world.

We will not bomb terrorism away and we cannot buy into this phoney war.

They know they are on shaky ground, hence all this talk of "losing the propaganda war". There is no propaganda war…there's the coalition trying to stop the truth coming out, plain and simple.

When we're told that our forces have killed innocent people, we're supposed to treat this information as dubious because we can't trust the Taliban…but have our media exactly got a gleaming track record for war-time reporting? No. In just over a decade, from the Gulf, to Kosovo, and everywhere in-between, we have been lied to time and time again by our government and media…so why should we take their word now? Especially when they are overtly working on propaganda, CNN downplaying Afghani misery, Fox news (part of Murdoch's News International so who knows how far this edict goes?) deciding that civilian casualties isn't news, Hollywood being rounded up to make to make pro-war patriotic movies, and UK media being told to give everything that comes from the Taliban a "health warning" claiming that it is unreliable and unverifiable.

They are terrified of us losing faith in this war…and they are terrified because they know it is built on bogus premises and bullshit foundations. Do you really think bin Laden making videos in a cave in Afghanistan can compete with our billions of propaganda dollars and media monopoly?

All that they are afraid of is the truth getting out: that this war is suspect, and not at all what it is claimed to be.

Oppose the bombing of innocent people, oppose terrorism and oppose Bush and Blair's war. Protest, fight and resist. We must make our leaders realize that this official line is not washing, and that we want to see genuine attempts at ending terrorism; starting first with ending our own! Force them to look into the mirror and see that they are the problem and hold them to account.

Fuck the war on terrorism.

(this article, written November 7th, 2001, originally appeared in SCANNER fanzine, issue 11, December, 2001, pp. 35-40).  SCANNER WEB-ZINE