Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blair is wildly exaggerating the threat posed by terrorism - Guardian

David Seaton's News Links
Tony Blair is a much more complex human being than George W. Bush, although Bush is much more complex than most of us who detest him would care to admit. Trying to read Blair you first look at the most obvious things: in Spanish they say such things as , "tell me who you walk with and I'll tell you who you are" and also "lie down with dogs, get up with fleas". Blair is supposedly a social democrat,which besides policies is a way of being and a way of looking at life, but along with Bush, Blair favors Sarkozy in France, Berlusconi in Italy and Aznar in Spain over all the social democrats of those countries. All of these men are authoritarian figures who the social democrats of their countries consider crypto-fascists. However Blair is much more comfortable in their company than with the sort of people a socialist usually is. Terrorism is what it is, plus what it can permit you to do to defend against it. I suspect that for Blair and the list of Blair's friends it offers a chance to control, to silence opposition and carry on undisturbed with their other agendas. DS
Abstract: What is it about a desert that drives men mad? On Monday morning the prime minister stood on the Afghan sand and said: "Here in this extraordinary piece of desert is where the fate of world security in the early 21st century is going to be decided." Tony Blair was talking to soldiers he had sent to fight the toughest guerrillas on earth for control of southern Afghanistan. He told them: "Your defeat [of the Taliban] is not just on behalf of the people of Afghanistan but the people of Britain ... We have got to stay for as long as it takes." The prime minister's brain has clearly lost touch with reality. Even under the Raj there was no conceivable way Britain could conquer and hold the arc of territory to which Blair was referring. It stretches from the Persian Gulf through Iranian Baluchistan and Afghanistan to Pakistan. No central government has come near to controlling this region, and its aversion to outside intervention is ageless and ruthless, currently fuelled by the world's voracious appetite for oil and opium. But it poses no threat to world security.(...) Talib Afghanistan was no more a "threat" after 9/11 than were the American flying schools at which the 9/11 perpetrators trained. So what is Blair getting at? He once confessed to his hero, Roy Jenkins, that he regretted not having studied history at Oxford. He never spoke a truer word. The concept of world security as holistic and vulnerable to incidents such as 9/11 is nonsensical. Politics is not a variant of the Gaia thesis, in which each component of an ecosystem depends on and responds to every other. There is no butterfly effect in international relations. For want of a victory in Helmand, the Middle East is not lost, nor for want of victory in the Middle East is western civilisation lost. This is as well, since Blair's resumed war in Afghanistan is clearly not being won.(...) Blair has not been able to persuade his Nato allies in Europe of his apocalyptic world-view. The use of the word terrorism to imply some grand military offensive against the west may sound good in White House national security documents and Downing Street speeches. But terrorism is not an enemy or an ideology, let alone a country or an army. It is a weapon(...) While terrorism can take on different guises, it is not new and is not a threat to human society to rank with a world war or a nuclear holocaust (...) What is sad about Blair's statement is not its strategic naivety but the psychology behind it. Why have the leaders of Britain and America felt driven to adopt so wildly distorted a concept of menace? In an analysis of terrorism in the latest New York Review of Books, Max Rodenbeck offers plausible but depressing answers. They include the short-term popularity that war offers democratic leaders, the yearning of defence chiefs and industries to prove the worth of expensive kit and, in Iraq's case, "the influence of neoconservatives and of the pro-Israeli lobby, seeing a chance to set a superpower on Israel's enemies". All this is true, but I sense a deeper disconnect. The west is ruled by a generation of leaders with no experience of war or its threat.(...) now in power they seem to crave an enemy of equivalent monstrosity. Modern government has a big hole in its ego, yearning to be filled by something called a "threat to security". After 1990 many hoped that an age of stable peace might dawn. Rich nations might disarm and combine to help the poor, advancing the cause of global responsibility. Instead two of history's most internationalist states, America and Britain, have returned to the trough of conflict, chasing a chimera of "world terrorism", and at ludicrous expense. They have brought death and destruction to a part of the globe that posed no strategic threat. Now one of them, Tony Blair, stands in a patch of desert to claim that "world security in the 21st century" depends on which warlord controls it. Was anything so demented? READ IT ALL

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