When the attacks were launched against
the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon two years ago, who
had ever heard of Fallujah or Hillah? When the Lebanese hijacker
flew his plane into the ground in Pennsylvania, who would
ever have believed that President George Bush would be announcing
a "new front line in the war on terror" as his troops
embarked on a hopeless campaign against the guerrillas of
Who could ever have conceived of an American president calling
the world to arms against "terrorism" in "Afghanistan,
Iraq and Gaza"? Gaza? What do the miserable, crushed,
cruelly imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza have to do with the
international crimes against humanity in New York, Washington
Nothing, of course. Neither does Iraq have anything to do
with 11 September. Nor were there any weapons of mass destruction
in Iraq, any al-Qaeda links with Iraq, any 45-minute timeline
for the deployment of chemical weapons nor was there any "liberation".
No, the attacks on 11 September have nothing to do with
Iraq. Neither did 11 September change the world. President
Bush cruelly manipulated the grief of the American people--and
the sympathy of the rest of the world--to introduce a "world
order" dreamed up by a clutch of fantasists advising
the Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld.
The Iraqi "regime change", as we now know, was
planned as part of a Perle-Wolfowitz campaign document to
the would-be Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu years
before Bush came to power. It beggars belief that Prime Minister
Tony Blair should have signed up to this nonsense without
realising that it was no more nor less than a project invented
by a group of pro-Israeli American neo-conservatives and right-wing
But even now, we are fed more fantasy. Afghanistan--its
American-paid warlords raping and murdering their enemies,
its women still shrouded for the most part in their burqas,
its opium production now back as the world's number one export
market, and its people being killed at up to a hundred a week
(five American troops were shot dead several weekends ago)
is a "success", something which Messrs Bush and
Rumsfeld still boast about. Iraq--a midden of guerrilla hatred
and popular resentment--is also a "success". Yes,
Bush wants $87 billion to keep Iraq running, he wants to go
back to the same United Nations he condemned as a "talking
shop" last year, he wants scores of foreign armies to
go to Iraq to share the burdens of occupation--though not,
of course, the decision-making, which must remain Washington's
exclusive imperial preserve.
What's more, the world is supposed to accept the insane
notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--the planet's
last colonial war, although all mention of the illegal Jewish
colonies in the West Bank and Gaza have been erased from the
Middle East narrative in the American press--is part of the
"war on terror", the cosmic clash of religious will
that President Bush invented after 11 September. Could Israel's
interests be better served by so infantile a gesture from
The vicious Palestinian suicide bombers and the grotesque
implantation of Jews and Jews only in the colonies has now
been set into this colossal struggle of "good" against
"evil", in which even Ariel Sharon--named as "personally"
responsible for the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacre by Israel's
own commission of inquiry--is "a man of peace",
according to Mr Bush.
And new precedents are set without discussion. Washington
kills the leadership of its enemies with impunity: it tries
to kill Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar and does kill Uday
and Qusay Hussein and boasts of its prowess in "liquidating"
the al-Qaeda leadership from rocket-firing "drones".
It tries to kill Saddam in Baghdad and slaughters 16 civilians
and admits that the operation was "not risk-free".
In Afghanistan, three men have now been murdered in the US
interrogation centre at Bagram. We still don't know what really
goes on in Guantanamo.
What do these precedents mean? I have a dark suspicion.
From now on, our leaders, our politicians, our statesmen will
be fair game too. If we go for the jugular, why shouldn't
they? The killing of the UN's Sergio Vieira de Mello, was
not, I think, a chance murder. Hamas's most recent statements--and
since they've been added to the Bush circus of evil, we should
take them seriously--are now, more than ever, personally threatening
Mr Sharon. Why should we expect any other leader to be safe?
If Yasser Arafat is driven into exile yet again, will there
be any restraints left?
Of course, America's enemies were a grisly bunch. Saddam
soiled his country with the mass graves of the innocents,
Mullah Omar allowed his misogynist legions to terrify an entire
society in Afghanistan. But in their absence, we have created
banditry, rape, kidnapping, guerrilla war and anarchy. And
all in the name of the dead of 11 September. The future of
the Middle East--which is what 11 September was partly about,
though we are not allowed to say so--has never looked bleaker
or more bloody. The United States and Britain are trapped
in a war of their own making, responsible for their own appalling
predicament but responsible, too, for the lives of thousands
of innocent human beings--cut to pieces by American bombs
in Afghanistan and Iraq, shot down in the streets of Iraq
by trigger-happy GIs.
As for "terror", our enemies are closing in on
our armies in Iraq and our supposed allies in Baghdad and
Afghanistan--even in Pakistan. We have done all this in the
name of the dead of 11 September. Not since the Second World
War have we seen folly on this scale. And it has scarcely