Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bin Laden's Accomplices

In a brilliant piece, Simon Jenkins has captured the idiocy of the two leaders who happen to be in power in the US and UK, who have responded to the 9-11 attack in exactly the way Bin Laden would have dreamed of. Here is a sampling of Jenkins' piece:
"There never was a 'terrorist threat' to western civilisation or democracy, only to western lives and property. The threat becomes systemic only when democracy loses its confidence and when its leaders are weak, as now. Terror attacks are for the police. For George Bush and Blair to demand a “long war” against Bin Laden and, by implication, a long suppression of civil liberty is ludicrous. Western civilisation is not some simpering weakling that cowers before a fanatic ’s might, pleading for leaders to protect it by all means, however illegal. It has been proof against Islamic expansionism since the 17th century. It is not at risk."
A similar view was expressed in April 2003 by Niranjan Ramakrishnan, "Little Minds and Large Empires":

Just look at all the things Americans could take pride in for over two centuries, shattered in an instant by a few desperate men with box-cutters.

  • Almost without demur, America has accepted a Patriot Act which abridges some of its most cherished freedoms. Detention without trial is now increasingly accepted. Even as security agencies gain undreamt-of powers to intrude into the lives of the citizenry, the administration seeks even greater powers to do more of the same.
  • On another front, America is embarked on what can justifiably be regarded as naked aggression against a sovereign nation. (That its leadership was cruel and crude makes no difference to this basic fact. Nor does the fact that victory came with minimal casualties).
  • America has rushed into war with less deliberation than attends even routine decisions - renaming a road takes longer in America. In the process, it has painstakingly gutted the legitimacy of the UN, the International Court of Justice, and other universal bodies.
  • The American people have been openly lied to over the course of these months, with the administration trotting out one sham reason after another for attacking Iraq. As each dissembling was exposed, Bush and Co. just recycled the fibs without the slightest embarrassment. As of date, the admininstration is yet to give a convincing reason why the war was necessary, not to mention why 70 billion dollars of "your money", as the president likes to call it, has been squandered at a time when American schools are scrounging for funds and millions are without jobs and health care.
  • The Congress of the United States, whose Senate chamber has been called the 'greatest deliberative body in the world', has abdicated its duty to discuss the great issues before the nation, and become a handmaiden of the administration, churning out legislation in record time to suit the president's needs.
  • A nation once proud of its free and independent press is now seized by a pervasive fear complex, evidenced by a new McCarthyism accusing anyone criticizing the Administration and its war (by what strange logic it is unclear, for the First Amendment makes no exceptions for war) of being "unpatriotic". The press itself (with very few exceptions) has mutely followed the administration's cues, wallowing in its formidable technological capacities while jettisoning its basic adversarial role.

Looking at this list, surely just a small subset of the damage we have done to ourselves, a Bin Laden might say to himself, "Not a bad morning's work."

The terrible effects of this demented duo are captured in "It's Munich in America" by David Michael Green, who makes clear how we are headed toward totalitarian rule:
"Do I overstate the concern? The New York Times recently editorialized “We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers – and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.” The Times should know. Between rah-rah’ing the war for Bush, sitting on the Downing Street Memos as if they were banana import trade policy documents, and covering for Judith Miller while she covered for The Cheney Gang, they have about as much blood on their hands as does Donald Rumsfeld. But if even the Times can work up the concern to print a line like that, we’re in a world of hurt."
...
"The Fourth Amendment guarantees “against unreasonable searches and seizures” and requires that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation”. Can you say “NSA”? “Guant├ínamo”? “Abu Ghraib”? It’s bad enough that Bush has authorized himself to bug anybody, arrest anybody, convict anybody and silence anybody, but his NSA chief doesn’t even appear to have read the Fourth Amendment. That whole thing about probable cause was lost on him, as he and his president simultaneously trampled the separation of powers and checks and balances doctrines by eliminating two out of three branches of government from their little surveillance loop."
Simon Jenkins' article above makes a similar point:
"America asks the world to believe itself so threatened as to require the kidnappings of foreign citizens in foreign parts, detention without legal process, the curbing of free speech and derogation from all international law. It asks the world to believe that it must disregard the Geneva conventions and employ foreign dictators to help it to torture at random. It uses the same justification for occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. The world simply refuses to agree. Only cringeing Britain appeases such actions and calls them merely “anomalous”. There are madmen aplenty, but they do not constitute a war."
Each passing day brings more evidence of the slide toward stupidity, from which there is no climb back.

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