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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

War, consistency and what people in the West really think

It seems curious to me that many of the people who were pouring scorn on the US insistence that it was fighting a ‘war’ against Al Qaeda, rather than just treating September 11th as a criminal matter, are the same people now howling about treatment of captive Al Qaeda fighters. So let me get this straight: this is not a war but these pundits want the captives to be treated according to the Geneva Convention?

Interesting. Next time I get pulled over for speeding, I will refuse to pay the ticket on the grounds I was not treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. That should work.

Also I saw one talking head after another on the television tonight, usually ‘Professors of Middle Eastern Studies’ that I have never heard of before, declaiming that “this treatment of Al Qaeda prisoners is going to ‘inflame the Arab street’ like never before!”. Ah, the good old ‘Arab Street’ again. Earth calling all ‘Professors of Middle Eastern Studies’: no one in the Western world who actually matters gives a damn about the mythical ‘Arab street’. Perhaps these ‘Professors’ need to take a sabbatical and do some ‘American Studies’ before they get in front of a camera and have the opposite effect on US opinion they were probably hoping for.

When the average westerner (i.e. not Robert Fisk) hears these people’s warnings followed by a clip of a street full of chanting Arab and burning American flags, what is going through their heads is not “Oh… we’d better get Alan Dershowitz out to Guantanamo Bay pronto to represent those poor Al Qaeda guys.” No, they are thinking “Gee, I wonder how many of those fuckers in that ‘Arab street’ I’m looking at on the TV a single cluster bomb would take out if dropped right about…now.”

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