We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

Preview of tonight’s talk

Tonight I’m speaking at the Putney Debates in London on the topic September 11th 2001, one year on.

A few thoughts I shall be raising are:

1) The terrorists failed the Machiavelli test of initiating a surprise attack: either kill your enemy or win him over. Al-Qaeda, it can be safely assumed, failed badly with regards to the global capitalist system, and hasn’t won over anyone who didn’t support them or hate capitalism already.

2) The ‘war on terrorism’ fails the test on the same grounds: it frightens people who aren’t enemies, is likely to miss the most dangerous targets, and creates the vehicle for new resentments, desire for revenge etc.

3) I think Bush’s speech was terrible: it would make a great recruitment spiel for any anti-Western gang of killers. Was I the only person who spotted Condoleeza Rice grimacing at a couple of passages? As for UNESCO, the less said…

4) The ‘war on terrorism’ is basically a just cause. That is precisely why it is so dangerous. It contains in its name all the inanity of the ‘war on drugs’ or ‘war against poverty’. It is also perfect for exploitation by government. ‘Ingsoc’ could justify anything in Orwell’s 1984 under the banner ‘the war against terror’. Do we suddenly trust Mr Blair and the man who sprung steel tariffs on the world earlier this year? I notice that on “fairness” grounds we’re all being sized up for a national DNA database in the UK. (It’s unfair on criminals that they get fingerprinted and not the rest of us!!!)

5) President Bush has to leave office by 2008 at the latest. Imagine that Al Gore succeeds him and the ‘war on terrorism’ is still going strong: does the Vietnam war sound familiar?

6) I should make it clear that I would happily fire a missile at Saddam Hussein, regardless of his involvement in last year’s attack, or whether he is building weapons of mass destruction.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

6 comments to Preview of tonight’s talk

  • I don’t think Mr. Steel Tariff’s speech was altogether without merits. However do I agree that the whole ‘war on terrorism’ approach, rather than a more honest ‘War on Al Qaeda-Taliban’ followed by a ‘War on Saddam Hussain’, is not just unhelpful but dangerously close to a blank cheque for anything vaguely security related. That is why I want war with Iraq as soon as possible to not just to kill a tyrant and restore civil liberties in that woeful land but also to remove at least one excuse for more loss of civil liberties in the USA and UK.

  • Andrew X

    As your libertarian perspective is important, I wish you’d elaborate on “I think Bush’s speech was terrible: it would make a great recruitment spiel for any anti-Western gang of killers”.

    As I see it, Bush’s supporters are happy (except the ones who think the UN should be driven into the Hudson River), and Bush’s opponents, even overseas, are basically either reading into it whatever they want to see (which is not opposing it), or grumpily shuffling their feet in the dust, at a loss as to how to respond to what was basically a prosecutors dossier of provable facts and evidence.

    Who is going to be “recruited” who is not already there to start with? Isn’t that like the eternal “Arab street rising”?

    Details on why the speech was terrible would be welcome. I think it’s a minority opinion. (Which of course, does not mean it’s wrong… just minority)

  • The more I look at Bush’s speech, the more I think it is actually quite good. What i think Antoine misses is who the target audience is… he is not trying to intimidate America’s enemies, he is setting up US public opinion for war and putting the UN in a no-win position: enforce your own resolutions or we will.

    He does not care what any ‘anti-Western gang of killers’ thinks because he never intended to try convince them to see things his way via a speech in the UN, he intends to try and kill them.

  • Vietnam is not what comes to mind when I think the prospect of a Gore-like president presiding over the War on Terrorism. The 1990s comes to mind, when war was declared and Clinton launched some token attacks (sometimes at illusory targets) but for the most art didn’t fight it.

    The attacks waged in Vietnam were far from sufficient, but far more substantive than what Clinton ordered. The folly of Vietnam was that the US sought to fight it purely defensively. You do not win a war unless you capture the territory where all the enemy troops are coming from. When North Vietnam declared war on the South and on the US at the Tet Offensive, we should have D-Dayed the harbor at Haiphong and blitzkrieged our way 50 kilometers inland to Hanoi to capture the government. (Interestig mix of metaphors; both Churchill and Hitler must be rolling in their graves.)

    Instead, LBJ sent men to work defense and Nixon tried to close the routes to South Vietnam and to pulverize the source without taking it. Clinton did neither. He did little to even identify actual al-Qaeda targets much less attack them. He even refused Sudan’s offer to extradite bin Laden. His words against bin Laden spoke toughness, but his actions spoke appeasement.

    Perhaps a Gore presidency would parallel Vietnam in one way: the Paris peace accords. Only this time it wouldn’t be someoe else’s country we’d be handing over to the enemy.

  • My view of the War on Iraq is increasingly, lets get it over with, the sooner the better.

    But be very wary. The generals will be bidding for new toys for the boys, the spooks will want to listen in on domestic communications even more, the costs according to the White House will probably be $200bn, that $800 bucks in taxes per American. After wars the state has a tendency to increase its dominion.

    Its a great time in the economic cycle to increase economic activity through state spending according to Keynesians and Boeing’s lobbyists.

    At least we will see cheaper oil, and a reduced threat from Islamo-fascism, or errr maybe not…

  • My view of the War on Iraq is increasingly, lets get it over with, the sooner the better.

    But be very wary. The generals will be bidding for new toys for the boys, the spooks will want to listen in on domestic communications even more, the costs according to the White House will probably be $200bn, that $800 bucks in taxes per American. After wars the state has a tendency to increase its dominion.

    Its a great time in the economic cycle to increase economic activity through state spending according to Keynesians and Boeing’s lobbyists.

    At least we will see cheaper oil, and a reduced threat from Islamo-fascism, or errr maybe not…